Manhattan is full of history and well-heeled residents. This Upper East Side townhouse combines both, with connections to old money and high society, including the Kennedys, deep-pocketed hedge funders, and even a tetch of Hollywood.
The Catherine Auchincloss house, as it’s known in some historical, architectural and real estate circles, is a spacious and beautifully renovated classic New York townhouse. With 19 rooms that add up to about 8,000 square feet, there are six bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms, and six working fireplaces. An elevator services all six floors, including the basement. Asking $15 million, the residence is listed by George Vanderploeg at Douglas Elliman.
The ground floor offers a marble foyer with an elegant, original curved staircase. This level includes also includes three staff rooms, two bathrooms, laundry facilities and a kitchenette. The parlor floor includes several huge entertaining rooms with 14-foot ceilings and original leaded glass windows, along with several working fireplaces. At the rear, the up-to-date kitchen includes a breakfast area with a wall of windows and a fireplace.
The third-floor master suite includes a large, windowed dressing room with a private staircase down to the kitchen, a separate walk-in closet, a windowed bath, and another working fireplace. There is also a wood paneled library on this level, which looks hardly changed from years gone by. The fourth floor consists of three bedrooms, two with working fireplaces, a gym with sauna, and a 300-square-foot terrace. There are two more bedrooms on the fifth floor, plus a large game room/art studio/playroom with a soaring 20-foot-high north-facing skylight. Unlike many townhouses nowadays, the basement has not been converted to additional living space.
It all started for the storied townhouse back in 1872, when developer Christopher Keyes began building a row of 20-foot wide brownstone-fronted homes on East 69th Street. By the turn of the century, the 11 rowhouses had been upgraded and renovated with limestone facing, as was fashionable at the time.
The renovations to this townhouse were finished in 1905. Wealthy businessman Andrew Agnew purchased and renovated the residence for his daughter, Catherine, as a wedding present for her marriage to businessman Edgar Auchincloss, a wealthy importer from a prominent family, a member of various social clubs, and a keen motor car driver. (Edgar’s nephew Hugh became Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s stepfather in 1942.)
The couple had four children in seven years but Edgar died in 1910, at the age of just 35. In a move that shocked Manhattan’s high-nosed beau monde, two days after her husband’s death Catherine purchased the house next door and then sold it to her brother. Five years later, both houses were renovated to be identical.
Catherine never remarried. She busied herself with raising her four children and charity work. In 1930, with her children growing up, she had yet more renovations done to the townhouse, including removing the stoop and replacing the roof tiles with copper.
Within ten years, all four children grew up, married, and started their own households. Catherine sold the house in 1950, and the house was occupied for many years by a doctor and his family, with a waiting room and medical offices on the ground floor.
In 2002, the townhouse was purchased by Zach Bacon, a partner in the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Moore Capital Management, which was started by his billionaire brother Louis, who is known for being a committed conservationist. (In the Hamptons, Louis donated development rights for 500 pristine acres, ensuring it remain open fields forever, and he is the owner of Robins Island, a large and pristine private island sandwiched between the Long Island’s North and South Forks.)
Zach Bacon purchased the townhouse for himself and his fiancée Diandra Douglas, the former wife of Michael Douglas, and their putative children. Unfortunately, after their twin sons were born in 2004, a custody fight broke out between Zach and Diandra, who split up before they married.
Bacon put the townhouse up for sale in 2005, asking $10.75 million, but he pulled it from the market before it was sold. Now, with this children all grown up, he’s ready to move on, and the next chapter for this timeless townhouse is ready to begin.