Why, his building was one of the great ones built just before the First World War! Back then it was still not entirely proper for a good family to live in an apartment (instead of a house). So the apartments were built like mansions, with eleven-, twelve-, thirteen-foot ceilings, vast entry galleries, staircases, servants’ wings, herringbone-parquet floors, interior walls a foot thick, exterior walls as thick as a fort’s, and fireplaces, fireplaces, fireplaces, even though the buildings were all built with central heating. A mansion!— except that you arrived at the front door via an elevator (opening upon your own private vestibule) instead of the street. That was what you got for $2.6 million, and anyone who put one foot in the entry gallery of the McCoy duplex on the tenth floor knew he was in . . . one of those fabled apartments that the world, le monde, died for!
–Tom Wolfe, “The Bonfire of the Vanities”
Le monde would also die for this sprawling apartment in a posh 1920s Park Avenue building designed by Rosario Candela, who was famous for having an understated exterior style and luxurious interiors. Asking $17 million and repped by John Burger at Brown Harris Stevens, the swanky co-op unit has oodles of classic pre-war details including herringbone-parquet floors, two dozen closets, many of them walk-ins, and what promo materials tout as “fireplaces, fireplaces, fireplaces.” There are, in fact, four antique marble fireplaces in this apartment.
The flat has four principal bedrooms and a total 5.5 bathrooms in 5,500 square feet, and it seems to be original when it comes to the floor plan: there are four tiny staff rooms clustered together behind the kitchen, although one could be used as a staff sitting room. We love the fact that the apartment seems to be untouched, but we’re sure new owners will renovate, combine the staff rooms — the days when staff lived in teensy bedrooms has passed, update bathrooms, and so on. That said, the apartment is thoughtfully laid out to afford the most privacy possible both for the family and the staff.
A private elevator vestibule leads to the gallery, in this case a well-named room, as the late owner was a noted art collector. The living room and dining room are both gracious and elegant, with the living room having windows on two sides. The library is cozy, perfect for curling up with a book. The family bedrooms are all good-sized with large closets and a private bath. However, unlike today, the master bedroom isn’t much bigger than the other family bedrooms. The four staff bedrooms share two bathrooms.
The last owner of the co-op was Elene Canrobert Isles de Saint Phalle, who passed away this year at the age of 96. She came from a wealthy family and married into two old-money New York families, as well. The Canrobert family moved from Europe to Beverly Hills in the early 1930s. Elene went to Beverly Hills High School, the University of California, Berkeley, and then to Columbia for graduate school, working at the United Nations. She married Philip Isles, a scion of two great New York investment banking clans, including Lehman Brothers. Isles died when Elene was 35, leaving her several very important pieces of 20th century art. She later married another investment banker, Thibault de Saint Phalle, from whom she had a contentious divorce in the 1980s.
Part of Elene’s art collection, inherited from Philip Isles, was sold at Christie’s New York last month. Most notably among the six pieces offered that sold for $18 million in total were “Jeune fille à la rose” by Renoir, below, and “La Coiffure” by Degas.