Hedda Sterne is one of those artists who has faded into the backdrop of our collective cultural consciousness. A worthy artist in her own right, Stern is perhaps best known for marrying fellow Romanian luminary Saul Steinberg, whose half-century of New Yorker illustrations solidified the publication’s legacy.
While Stern and Steinberg separated, they never divorced, and the townhouse they shared together on the Upper East Side has just been sold by Sterne’s estate, city records show. Sterne died last summer at the age of 100, one of the last surviving artists from the Abstract Expressionist era.
The townhouse at 179 East 71st Street was put on the market in September, just a month after Stern passed away. Originally listed for $7.9 million, the home ultimately fetched $6.7 million, city records show.
In the 1950s, when most women were relegated to the rubber-gloved domestic life, Hedda Sterne had a vastly different set of priorities. A member of the Abstract Expressionist school, Sterne was one of very few women in a rag-tag pack of angsty post-war male painters. In 1951, a group of artists penned a letter to the president of the Metropolitan Museum, protesting its conservative aesthetic bias. While 18 artists signed the document, Rothko, de Kooning and Pollock among them, Sterne was the only female signatory.
According to a listing from Corcoran agent Barbara Hochhauser, the five-bedroom, five-bath townhouse had been converted into a three-unit home. Should the buyers, listed on the deed as Maria Herrera and Pedro Chomnalez re-convert it back to a single-family dwelling, they will have a full 13 rooms at their disposal. Sadly, the home comes sans art, and was delivered vacant according to the listing.