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Philip Johnson Designed Manhattan Home Sells For $20M

A modernist house in Manhattan, designed by Philip Johnson and once owned by Robert Lauder, was sold recently for $19.99 million.

 The two-story townhouse is located at 52nd Street in Manhattan, New York. It was originally commissioned in 1950 by Blanchette, the wife of John D. Rockefeller. Architect Philip Johnson was commissioned to build a modernist house that would serve to host her art collection. As such, it was not built as a ‘real house’; the 2nd story was added only for the sake of appearance and had two empty rooms. Even a kitchen was only added later on in the basement.

Over the years, the house hosted many high-profile events for the Rockefeller family. In 1958, it was donated to the Museum of Modern Art. MOMA used it as an extension to host exhibitions of modern art. Philip Johnson himself continued to remain attached to the property; between 1971 and 1979, he leased the house from its then-owners, Mary Leonhardt. During that period, Johnson displayed his own private collection at the house and even hosted parties that saw guests like Andy Warhol.


Eventually, in 1989, the house came under the ownership of Robert S. Lauder, heir to the esteemed Estee Lauder brand. In 2000, Lauder sold the house in an auction to art dealer Anthony d’Offay. Now, the property has changed hands once again and sold for $20 million to Ludo USA, a lesser-known American company. The news was first broken by real-estate watchdog Curbed.