Godly Shutterbug Thomas Struth Snaps Up Co-op on ‘Frontier-ish’ Upper East Side

Thomas Struth, maybe the most sublime photographer alive, just bought his first apartment. This month, he and his wife, the writer Tara Bray Smith, paid $2.1 million for a two-bedroom apartment on East 67th Street, near Park Avenue, according to city records.

“That was a big deal for me, especially because it’s such a big thing with the board package and everything, the whole process,” Mr. Struth said yesterday from Düsseldorf. The board, three people somewhere around their mid-70s, was probably at least slightly happy that their buyer had a glorious 2003 solo show at the Met, which made him the first living artist to show work in the museum’s Great Hall.

It’s slightly odd that an artist type would want a tasteful little co-op with original brass details, Parquet de Versailles floors in the dining room, and random-width oak floors (and a wood-burning fireplace) in the living room. But Mr. Struth’s photographs, of museum tourists or turtlenecked families, are famous for their grand simplicity and immaculate order. “I think it’s inevitable that what you surround yourself with reflects what your work is like, and vice versa,” he said in his slow, thick German accent. “It would be very strange if my studio or my apartment would be totally chaotic.”

The couple will spend four or so months of the year here, though Mr. Struth won’t be taking New York snapshots. When asked about his image of Crosby Street in the ramshackle ’70s, he said, “It’s difficult, to me, to come back to someplace where I did something important. I doubt whether I will do any street photographs again in New York. That was ’78—very extensively and intensively—and that was that.”

Ms. Smith, who spent nine years in New York, including Williamsburg, before she moved to Düsseldorf, said going to the not-so-artsy Upper East Side is “very frontier-ish.” But her seller, Corcoran’s Sharon Held, who also listed the apartment, spent $1.825 million for a penthouse in Williamsburg. Her husband works in finance. “You can imagine, this is a change,” she said.

Godly Shutterbug Thomas Struth Snaps Up Co-op on ‘Frontier-ish’ Upper East Side