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Thread: Pierre Hotel - 2 East 61st Street - by Schultz and Weaver

  1. #1

    Default Pierre Hotel - 2 East 61st Street - by Schultz and Weaver

    Architect: Schultz and Weaver

    Year: 1930

    Style: Beaux-Arts

    Description: The Pierre is 1 of 3 hotels located in the Grand Army Plaza area, along with the Sherry-Netherland and Plaza hotels. *Another Central Park mansion was demolished to make way for this building.

  2. #2
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    Chicago, Illinois

    Default Pierre Hotel

    Absolutely one of my favourite buildings in the city. I have a book published just after the Second World War and it has a photo taken near the stone bridge in Central Park looking toward Fifth. It shows the Pierre, Sherry Netherland and the Savoy Plaza (where the GM Building sits today) and smaller maisonettes ( you can even see the Ritz Tower peering from behind in the distance). That was when I fell in love with the Pierre.

    A little off the subject, but it also has a picture taken from the RCA Building looking south to the ESB and downtown, and the view downtown (sadly for obvious reasons) looks much like it does now.

  3. #3

    Default Pierre Hotel

    i love the Pierre, especially the shape of its top section. Its location is perfect just on the edge of central park and the view of it from the columbus circle area is great with the Sherry Netherland next to it.

  4. #4
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    New York City

    Default Pierre Hotel

    The Plaza area alone back in the '40s could be the skyline pinnacle of many American cities.

  5. #5

    Default Pierre Hotel

    I'm going to be staying at the Pierre on the 31st.

  6. #6

    Default Pierre Hotel

    Joe vs the Volcano w/Tom Hanks was on TV again recently. *He stays at the Pierre in the movie (With his newfound wealth, he wants to stay someplace fancy; he asks his chauffeur to book him a room at the Plaza, then thinks twice and asks his chauffeur where he would stay if he had the money. *He respnds "The Pierre.")

  7. #7

    Default Pierre Hotel

    The Pierre is also mentioned in W. Allen's Annie Hall.

  8. #8


    November 30, 2003

    Those Who Serve, Those Who Are Served


    Slide Show: At the Pierre Hotel

    ON a recent Monday afternoon, men gathered like crows around a black Lamborghini parked outside the Pierre Hotel. Tucked into their dark suits, they all had the conspicuous sheen that comes from a lifetime of elliptical training, beef cheeks and Château Margaux.

    The car was up for auction at a black-tie event for 500 people inside the hotel. The men will remain unidentified because this is the Pierre, a province of the old world, where the rich worked hard to stay out of newspapers rather than get in them.

    The Pierre is one of the few quasi-public domains of true wealth in New York City, the "discreet society sister of the Plaza and the Waldorf,'' in the words of William Weathersby Jr., an editor at Architectural Record who has completed a book about the hotel. Inside its glass revolving doors dwell those who are served and those who serve. Few see even one side of the Pierre's upstairs-downstairs universe; almost no one sees both.

    A 41-story Georgian-style structure at Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, the Pierre has the anachronistic appeal of an old castle, with the added benefit of live servants: 66 chefs, 115 housekeepers and a pediatrician from China who will shine your shoes. Rates range from $495 for a 280-square-foot room (no park view) to $3,800 for the 1,300-square-foot Presidential Suite. The hotel goes through an average of 15,000 pounds of freshly laundered linens a day, 40 pounds of foie gras a week, 30,000 stalks of flowers a month. A walk-in refrigerator is devoted solely to Champagne.

    As the holiday party season picks up, the buzz of activity inside the hotel, usually concealed behind an army of doormen and desk attendants, intensifies. As a woman who checks coats at the Pierre put it: "This is mink time. All the minks are coming out of the vaults." Herewith, a few stories from a world that many thought had vanished long ago.

    Hotels like the Pierre aren't built anymore. It was opened in 1930 by a Corsican named Charles Pierre Casalasco with the financial backing of Otto Kahn, E. F. Hutton and Walter P. Chrysler. The Depression drove the hotel into bankruptcy, and after passing through a series of owners, including J. Paul Getty, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts took over its management in 1981.

