Though the property in question remains available on the open market, word on the New York City celebrity real estate street is Keith Urban surprised wife Nicole Kidman with the purchase of an elegant townhouse mansion on a plum Upper East Side block listed with an elephantine $39 million price tag. So the unconfirmed story goes, as was first tattled by Woman’s Day magazine, Urban opted for the by-any-standard lavish gift so Kidman can “pursue her Broadway dream,” never mind, however, that Kidman and Urban already own a much smaller but still exceptionally expensive condo in lower Manhattan from whence she can launch her thespian dreams.
The 25-foot-wide Beaux-Arts residence was designed by architect Alexander Welch and completed in 1901 before it was purchased by prominent corporate attorney Francis Lynde Stetson, former law partner of president Grover Cleveland, and the elegantly proportioned residence, once occupied by Russian-French painter Marc Chagall and, much later, by Michael Jackson, last changed hands in 2001 when Moroccan-born American hedge fund billionaire Marc Lasry picked it up for $11 million. With seven bedrooms, eight full and two half bathrooms plus a staff suite squirreled down in the basement, the genteel six-story residence weighs in at a suburban mansion-sized 12,745-square-feet.
Numerous original architectural elements on the exterior include a bowed portico entrance with glass and wrought iron door flanked by carved columns and muscular limestone quoins set off against red bricks while inside modern creature comforts such as central air conditioning and an elevator are seamlessly integrated with preserved original features like a carved oak staircase, oak floorboards, ten wood burning fireplaces, scads of custom mill work and a plethora of stained and leaded glass windows.
A small entry vestibule opens to a huge foyer at the street level, behind which are a huge, eat-in kitchen and a family room that opens to a tiny terrace, while gargantuan living and entertaining spaces on the high-ceiled piano nobile include a ballroom-scaled living room with floor-to-ceiling multi-paned windows and a dining room with floor-to-ceiling bay window.
The master suite sprawls across the entire third floor and comprises a closet-lined sitting room with fireplace and bay window, a separate bedroom with fireplace and French doors to a private terrace, two bathrooms, one of them barely larger than a small walk-in closet, and a dressing corridor lined on both sides with built-in wardrobes. There are four ample en suite guest bedrooms on the fourth and fifth floors, all with fireplaces and two with small private sitting rooms, while the sixth floor provides two additional bedrooms, one with small private sitting room, plus a shared hall bathroom and a kitchenette. An exterior staircase located in a courtyard patio off the stair landing and one of the bedrooms on the sixth floor leads to a roof terrace that spans the back half of the house while the basement offers a discreet exterior entrance, a small gym, a media lounge and an en suite staff bedroom with just one window that looks into a dark air shaft.
Unsurprisingly for a man of his financial firepower, Lasry maintains a heavy-duty property portfolio that includes a generously terraced duplex penthouse atop one of Central Park West’s most distinguished buildings that he picked up from in 2013 for $33 million. The two-unit penthouse has a long and convoluted history of illustrious previous owners who include Broadway producer Jerry Herman who sold to fashion icon Calvin Klein who, after a run-in with the board over a hot tub he illegally installed on the terrace, sold it to billionaire David Geffen who quickly flipped it to Planet Hollywood co-founder Keith Barish. Barish, who is famously rumored to have used a Jasper John painting as partial payment for the penthouse, bought a neighboring unit from actress Marsha Mason before he sold it back to Calvin Klein who never moved in and once again butted heads with the board before he sold it to music industry bigwig and social networking entrepreneur Steven Gottlieb who, in turn, sold it to Lasry.
As for the Australian Oscar winner, nominated this year for her supporting role in “Lion,” and the platinum-selling New Zealand-born country music star, their extensive property portfolio includes: a penthouse in Sydney, Australia as well as a 100-plus acre country spread outside of Sydney; a not-quite 4,000-square-foot contemporary in a remarkably celeb-packed Beverly Hills enclave they bought in 2008 for $4.75 million; a palatial mansion of more than 12,000-square-feet in a swanky gated development in Nashville, Tenn. they also scooped up in 2008 for $3.47 million; and the briefly aforementioned duplex condo in lower Manhattan’s West Chelsea they snagged in 2010 for a smidgen more than $9.673 million and features a super-snazzy car elevator that lifts autos up from the street to a private garage on the floor on which the owners’ apartment is located.
UPDATE (11-29-17): Kidman put these rumors to rest, telling Access Hollywood that Urban did not buy this townhouse for her.
listing photos and floor plan: Modlin Group