Shortly after his divorce from Texas-born model-actress Jerry Hall was finalized last summer, Rupert Murdoch met and quickly became engaged to 66-year-old Ann Lesley Smith.
Before their engagement was announced in mid-March, the May-December couple went house hunting and in mid-February, the nonagenarian media titan signed a contract to purchase a mansion-sized co-operative apartment on a high floor of New York’s fabled Hampshire House, one of the most elegant apartment houses that line Central Park South. Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner stayed at Hampshire House in the early days of their romance, Marilyn Monroe stayed there during her brief marriage to Joe DiMaggio and Luciano Pavarotti owned several units on the 23rd floor for three decades before his 2007 death.
Alas, it was over as quickly as it began, and their summer wedding was called off amid rumors and reports Murdoch had become increasingly uncomfortable with Smith’s “outspoken Evangelical views“. Murdoch, whose fortune exceeds $17 billion, nonetheless moved forward with the purchase of what was to be their marital home. And it appears there was some stiff competition for the spacious park-view unit; tax records reveal Murdoch paid $35.2 million for the roughly 6,500-square-foot spread, about 17% above the $30 million asking price. The 27th-floor apartment, which carries common charges of almost $32,000 per month, was sold by the heirs of late billionaire hedge fund manager Julian Robertson.
Unquestionably luxurious but in need of a refresh (marketing materials make use of virtually staged imagery), the vast and voluminous apartment sprawls across an entire floor with views to the north, south, east and west. As configured, there are five and potentially more bedrooms along with five bathrooms, plus two more powder rooms, one off the foyer for guests and the other tucked into the laundry room for staff.
Once owned by opera singer Alice Tully (namesake of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall), the apartment was designed for entertaining. A private elevator entry leads to an entrance gallery with a walk-in wet bar, while the cavernous 36-foot-long living room, with 18-plus-foot ceilings, showcases a trio of 15-foot arched windows that open to a 46-foot-long planted terrace with Central Park laid out like a nubby textured carpet below. Other highlights include an intimate corner dining room, an updated kitchen jam-packed with all the premium culinary accouterment money can buy, and a sunny south- and west-facing library/media room.
All four guest bedrooms are en suite (one has its own wet bar and fireside sitting room), while the park-facing primary bedroom has extensive closet space, a fireplace, a lavish marble bath and a small gym that’s easily convertible to a dressing room or bedroom.
The apartment was listed with Joanne Douglas of Douglas Elliman, while Murdoch was jointly represented in the big deal by Emily Beare of CORE and Deborah Grubman at Corcoran.
The question for real estate watchers now is will the international media mover and shaker settle into the Hampshire House apartment as an epic bachelor pad or will he flip it back on the market? Anyone want to take bets?