Elvis was in the building. Well, at least on the top floor. It’s here, in his “creative studio” on the fifth floor, that Oscar-winning writer and director Baz Luhrmann is said to have penned the script for his next film. Elvis, with Tom Hanks.
It is also Elvis who is partly responsible for the decision of Luhrmann and his wife, four-time Oscar winner and costume designer Catherine Martin, to put their beloved New York townhouse on the market, with an asking price of $19.995 million. It appears Covid travel restrictions are moving in and out of the couple’s native Australia, where Elvis was filmed, drove them away from New York for the past two years, leaving the historic property empty. Add to that that the couple’s two children are said to have reached college age, prompting the difficult decision to sell.
“Homes like this only come once in a lifetime,” said Steve Gold, listing agent for the Corcoran Group. Robb Report. “It’s a real unicorn in terms of New York townhouses. Its proportions and size are simply exceptional.
Luhrmann, who wrote and directed films like red Mill, Gatsby the magnificent and Romeo + Julietbought this elegant Anglo-Italian brownstone in 2017, paying $13.5 million.
Built by a Brooklyn-based merchant in 1850, the house is unique in that its frontage spans 28 feet, making for exceptionally spacious rooms. Corcoran’s Gold says it’s a rarity among New York townhouses. The exterior design only adds to the grandeur, with its full-width Juliet balcony on the second floor featuring a delicate cast iron balustrade, beautiful arched windows and an imposing main entrance with arched stonework.
Add to that the home’s prime location on East 17th Street, overlooking Stuyvesant Square Park, in Manhattan’s coveted Gramercy neighborhood, just steps from bustling Union Square. “Stuyvesant Square is one of New York’s oldest parks, and the house almost faces it. It is also on the north side of the street, therefore facing south. Almost every room is flooded with light,” says Gold.
After Luhrmann and Martin bought the house, the couple immediately embarked on a massive top-to-bottom renovation, converting the former three-family home into a single residence. The complete makeover also reflected the couple’s passion for theatrical design. As indicated in the pages of Elle Decor and vogue australia magazines, the multitude of rooms are decorated in rich colors and wildly patterned wall coverings, most designed by Martin.
Spread over these five levels are six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a few shower rooms. The highlight here is the crisp white second-floor living room, with its 16-foot high ceilings, floating curved staircase, and floor-to-ceiling doors to the balcony. Through a large arched doorway is the adjoining music room where, at least in the listing photos, the couple’s Oscars are lined up on a shelf.
The beautiful green and ruby red family room/dining room decor would have been inspired by the green tiles surrounding the original fireplace. This boldly patterned emerald wallpaper is also one of Martin’s designs. The decorator’s theatrical talents are also on display in the home’s entryway, with its blood-red carpeting, black paintwork, and wild geometric wallcovering.
Also on this level is the oversized kitchen designed by Clive Christian with its professional-grade Viking and Sub-Zero appliances, white marble countertops and huge pantry.
Take the stairs or elevator (a work of art in itself) down to the basement to find a media room with an overstuffed red velvet sofa, as well as a studio that could be converted into another bedroom. From here you have access to the home’s coveted approximately 1,500 square foot garden.
On the fifth floor is Luhrmann’s space, which currently includes a lounge, bar, gym, bedroom, and bathroom. For several years, the floor was home to renowned jazz tenor saxophonist Sandy Johnson and his wife.
“All of this top floor would make a perfect stand-alone master suite, replacing the current one on the second floor. The owners intended to add stairs to the roof and create a private roof terrace. The views from above would be amazing,” adds Gold.
Check out more photos of the townhouse below: