After offering tea, Stella Schnabel leads the way through her domain, pointing out things she has found here and there, all seemingly at impossible prices, making you think that you, too, could have done this, if only … but it’s a big if. Stella’s brother Vito was once quoted in the New York Observer saying, “There is no downside to being a Schnabel.” Spending time with Stella, one tends to agree. The modest exterior of the Chinatown building where the duplex is located gives no clue to the riches inside. It isn’t just that Stella has furnished the apartment she shared with a boyfriend with a very singular eye; it is that she has a real sense of how to build history and comfort into a room. “I go to Brimfield”—the massive furniture fair up in Massachusetts—“and look at antiques shows and markets and sales and pick through things. Ricky Clifton has found a bunch of stuff for me,” Stella says of the decorator known for his gutsy, no-regrets mixing of styles. But, she adds, “I did all of the décor, down to the garbage can that is a ceramic tree trunk with a plastic bag in it.”
Like her father, Julian, painter-director-creator-of-real-estate-fantasy-lands (see Palazzo Chupi, his Venetian tower in the West Village), Schnabel is a person of many professional pursuits. Chief among them is film: There was the part in her father’s last movie, Miral, and her role as an unstable actress in You Wont Miss Me, directed by her friend Ry Russo-Young. Soon she’ll be featured in Josh and Benny Safdie’s new film, Uncut Gems, as well as in Michele Civetta’s new movie based on the Anaïs Nin novel A Spy in the House of Love. She just wrapped up Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, as a producer for the first time. But the “project I am really stuck on,” she says, “is Just Kids by Patti Smith. I got the book the day it came out, read it in two hours, and gave it to my dad, thinking we could make that story as a film, together.”
The apartment itself would make a good set for a movie. Its furnishings seem to invite dramatic dialogue: That Yves Klein coffee table glowing blue in the center of the bedroom. That giant sleigh bed backed with a Chinese lacquered screen. The Venetian lamp hanging from the ceiling. What sort of love scene could take place here? What sort of languorous scheming?
But this particular film will have to reside solely in the imagination. Shortly after giving the tour, Schnabel decided to move. She’s just settled in a new apartment. Chances are it won’t be minimalist.
Schnabel, holding her childhood bunny, in her bedroom with a palm tree she bought at the Brooke Hayward sale at Christie’s. The painting is by her good friend Dan Colen, and the carpet is from Madeline Weinrib. Photo: Francois Dischinger. Hair and Makeup by James Kaliardos.
“The round table was from a gambling house that was shut down, and they sold everything in it at this old Italian guy’s studio. It’s covered in burn marks and glass rings,” Schnabel says. “The bookcase is from an auction of a Spanish scientist that sold upstate for supercheap.” Photo: Francois Dischinger
The cast-bronze sleigh bed was designed by Julian Schnabel. A Chinese lacquered screen is behind it, and the Yves Klein table is in the foreground. Photo: Francois Dischinger