Open house: Touring an $85M mansion on the UES

The steps leading up to the oh-so-grand townhouse at 8 East 62nd Street can seem surprisingly dress-down compared to the building’s golden metalwork and stone. But even they have an upscale secret. They’re heated, as is the sidewalk directly in front, to avoid an unpleasant wintery build up of snow and ice. Nobody will be slipping on these slabs.

This 15,000-square-foot, six-story, pavement heating, limestone mansion was built in 1903 by John Duncan, the same architect behind Grant’s Tomb up in Riverside Park. Now, more than 100 years later, the house is on the market asking an eye-watering $84.5 million. It’s currently the fourth most expensive listing in the city, and the second most expensive townhouse – the top spot is held by neighboring 12-16 East 62nd Street, a collection of three townhouses listed for $120 million.

Broker Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group has the listing and sold the property back in 2007 to its current owners for $35 million. The house belongs to Keith Rubenstein – head of Somerset Partners, South Bronx developer and “derelicte” party thrower – and his wife Inga. Upon purchase, the pair embarked on a thorough multi year gut renovation.

Although reluctant to discuss the renovation costs of this property in particular Modlin did estimate that a similarly thorough renovation would cost in the region of $2,000 per square foot. You can do the math.

Upon entering the home you’re immediately faced with a sweeping, mosaic-floored lobby. On the left, a grand marble staircase with decorative wrought iron and brass balustrades. On the right, a huge carved stone mantel framing a wood-burning fireplace and topped with a glowing “Forever” sign – a piece by British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster. The light work is the first of an impressive collection of contemporary art spread throughout the home. Straight ahead leads to the glossy white kitchen, which is fitted with English cabinets from Smallbone of Devises (likely the Pilaster range) and overlooks the small courtyard.

The staircase leads up to the living room and its 17-feet-high ceiling, the space is home to a chandelier, piano and a large pink sculpture by the New York artist KAWS. Opposite, and behind very, very tall floor to ceiling doors, is the dining room and according to the listing its unusual floor is inspired by the Pavlovsk Palace in St. Petersburg. Between the two rooms is a piece by Allen Jones – the English artist most well known for combining furniture with sculptures of provocatively posed women.

Further upstairs are three bedrooms and a smoking room next to which is a playful decorated bathroom lined with intentional cracked glass and with metallic silver fixtures.

The home is full of useful gizmos and gadgets – an anti-fog shaving mirror, a small hidden refrigerator for makeup and lotion and a temperature-controlled closet for furs.

The basement houses a massage room, sauna, gym and cold plunge pool. While the roof, which offers views of Central Park and the Pierre hotel, contains a lounge area, a full outdoor kitchen, a bathroom and a Zen rock garden.

While the property is suitably lavish throughout, the most impressive/expensive room in the house is the billiard room, thanks to its Hermès leather lined walls. The Rubensteins have achieved the nearly impossible feat of tastefully lining a room in leather – the rich red is complementary to the space and one small, golden embossed logo is the only indication of the storied brand behind it.

“The most important aspect isn’t even the house,” Said Modlin, “It’s the location.” And at just about 100 paces to Central Park, he’s right.