It is a house that launched a million voyeuristic thrills—Marilyn Monroe, clad in lingerie, briefly appeared in a second-story window. Too bad for the neighbors that the famous sex symbol didn’t undress in the window of 164 East 61st Street every night. She only displayed herself when the cameras were rolling, during the filming of The Seven Year Itch.
The house, a multifamily with commercial space on the ground floor, has sold for $5.9 million to Oakwood Equities LLC. The buyer would appear to be real estate investor Ira Lifshutz, given that he and Oakwood share an address in Engelwood, New Jersey. Hey, Engelwood also provides one of New York’s more famous views.
Mostly, Monroe’s disrobing in full view of passersby was a publicity stunt, reported The New York Times. But hardly anyone got to view the real, live Marilyn rather than her celluloid double, with barricades blocking off the street between Third and Lexington. Most of the rest of the film, besides the famed subway grate shot, was filmed elsewhere.
At least the townhouse isn’t entirely changed from how it appeared in Monroe’s day—when it was conceivable that a young woman would find a budget brownstone apartment in the East 60s. Massey Knackal broker Clint Olsen, who represented the seller, said that it was not technically on the market, although it was listed this summer for $8 million with Corcoran and a little over a year ago for $4.79 million.
The five-story building is still divided into apartments, with six residential units (three one-bedrooms, two studios and an owner’s duplex) as well as a doctor’s office on the ground floor. Although we doubt anyone was paying the price that screenwriter Billy Wilder set Monroe’s fictitious rent at: a modest $160 a month.
Monroe’s long-ago window striptease still draws sidewalk gawkers. “People stopped by all the time,” said seller Chris Bejoian, who owned the property for 25 years under Bejoian Brothers LLC. Well, as Elton John said, Monroe’s candle burned out long before her legend ever did.
At the moment no one is enjoying the thrill of changing into something a little more comfortable in full view of the street. The building will be delivered vacant. Mr. Olsen said that the next owner plans to convert it to luxury rentals. We hope the second-floor tenants have curtains.