Own a Piece of History at the Waldorf Astoria New York, Marilyn Monroe’s Former Home

Posted in What to Buy

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe was nearing the height of her career, she was dating Marlon Brando, and living in suite 2728 at the Waldorf Astoria New York — paying US$1,000 a week and rented from fellow actress Leonora Corbett. In today’s money, this clocks just under US$10,000 (approx. HK$77,500) a week.

Living in a three-bedroom suite on the 27th floor for the better part of a year, Monroe was known to have decorated the place with pictures of Albert Einstein and her own portrait done by actor Zero Mostel. She was living in the suite as she took method acting classes in Manhattan and met Arthur Miller while she was setting up her own studio, Marilyn Monroe Productions.

An invoice showing expenses such as phone, sundries and food being charged to Monroe’s suite number 2728.

The hotel, which has now become an architectural landmark in New York city, first opened its doors in 1931 and has hosted a number of politicians, world leaders and celebrities throughout the years.

For the first time ever, the historic New York hotel is welcoming high net worth buyers to permanently own an apartment in this same iconic building, in effect purchasing a slice of history.

In 2017, the hotel closed its doors for a multi-year renovation that is set to transform the upper portion of the hotel into the brand new The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, sitting atop a 375-key hotel. Slated to reopen officially in 2022, the residential towers have recently launched for sale.

Marilyn Monroe

With the likes of Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, Grace Kelly, President D. Roosevelt and even Queen Elizabeth II having passed through its doors, the Waldorf Astoria is reputed as place where one could interact with history at close quarters, whether through the storied halls themselves or through its design reflecting the zeitgeist of the early 20th century.

From the 1893 World’s Fair Clock made by Tiffany & Co. that sat in the Peacock Alley to Nina Saemundsson’s ‘Spirit of Achievement’ statue; Cole Porter’s piano in the original lobby to Track 61, the secret railway track directly linked to Grand Central Station that transported former presidents to the hotel — a number of these artefacts have been removed or closed off from The Towers during the renovation period but residents can expect to see them by the time they are officially opened to the public.

The renovation of The Towers is being overseen by a star ensemble team consisting of renowned interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot, architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and hotel interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The aim was to breathe new life into the building while respecting and maintaining the design intent of its original architect Lloyd Morgan.

With Deniot being in charge of interior design, future residents can expect to find the original Art Deco references existing in harmony with more modern trends. He has especially relied on handcrafted finishes and natural materials to bring a sense of comfort to the otherwise grand opulence of the building.

Available in layouts from studios up to four-bedroom units, the residences feature elegant touches wherever you look: From light-filled, high-ceilinged interiors to custom-designed wood and lacquer cabinetry built by Italian house Molteni & C; professional kitchen appliances by Gaggenau to heated master bathroom floors. The Towers’ common spaces will also see a collection of dynamic contemporary art, such as by Korean artist Minjung Kim, curated with the help of celebrated auctioneer and collector Simon de Pury.

Famous for its round-the-clock service and in-room dining — a pioneering concept at the time — the landmark hotel has been considered the birthplace of the ‘hotel residence,’ or what now what many refer to as the ‘branded residence.’

Similarly, residents at The Towers can expect the same level of five-star service and amenities. A number of attractive features include access to the Starlight Pool, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool with views over Park Avenue; the private outdoor respite named the Starlight Terrace; the Monte Carlo Gaming Room; the Monaco Bar; a wine tasting room with Gaggenau wine vaults available for private storage; and 24-hour concierge services in addition to dedicated on-site professionals to take care of any whim or request.

Situated in the heart of New York city, the Park Avenue luxury residences are priced starting from US$1.7 million (approx. HK$13.2 million) for its studio apartments, with one- to four-bedroom suites also available for upwards of US$18 million (HK$139 million).

Virtual or in-person tours are now available at The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, 305 Park Avenue, New York, United States

Zeerak Khurram

Inside Sylvester Stallone’s Golf Club Mansion, Now For Sale

Posted in How the One Percent Live, What to Buy

Sylvester Stallone — or, of course, Rocky or Rambo — might be a movie star famed for tough action roles, but unbeknownst to many, he’s also got a softer, artistic side too as a prolific painter, and enjoys transforming his houses into stunning homes filled with elegant decor.

While the actor continues to retain his bi-coastal residences in Los Angeles and Coconut Grove in Miami, he’s recently decided to release his golf club home in La Quinta, California on the market. The property was custom-built in the city’s golfing community of Madison Club in 2008.

