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Property Peepshow

When it comes to luxury real estate, admit it, you like to watch

Artists in Residences

Fixer-uppers take vision and a whole lot of cash. Good thing the owners of these two money pits have no shortage of either. By Sam Polcer

Jeff Koons


What they bought: 2009 and 2010 that, when combined, will make up one of the New York City borough’s largest single-family homes. One building was described as being in a Grey Gardens state of disrepair
Size: 21,500 square feet (combined)
Purchase price: $32 million (combined)
Estimated cost of restoration: $5 million
Total cost in art: The combined sales of Tulips, his most expensive work, and Michael Jackson and Bubbles, his kitschiest, could pay for the whole thing, with plenty left over to spend on fluorescent paint
Artistic flourishes: Original renovation plans included an exercise room, pool, four maids rooms and a rooftop terrace—though the Landmarks Preservation Commission isn’t known for making things easy. Plans for installing a gigantic steel balloon animal on the roof were presumably never seriously considered
Past residents: Barbara “Bobo” Rockefeller, who had married into the famous family, paid for the second townhouse with her divorce settlement
Notable neighbors: Wall Street conqueror Philip Falcone and his notorious film producer wife, Lisa, live across the street
Suitability: This kind of Upper East Side old money opulence couldn’t resemble Koons’ pop art balloon animals any less—but then again, Andy Warhol lived in a townhouse in the same area

Damien Hirst


What they bought: Toddington Manor, a sprawling, decrepit 300-room Victorian Gothic mansion in Gloucestershire, U.K., that had been deserted for more than 20 years when Hirst snatched it up in 2005
Size: 40,000 square feet
Purchase price: $4.5 million
Estimated cost of restoration: $15 million
Total cost in art: For the Love of God, his diamond-encrusted skull—which would fit perfectly in a crumbling Gothic manor—could be broken up and sold for parts and still pay for the place
Artistic flourishes: The plan is to turn the manor into a big, terrifying museum to contain Hirst’s big, terrifying artwork. Think dark hallways leading to diced-up sharks preserved in formaldehyde, cow heads and maggots in glass boxes, medicine cabinets filled with pain medication. Bring the kids!
Past residents: The National Union of Teachers lived and worked in the building to avoid WWII air raids in London
Notable neighbors: Other Gloucestershire residents include Lily Allen, Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Hurley—none of whom can be very bad for real estate value
Suitability: Hirst once directed a video for rock band Blur’s hit “Country House,” a song that poked fun at the upper crust’s love for lavish rural retreats

One Response to “Property Peepshow”

  1. David Buck Says:
    November 28th, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Makes our prices in Honolulu not seem that pricey after all :)

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