On His Own

In the summer blockbuster X-Men 2, Alan Cumming’s character, Nightcrawler, saves the day by harnessing his mutant powers of teleportation

In the summer blockbuster X-Men 2, Alan Cumming’s character, Nightcrawler, saves the day by harnessing his mutant powers of teleportation to whisk another character through an otherwise impassable door. In Chelsea, Mr. Cumming just pulled off another impressive teleporting feat-disappearing from a 430-square-foot studio and rematerializing in a 3,228-square-foot penthouse loft.

The 38-year-old actor closed in mid-March on a $1.925 million condo on far West 22nd Street. Actually, there are two signatures on the deed: Mr. Cumming’s and that of his former longtime boyfriend, theater director Nick Philippou-but only Mr. Cumming is moving in. The two men contracted to buy the place while they were still an item, but they broke up before the closing date.

“At the time, the separation was too fresh for them to consider going through everything over again and take names off the lease,” said Mr. Cumming’s rep, David Nesmith of PMK/HBH. “They also own other property together in London and upstate New York, so it didn’t seem to be an issue.”

According to city records, the two men signed a contract on the Chelsea apartment on Feb. 5. About one month later, however, they broke off the relationship, as the Daily News first reported March 16, and as Mr. Nesmith confirmed to The Observer . Despite the split, they both affixed their signatures to the closing deeds on March 17.

“They only had a few weeks between [breaking up] and signing the lease, and they just went ahead with it,” said Mr. Nesmith.

Mr. Cumming’s new home is a duplex condo in a recently converted commercial-use building. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit sprawls over 2,254 square feet of interior space and has a 974-square-foot, planted wraparound terrace. The fifth-and-sixth-floor apartment has 13-foot-high ceilings, maple floors, and what is described as a gourmet designer kitchen with top stainless-steel appliances.

It’s a far cry from Mr. Cumming’s last place, the 430-square-foot second-floor studio at the Sequoia, located at 222 West 14th Street. The Scottish-born Mr. Cumming bought that condo in 1999 for $219,000, right on the heels of landing a lead role in the 1998 Broadway production of Cabaret . He and Mr. Philippou have been sharing those close quarters ever since. And even though they are no longer romantically involved, both men are still partners in their fledgling theater company, the Art Party.

“It’s vibrant and going,” Mr. Nesmith said. “They’re still working together and collaborating on their next project.”

Mr. Cumming has also decided, for the time being, against selling the studio. Broker Helene Luchnick, of Douglas Elliman, had the exclusive on the West 22nd Street apartment.


Jocelyne Wildenstein is ready to cash out of Trump World Tower. The famous divorcée recently put an investment property that she owns at the building on the market for a cool $10 million.

The apartment combines two original units on the tower’s 51st floor, both of which Ms. Wildenstein bought in 2001 and then renovated into a large two-bedroom apartment. Listing broker Eva Mohr of Sotheby’s International Realty declined to comment on the sale.

Ms. Wildenstein bought the units as a place to stay while her townhouse at East 82nd Street was being renovated, and it was always her intention to sell or lease the Trump units once the construction at 82nd Street was completed, according to her broker, Robert Haberman of Douglas Elliman.

“She wanted to move out during the renovation, so I sold her the two apartments at Trump,” Mr. Haberman said. “She got special permission to break through and make one big apartment.”

Mr. Haberman also sold Ms. Wildenstein her townhouse, a five-story building off Fifth Avenue. She bought it in February of 2000, in the wake of her very public and very messy divorce from international art dealer Alec Wildenstein.

While married, Mr. and Ms. Wildenstein had lived together-along with other members of the Wildenstein clan-at a limestone mansion at 11 East 64th Street. But when Ms. Wildenstein came home one night and allegedly found Mr. Wildenstein in bed with another woman, an explosive divorce saga ensued that spilled across tabloid covers throughout much of 1997 and 1998. Ms. Wildenstein didn’t vacate the 64th Street residence until the spring of 1999, when a judge finally granted her a divorce on the grounds of sexual abandonment.