    The Pierre has been owned by a co-op since 1959. Thirty of the 76 co-op owners live at the Pierre permanently, their apartments scattered amid the 201 guest rooms. That fact lends the place a familial air that spills over into the bar, which is filled with regulars, and the Café Pierre, a restaurant that feels like a private dining room.

    Richard Nixon set up temporary headquarters here after the 1968 election. Truman Capote's story "La Côte Basque, 1965," which got him excommunicated from the swell crowd, features an unflattering episode thought to be based on a thinly disguised William S. Paley slumming at his Pierre pied-à-terre.

    For a place that still sends notes written only in black ink, the Pierre is decidedly unstuffy. Lizzie Grubman was married here. A cover version of the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle" blared at a bar mitzvah. Siegfried and Roy once brought two tigers that peed on the rug.

    At the heart of the hotel is the rotunda, an ornate room where afternoon tea is served. On the wall is an odd and elaborate mural, painted in 1967 by Edward Melcarth, that, like the hotel, is the subject of much speculation and little recorded history. Also like the hotel, the mural has an unexpected high-low appeal: on one side is a wild-haired Jackie O, on the other is Erik Estrada posing as a biblical Adam. On the south wall, an unidentified black man in an elegant jacket fingers a golden cross on a chain around his neck. "That was his way of zinging it to high society," said Marco Magrini, a Pierre waiter who is the recognized in-house mural expert. "All men are equal."

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    The Pampering

    The staff's mantra is do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. This means they will get you into Barney's at any hour of the day or night. The in-house dry cleaners have been known to bend state environmental regulations to get a gentleman his trousers on time. Once, a security guard helped a man load a chair into a cab, not realizing that the chair belonged to the hotel.

    The new chef at Café Pierre, Rafael Gonzalez, a former sous-chef at Jean Georges, will prepare a seven-course tasting menu that may feature a sautéed scallop with caramelized endive and apple in a sea of Beluga caviar, foie gras terrine with spice bread and a 1998 Sauternes, and pumpkin crème brûlée. It is well worth it, if a $395 dinner bill won't keep you up at night.

    If a gaggle of teenage girls want cookies at 4 a.m., someone will bake them. One guest has a full-sized fridge brought to her room every time she visits so she can store her TV dinners. Burton Herman, a Boston entrepreneur who stayed at the Pierre an average of 100 nights a year over a quarter of a century, once ordered a club sandwich from room service, and the woman taking his order told him she would put the mayonnaise on the side so he wouldn't get an upset stomach. "It was like a mother was taking care of me," he said. "I'll never forget that."

    The hotel maintains a database of all guests, which enables it to track mayonnaise preferences as well as who prefers limos with tinted windows and who is allergic to the standard-issue Bulgari bath products.

    The choreography of the day begins sometime after midnight. Before dawn on a recent weekday, a deaf man buffed the Italian marble floor in the lobby in slow, silent arcs. In the basement, an auditor hunched like a buzzard over curls of adding machine paper. A guard paced in a darkened ballroom, guarding a $36,000 projector. By 6 a.m., the doormen have pulled on their white gloves and knotted their Addison on Madison ties. Milton Roldan, a doorman since 1988, can tell from half a block away who's coming to the Pierre and who isn't; "You just get a feeling," he says.

    Not everything always goes as planned. A room service breakfast for two ($77) arrived with tepid, rubbery eggs and was missing a croissant. Luggage may languish in the lobby for 90 minutes before being delivered to a room (although a note of apology was sent).

    Each morning at 9, about 20 staffers meet to discuss what Guy J. Rigby, the impeccably dressed general manager, calls "glitches." It's like a medical morbidity and mortality conference, an hourlong dissection of what went wrong, why and what can be done about it. For example, three weeks ago, a guest claimed he lost his only pair of shoes, and a front desk agent took off his own shoes and gave them to the guest.

