“River House speaks for itself,” Douglas Elliman broker Betsy Green told the Observer on a recent tour of 4,100 square-foot penthouse that she is currently co-listing for $14.5 million with Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers of Sotheby’s. “If you say, ‘River House,’ anyone who doesn’t know it won’t know what you’re talking about. And those that do will.” (Now that the old-line co-op at 435 East 52nd Street is allowing the use of its name in advertising, we would like to propose a tag line: River House, ‘Nuff Said.)
Among those long “in the know” of course, is the apartment’s owner Ellen Liman, wife of the eminent lawyer Arthur Liman—Paul, Weiss partner, defender of Michael Milken, chief counsel to the Senate during the Iran-Contra inquiry and lead investigator of the Attica prisoner uprising. Mr. Liman passed away in 1997 and Ms. Liman, an artist, spends most of her time these days in Palm Beach, Rye and Martha’s Vineyard, sleeping only occasionally in her sprawling co-op, perhaps after a night at the theater. It does seem a shame to let the spread go to waste—even if it could stand some updating.
The elevator slides open, a bit oddly, on a clear glass door, against which uninitiated visitors might easily bump their heads. Beyond, an entry gallery outfitted with a generous and mirrored bar—mirrors, of occasionally-astonishing complexity, are a theme in this oft 80s-reminiscent space—opens on gracious living and dining quarters. Floors are tile, broad-planked hardwood and marble, but also covered, intermittently, in worn sea-foam wall-to-wall carpeting that comes and goes inexplicably, like a dowdy ghost. Ceilings are high, coffered and collared in classic molding. There are three levels of landscaped, irrigated terraces, done in stately brick and totaling some 2,500 square feet. (Ms. Green calls the co-op a “tower triplex,” though the third floor consists only of a—very beautiful—rooftop terrace. The second, a tile-floored space with many windows and an attached bathroom is at present being used as a painting studio; its light and open layout recall a solarium.)
The real story here, though, is in the views. “You can see everything,” Ms. Green said, “if you should want to.” Which is to say that from windows and terraces alike, one can take in city lights, silhouettes and East River tugs. From the uppermost terrace, the view of the Queensboro Bridge is particularly striking.
“I had another client once in a building on Sutton,” Ms. Green reflected. “She said that at night, it had a green glow. She called it her emerald necklace.” Perhaps it can be yours.