MTV President Splurges on Warhol's 66th Street Mansion
By Deborah Schoeneman and Carmela Ciuraru
January 23, 2000 | 7:00 p.m
Andy Warhol lived at 57 East 66th Street from 1974 until his death in 1987, dwelling there longer than anyone who has since tried to call the town house home–first a Spanish family and then an American gentleman. Maybe they were spooked by the secret trap door in the master bedroom or tales of the sordid findings of the appraisers who scoured the place after Warhol's death: green boxes of wings stacked near a television set, a medicine cabinet filled with makeup tubes and perfume bottles, and women's jewelry nestled in the four-poster canopy bed.
Now it's Tom Freston's turn. The Warhol mansion was purchased by the chairman of MTV for around $6.5 million in early January. Mr. Freston confirmed that he purchased the house, but did not wish to comment.
The 8,000-square-foot house is a hefty piece of memorabilia. Warhol bought it for $310,000 and hired decorator Jed Johnson. Together they merged their tastes in art deco with primitive contemporary paintings (none of his own) and religious emblems. Soon after Warhol's death, someone stole the street number–57–from the facade. (That prompted the Spanish family who purchased the house from Warhol's estate to erect a gate out front, which has since been removed.) On Aug. 6, 1998, in celebration of Mr. Warhol's 70th birthday, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel's Historic Landmark Preservation Center dedicated a plaque to the town house to honor the artist–the first memorial to Warhol in the city. There was, of course, a large gathering in front of the residence for the occasion.
One broker considers $6.5 million a fair price. "It's a great old house," the broker said. "Andy never did a major rehab of it. He left a lot of detail that people appreciate like trade moldings and fireplaces." The Spanish family paid the estate $3 million, but never moved in, and the last owner, who purchased the house in 1993 for $3.35 million, did some upgrading but kept the architecture intact.
The five-and-a-half-story neoclassical house has four bedrooms, a library with Juliet balconies, six fireplaces, central air-conditioning and an elevator.
Vincent Fremont, a friend of Warhol's, remembers house-sitting for the artist while he was in Japan for two weeks in 1974. "Very few people ever got into the house. It was a private hideaway," he said. "It had a nice parlor, a staircase and a formal dining room, which Andy never used after the late 70's because he liked to eat in the downstairs kitchen."
Mr. Freston and Warhol met over Warhol's television show Fifteen Minutes , said Mr. Fremont, who produced the show. Fifteen Minutes ran on MTV from 1986 to 1987. "It's kind of interesting that after all these years he bought it," said Mr. Fremont. "It's kind of terrific."
The fate of Mr. Freston's TriBeCa condominium on the top floor of 39 North Moore Street, which he bought in 1994, is unknown.