    Most of the staff comes from decidedly modest backgrounds, and the hotel is a striking example of trickle-down economics at work. Dishwashers make $18.35 an hour. Employees, most of them unionized, get free meals, as well as health insurance and a 401K. After six months, every employee gets three free nights at a Four Seasons hotel anywhere in the world. Several times a year, management cooks breakfast for the line staff. And speaking of staff. . .

    The Bartender

    Joe Dacchille has the slightly watery eyes and ruddiness of a man born to liquor. His father was a bartender at the Biltmore for 47 years. His grandfather was a bartender, at a Coney Island saloon where Jimmy Durante waited on tables. Joe began mixing when he was 11 at the wet bar in his parents' basement in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

    In his youth, Mr. Dacchille played ball with Sandy Koufax; they went to Lafayette High School together before Koufax started pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1954. In 1956, Mr. Dacchille was signed as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. His shoulder gave out before the season started, and he ended up, as he puts it, a member of the bar.

    He has seen martinis come, go and return with odd extravagances like green apples. "To me," he said, with what would have been disdain if he were a man to express such sentiments while on duty, "there is only the classic gin martini."

    He has served bourbon to Frank Sinatra and kept Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant warm with scotch. Gorbachev drank piña coladas here. Tony Blair tippled a margarita. But discretion being the better part of a barman's valor, Mr. Dacchille likes to tell stories only about dead people.

    One day Jacqueline Kennedy appeared at his bar. "She wanted a port," he said. "In those days, the rule was any woman with slacks on I couldn't serve." Mrs. Kennedy was wearing a pants suit. "I said, 'I'm sorry, Mrs. Kennedy. I can't serve you.' Her pants suit must have cost $1,000. She said, 'Do you have any idea how much these cost me?' " She never got her port.

    The Elevator Operator

    Khady Gueyesall, 44, has been an elevator operator at the Pierre since 1990. "This is my office," she said, gesturing at the mahogany-paneled cabin of her elevator The cracked leather stool in the corner was the improbable site of a marriage proposal, which Ms. Gueyesall brokered through a combination of cunning, good humor and shopping advice.

    On her jacket, Ms. Gueyesall wears a small American flag with a Secret Service crest given to her by a member of Hillary Rodham Clinton's entourage. She can exchange pleasantries in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, German and Japanese. "Do you see that halo?" Beverly Sommer, a resident, said during one ride. "She's an angel."

    Ms. Gueyesall used to sing in her elevator with Lady Mary Fairfax, the Australian newspaper heiress who reportedly sold her penthouse apartment in the Pierre to the financier Martin Zweig for $21 million in the late 90's. Elizabeth Taylor calls her Black Queen.

    Ms. Gueyesall, who was born in Senegal and whose parents made their living by selling vegetables they grew in their garden, named her youngest son Ousseynou Pierre. When he was three months old, he got a $1,000 check from a movie star, whose name Ms. Gueyesall won't reveal. "Open him a bank account," the donor urged. "When he gets older, maybe he can marry me."

    The Cop

    A certain room off a certain hallway contains a sliding wooden door behind which rows of keys hang clumped together like fists. They will open every lock in the hotel. Men in suits with tiny radio earpieces pass in and out of this room, where a live feed from the hotel's 45 security cameras plays on three screens.

    John DeRosa, who worked for the New York Police Department for 20 years and the state attorney general's Department of Investigation for 10, has overseen this room since he became the Pierre's security director in 1995. Back when he was a cop, Mr. DeRosa once nailed a man carrying six pounds of cocaine; these days he spends more time making sure drunken wedding guests don't drive their $88,000 cars home.

    Still, he must contend with two truths: Money attracts misery. One night in 1996, a man shot himself in one of the hotel's bathrooms. Mr. DeRosa never learned why the man had come to the Pierre, although he left behind a job, a family and a note. At 7:30 the next morning, the body was rolled out of the employee entrance on 61st Street as the guests rolled in.

    Money also attracts thieves: About five years ago, a man from a tour group told Mr. DeRosa someone had stolen his attaché case from the lobby. "I said, 'What was in it?'" Mr. DeRosa recalled.

