You're a high-end Realtor. Tell us, what does Madonna's new $40 million townhouse look like?
A: It's a triple-wide, which means it measures out at 57 feet across. For those of you who live in houses, that's twice as wide as a big living room. But in crowded and expensive New York, it's just extraordinary, and it gives room for a beautiful private garden (see photo). More importantly, Ms. Ciccone will be out from under the thumb of her Central Park West co-op board, which had rejected her attempts to enlarge her current New York apartment (which was actually a combo of four apartments) by combining it with a fifth.
In general, Madonna's real estate karma has been no better than that of many of us: When she first made it big, in 1985, she was turned down by the board of the posh San Remo (being on the cover of Playboy that year probably didn't help).
As I wrote a year and a half ago, in a piece for Inman News, "Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie has come a long way since she the '80s, when she lived in a trashy East Village apartment, but she still hasn't found the perfect pad. I guess that makes her a true New Yorker â€"- but I really do feel sorry for her." I mean think of it: You work really really hard to make all that money, and you can't even live where you want?
Well, maybe I feel a little less sorry for Madonna now. The triple-wide red-brick Georgian not only has the 3,000-square-foot garden, it has 13 bedrooms, a 19-by-21-foot kitchen, and a 38-by-22-foot drawing room that overlooks the garden and has a fireplace. (The new house has nine fireplaces, but they say Madonna's current duplex has two fireplaces in the master bedroom, so she may just be a fireplace person.)
I don't want to disclose the address because that would be tacky, but the taxes, which are a matter of public record, are $30,000. Quarterly.
What else? Four floors, each maybe around 3,000 square feet, with the potential for a garden on the roof. An elevator. A wood-paneled formal dining room with one of them fireplaces. Multiple pantries (reports say three) and multiple master bedrooms, most with full baths en suite. (I've heard 14 bathrooms in all; the library even has an adjacent full bath.) A gym, of course, overlooking the street, and a double garage.
More importantly, the house has good karma. Sure, Jennifer Keil in The New York Post (disclosure: that's my old paper, and Jen's a reporter I've edited) wrote that the house has "bad vibes" -- literal shaking, that is, from the nearby subway line. But it's also a family house, with a grandfather-clock-and-books vibe, where the last owner lived until she was in her 90s. When the house was put on the market in October, Max Abelson of the New York Observer quoted the housekeeper as saying, "whoever lives in this house is going to be happy."
Madonna, for your sake, I hope that's true.