Last night, Aby Rosen threw another one of his fancy fetes at the mansion he owns, but does not occupy, at 22 East 71st Street. Mr. Rosen bought the former Salander O’Reilly gallery in 2004 for $15.65 million. He spent a not inconsiderable amount of money on renovating it back into a home, though there is still much work to be done, particularly on the upper floors, for the place to feel truly homey.
Still, the central staircase, faced in warm marble, has to be one of the finest in the city, reason enough to put the place back on the market, as Mr. Rosen did in 2008. The blushing price was $75 million, the most anyone dared to ask for a home at the time. And there it has sat ever since. Though the place, now asking a mere $50 million, has been far from quiet.
In the intervening years, it has become a boîte of sorts, like so many of Mr. Rosen’s properties–he’s put the house party in Lever House–host to galas, fundraisers, after parties, product launches and, as was the case last night, art shows.
Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, the society fixture, was hosting an opening for Nicholas Pol’s Neverlodge—not a bad name for the mansion, either. Even if the art was not all that great, various splatters of paint with clever names (Goat After An Orgasm was one, and not entirely inaccurate) and unusual sculptures of cobbled together ephemera, it all served as a pleasant reminder that townhouses are still lovely, intimate places to show art.
Too bad they command so much more as homes and have thus have become an endangered species uptown.
The Observer caught up with Mr. Rosen just as he was leaving. Before we got a chance to say hi, another guest beat us to the big man. He looked like Mr. Rosen’s fellow friend and art dealer Alberto Mugrabi, though it was hard to tell in the faint street light. In the course of the conversation, we overheard the Maybe Mr. Mugrabi remark, “You know, I’ve talked to two or three people tonight who really want to buy the place.”
“Oh yeah?” Mr. Rosen shot back. “I’ve spoken to more than three. It’s great. Everyone wants to buy the place, nobody wants to pay for it.”