    "$200,000 of jewels," the man replied. The thief, who had been part of the tour group, was never caught.

    Although Mr. DeRosa still wears a thick gold ring bearing an N.Y.P.D. detective shield, a suit from Macy's has replaced the overgrown beard and long hair of his past life A few weeks ago, when he took his wife to dinner at the Café Pierre, she asked him, "How could you ever leave this?"

    The Impresario

    Paul Nicaj, the director of banquet services, was born in Montenegro and began his career as a busboy at the Plaza 34 years ago, at the age of 18. These days he is known as Uncle Paul, and he casts a long shadow in the world of event planning.

    The Pierre pulls in $20 million a year from special events, more than 4,000 so far this year. Weddings start at $200,000. Mr. Nijac masterminded a bar mitzvah a few years ago in which the 8,526-square-foot Grand Ballroom was dressed up as Times Square on New Year's Eve: décor included a subway turnstile and an actor playing a homeless man. Dick Clark came in and dropped the ball.

    Mr. Nicaj's weeks are a succession of ice sculptures, bridal trains and wine. Gerard Madani, the executive chef, recently led Mr. Nicaj through the wine cellar, which is usually stocked with 12,000 to 15,000 bottles of wine. Mr. Madani put on his glasses and pulled out a bottle of Pétrus 1992. "That's the king of kings," he said. The men were quiet for a moment, as if in the wake of a woman.

    The Concierge

    Maurice Dancer grew up in Starkville, Miss., a small college town, and was a modern dancer for 10 years before becoming concierge at the Pierre, a post he has held for nine years. These days he folds his long limbs into Armani suits.

    One of his biggest challenges is convincing guests that New York has other restaurants besides Daniel, Jean Georges, Nobu, the Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern. (Among his latest picks is Mix. "The burger is $65," he said. "So it's nice.")

    Rain is his enemy. Some time ago, a family from London with tickets to "The Lion King" were stood up by their limo on a rainy night. There were no cabs. "I had to do it," said Mr. Dancer, speaking with the fatalism of someone discussing oral surgery. "With all diplomacy, I offered to escort them via subway to the theater. I said, 'The subway is a great New York experience,' '' he recalled. "It's something we don't think about at the Pierre, because everyone takes cabs. But millions of people ride the subway every day." Mr. Dancer himself takes the train to work, from his apartment in Hell's Kitchen.

    "I came from humble beginnings," he said. "I'm daily speaking with C.E.O.'s and executives. They are asking for my opinion, my feedback. I've grown tremendously. I've learned so much about life, patience, spirituality." Spirituality? "As a concierge, I'm where people vent," he replied. "If I were not able to be spiritual and centered, I would become a crazy man. But it's not about me. I'm a vessel that allows them to vent. It just goes right off my shoulders."

    Mr. Dancer spends two weeks each year in Starkville with his grandmother, who will turn 101 in January. She lives in a wooden house with no phone and no electricity, although she does have running water. She lives by lantern light. "Nothing hurries her," he said. "You wake up in the morning, give thanks for being alive, and when the sun goes down, it is time to sleep."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    Default Re: Pierre Hotel

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabb
    The Pierre is also mentioned in W. Allen's Annie Hall.
    As well as Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic. There is a scene involving a cab driver and the protagonist similar to the one Stockton noted from Joe vs. the Volcano.

  10. #10

  11. #11


    December 3, 2006

    Chateau in the Sky


    THE coming-out party for the palatial penthouse restaurant of the Hotel Pierre was a chilly one. On a blustery February afternoon in 1930, a genteel hotel impresario named Charles Pierre Casalasco led a hardy troupe of debutantes wearing cloche hats and fur stoles up flight after flight of stairs to the roof of the unfinished 42-story building.

    Perched on high heels with only a few wooden planks standing between them and a plunge to Fifth Avenue, the debutantes blinked into a stiff wind as one of them helped drive the last rivet, a gold one, into the steel framework.

