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Joan Rivers Palatial Condo Languishes on Market at Bargain $28 Million

Joan Rivers with her daugher Melissa Rivers is facing a hefty estate tax bill if Joan kept her most of her assets in cash.  (Photo: Getty)

Joan Rivers with her daugher Melissa Rivers is facing a hefty estate tax bill. Her legendary apartment is for sale for $28 million. (Photo: Getty)

Joan Rivers’ palatial condo is languishing on the market–despite it’s bargain $28 million price tag–at a time when upper-bracket Manhattan real estate sales are booming. The problem may come down to a matter of taste–hers was off the charts.

Rivers bought the bought the property in 1988 and painstaking restored its Gilded Age decor.

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Your taste would have to run between Louis XIV and the Marquis de Sade to appreciate the interior of the 5,100-square-foot apartment. It includes a ballroom and music room with 23-foot ceilings that rival the palace at Versailles.

Rivers told the “Today” show in 2011 that her bedroom looked like a bordello.

Joan Rivers’ Palace in the Sky (Click Photos to Enlarge!)
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The house was built in 1903 by Gilded Age millionaire John Drexel, the son of Anthony Drexel and grandson of Francis Martin Drexel. In 1837, Francis founded the banking house of Drexel & Company in Philadelphia.

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Anthony was a partner of financier J.P. Morgan and founded Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1891.

When his father died in 1893, John inherited $23 million, a princely sum at the time. In today’s dollars his fortune would amount to about half a billion dollars.

He married Alice Gordon Troth, a Gilded Age heiress, who was accustomed to a life of complete excess, according to Drexel’s obituary.

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Drexel spared no expense when he built the ornate seven-story mansion, originally a single-family home, at at 1 E. 62nd St., just off Fifth Avenue. He hired noted architect Horace Trumbaue and spent $500,000. In today’s dollars that would be about $13 million.

The Drexels, who were prominent in New York City and Newport, R.I. society, set up permanent residence at their sprawling Paris mansion as the Great Depression gripped the country and continued living lavishly until he died there 1935.

Joan Rivers' condo building, known as the John R. Drexel house in Manhattan.

Joan Rivers’ condo building, known as the John R. Drexel house in Manhattan.

Following the stock market crash, the mansion was converted into seven condos and sold in 1930s.

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As New York City property goes, the Drexel mansion has it all. It’s an unparalleled 42-feet wide with a limestone facade and expansive views of Central Park. Rivers’ penthouse triplex occupies the top three floors.

It has four bedrooms, two kitchens, four and a half baths, five fireplaces, two sweeping terraces and a private elevator floor. In addition, it has a wood-paneled library, according to the listing.

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The centerpiece ballroom and music room have gilded antique boisserie paneling, crystal chandeliers, antique columns and two fireplaces. The ballroom alone can comfortably accommodate 125 people.

The dining room has three French doors that open to a south-facing terrace, large enough for al fresco dining. The second floor has a mezzanine overlooking the ballroom.

The master suite also has French doors opening to a terrace. The first floor is a separate two-bedroom, two-bath guest quarters.

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Rivers’ daughter Melissa put the house on the market in February following her mother’s death the previous September. She died during a routine medical procedure.

Melissa, who makes her home in Los Angeles, has no interest in keeping the property, according to The New York Daily News.

She filed suit in January against the clinic where her mother went into cardiac arrest. She claims the clinic’s doctors were so busy taking selfies with Rivers they missed the moment her vital signs plummeted.

Given New York City’s booming real estate market, it’s a bit of a wonder why the property is languishing.

Rivers’ haunting death and her eccentric taste may be keeping buyers at bay. But at $28 million it’s a bargain, given it’s size, location and amenities.

Sales of properties in New York City at or above $15 million hit a new post-recession high last summer, with more than 76 sales. Of those, 19 properties were priced between $30 million and $70 million. Sales last topped that figure before the crash in 2008, according to TheDeal.

Ironically, last year’s top sale, a $70 million Fifth Avenue co-op is right in Rivers’ highly desirable neighborhood.

Realtor Leighton Candler (212-937-6677) of Corcoran, is handling Rivers’ sale.

Check out the photos of her opulent condo, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.


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