Ms. Wildenstein bought the two units at Trump World Tower, located at 845 U.N. Plaza, in July and September of 2001. Combined, the seven-room, 3,500-square-foot apartment has three and a half bathrooms, a media room, a den, and separate living and dining rooms. The apartment offers sweeping river and city views, and some of Ms. Wildenstein’s touches include dining-room chairs covered in ostrich feathers.


Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan just unloaded his only permanent Manhattan residence-a 43rd-floor perch at Trump Tower, located at 721 Fifth Avenue. According to a company spokesman, Mr. Dolan and his wife weren’t getting a lot of use out of the condo, so they’ve decided to become full-time Long Islanders.

“They reside on Long Island, and they weren’t using the apartment enough to justify it,” said the spokesman.

Mr. Dolan bought the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom unit in 1996 (just one year after Cablevision paid close to $1 billion for the purchase of Madison Square Garden and its accompanying sports teams) for $1.3 million, and then sold it this March for $2.3 million.

Mr. Dolan, 76, founded the Bethpage, N.Y.–based cable company 30 years ago. The company, which Mr. Dolan now manages with his son, chief executive James F. Dolan, has hit a rough patch in recent years with its forays into industries outside of television. Particularly troublesome have been its wrangles with the sports industry: Mr. Dolan has lost bids on the Mets, the Red Sox and the Yankees in the past five years.

But this recent quarter found the venerable mogul on a rebound, with a 12.6 percent surge in stock prices resulting from Cablevision’s spinoff of costly investments like the satellite-television service Rainbow DBS, the Clearview Cinemas chain, the Bravo cable channel and the Nobody Beats the Wiz electronics chain.

His latest spinoff is a 1,509-square-foot apartment with northern, southern and western exposures, giving views of Central Park and a choice bit of the city skyline. The dining and living rooms are combined in a large “L,” and the master bedroom measures 20 by 14 feet.


Sirio Maccioni recently bought an apartment so close to his two New York restaurants, Le Cirque 2000 and Osteria del Circo, he can practically keep an eye on all his customers from his bedroom. In mid-April, Mr. Maccioni closed on a $1.175 million condo at Museum Tower, which is located at 15 West 53rd Street-about four blocks from both restaurants.

“I can walk to Le Cirque in three and a half minutes, and I can walk to Circo in three and a half minutes,” Mr. Maccioni said. “I always believe in living close to where you work.”

The famed 69-year-old restaurateur said the quick commute allows him to take a much-needed mid-afternoon break.

“I get to work around 10, I come back home for an hour or two in the afternoon, and I get back around 6,” he said. “For me, it’s very important to be closed for a few hours during the day.”

When The Observer reached Mr. Maccioni on June 19, he was in Mexico City, playing host to a gaggle of journalists at the official opening of the Mexican branch of Le Cirque. It’s the third version of the New York original; Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel houses the second.

Though his expanding empire now keeps him hop-scotching around the world, Mr. Maccioni said that he’s never been able to understand how people who run Manhattan restaurants live in the suburbs.

“In this business, you never finish before 11 o’clock, and if you live an hour or an hour and a half away from the city, you get home, at best, at midnight-or most of the time at 1 o’clock,” he said. “And then, to get to work at 10 in the morning, you have to leave around 8.”

Mr. Maccioni said he picked Museum Tower in particular because it has the spit-and-polish features of a luxury building, but “it’s not some pretentious place, like some of those very strictly run apartment houses.” At the same time, he would just as soon do without the manned elevator.

“Usually I like the automatic elevators, but they say it’s chic to have a man running the elevator. I don’t know,” he said.

Mr. Maccioni’s new apartment has 1,917 square feet, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, and south and east exposures. As you might expect, he installed a near-professional-level kitchen, although he said the addition was really more his wife’s idea. He is particularly fond of the windows, which he said completely insulate his apartment from midtown traffic snarls.

“We’re on the 25th floor, and there’s never any noise,” he said.