    By October of that year, the Pierre’s top two floors, including the exposed wooden platform on which the debs braved the elements, would be transformed into a glamorous breakfast room and night club, “decorated to resemble the interior of a zeppelin cabin,” according to The New York Sun. Not long after that, the hotel would begin to operate the space as a ballroom.

    A place of Champagne bubbles and swing bands, the Pierre Roof, as it became known, was the exclusive province of high society in Depression-era New York. Though its interior was off-limits to most of the city, however, its ornate exterior became a signature feature of the Fifth Avenue skyline. Set atop a slender tower of cream-colored brick, the Pierre’s upper floors had the rarefied aspect of a French chateau in the sky, complete with a gleaming copper mansard roof 500 feet above 61st Street.

    The New Yorker hailed the new hotel as a “millionaires’ Elysium,” and the description still applies. The space once occupied by that rooftop restaurant is now a private penthouse triplex on the market for a cool $70 million, which brokers say is the highest price ever listed for a New York residence.

    The primary selling point is the 3,500-square-foot grand salon, the former ballroom of the Pierre Roof. Occupying most of the 42nd floor, the room is bordered by 20-foot-high Palladian windows and topped by a curved 23-foot ceiling. On each of the room’s two west-facing corners, soaring French doors open onto terraces offering breathtaking views of Central Park and beyond. The master bedroom suite has two additional corner terraces.

    The financial guru Martin Zweig, author of “Winning on Wall Street,” bought the apartment in 1999 for $21.5 million, then a record. He is now trying to sell it because he and his wife, Barbara, live in Miami and spend only a month or two a year in New York. If the triplex sells for anything close to its asking price this time, it will again smash the record for the biggest single residential deal in city history, topping the Harkness mansion on East 75th Street, which was sold in October for $53 million.

    Though the Pierre penthouse’s staggering price tag has attracted news media attention from around the world, its lavish interior has been seen only rarely over the last three decades.

    “It is kind of a mysterious venue because it hasn’t been a public part of the hotel for so long,” said William Weathersby Jr., an editor of Architectural Record who is writing a book on the Pierre’s history. “In my research, I read about 1930s orchestra events and society galas happening up there, but that’s so long ago.”

    The ballroom was shuttered in the early 1970s and largely forgotten for nearly 20 years until it was sold as a private residence. Few of its stories have been told, and little has been revealed about its present incarnation as a luxury pied-à-terre decorated with iconic popular-culture artifacts, like the crystal-studded dress Marilyn Monroe wore while singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

    The dress does not come with the apartment. But the grand salon’s oversize measurements have their own va-va-voom allure for prospective buyers.

    “When they walk into the ballroom, their mouths just fall wide open,” said Elizabeth Lee Sample, the Brown Harris Stevens broker who, with her colleague Brenda Powers, holds the exclusive listing for the triplex.

    The wallet of the eventual buyer will also have to fall wide open. The Pierre cooperative requires that apartments be bought entirely in cash. By comparison with the asking price, the annual maintenance fee of $464,600 seems almost modest, particularly since the services of a uniformed housekeeper and houseman are included.

    Two would-be buyers have made $70 million offers since the 16-room, 5-fireplace triplex went on the market in October 2004, Ms. Sample said. “But it doesn’t mean anything,” she added, “until we get them through the board.”

    Gardenias and Bold-Face Names

    When the Pierre opened in October 1930, the hotel’s 41st and 42nd floors became home to the Club Pierrot, an exclusive supper club led by business and society figures including William Vanderbilt, Walter Chrysler and Condé Nast. Several hundred members and guests, counts and countesses among them, attended the opening gala. But in the depths of the Depression, the club could not attract enough members to sustain itself. The Pierrot disbanded within three months.

    Even so, the Pierre Roof, sometimes called the roof garden, went on to a vibrant life as a popular summer ballroom. Each year, a succession of debutante receptions were held in the spacious aerie. Their guest lists were sprinkled with names like Astor, Auchincloss, Villard and Gerry, the prominent family whose mansion previously occupied the site on which the Pierre was built.

