How does an infamous pornographer’s $59 million mansion turn into a 1919-era townhouse for a Metropolitan Life kingpin?
The unsold 27-room, eight-fireplace expanse at 14-16 East 67th Street has long been known as the Guccione Mansion, titled for the recent tenant who lost his splendiferous house amid bankruptcy troubles.
But when townhouse demigod Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens got the listing last month, she renamed it after the insurance executive Jeremiah Milbank, who helped build it. Her listing begins, “The Milbank Mansion: A New York Monument.”
Will that erase dirty Bob Guccione Sr. from potential buyers’ memories? “It’s not a dirty word,” Ms. Del Nunzio told The Observer. “It’s just that it pigeonholes it into one small little box, when it’s actually so much more than that. That brings to mind something that has nothing to do with the property.”
(On the other hand, the Guccione touch lingers: On the first floor, for example, is a Roman-style indoor swimming pool.)
But Ms. Del Nunzio knows what she’s doing. “In the past 17 months,” she pointed out, “I’ve sold or closed 17 houses for a total value of $264,040,000.” And if she sells the $59 million Guccione-cum-Milbank Mansion, which the Corcoran Group failed to do, she’ll break the citywide single-sale record she set last year with a $53 million mansion deal nearby.
“Most people could care less who lived there before,” she said. “All they want is the biggest, best house in New York.”