With four bedrooms, five bathrooms and an interior donning a mixture of Old World Mediterranean style and Caribbean Island-influenced touches, Stallone’s 4,889-sq.ft. home embodies his Italian ancestry. Highlighted features run from the rustic wooden double front doors to the walled patio entry, the impressive vaulted foyer, an arched entrance that opens into a double-height living room complete with fireplace and more.

It’s also a home clearly meant for entertaining. Dinner parties can be hosted in multiple places from the formal dining room connected to the rear terrace, the large eat-in island kitchen to the outdoor dining spaces adjacent to the courtyard. There is also a wine room and an outdoor kitchen with private terraces for an intimate sip-and-bite.

Upstairs, the master suite with its own fireplace makes for the perfect place to cosy up in, as you catch up on Netflix via the television that rises up at the foot of the bed. The suite is also completed with a large master bath, dressing room and another private terrace, this time, with seemingly never-ending views to the mountains.

Step outside the house, past the fire pit and across the grass is where you’ll find a pool and spa for your enjoyment, accompanied by lush plantings, water features as well as a rock-strewn flowing stream that runs across the property.

Located in suburban Los Angeles, La Quinta is famed for its abundance of golf courses, and has been the host city for a number of prestigious golf tournaments over the years. It’s also a celebrity hot spot with star residents including Kanye and Kim Kardashian-West, Tom Brady and Kylie Jenner.

Want to live like Sylvester Stallone? The actor’s La Quinta mansion is currently listed with an asking price of US$3.35 million (HK$25.9 million). Interested parties can contact listing agent Josh Reef of Douglas Elliman, Beverly Hills.

(Images courtesy TopTenRealEstate.com)

As of the publishing date of this article, the aforementioned property is available for sale. We cannot guarantee that the property will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check with the listing agent for the most up-to-date information.

Cindie Chan

Neighbourhood Look: The Best Areas to Buy in New York

Posted in Where to Live

According to data released by US real estate investment firm CBRE last April, New York City — to no one’s surprise — remains one of the 10 priciest markets for residential property worldwide.

Undoubtedly, there are an array of challenges (e.g. complicated state and federal tax rules, over-leveraging) affiliated with the ‘City that Never Sleeps’ but the good news is that the median sales price has grown steadily over the past decade. (For context: last November, the average New York home sold for US$670,000, 50 percent more than what buyers would have been willing to part with just 9 years ago.)

So yes, if you’re thinking of buying a new pied-à-terre sometime in 2020, chances are you’ll still be doing so in a seller’s market. That said, assuming the current climate doesn’t have you spooked, we’ve put together a quick primer featuring five of the best areas to buy in New York, with an eye toward neighbourhoods which balance capital gain potential with a solid quality-of-life.

Lower Manhattan

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: 25 Park Row)

If cost is no object then a reliable medium-term profit is all but assured when looking in the Financial District — since 2019, the median sale price has risen 70 percent to total about US$1.4 million. As you’d expect, Manhattan’s nerve centre is also a hot bed for new luxury residences. The iconic offices at One Wall Street are nearing the end of a blockbuster transformation which will see them turned into 566 condominiums, whereas architect David Adjaye’s imposing William Street high-rise is expected to make its highly anticipated launch later this summer. Rejuvenation appears to be a consistent trend throughout the area: at 25 Park Row, formerly the site of J&R Music, 110 palatial apartments that offer sweeping views of City Hall Park are also nearing completion.

Long Island City

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: G&M Realty)

Located along the western extremity of Queens, Long Island City isn’t coveted with the same breathlessness as most major Brooklyn and Manhattan-centred neighbourhoods. However, local residents have long favoured the former industrial area because of its relative remoteness from the commotion of Midtown. Investors are also closely monitoring growth potential: since 2010, median house prices have climbed 53 percent; and the area is poised to receive the lion’s share of fresh New York developments this year. A pair of residential towers at 22-44 Jackson Avenue are the main attraction. Built (somewhat controversially) atop the foundation of the 5Pointz mural space, this complex will introduce over 1,000 new condominiums into the neighbourhood. Good proximity to over-ground rail networks is likely to drive up the development’s desirability once it opens later this year.