    Society pages of the city’s newspapers spilled forth with these guest lists. Occasionally, the papers provided florid descriptions of debutante parties like the 1932 dinner dance for one Gertrude Low, who “wore a white peau d’ange gown, trimmed with kolinsky fur on the shoulders, and carried a muff made of gardenias.” In 1935, members of the Barnard College junior class held their annual promenade in the rooftop ballroom, dancing with their escorts until 3 a.m.

    In the years before air-conditioning, roof gardens provided a popular escape from the summer heat, and the Pierre was not shy about advertising itself as having “the highest and coolest hotel roof in Manhattan.” To better compete with rivals like the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf-Astoria, management redecorated the Pierre’s rooftop ballroom in 1936 to give it the appearance of a trellis-enclosed garden adorned with privet hedges. Kitty Carlisle Hart, the Broadway and Hollywood singer who performed in films with Bing Crosby in the 1930s, remembers the ballroom in those days.

    “We used to go up there and dress up and be gorgeous,” recalled Ms. Hart, 96, sounding truly transported by the memory. “And we used to have wonderful parties up there. It was pale beige, and it had windows looking out on the park, and it was a place that you dressed up and went to looking forward to an evening of dancing, and a little drinking, and happiness.”

    Entertainment was provided by the likes of Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra, whose name derived from the distinctive sound the bandleader created by blowing through glass straws into a bowl of water in tune with his orchestra’s music.

    “I went with George Gershwin,” Ms. Hart remembered, “and we danced up a storm.”

    Twiggy and ‘Deco-Kitsch’

    The music played on through the Depression and World War II. But in 1959, the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who had bought the Pierre in 1938, turned the hotel into a cooperative, with the permanent residents assuming ownership and the remaining guest rooms and public spaces continuing as a hotel.

    While the ballroom remained in use into the early 1970s for events like appearances by Walter Cronkite and Twiggy (not together), it was ultimately closed. The precise reason is unclear, but the conventional wisdom among veterans of the hotel’s management is that co-op owners grew weary of sharing their elevators with roofgoing crowds. The hotel’s second-floor ballroom also made the penthouse venue somewhat redundant.

    Left to languish, the ballroom became lost to time, gathering a thick layer of dust and becoming a sort of grand attic for the hotel. When the Pierre was renovated in the 1980s, the hotel’s gilded mirrors and Louis XV sofas were hauled to the penthouse in bulk, giving the ballroom the surreal appearance of the backstage of an opera house where the sets had been dismantled and left to molder for decades.

    Over time, the Pierre ballroom became so forgotten that even some celebrities who lived in the building knew nothing of its existence.

    In the late 1980s, Scott Durkin, then the hotel’s guest relations manager, took Claire Trevor, the actress who won an Oscar for her performance in the 1948 film “Key Largo,” to the penthouse ballroom for the first time. When the elevator door opened on 41, they stepped into the original lounge area of the Pierre Roof and walked up the Belgian-marble double staircase along the Fifth Avenue wall, which was adorned, Mr. Durkin recalled, by a pair of “Deco-kitschy” fountains. Everything was covered with dust and cobwebs.

    When they reached the cavernous ballroom, with its large mirrors etched with palm trees and the defunct band shell on the far east wall, Ms. Trevor had a flashback of sorts.

    As Mr. Durkin remembers it: “Her first words were: ‘Oh, my God, I feel like I’ve been transported back to the ’30s, and they just walked out of here one night after a party and no one returned.’ ”

    Finally, in 1988, the Pierre’s 41st and 42nd floors were sold for $12 million to Lady Mary Fairfax, an Australian newspaper heiress. She immediately set about trying to make a splash in New York society by transforming the Pierre Roof into a palatial private residence.

    “She had been a grand hostess in Australia, and she wanted to be a grand hostess here,” said A. Laurance Kaiser IV, president of the real estate brokerage firm Key-Ventures, who visited the penthouse both before and after construction. “The ballroom was just this giant warehouse in the sky, and then it was turned into a palace in the sky.” The architectural group entrusted with the transformation was Balamotis McAlpine Associates.

