Just in time for Fashion Week, Gilles Mendel Breitman has sold his penthouse duplex at 10 East 68th Street. Better known simply by his first and middle names, Mr. Breitman is the fifth-generation owner of J. Mendel furriers. Founded in 1870 Paris, J. Mendel became mink-makers to the Russian court of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov, though the brand waned in recent years until Mr. Breitman revived it as a full-on fashion house.
In an effervescent deal, he has sold the duplex for $2.1 million to a fellow Frenchman–who also happens to be an heir. Amaury Taittinger comes from a family that controls the world’s sixth-largest Champagne concern–he and wife Veronique would have to sell about 52,500 bottles to pay for the pad.
Like a Parisian garret drunk on light and charm, this duplex is a doozy. It features a unique trifecta of windows set into the copper mansard roof. These allow northern light to flood the home, illuminating details such as colonnaded molding and a generous fireplace. Is it any coincidence Frenchmen have flocked to the 1882 townhouse, which was converted into a four-unit co-op in 1977.
Among its occupants have been Pierre Demalleray de Barre, whom Texas Monthly once described as “the impetuous French count and oil trader,” who also lived in the so-called Texas White House, a replica of the real one in Washington; French-born Stribling founding broker Marion Selig; and the decidedly British David K.R. Thomson, 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet, the Canadian businessman of Thomson Reuters fame.
“The building, unlike so many co-ops, is very pied-à-terre friendly,” Douglas Elliman broker Leonel Piraino told The Observer. As for its Francophilic appeal, Mr. Piraino ventured, “You have the limestone and the Parisian look, and I would probably think the reason the French like it is, you have that prewar feeling that is so French.”