East Harlem

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: Bjarke Ingels Group)

Investors who are up for a little risk and long-term growth potential would do well to direct their attention towards Harlem. Rezoning efforts in 2017 have put a number of projects in forward (albeit slow-trundling) motion: with ‘6’ train and ‘Q’ metro lines predicted to extend into the neighbourhood over the next decade. Three more stations are also planned by 2029. On 146 East 126th Street, Bjarke Ingels’s 11-storey residential project — colloquially dubbed ‘The Smile’ — is a portent of things to come: a cheerful, futuristic exterior that channels the whimsical, adult-playground energy of its interior spaces.

Bedford-Stuyvesant

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: 1134 Fulton)

If the Brooklyn brownstone is the structural archetype which most tickles your fancy, then Bed-Stuy will necessarily be where your research begins. As the result of a 2012 rezoning, residential developments here tend to conform to historic urban planning norms — a pleasant peculiarity in a city obsessed with ever-glitzier reinventions. Most developments comprise less than a dozen apartments, and it’s a rare thing to see any freestanding build in the neighbourhood that’s taller than 10 storeys. In 2019, the median asking price clocked in at US$1.2 million, and while that’s not the kind of dramatic gain you’d see if you’d invested in, say, Red Hook 10 years back, it’s indicative of more sustainable and accessible growth. Plus: a place where you and your loved ones might actually enjoy living.

Downtown Brooklyn

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: Brooklyn Point NYC)

Brooklyn’s vertical cityscape has changed immensely over the past half-decade. At various times, all of the city’s big development cartels have battled to build ‘Brooklyn’s tallest condo’, with the current titleholder being Extell’s Brooklyn Point: a 483-condo skyscraper located at 138 Willoughby Street. The project is endemic of the critical mass that the neighbourhood is reaching, in terms of gentrification. With Brooklyn Point comes a procession of similarly timed openings, including new department stores, food halls and the city’s latest Alamo Drafthouse (a chain of boutique cinemas originally from Texas). Rising rentals brought on by the influx of these yuppie-friendly businesses are guaranteed to enrage ‘real’ New Yorkers, but assuming you’re an itinerant landlord, the news remains, for the time being, good.

Randy Lai

Inside the Beckhams’ New HK$186 Million Miami Condo

Posted in How the One Percent Live

David and Victoria Beckham recently purchased a US$24 million (approx. HK$186 million condo in famed architect Zaha Hadid’s newly-completed downtown Miami building, One Thousand Museum. This will be where the Beckhams will reside since David is also the new co-owner of Miami’s new Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami CF.

Opened back in August 2019, One Thousand Museum is easily one of the most coveted properties in the city. The building sees its own private helipad, making it Miami’s single residential building accessible by air.

Modernising the Miami skyline, the building will be equipped with amenities and hospitality-focused experiences for residents and guests that will compete with some of the most luxe hotels in the world.

For instance, there’s a Sky Lounge for dining and private events, an on-premise bank vault, a nearby private beach club, wellness center, spa, spin studio, and pools — all available exclusively to residents. Click through the gallery below to check out the luxe amenities and where the Beckhams will be hanging out soon.

Austin Miao

Billionaire’s Row: The Most Expensive Property in New York City

Posted in How the One Percent Live

In affluent metropolises across the globe, the term ‘Billionaires’ Row’ is one that gets substantial airtime, usually in reference to a street or thoroughfare on which lofty, palatial abodes of the 1 percent are erected. In New York City, the term describes a growing number of Manhattan highrises, collectively constituting the most expensive real estate in America — possibly on the planet.

StreetEasy (a leading New York online realty marketplace) calls it “an enclave around 57th Street [that has] become a symbol of the city’s increasingly stupendous riches”, but the Row has morphed over the years into a loose conglomeration of ultra-luxe skyscrapers, walkable distance to Central Park and Fifth Avenue. It’s a common misconception that the boundaries are demarcated on 57th Street. More sprawl as opposed to continuous stretch, realtors generally think of it as a loose affiliation of eight towers, crisscrossing between 57th Street, 59th Street and 8th Avenue. 

220 Central Park South

Despite low physical occupancies, most of the eight towers that make up the proverbial Row have benefited from stratospheric buying power. Just this July, British rocker Sting reportedly traded in his Manhattan duplex for a US$65.7 million penthouse at 220 Central Park South — the development on the Row with the best proximity to Central Park. Details regarding most of the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower’s listings are extremely sparse, though according to Architectural Digest, Sting’s recent acquisition features three bedrooms, five and a half baths and panoramic views of the surrounding parkland. The sale comes mere months after realtors managed to make a deal with billionaire fund manager Ken Griffin, for a US$238 million penthouse that’s now regarded as the most expensive home in America. 