The walk-to-work ethos has been a Maccioni trademark for nearly the last 20 years. When Le Cirque was at its original location at the Mayfair hotel at 65th Street and Park Avenue, Mr. Maccioni and his family lived in a duplex apartment at the St. Tropez, a condo building at 340 East 64th Street. The celebrated restaurant-and the Maccioni clan-remained in the East 60’s until 1996, when Mr. Maccioni began making preparations to move the restaurant to its current location at the Palace Hotel, on Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st streets. At that point, the family moved to temporary housing in midtown, spending the last 18 months at 136 East 55th Street.

Currently, two of Mr. Maccioni’s three sons also live in the neighborhood. (The third lives in Las Vegas.)

“My one son lives one block away at Rockefeller Tower, so sometimes from his window he can see my window,” Mr. Maccioni said. “My young son rents a small apartment on 56th Street, but most of the time he comes home anyway. He told me he keeps that apartment for different reasons. He’s young, so you can imagine what are the different reasons.”


There seem to be a few issues that need clearing up regarding Martha Stewart’s unfinished modernist house in East Hampton. First, it did officially hit the market last week, a listing that the New York Post reported as imminent in its May 15 issue. However, Ms. Stewart isn’t asking $12.5 million; she’s asking $10.5 million. Secondly, it isn’t actually Ms. Stewart that’s doing the asking; it’s her daughter, Alexis. The brokerage house selling the property claims that, contrary to popular conception, Martha Stewart doesn’t own the house; rather, she transferred sole ownership of the property into her daughter’s hands shortly after purchasing it in 1995 for $3.5 million.

“It is Alexis Stewart’s, it has been Alexis Stewart’s, and it is she who has contracted us to sell it on her behalf,” said Alice Bell, manager of the East Hampton office of Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s always been referred to-at least to us-as ‘the Alexis Stewart house.'”

The Suffolk County clerk’s office didn’t have any record of that deed change on file; but because Martha Stewart purchased the house under a corporate name, she didn’t necessarily have to notify the clerk’s office.

“If you transfer the stock of the corporation, there would not be a public record of it,” said Stuart Saft, chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums. Mr. Saft was not familiar with the specifics of the Stewart case.

Martha-um, Alexis-Stewart’s house has been an object of interest, speculation and even scorn throughout its four decades of existence. Noted architect Gordon Bunshaft built the 2,600-square-foot house in 1962 for his family. It was the skyscraper enthusiast’s only residential design. The squat, thin, rectangular building has a windowless marble façade and sits on a 2.5-acre lot that borders tony Georgica Pond, which itself fronts the Atlantic Ocean. Bunshaft died in 1990, and when his widow died in 1994, she left the entire estate to the Museum of Modern Art. Martha Stewart bought the property from MoMA the following year.

Shortly after purchasing the property, Ms. Stewart began a years-long feud with her neighbor, real-estate developer Harry Macklowe. What began with small-time border disputes eventually escalated into full-blown litigation. The legal quagmire effectively halted Ms. Stewart’s renovations on the house and, as a result, she never moved in. Today, the house stands as a gutted shell that residents routinely call “an eyesore.” Ms. Stewart’s main residence in East Hampton is a traditional shingle-style house on nearby Lily Pond Lane.

Despite the fact that it was always Martha’s name that surfaced in press accounts of the Stewart vs. Macklowe spat, brokers at Sotheby’s insist that all bids on the property will be vetted by its current owner, Alexis. When The Observer asked Mr. Macklowe if he’d be interested-if only to ensure against the possibility of having to sling more mud over the eight-foot fence he erected between the properties-a Macklowe spokesman told us that “he’s not making any comments on this.”

The village has already approved Ms. Stewart’s renovation plans, so whoever does end up with the property won’t have to re-apply; that is, of course, as long as they want a Bunshaft design as interpreted by Martha Stewart. If so, the plans call for a renovation of the main house, a separate studio and a garage. Also approved is the installation of a 60-foot-long pool and three more small buildings that won’t be connected to the main house. Ms. Bell of Sotheby’s envisioned them as an office, a library and a gym.

“These plans were filed, and probably they could all be re-enacted,” said Ms. Bell. “What we’re saying is: He who buys it can do what they want-but in case somebody would like something like that, there were original plans for it.”

On His Own