New York’s “last intact Gilded Age mansion” for sale for £38.75 million; it comes with a room that cannot be wiretapped
An Upper East Side “Beaux Arts palace on a small scale” described as “Manhattan’s last intact Gilded Age mansion” has gone on sale for £38.75 million ($50 million, €45.96 million or درهم183.65 million) with Douglas Elliman.
Offering 20,000 square foot of accommodation over nine floors, 854 Fifth Avenue stands opposite Central Park and between 66th and 67th Streets. It was built in 1905 for a stockbroker named Robert Livingston Beeckman and constructed by architects Warren & Wetmore at a cost of $60,000 (the equivalent of $1.6 million, £1.2 million, €1.5 million or درهم5.9 million today). The residence was landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as a “superb example of the French classic style of Louis XV” in 1966 and to this day, the 32-room property retains original features including hand-carved balustrades of white marble, ceiling frescoes of angels and clouds, an original working stove and two of the city’s first private elevators.
Sold next to George Grant in 1912 after Beeckman – later 52nd Governor of Rhode Island – abandoned New York to spend more time at his Newport estate, Lands End, for a then record sum of $725,000 (the equivalent of $18.3 million, £14.1 million, €16.8 million or درهم67.2 million today), 854 Fifth Avenue was then offloaded to Henry White and his heiress wife Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane White for the much lower sum of $450,000 in 1925 (the equivalent of $6.3 million, £4.9 million, €5.8 million or درهم23.1 million today).
Twice married financier of New York’s Sloane Hospital for Women Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane White and her ambassador husband are said to have “added their own touches” to the mansion and after she died, 854 Fifth Avenue was sold to the then nation of Yugoslavia. It has served as a government building since and was most recently used as the Permanent Mission of Serbia and Mission of Serbia to the UN.
Bombed on 11th July 1968 but thankfully subject to little damage in that attack, the mansion still to this day features a ‘Faraday Cage’ – a secret metal-padded room where officials could meet without the fear of being wiretapped – as well as bulletproof windows to its Central Park elevation.
“Everything is virtually intact. Whoever buys it will own a piece of New York history. [The six individuals who have already expressed interest in purchasing 854 Fifth Avenue are] all extremely high-net-worth individuals of different backgrounds”.
Once bordered by houses of a similar scale, 854 Fifth Avenue is now adjoined by two behemoth-like apartment complexes. It stands sturdy and represents a little reminder of the glorious era of Carnegies, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Whitneys.