A Borderline Bonfire Bargain

Manhattan mansion listed for 77% less than in 2014 as part of a “bankruptcy sale;” it is situated on a street featured in Billy Joel’s ‘Close to the Borderline’ that was once termed: “Bloody, Bloody Beekman Place: Where the Wealthy Wind Up Dead”

On 10th April 1936, Good Friday, a writer named Nancy Titterton was found dead in her bathtub at the home she shared with her husband at 22 Beekman Place in Manhattan. She had been raped and strangled by an upholsterer’s assistant, John Fiorenza, who had ironically repaired a loveseat for the couple. The case of the ‘Beauty in the Bathtub’ ended with Fiorenza’s conviction and execution at Sing Sing on 22nd January 1937, but for Beekman Place this was not the first nor last murder.


Aside from the killing of Dr Fritz Gebhardt, an industrialist and associate of Hermann Göring, by his lover Vera Stretz in a hotel in the street on 12th November 1935, on 4th January 2015, a Princeton graduate named Tommy Gilbert, Jr. shot his financier father in the head at his apartment at 20 Beekman Place. Prior to committing the murder, after a row about his monthly allowance, the 30-year old had sent his mother out to buy him a can of Coca Cola and a sandwich. As a result of these series of slayings, in January 2015, the Daily Beast ran an article about the street with the headline: “Bloody, Bloody Beekman Place: Where the Wealthy Wind Up Dead.”


The naked body of 33-year-old Nancy Titterton was discovered in her bathtub at 22 Beekman Place on 10th April 1936; “Pampered Ivy-leaguer” Tommy Gilbert, Jr. was sentenced to 30 years to life in jail in September 2019 for murdering his father, Thomas Gilbert, Sr. in his apartment at 20 Beekman Place in January 2015.
Owners of 29 Beekman Place – Mary Lasker, William S. Paley and Princess Ashraf Pahlavi.

Now, for altogether different reasons, the street – whose more ‘happy’ residents have included variously not just the Second Lady of the United States, Happy Rockefeller, but also Prince Aly Khan and A&P supermarket heir Huntington HartfordBeekman Place is making headlines once again.


Whilst the asking prices of properties are often reduced, the case of 22 Beekman Place is an extreme one. Built in 1934 for William S. Paley, the man who “turned CBS from a small radio network into the foremost radio and television network in the United States,” and owned subsequently by a philanthropist and then the twin sister of the Shah of Iran, the house was placed for sale for the plainly extremely over-ambitious sum of £40.2 million in February 2014.


In the period since, the nine floor, 12,260 square foot “trophy mansion| has yo-yoed on and off the market and now after being listed as a “BANKRUPTCY SALE!! Excellent Value – Price Reduced to Sell!!” has just reappeared for ‘just’ £9.2 million.


Described by Curbed New York as having “truly lovely architectural details” and an oval-shaped dining room that has been frequented by “heads of states and foreign dignitaries from all over the world,” the red brick and limestone property has 10 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Additionally, it includes 1,500 square foot of outdoor space in the form of two private terraces, a chef’s kitchen, a wine cellar, a lift and a banquet hall.


Agents Compass laud 29 Beekman Place as being “designed with grand scale entertaining in mind” and suggest it “appropriate for a private mansion, live/work, a foundation, or an ideal consulate or diplomat residence.” They add: “Do not miss this opportunity to purchase a piece of New York history,” (but unsurprisingly don’t mention any of the infamous murders in the neighbouring buildings).


The Names & Numbers – 29 Beekman Place, Midtown East, Manhattan, New York, NY 10022, United States of America


April 2020 – Relisted for £9.22 million ($11.45 million, €10.58 million or درهم42.05 million) through Compass as a “bankruptcy sale.”


September 2019 – Relisted for £11.7 million ($14.5 million, €13.4 million or درهم53.3 million) through Compass.


October 2017 – Relisted for £22.5 million ($28 million, €25.9 million or درهم102.8 million) through Sotheby’s International Realty.


January 2016 – Relisted for £27.4 million ($34 million, €31.4 million or درهم124.9 million).


May 2015 – Relisted for £30.2 million ($37.5 million, €34.7 million or درهم137.7 million) through Douglas Elliman.


February 2014 – Listed for £40.2 million ($49.9 million, €46.2 million or درهم183.3 million) through Brown Harris Stevens.


Mid 1970s – Sold to Princess Ashraf Pahlavi (1919 – 2016), the twin sister of the Shah of Iran.


1940s – After Mr and Mrs Paley divorced, the house was first rented to and then bought by the philanthropist Mary Woodward Lasker (1900 – 1994). She lived there with her second husband, advertising executive Albert Lasker (1940 – 1952), and remained there after his death until circa 1975.


1934 – Built for the “notorious womaniser” and first CEO of Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), William S. Paley (1901 – 1990) and his first wife Dorothy Hart Hearst (ex-wife of John Randolph Hearst).


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