A designer-done duplex penthouse in the heart of New York’s artsy and ever-more-expensive Chelsea neighborhood, with two wraparound terraces and a view of the Empire State Building, is available with a price tag of $20 million.
Atop one of the several buildings that border the verdant gardens of the General Theological Seminary, tax records show the light-filled aerie is owned by a trust tied to equestrian oriented former English professor Stephanie Bulger. That the former English professor can afford such a ritzy residence in one of Manhattan’s trendiest nabes probably has something to do with her father, Len Riggio, founder and former executive chairman of Barnes & Noble. (At the time bookselling behemoth was sold in 2019 for about $683 million, Riggio owned approximately 19% of the stock; already very rich, he was expected to receive an estimated payout of about $94 million from the deal.)
Records indicate Bulger and her husband Mike Bulger, a self-described “luminary wellness expert and an angel investor” who co-founded a podcast production agency and co-hosts a podcast himself, acquired the family-sized luxury condo in early 2013 for $12.2 million.
A quick comparison with marketing materials from the time of their purchase suggests the almost 3,800-square-foot penthouse has since undergone a comprehensive overhaul and reconfiguration. The living and dining rooms were combined into one space that stretches to more than 41 feet long and the kitchen was moved from the west side of the unit to the sunnier-in-the-morning east side.
Listings held by Eileen Foy at Douglas Elliman show the penthouse was designed by architects Alan Wanzenberg, with the interiors “masterfully designed by Lewis Miller.” Throughout the four- and potentially five-bedroom and five-bath residence, traditional craftsmanship is paired with beautiful hardwoods, exceptional millwork, custom cabinetry, and high-tech creature comforts such as electric window shades.
A simple masonry fireplace anchors one end of the vast great room and banks of floor-to-ceiling glass doors open the room to a southeast-facing set-back wraparound terrace. The high-end kitchen sports cerused oak cabinets, a groovy tile back splash, and direct access to the terrace for barbecues and al fresco dining. Adjoining the kitchen are a wet bar for entertaining and a spacious laundry/pantry for cleaning up.
Guest bedrooms are en suite, while the two-story primary suite — marketing materials describe it as “pin-drop quiet,” so it’s perfect for reading a book — comprises a spacious corner bedroom with fireplace, a fitted walk-in closet, and a lavish bathroom complete with steam shower and radiant heat under the Carrara marble floor. In the suite’s entrance vestibule, which doubles as a dressing area, a staircase climbs to an eccentrically tiled and wet bar-equipped penthouse-level solarium that opens to a second wraparound terrace. All together the condo has nearly 1,000 square feet of landscaped terraces.
Residents dig deep to cover monthly common charges that go towards a slate of amenities. In the case of the Bulger penthouse, the monthly tab tallies up to almost $8,500. Among the conveniences and luxuries that pays for are full-time doormen, a fitness center, private storage spaces, and exclusive access to the Close, the seminary’s private and quiet oasis of tree-shaded lawns.
No stranger to rarefied residential circumstances, Bulger’s contemporary art collecting parents have long maintained an equestrian estate in Florida’s horse-centric community of Wellington, an ocean-front home in Palm Beach, and a spacious co-op one of New York’s most exclusive Park Avenue apartment houses. But that’s not all! Out in the Hamptons, they preside over MeadowView Farms, a vast equestrian facility in Southampton, as well as a 12-acre Bridgehampton estate where they have Richard Serra’s 300-ton “Sidewinder” (1999) sculpture installed on the front lawn.