Standing at the corner of Central Park West and West 72nd Street, the Dakota is arguably the most famous apartment building in the world. Probably best known as the location of John Lennon’s murder — he was gunned down in the building’s arched entry in 1980, the building has been home to an enormous number of artists over the years, including Leonard Bernstein, Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Boris Karloff, Gilda Radner, and Rudolf Nureyev, among others.
Designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and built in the 1880s, the elaborately embellished edifice was the setting for Roman Polanski’s creepy thriller “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), and more happily, the setting for Jack Finney’s wonderful 1970 novel “Time and Again,” in which the Dakota serves as a portal for time travel. As one might expect from an apartment house of this era, apartments in the Dakota are spacious, with lofty ceilings and lots of dark-stained wood trim. And as for the building’s famously distinctive roof:
… the roof almost instantly pulled my eyes up; it was like a miniature town up there—of gables, turrets, pyramids, towers, peaks. From roof edge to highest peak it must have been forty feet tall; acres of slanted surfaces shingled in slate, trimmed with age-greened copper, and peppered with uncountable windows, dormer and flush; square, round, and rectangular; big and small; wide, and as narrow as archers’ slits. (From Time and Again, Jack Finney, 1970: Simon & Schuster.)
Tucked up into the Dakota rooftops today is a one-of-a-kind duplex that, in contrast with the rest of the building, is strikingly modern. Asking $6.45 million, the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment is listed by Lois Nasser at Sotheby’s International Realty.
Flooded with light, the great room stretches to 44.5-feet long, with a 25-foot cathedral ceiling, a cozy wood-burning fireplace, and a stunning glass staircase. Unsurprising considering the seller is visual artist Claudia Aronow, the walls, even the slanted ones, are hung with a variety of artworks. Worried about sun fading the art? Don’t be. The vast new windows are fitted with custom electronic shades. (Besides being an abstract painter, Aronow is the second ex-wife of shopping center developer Martin Kimmel, co-founder of Kimco Realty. Their son, former fashion designer Adam Kimmel, is married to artist and retired actress Leelee Sobieski, who live in a sprawling Upper East Side apartment they bought some years ago from Renée Zellweger.)
Also on the penthouse’s main floor is a small octagonal media room, carved out of one of the rooftop turrets, as well as a paneled (and unfortunately windowless) office space or meditation lounge with an outside entrance. With north and west exposures, the galley kitchen is nicely equipped with up-to-date designer appliances and a washer/dryer.
The second level boasts 15-plus-foot ceilings and two bedrooms separated by a bridge the spans the great room below. Each bedroom offers custom closets, copious bookshelves and an en-suite bath, while the floor-to-ceiling windows in the slanted roof of the second bedroom, which Aronow uses as a study, add dramatic views and extraordinary light. For the best view, however, check out the 500-square-foot roof terrace — an extraordinarily rare feature at the Dakota — that looks out over the building’s storied rooftops.
While he may be surprised at the modernity of the penthouse’s light-filled interiors, we think Jack Finney would nonetheless approve.