Joan Rivers’ New York Penthouse

By Camilla McLaughlin

Rarity, singular location and provenance are all characteristics of an ultimate home, and few properties would be more perfect for this issue than the legendary New York penthouse gracing our cover. Glamour and authenticity are not often used together to describe real estate, but that is definitely the feeling here. It’s not a surprise considering the former owner was Joan Rivers, the personification of these qualities.

Located in a limestone Beaux Arts mansion built in 1903 for Alice and John Drexel, the lavish triplex penthouse is changing hands for the first time in decades and presents a rare opportunity to own a beautifully restored prewar condo in a boutique building. “There aren’t many of these that still exist, and most that do belong to a country,” says Leighton Candler with Corcoran Real Estate Group. Equally prized is the location, just off Fifth Avenue and steps from Central Park, on a prime residential street on the Upper East Side. 

Although the residence has terraces spacious enough for al fresco dining, skyline and park views, staff quarters and a separate but contiguous guest apartment, the centerpiece has to be the ballroom and adjoining music room. Twenty-three-foot ceilings, double-height windows, two fireplaces and architectural details from the Gilded Age, such as antique boisserie paneling, make it one of the grandest rooms in Manhattan. A ballroom by itself is difficult to find in Manhattan today; few still exist, but one that is bright and airy and completely integrated into the residence is extraordinary. 

Still, other rooms remind that, above all, this is a home. “The library is one of the coziest I’ve seen, perfect for sharing a cup of tea with a friend,” says Candler. “The dining room can be a huge entertaining space, but it’s also a room you can use and appreciate every day.”

The price for this very special slice of the Big Apple is $28 million.