    “It was all about creating style, about creating a grand entrance for her guests,” said Dimitri Balamotis, who worked closely with Lady Fairfax. “But at the same time, she wanted cozy spaces for her.”

    When Mr. Balamotis first saw the 42nd floor, most of it was given over to the ballroom. On its eastern end, a raised stage with a curved ceiling created a band shell. The space below the stage was a service pantry.

    Mr. Balamotis placed Lady Fairfax’s master bedroom in the area that had been the pantry, enlarging the boudoir by taking 11 feet from the ballroom. To give the bedroom more height, its ceiling was raised, and above the ceiling he created two 43rd-story bedrooms and a pair of bathrooms.

    One of these guest bedrooms, called the Scottish Room, was decorated with a green tartan plaid and a set of bagpipes. The other, the Arabian Nights Room, was tricked out with Middle Eastern murals.

    With the band shell removed, Mr. Balamotis outfitted the Grand Salon’s new eastern wall with an 18-foot-high limestone fireplace and mantle, originally from a French chateau, that he and Lady Fairfax had found in an architectural salvage shop near Paris. A 10-foot-long crystal chandelier was hung at the center of the double-height 75-foot-by-46-foot room.

    Don’t Step on the Lambskin Rug

    With real estate voyeurism a nearly universal hobby in the city, Lady Fairfax had no shortage of takers in 1993 when she opened the doors of her newly completed apartment for charity. At least 300 people paid $185 each to benefit children with AIDS and to gawk at the 13,660-square-foot penthouse triplex, not to mention the Chagalls and the Rodin nude.

    The only hitch, The New York Times reported, came when Lady Fairfax led King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania into her bedroom, shutting the door so they could rest. Right behind them, and unrecognized by the hostess, was the widow of the Shah of Iran, Empress Farah, who knocked on the door.

    “Go away,” Lady Fairfax was heard to say, to which Empress Farah rejoined, “I am the Shabanou of Iran!”

    “Oh, my dear, forgive me!” Lady Fairfax said, after opening the door to the room, whose floor was adorned with white lambskin rugs. “I did not recognize you. Now please take your shoes off.”

    When Mr. Zweig bought the triplex from Lady Fairfax six years later, he and his wife imposed a decidedly different aesthetic. Taking advantage of the apartment’s vast acreage, they created what amounts to a combination pied-à-terre and museum of popular culture.

    When visitors step off the elevator on the 41st story nowadays, they still cross a gallery tiled with the four dragons of the Fairfax family crest. But in place of the Rodin sculpture Lady Fairfax had stationed there, four headless mannequins now stand sentry, dressed in matching gray collarless uniforms worn by the Beatles in 1963.

    Turning left to face Fifth Avenue, guests come to the original Belgian-marble double staircase, beside which is parked an American-flag-emblazoned chrome motorcycle. According to Mr. Zweig, the bike was used to promote the 1969 film “Easy Rider” and was once owned by Dennis Hopper.

    The area where the opulent Pierre Roof ladies’ room was once located is now known as the Beatles Room. The walls shimmer with upwards of 20 Beatles gold records, and on a platform stands a true rock ’n’ roll treasure, one of their drum kits. It was used when the band was so young that the Beatles name was not printed on the bass drum but written on a piece of paper and affixed there.

    Upstairs, display cases line the walls of the erstwhile ballroom, housing one-of-a-kind artifacts of 20th-century Americana. Beside a sheer Marilyn Monroe bustier is a silver cigarette case, engraved with the words “Joe, From Marilyn,” that the actress bought for Joe DiMaggio during the couple’s honeymoon. A Jackie Robinson jersey hangs near a pair of 1932 Yankees trousers whose generous dimensions (as well as the name stitched on the waistband) identify them as Babe Ruth’s. When the penthouse is sold, the collection will probably be moved to the Zweigs’ primary residence in Miami.

