The Manhattan townhouse of late and beloved Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace has stormed the real estate runway with a couture price of $70 million.
Purchased for $7.5 million by the extravagance-reveling founder of the Versace label in 1995, just two years before he was shot to death on the front steps of his equally lavish Miami Beach home, the 17-room mansion, just off Fifth Avenue, was acquired from the Versace family in 2005 for $30 million by a corporate concern controlled by Swedish hedge fund manager Thomas Sandell and his wife Ximena Sandell.
Listing agent Nikki Field of The Field Team at Sotheby’s International Realty, who shares the listing with her daughter, Amanda Field Jordan, told the Wall Street Journal the Sandells are “Versace devotees” who sought to restore and preserve much of Versace’s vision. And indeed, the townhouse exudes the OTT opulence for which the fashion icon was known.
The 35-foot-wide Neoclassical mansion spans more than 14,000 square feet over six elevator-serviced floors. Flamboyant flourishes include Italian marble, mosaic, and Austrian parquet floors, along with five carved stone fireplaces, eleven bathrooms — seven full baths and four powder rooms — and more stone columns and pilasters than anyone would ever bother to count. The whole shebang is topped by an expansive roof terrace with a gazebo.
Highlights include a vast 650-square-foot living room sporting a painted ceiling reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel, along with restored 19th-century panels depicting Elysian scenes that were sourced by Versace from a Florentine palazzo. There’s also a second reception room of similar size, a spacious library/office, and a dining room wrapped in delicate hand-painted wall coverings. The kitchen is a recently updated high-end utilitarian space and, like the dining room, the adjoining breakfast room spills out to a 1,000-square-foot garden hemmed in by towering lattice fencing.
Field told WSJ there’s space for up to nine bedrooms, though floor plans show the house is currently configured with five principal bedrooms, plus a couple of staff rooms. The sprawling full-floor homeowner’s suite encompasses a private sitting room, copious closets and a gilt-trimmed bathroom and spa area with coffee bar, while four more guest and family bedrooms and couple of bathrooms on the fifth floor are divided into two suites at either end of a pill-shaped sitting room.
The most significant changes the Sandells made were to the upper floors, including the top level, where they’ve installed a second kitchen, marble-inlaid terrazzo floors, a Moroccan-style media lounge, and a circular game lounge, the latter two flooded with light thanks to a huge skylights.
The mansion is fortified by an advanced security system, along with multi-zone heating and cooling, a Kaleidoscope music system, and a generator that ensures electricity and hot water even in a power outage.
The Sandells have not always occupied the townhouse, at least on a permanent basis. In 2015 they leased the house at $65,000 a month to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit, who later sued Sandell, according to court records, alleging myriad issues such as rodent infestation, mold contamination, and pervasive structural and plumbing issues. Presumably, the alleged issues have been addressed.
The Sandells are also looking to unload a half-built home in the Hamptons. After it failed to sell at $85 million, the ten-acre oceanfront spread on Southampton’s tony Meadow Lane was re-listed earlier this year at $75 million. Construction on an 18,000-square-foot Moroccan-inspired mansion was abandoned some time ago; the next owner can complete the unfinished home or, more likely, knock it down to make way for another custom-built home.
Last year, Sandell reached a $105 million settlement with New York state attorney general’s office over alleged efforts to avoid state and city taxes through his now-defunct hedge fund Sandell Asset Management. They are, however, hardly broke; tax records indicate they scooped up another Southampton home in 2020 for $18 million.