Roy Lichtenstein’s Son Lists His Home for $25 Million
April 10, 2017
Originally posted in The New York Times
Since 1997, a neo-Classical brick rowhouse at 118 West 12th Street has been the backdrop for the eclectic collections of the filmmaker Mitchell Lichtenstein and his husband, Vincent Sanchez. There you can find ancient Egyptian mud sculptures, early 19th-century silhouettes of people with puffy sleeves, scrimshaw, a mammoth’s tooth and dozens of works by the Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, who was Mr. Lichtenstein’s father.
But the 1847 West Village house, which is on the market for $25 million , is a rarity all its own. Sensitively restored, the four-story building has many of its original details as well as several appealing alterations. A set of four pier mirrors with gold-painted frames, for example, added bling to the parlor floor around 1880. The back of the building was bumped out, probably at the same time. Today, the two-story addition looks onto a garden commissioned in 1933 by three schoolteacher daughters of Edward J. Donlin, a physician who bought the property in 1903.
Mr. Lichtenstein acquired the house from the art dealer Jason McCoy and Mr. McCoy’s then-wife, Diana Burroughs, for $2.52 million and took refuge there after years of enduring incessant traffic noise in a loft on Canal Street. “From 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock, you could not be on the phone for the honking,” he recalled. Unlike the former owners, who were vigorous hosts, he and Mr. Sanchez are “not hugely social.” They live quietly with their Italian greyhound, Puppet, in what they have concluded is more space than they need. The house is listed with Vals Osborne, Steven Sumser, and Lee Ann Jaffee of Stribling & Associates.
The first sign of the house’s unrepentant old age is the wavy glass in the front parlor’s floor-to-ceiling windows. A sculptural parchment-colored chandelier by Stephen White complements the ornate gold mirrors. On the wall dividing the room from the entrance hallway and echoing the cornice moldings hangs one of Roy Lichtenstein’s “Entablature” paintings from the 1970s. On the opposite wall is a 17th-century Italian portrait of a courtesan. An early 19th-century Bakshaish carpet covers the mahogany-stained floor.
An adjacent rear parlor used as a library has companion fixtures as well as a 19th-century painting of what looks like a nun. (It’s actually Queen Mariana of Austria in mourning; the 17th-century original by Juan Carreño de Miranda hangs in the Prado.) A mammoth’s tooth occupies the white marble mantel of one of the seven fireplaces. Roy Lichtenstein’s 1981 “Brushstroke” sculpture sits on a 19th-century column. The artist visited the house, his son said, but died in 1997 before the restoration was completed.
In Mr. Lichtenstein’s office beyond, gold-on-gold silk wallcovering, an iron light fixture and a mounted deer head suggest an affection for neo-Gothic style. And in fact, his latest film, “Angelica,” is a supernatural thriller set in Victorian London. (The movie, which was made in 2015 and stars Jena Malone and Janet McTeer, is to have its commercial release in August.)
But almost every room in the house is a cabinet of curiosities. Mr. Sanchez’s fourth-floor office with terrace, for instance, has an assortment of golden rays once attached to the heads of sculpted saints. The wall of a guest bedroom is framed with 19th- and 20th-century cat pictures rendered in fabric. “We’re hoping to find more, but it’s hard to find ones that are that primitive,” Mr. Lichtenstein said.
He and Mr. Sanchez chose to keep a small room with sink (some of the earliest plumbing in New York) that intercedes between the third-floor master bedroom and an en-suite L-shaped sitting room. But they doubled the size of the master bath by combining it with a dressing room.
Downstairs, on the garden level, they retained their predecessors’ French Zuber scenic dining room wallpaper, adding a 19th-century mahogany claw foot dining table and a long-sought-after chandelier that combines candles and electric lighting. In the kitchen, they tweaked the green wall color left behind and added Roy Lichtenstein’s 1961 painting of a turkey. The artist’s cartoonlike 1968 Time magazine cover portrait of Robert F. Kennedy is framed with a copy of the telegram Mr. Kennedy sent in response to the original work less than two weeks before his assassination. He liked it, but pointed out that he didn’t actually have red spots on his face.