Penthouse of opulence

(From top) The formal dining room, the library and Rivers at home in a 2012 picture. The ballroom (right) in the triplex of Joan Rivers. The music room (above) has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.
The music room has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
(From top) The formal dining room, the library and Rivers at home in a 2012 picture. The ballroom (right) in the triplex of Joan Rivers. The music room (above) has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.
The ballroom in the triplex of Joan Rivers. PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
(From top) The formal dining room, the library and Rivers at home in a 2012 picture. The ballroom (right) in the triplex of Joan Rivers. The music room (above) has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.
The formal dining room.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
(From top) The formal dining room, the library and Rivers at home in a 2012 picture. The ballroom (right) in the triplex of Joan Rivers. The music room (above) has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.
The library.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES
(From top) The formal dining room, the library and Rivers at home in a 2012 picture. The ballroom (right) in the triplex of Joan Rivers. The music room (above) has a high ceiling and gilded antique boiserie panelling.
Rivers at home in a 2012 picture.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Home of the late comedienne Joan Rivers sold for $38 million to a Middle Eastern buyer

NEW YORK • The palatial triplex on the Upper East Side that Joan Rivers called home for more than a quarter of a century until her death last year - where she had honed her caustic comedy routines, entertained celebrities and, by her own telling, even encountered a belligerent ghost - has been sold for US$28 million (S$38.2 million).

The property, a penthouse with an adjoining unit, No. 5A, which was occupied by her daughter Melissa Rivers and grandson Edgar Cooper Endicott is at 1 East 62nd Street, off Fifth Avenue.

The buyer was "Middle Eastern royalty" who paid the full asking price, according to a spokesman for the listing broker, the Corcoran Group. The monthly carrying costs are US$25,337.

The 11-room apartment, with four bedrooms, 41/2 baths and five wood-burning fireplaces, encompasses about 5,100 sq ft on the top three floors of the seven-storey 1903 limestone mansion, which was designed by Horace Trumbauer in neo-French Classic style.

The triplex has two terraces totalling 430 sq ft that offer Central Park and cityscape views.

The residence had been on and off the market for a few years - in 2009, it was offered for US$25 million and, in 2012, for US$29.5 million. 

 

It was re-listed through the Rosenberg Family Trust in February, five months after the comedienne's death at age 81 following a minor procedure on her vocal cords. Ms Melissa Rivers and Mr Michael D. Karlin, Joan Rivers' long-time business manager, are listed as the trustees.

Ms Melissa Rivers declined to comment on the sale. But Ms Leighton C. Candler of Corcoran, the listing broker who handled multiple offers on the property for her, noted that "selling was emotional. It would have been far more emotional, though, to live with the memories of her mother there".

Rivers, who served as president of the building's four-member condominium board, bought the apartment in 1988, about a year after the death of her husband Edgar Rosenberg.

She was known in the building as Mrs Rosenberg, though she jokingly referred to herself as the "scary lady upstairs".

The fully restored apartment was both a showpiece and refuge for Rivers who, in a 2012 interview, described its lavish decor as "Louis XIV meets Fred and Ginger".

A private lift landing opens to a massive ballroom, where Rivers gave lavish parties, and an adjoining music room with a 7m-high ceiling, gilded antique boiserie panelling and columns and two fireplaces. A south-facing terrace is reachable through an adjacent dining room via three French doors and from a wood- panelled library.

The upper level has a mezzanine overlooking the music room and the ballroom, and includes the master suite, which has French doors opening to the second terrace. Unit 5A, a separate but contiguous two-bedroom, two- bath apartment on the lower level, has a living room with a fireplace.

"She did an extraordinary job restoring all the rooms," Ms Candler said. "It was an enormous wreck - there were storeys of pigeons roosting in the ballroom."

And, according to Rivers, there were more than lingering pigeons. In a 2009 episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, Rivers said she brought in a voodoo priestess shortly after moving in to help clear out a bothersome ghost she called Mrs Spencer, supposedly a former resident.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Penthouse of opulence'. Print Edition | Subscribe