The former Southampton, N.Y., home of proto-Pop artist Larry Rivers has been put on the market. Listed by Michaela Keszler and Paulina Keszler at Douglas Elliman, the 1880 house, one of the original homes in the area, retains much of its original charm and period features, including stained glass, carved newel posts, and original doors. The asking price is $8.495 million.
Rivers (1923-2002) performed in his 20s as a jazz saxophonist before he studied painting and became a major figure in the Manhattan art world where his friends included a who’s who of artists, writers and musicians, from Leonard Bernstein and Jasper Johns to Kenneth Koch and Terry Southern. He worked as a painter, sculptor, and printmaker and some of his paintings made quite a stir, during the time of Abstract Expressionism, with figurative works such as “Frank O’Hara Nude With Boots” (1954) and “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1953). He also acted in the Beat film “Pull My Daisy” with Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, and made a documentary, “Africa and I,” with the Oscar-winning filmmaker Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau.
His reputation faded a bit after the 1950s and took a hit in 2010, when his two daughters demanded that films of them, taken without their consent as children, showing their nude bodies and developing breasts, be removed from the archive of his papers at New York University. (NYU eventually declined to purchase those works and they remain with the Larry Rivers Foundation.)
The current owner, Christopher Decristofaro, grew up next door and purchased the house from the artist’s estate in 2003 for $1.2 million. Five years later, he gut renovated the house, bringing it down to the studs and adding a new kitchen and baths. Hamptonites tend to prefer white kitchens nowadays, usually with white marble counters — dark wood is seen as “suburban”— so the expanded kitchen is a little dark for current local trends and tastes. There is, however, plenty of counter space, a spacious dining area and easy access to the pool.
The full bath on the main floor has its own mudroom for use while swimming in the pool, and upstairs are four bedrooms, each with a bathroom and nostalgic built-ins, as well as the master bedroom that includes a balcony overlooking the pool. In all, there are five bedrooms and six and a half baths set in 5,760 square feet. The bathrooms, too, are not quite in keeping with an old Southampton house; they’re a little too “suburban” and ordinary with the dark wood and tumbled beige marble.
The half an acre of mature landscaping includes a patio and a rectangular pool surround by lawn and, behind the rosebushes, is a one-bedroom, one-bath guesthouse with kitchen and private patio. The guesthouse looks like it could use updating, but the main house looks more-or-less turnkey, and the shed, which was once Rivers’ art studio, still bears his signature on the concrete floor.