The art historian and celebrated Picasso biographer died earlier this year. His extensive art collection is also slated to be sold.
A Flatiron Loft Filled With Treasures
Donna Dotan/ DDReps
The seventh-floor apartment at 73 Fifth Avenue, a block from Union Square, seems more like an art museum than a residence, with works from Lucian Freud, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and countless other artists holding court in every room. Stacks of art books and intriguing objets d’art can also be found throughout the space.
What else would you expect from what had been a primary home and workplace of John Richardson, the renowned Picasso biographer and art historian who opened the New York office of Christie’s auction house in the 1960s?
Mr. Richardson died in March at age 95. His extensive art collection is to be auctioned sometime next year. Now his Fifth Avenue apartment, at East 15th Street in the Flatiron district, is being sold by his estate. The asking price is $7.2 million, with $4,571 in monthly maintenance, according to Jeffrey Stockwell of Compass, who is listing the property with his colleagues Jill Bernard and Alan Shaker.
The co-op measures around 5,400 square feet and encompasses a full floor. It was once a raw, open loft used by a dance studio. But after Mr. Richardson bought it in 1995, he carved up the space, creating an enfilade of rooms connected via mahogany doorways crowned with neoclassical pediments. Movable room dividers were also built, and Mr. Richardson’s idiosyncratic décor was employed throughout the space. (The architect Ernesto Buch helped with the design of the loft.)
“He had such a brilliant eye for interiors and mixing serious and playful things,” said Shelley Wanger, an executor of the estate (with Jeffrey Coploff, Mr. Richardson’s lawyer) and his longtime friend and editor, adding that the home’s aesthetic was largely “inspired by an English country house.”
A large portrait of John Richardson by his close friend Andy Warhol hangs in the great room among various other artwork.Credit…Donna Dotan/ DDReps
The rambling residence is currently configured with two bedrooms and two and a half baths.
Entry into the apartment is through a well-lit, orange-hued reception room, where there is also a powder room and storage space. The area is presently being used by Mr. Richardson’s editorial staff, who are working to finish his fourth and final volume of “A Life of Picasso.” (Publication is expected in the fall of 2020, according to Ms. Wanger, who is a senior editor of Penguin Random House, the book’s publisher.)
On one side of the reception area is a spacious library, also used by staff. The burnt umber-painted room is lined with built-in shelves crammed with art books and periodicals. A side table there displays numerous photographs of Mr. Richardson and his many famous friends, including a young and old Picasso, and Warhol with Pope John Paul II.
At the other side of the reception room is the great room. It’s jammed with an eclectic mix of antique and traditional furnishings, along with numerous paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures from artists like Picasso, Warhol, Kathy Ruttenberg, Ugo Rondinone and Salvator Rosa. Among the room’s many standout pieces: an enormous ethereal landscape by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer and a large portrait of Mr. Richardson by Warhol.
Within the great room is a dining area with a round table set for four and an ornamental fireplace with faux marble. The space leads to a windowless kitchen equipped with stainless-steel appliances, oak countertops and laminate cabinets. And through a nearby back hallway is a guest bedroom; two full bathrooms, one decked out in Moroccan tile; a laundry room and storage space.
Just beyond the great room is the master bedroom with another ornamental fireplace, and then a green-turquoise studio, one of Mr. Richardson’s favorite rooms. “He did a lot of work in that studio,” Ms. Wanger said, and it also served as entertaining space during the frequent dinner parties he gave.
The spacious studio contains two beds, including an 18th-century four-poster, and an antique campaign desk, where Mr. Richardson did much of his work. The room is also teeming with art, books and various curiosities. There are Chinese vases, statuary casts and tortoise shells, along with a distinctive rubber relief sculpture by the artist Alex Hoda.
While Mr. Richardson had lived in many homes throughout his long life — including an estate in New Milford, Conn., that was sold just two years ago — he seemed to have had a special affinity for the Manhattan loft. “He got great pleasure out of it,” Ms. Wanger said. “It was such a great place for working, hanging out with friends and dinner parties.”
The place also seemed to aptly reflect the fascinating background and personality of Mr. Richardson, once described by W magazine as “the man all New York wants to sit beside at dinner.”
His varied career included work as an industrial designer, book reviewer, managing director of an art investment fund and art curator, though he is best known for his books on Picasso, his close friend. In 2012, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, following in the footsteps of his father, who was knighted by the queen’s great-grandfather, King Edward VII.
Over the years, Mr. Richardson’s Fifth Avenue apartment has been featured in various publications, including “John Richardson: At Home” (Rizzoli, 2019), an artfully arranged book he co-authored celebrating the places he has called home.
The Manhattan home, though, may not be to some buyers’ tastes, with its neoclassical and rococo details, Mr. Stockwell, the Compass broker, acknowledged. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea — it will appeal to a select group of people,” he said, but added that the unit “could also be a very different space. It could be more modern.”
Many of the original loft elements remain: the dark oak floors, wood beams, exposed pipes and oversize windows.
The limestone-clad building at 73 Fifth Avenue, known as the Kensington, was erected in 1906 as a commercial building and converted into a residential co-op in 1996. It stands 11 stories high and contains 17 apartments.
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