Cerfs Out, Sheiks In on East 62nd Street

It’s official—the era of the Cerf family on East 62nd Street has come to an end. The Capote, Faulkner and Sinatra dinner parties from the family’s first generation, the impromptu meetings for the National Lampoon projects from the second, are all memories of the past.

The Cerf family’s historic townhouse, which went on the market in February for $9.9 million, had two price decreases and then finally sold for an even lower price of $8.5 million. The listing with Edward Lee Cave’s John Glass boasted an elevator, five bedrooms plus a master suite and roof access, and its reputation as “the home of legendary New Yorkers.”

Legendary indeed.

The sellers of the five-story townhouse are Christopher and Jonathan Cerf, sons of Random House co-founder Bennett Cerf. The Cerf brothers made their own marks as well, Christopher as an author and a composer lyricist, whose involvement with Sesame Street led to classics like “Put Down the Duckie,” “Born to Add” and “Monster in the Mirror”. Jonathan Cerf also had a Sesame Street affiliation as the author of Big Bird’s Red Book. But the latter Cerf brother really made a splash in 1980 as the first non-Japanese world Champion of Othello, the game which supposedly takes “a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” Their mother was an actress, journalist and a children’s book publisher.

And speaking of mothers, the buyer is Suzanne Sheik, also known as Zonnie Sheik, the mother of recent Tony winner Duncan Sheik of Spring Awakening fame. Ms. Sheik is a jewelry designer with a store in Hobe Sound, Fla. (We have a call out to her.)

Just imagine the potential for musical collaboration here.