Oleg Cassini’s NYC townhouse listed for sale at $13.95 million
A Manhattan townhouse that the heirs of fashion designer Oleg Cassini battled over for years is on the market and likely to draw a buyer attracted to its very specific style.
The Gramercy Park home is full of Gothic details, including wood-paneled walls, stained-glass windows and a massive great room with an arched ceiling. Compass will list it on Thursday for $13.95 million.
The property is entering a market where demand for townhouses has been tepid. In the third quarter, sales fell 15% from a year earlier to 55, according to data from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. Townhouses that found buyers in the period spent 166 days on the market, up from 129 days in the third quarter of 2022.
The five-story building at 135 E. 19th St. “will find its buyer,” listing agent Jim St. Andre said. “Someone will walk in the door, feel a connection to the property and want to use or rehabilitate and restore what’s here” or to “reset” the building for its next era.
Unusual elements include a fireplace that’s more than 7 feet tall, gargoyles on the facade and diamond-paned windows facing the street. There’s a dumbwaiter to deliver food from the fifth-floor kitchen to the second-floor dining room and a vintage intercom system.
The home is “somewhere in the middle of a castle, a mansion, a townhouse and a church or synagogue,” St. Andre said during a tour of the 6,798-square-foot (631-square-meter) townhouse as he stood in the two-story great room.
The current owners — listed in city documents as two anonymous limited-liability companies — paid $5 million for the townhouse at auction last year and decided to sell it after cleaning and restoring some elements, St. Andre said.
Cassini, who designed for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis during her time as first lady, lived in the property until his death in 2006. He filled the house with suits of armor, Renaissance-era art and English furniture, Beate Wedekind wrote in the book New York Interiors. After Cassini’s death, it became part of an estate dispute between his daughter and widow that only ended with last year’s auction. At one time, it was valued at $15 million, the New York Post reported.
Though the dark paneling and stained-glass windows would appeal to a certain type of buyer, the building also could be considered a blank canvas. A buyer may choose to preserve the existing details and even add to them or opt for a more minimalist design, St. Andre said. The property can be configured as a single-family home with a big kitchen overlooking the great room or used as an office, keeping the kitchen on the top floor, he said.
Currently, the townhouse has six bedrooms, 5½ bathrooms and a glass-enclosed backyard. The basement includes a wine cellar and unfinished storage space. An elevator can be installed in place of a staircase that was built for service staff, St. Andre said.