    Still, the penthouse’s richest treasure may well be its spectacular 360-degree views of the city. When the makers of the 1998 movie “Meet Joe Black” wanted to convey the idea that the Anthony Hopkins character was a man with the world at his feet, they cast the Pierre penthouse as his residence, filming the exterior from a helicopter and shooting the views from its windows.

    The panorama seen through those windows has changed considerably in the last 76 years, and as glassy new condos pop up all over town, the penthouse retains enough of its original grandeur to make a visit there feel like stepping into an ever rarer New York.

    As an apartment, it is a peculiar space with some surprisingly modest-size rooms orbiting the gargantuan salon. For a family of four, dining in the former ballroom might feel about as cozy as eating in Grand Central Terminal after the crowds have gone.

    But for the American and European billionaires who have been viewing the triplex as a potential pied-à-terre, such quibbles are largely beside the point.

    “People really look at it like buying a rare piece of art rather than an apartment,” said Ms. Sample, the broker.

    “It’s not like buying a penthouse in a new building where the top five floors are basically all identical and all called penthouses,” she added. “It’s a thing of beauty that can’t be replicated.”

    The penthouse:

    The ballroom during a party in 1993

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

    Last edited by ZippyTheChimp; December 3rd, 2006 at 10:56 AM.

  12. #12
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    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    me drooling

  13. #13


    Developers take not: this is what luxury means.

  14. #14


    Oh boy... lets hope who ever buys this has taste. Interior decorators all over the world must be salivating.

    The current owners used THIS space to create "what amounts to a combination pied-à-terre and museum of popular culture" ....complete with a "Beatles room". Oh God. Is that track lighting in the grand salon? Antique reproductions. Pine panelling in the office. Beyond gross.

  15. #15

    Default Facelift for the Pierre.

    Storied Hotel Is Closing for a Major Face-Lift

    Keith Bedford for The New York Times
    The Pierre in 2006. Renovations will probably take two years.


    Published: November 3, 2007

    Pierre New York, the venerable neo-Renaissance hotel on Fifth Avenue that has been the setting for countless society parties and served as a home away from home for famous patrons including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard M. Nixon, is set to close its doors in December for an extensive renovation, according to hotel industry executives.
    The renovation, which could take about two years at an estimated cost of $122 million, will update both the lobby and the Pierre’s 200 guest rooms, which include 51 suites, a few with open-air terraces. The project is intended to turn the Pierre into the North American flagship for Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, an Indian chain of 77 luxury hotels, mostly in Asia. Taj Hotels has operated the Pierre for the past two years, the executives said.
    During the renovation, the hotel will continue to provide limited service for the permanent residents of the 44-story tower, which has an octagonal three-story copper roof.
    But the renovation of the 77-year-old Pierre and the temporary closing are still something of a secret.
    “We are not ready to release any details about renovation at the Pierre,” said Babs Harrison, a spokeswoman for the hotel. “That said, my understanding is that a release will be forthcoming, probably within the next week or two.”
    Peter Ward, president of the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, an umbrella group for hotel unions, said the unions had been negotiating with the Pierre over an optional severance package for employees who do not wish to return to the hotel when the renovation is completed. There are about 480 union workers at the hotel.
    The hotel has a storied history. A group of investors that included Walter P. Chrysler, Otto H. Kahn and Edward F. Hutton built the hotel in 1930 and installed the well-known chef Charles Pierre Casalasco to run it. The hotel proved to be a popular site for debutante parties.
    It also attracted a loyal group of Hollywood actors, including Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Ms. Taylor. Mr. Nixon stayed at the Pierre before becoming president.
    Still, the hotel fell into bankruptcy during the Depression, and in 1938 J. Paul Getty bought the property for about $2.5 million and converted many of the original 714 rooms into co-op apartments. In 1988, the hotel’s duplex penthouse, which included a ballroom with huge arched windows offering views in every direction, went on the market for $20 million.
    The hotel was run by the Four Seasons chain for a quarter-century. But in 2005, the cooperative that controls the Pierre signed a 30-year management contract with the Taj Hotels.

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