The One Sutton Place South, New York setting for parties, people and politics that was once home to the socialite and representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Marietta Peabody Tree is back on the market for £6.6 million
Marietta Peabody Tree typified New York socialites of the 1940s and 50s in that she was famed as a party hostess, conducted “intense affairs” with film directors and a Presidential candidate and then married the bisexual son of a billionairess. She was less typical in that she was then President John F. Kennedy’s Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights between 1961 and 1964.
Described by Isaiah Berlin as “a progressive, liberal figure who was mixed up with a lot of naïve left-wing sympathisers”, Marietta Peabody was the only daughter of the rector of the Grace Episcopal Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts. An “effervescent, leggy blond”, Peabody did not excel at school so instead of going to university, chose to embark on a grand tour of Europe before signing up to a finishing school in Florence. When, at around that time, she was asked to predict her future, this “accomplished flirt” commented: “Parties, people and politics”.
After subsequently enrolling and then withdrawing from the University of Pennsylvania, Marietta Peabody married a lawyer named Desmond FitzGerald in 1939. Together they had a daughter and then on the outbreak of war, she accepted a post as part of the American delegation assisting the British Ministry of Information.
After an affair with the director of The Misfits, John Huston, Peabody then divorced FitzGerald to marry a bisexual British MP and friend of Winston Churchill named Ronald Tree in 1947. A quintessential urban being, Peabody Tree quickly realised living at Ditchley Park, Tree’s country residence in Oxforshire, England, was “dull” and she persuaded him to move with her back to New York.
In the ensuing years, Marietta Peabody Tree found her vocation joining the unsuccessful 1952 Presidential election campaign of another of her lovers, Adlai Stevenson, and then was appointed under him as the United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1961. She later obtained directorships on the boards of CBS, Pan Am and Lend Lease Corporation and served on the women’s trustee board of the University of Pennsylvania. She died after a battle with breast cancer in 1991.
Maisonette A at One Sutton Place South in New York’s East Midtown was Peabody Tree’s home for many years and it was befitting of her social status. Situated within a building designed and completed in 1927 by Rosario Candela and Cross & Cross that has variously been home to the designer Bill Blass, the socialite Cornelia Guest and the actress Sigourney Weaver, the former Peabody Tree apartment is now for sale through Stribling at a price of £6,600,000 ($9,995,000).
Previously marketed at £7,900,000 ($12,000,000) in 2012 and then £6,800,000 ($10,250,000) in 2014, the current owner, Louise Woolworth Lamphere, moved into it in 2004 when she downsized from a larger flat in the building in 2004. She suitably engaged the favoured decorator of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Albert Hadley, Jr. (1920 – 2012), to redesign the space and the result is a three to four bedroom property that features a number of grand entertaining spaces. Ideally for the rather promiscuous Peabody Tree, the apartment also has two separate entrances. This surely ensured, as they came and went, that never did two of this socialite’s many lovers ever need have met and now for entirely innocent reasons it is again listed as a key selling point.
Potential buyers should be advised that cash only sales are allowed within the One Sutton Place South co-op and that maintenance fees on the apartment are a staggering £71,000 ($107,000) per year: Only wealthy, party, people and politics loving people need apply.
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