You know, like $40,000 sconces. Our billionaire mayor’s tastes, as displayed in his East 79th Street townhouse and another in London’s Cadogan Square, are not exactly minimalist. Bloomberg’s decorator, until Monday when the Times started sniffing around, displayed the interiors (without the mayor’s name attached) on her website.
Bloomberg goes out of his way to highlight a certain populist bent publicly — the taste for diners, the “subway riding” — but it seems his homes are his castles, and he’s not concerned about the political optics therein, though he does care a whole lot about achieving a certain look.
Highlights of the Upper East Side pad include a “brown commode with a pink orchid nearby,” a spare Dutch master painting, a $90,000 English Regency table, an Egyptian marble foyer, a $50,000 antique snooker table, and a $1 million Chippendale couch. In London, there’s a Ben Franklin portrait that could be a Greuze, an Andy Warhol Marilyn, and a Jasper Johns flag painting. This despite Bloomberg’s declaration a decade ago that he preferred the Old Masters. ““Would I prefer to have Jasper Johns and de Kooning and Warhol stuff all around? I don’t know. That says less to me.” Does that mean the mayor is picking his décor more for its status than for what it says about his soul?
Or maybe that status-seeking does express something deep in his soul. Bloomberg seems to be achieving the goal articulated on his behalf by pal Graydon Carter in 2001: ” “Michael wants to live large, like a 19th-century railroad baron.” Baron, in fact, seems to be the word that springs to everyone’s mind upon gazing at the apartment. (Medieval nobility didn’t have to deal with term limits, after all.)
Winifred Gallager, an academic the Times called in for analysis, said the Bloomberg look was “a sort of postmodern version of the 16th-century Italian merchant prince or maybe the 19th-century American robber baron,” and added, for good measure, that the owner of these digs “is not the broody, artistic Abraham Lincoln type.” Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, said “You don’t realize you’re in a very expensive town house.” He chalked that feeling up to the mayor’s ease and hospitality, but maybe it also had something to do with all the leopard print?