Like influential set decorator and maximalist interior designer Tony Duquette and centenarian fashion icon Iris Apfel, the design ethos of both Donald Trump and his recently deceased first wife Ivana Trump can be easily summed up: more is more.
More gold! Anything that doesn’t run away first is covered in gilding. More animal print! Cover that chaise, that chair, and that settee in leopard, immediately! Crystal chandeliers? Yes, and lots of them, at least one in every room, including the bathrooms, please. Ceilings should be tented in silk, in classic Mario Buatta fashion, of course, and all the windows are to be dressed in florid swags and tails. Add a few gilded cherubs here and there, some red and gold damask wallpaper, and fin!
The first ex-Mrs. Trump died earlier this year, in July, at 73, when she fell down the stairs of her flamboyantly appointed townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. And now her heirs, her children, have put the townhouse up for sale at $26.5 million. Mrs. Trump paid $2.5 million for the five-story residence in 1992, after her divorce from Donald was finalized. The 20-foot-wide residence currently sports five bedrooms, but there’s plenty of space to rejigger and add more bedrooms should a buyer desire, according to the listing agents, Adam Modlin of Modlin Group and Roger Erickson of Douglas Elliman.
The only thing plain and simple about the late Mrs. Trump’s townhouse is the restrained limestone façade. Though given its Versailles-like interiors, one might easily wonder if the businesswoman, philanthropist and socialite thought a few golden swags would liven it up a bit. From a design perspective, you have to admire someone who knows what she likes no matter how over-the-top it is, and for all it’s showy extravagance, the townhouse’s overall decorative scheme is not at all vulgar, even if it’s not to current tastes.
There are two formal entertaining areas on the second floor, a sitting room and dining room, and Mrs. Trump once described the red and green sitting room as “how Louis XVI would have lived if he had had money.” (Note: Louis XVI’s household expenditure for 1789 tabulates to what would be approximately $8 billion now.) Unsurprisingly, the dining room is all in gold, with chairs upholstered in gold and gold fabric on the walls.
The largest of the guest bedrooms, on the fourth floor, features a crown-topped organza canopy bed, while Mrs. Trump’s personal suite includes a private terrace outside the bedroom, a fireplace, extensive closet space, and a bathroom outfitted in endless mirrors upon mirrors, with acres of pink marble and gold fixtures. And since out and out palatial is not quite enough, Ms. Trump tossed in a few gilded Corinthian columns to really glitz the bathroom up!
Though Ivana couldn’t be bothered with cooking in her later years, her townhouse was nonetheless equipped with not just one but two compact galley kitchens, one just off the dining room and another downstairs on the garden level. Almost certainly, the next owner will want to build a new and much larger kitchen, perhaps on the garden level. And with a total of about 8,725 square feet to play with, that should be no problem.
Even with all the gilding and excess, the townhouse seems a decent value considering it’s in an especially tony section Manhattan — David Geffen and Gianni Versace once owned townhouses on the same block — and is in excellent condition. And, while the next owner is likely to minimize some of the garishness (and throw some white paint around), it wouldn’t seem right not to keep just one leopard chair in tribute to the townhouse’s larger-than-life former owner.