The old French wings of the Rothschild family have inappropriate members and very appropriate members: 23-year-old Raphael de Rothschild was found dead from a heroin overdose in Chelsea a few years back, but then Baron Guy de Rothschild, who recently died at 98, threw balls at his country home with Dalí, and also fought the Nazis.
Baron Eric de Rothschild is the good kind of Rothschild. He helped bring the family bank back to France after it had been nationalized under Mitterrand, and has spent the past 34 years running the vineyards at Château Lafite Rothschild. And he just bought his painter wife, Maria-Beatrice Caracciolo Di Forino, a Village penthouse where she can do some work whenever they’re staying in New York.
According to deeds, they paid $1.15 million for the one-bedroom, 1,050-square-foot co-op at 40 West 12th Street.
When asked for their phone number, their broker, Karen Kennerly of Corcoran, would only say, “They want to be in the Village, and it’s incredibly charming, and, specifically, the light is fabulous, which is to say that the living room has bright northern light with a huge skylight.” She added that her own first name is pronounced with a European accent, just like the Baron’s wife, whose painting name is Beatrice (bay-a-tree-chay) Caracciolo.
When pressed on apartment details, Ms. Kennerly said, “I can’t address that. I don’t feel like it.” The listing broker, Corcoran’s Susan Singer, said Mr. de Rothschild bought the apartment for his wife so she could have a place “to be more connected to the art market.”
Even if the co-op has a wood-burning fireplace, two skylights and a wall of original wrought-iron glass doors, one imagines that the silver-haired Mr. de Rothschild is better off on the Lafite estate than on West 12th. “When you drink Burgundy,” he says in an online Wine Spectator video, in very expensively accented English, “you get quite delicious the Burgundy—I love Burgundies, but they have an effect on you of rather getting you more aggressive, in fact, and you tend sort of to fight on the Burgundy. You tend to agree on a Lafite.”
Before the Rothschilds bought the co-op, Ms. Singer said about 20 offers were turned down because her seller thought the building’s strict, small board wouldn’t accept them. “Especially with the top floor, they wanted to make sure the people would integrate well,” she said. “I would guess it was the name that did it.”
Despite that name, Mr. de Rothschild didn’t get to skip the board meetings. “They didn’t say, ‘Yeah, no problem, no brainer.’ They were like, ‘Come on in, Baron.’ And they put him through his paces, and he was very amenable to it, he was delightful.”
News of the transaction was first reported on a Web site called CoopSales.com.