It’s been on the market, unsold, for three years—but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if someone finally paid the New York–record $70 million asking price for this triplex at the Pierre. (Two buyers have, in fact, offered more than that amount, though neither could make it past the Pierre’s super-tough co-op board.) The triplex was once the ballroom of the hotel, said to be inspired by the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles. But Versailles doesn’t have 41st-story views in four directions, now, does it?
This apartment tops one of the buildings designed by Rosario Candela, the master of Park Avenue bourgeois architecture. The herringbone floors are original; the upstairs bathroom has a brass-and-mirror ceiling; the floor plan is nearly unchanged from Candela’s, its small kitchen separated from the expansive dining room by a door (to keep the staff out of sight). On the terrace off the dining room is what’s called a tea room—the little pavilion seen here. Because 778 is a little taller than many prewars on Park Avenue, tea-sippers can see Central Park from end to end.
When Justin Portman bought this place in 2000, he asked his architect, John Cavagnari, to build a “Zen bachelor space.” Hence the outdoor soaking tub and cedar-planked terraces. But the “bachelor” part didn’t last: The next year, Portman married Natalia Vodianova, the face (and body) of Calvin Klein’s underwear ads. Since then, the loft’s edges have been tempered by butterfly collections and soft sofas. This month, Vodianova bore the couple’s third child, and they’ve settled in London. The penthouse sits, awaiting the next seduction.
This petite penthouse was added, cake-topper style, on the roof of a genteel limestone co-op building in the late forties. The interiors cover a little over 600 square feet, with a tiny kitchen; the wraparound terrace’s 760 square feet look right over the Temple of Dendur and out to Central Park West. By the peculiar logic that adheres to prestige buildings, one broker claims that if the apartment carried an actual Fifth Avenue address it would fetch $2 million.