The view from a bathroom inside Steinway Tower.

Of the Row’s eight towers, three are concentrated at the western end of 57th Street — surrounded by NYC landmarks such as Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room. Assuming you’re descending from Central Park, your next encounter with the Row is likely to involve a development at 111 W 57th St — more commonly known as Steinway Tower. Situated atop the site that was once Steinway Hall, this 1,428-foot monolith will bear the distinction of being the ‘world’s skinniest skyscraper’ once construction wraps in 2020. Inside, the vast majority of the development’s 60 condos are comprised of full floor residences — including 20,000 square feet of amenities and a residents’ lounge complete with Steinway grand piano.


One57

Down the block from Steinway Tower you’ll find One 57 — a 90-storey high-rise that completed construction in 2013. Nicknamed the ‘Billionaire Building’, One 57 was among the first skyscrapers to catalyse development of the Row, and its residents list has the credentials to back this. Within a year of opening, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell had set up shop in one of the building’s US$100 million penthouses, before being joined by other members of the 10-figure club such as hedge fund guru Bill Ackman and Shanghainese billionaire investor Liu Yiqian. Competition, however, is quite literally on the doorstep: with One 57 located just a stone’s throw from 225 W 57th St — site of Extell Development’s new Central Park Tower. Upon its completion in 2020, the series of luxury condos will include a 7-floor outpost of American luxury retailer Nordstrom and is slated to usurp the title of ‘world’s tallest residential building’. 

A rendering of an home inside 53 W 53rd St.

If you taxi a few blocks south toward 53rd Street, you’ll happen across 53 W 53rd St — the southernmost facing of the Row’s gleaming high-rises. Scheduled to reach completion at the end of 2019, numerous offers for the building’s 145 units have already been made — including, reportedly, the sale of one of the development’s US$33.5 million penthouses. The location does seem at first isolated from the majority of the action on the Row, though 53 W 53rd Street’s trump card is its excellent proximity to New York’s premiere cultural institutions — MoMA and Rockefeller Centre, to name a handful.

432 Park Avenue

If you fancy a brisk jog, head northeast towards Park Avenue, home to two covetable addresses. Even a country mile away, the “basket grid” silhouette of 432 Park Avenue hovers into view. The property was previously crowned the ‘world’s tallest residential building’, before being dislodged by the still-under-construction Central Park Tower.

A rendering of Central Park Tower.

In the course of wandering further north, you’ll be confronted by 220 Central Park South — yet another Neoclassicist marvel designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Resplendent in limestone cladding, the building exterior evokes Stern’s other work throughout Manhattan, and is the only Row highrise to occupy a spot in the Upper East Side — home of the Met and Guggenheim museums, and The Carlyle by Rosewood. According to Luxury Listings NYC, 520 Park Avenue offers “perhaps the highest ratio of amenity-to-unit space of any building in the city”, encompassing a range of recreational facilities suitable for both families and individuals. 

A rendering of 252 E 57th Street.

To close out your journey, heeds the words of William Douglas and go east. A three-block stroll will put you within spitting distance of 252 E 57 Street, the shortest and most decentralised of the Billionaires’ Row towers. Completed in 2017, this impressive 712-foot-tall tower channels the seamless, arboreal form of Alvar Aalto’s ‘Savoy Vase’. Interiors are suffused with a similarly splashy quality, courtesy of celebrity designer Daniel Romauldez, who is best known for working with a range of private clients including Mick Jagger and Tory Burch.

Randy Lai

Actress Kaley Cuoco’s L.A. Home Hits the Market for Just Under US$5 Million

Posted in What to Buy

Imagine sitting by the fire as you read the latest script for your sitcom or scroll through your millions of followers on Instagram. If you were actress Kaley Cuoco, of The Big Bang Theory, or Khloe Kardashian of, well, the Kardashians, this would be that fire and this would be your living room. After wrapping Big Bang earlier this year, Cuoco and husband Karl Cook have put the 7,977-square-foot LA home they acquired from Kardashian in 2014 on the market for US$4.895 million. The exceedingly private home is surrounded by thick hedges and features a gated entrance, six en-suite bedrooms, a two-storey foyer, swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and large car park.

Staff Writer