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Joan Rivers Favorite Things
Jokes paid the rent. For 25 years, Joan Rivers lived in an 11-room triplex penthouse at 1 East 62nd St., just off Fifth Ave. Now, the late comedian’s gilded condo atop a seven-story limestone mansion built in 1903 is on the market for $28 million.
Rivers, who died in September, bought the triplex in Feb. 1988 for $3.2 million, and kept an office and vast card catalog of one-liners there. The comedian, who was president of the building’s condo board, occupied the sixth and seventh floors, while her daughter, Melissa, used the fifth-floor space when visiting.
The 5,100-square-foot home occupies the building’s three-story, 1930s addition. It features four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, five fireplaces, a gymnasium-size ballroom and music room with 23-foot ceilings, a library, and two terraces.
“I live in Los Angeles—what would I do with my mother’s huge apartment?” said Ms. Rivers, 47, author of “The Book of Joan,” recollections about her mother due in May. “Even if I kept my fifth-floor apartment, the stairs to mom’s floors would be sealed off by new owners. It’s too painful.”
The triplex has been on and off the market since 2009. “In recent years, mom came out to L.A. weekly to stay with me and my son, Cooper, while we worked on our TV projects,” said Ms. Rivers. “It was her childhood fantasy to live in New York. She was never going to leave.”
“The wrought-iron cradle planter was originally a sand ashtray that the Plaza Hotel planned to toss out during a renovation in the ’70s. My parents’ pleas to buy it were rejected, so they sneaked one into their hotel room, emptied the sand in the tub, ran the water and took it apart to carry out. When the tub’s drainage backed up, the plumber arrived and asked about all the sand. My mother looked the guy in the eye and said, ‘My kid just came back from the beach.’ It was mid-December.”
“In the 1990s, my mother and I bought two glass chandeliers in West Hollywood—one for my fifth-floor guest apartment and the other for my L.A. house. They were limited-edition models of Columbus’s three ships. We always hoped we’d find the third. Mom said, ‘Don’t worry, it will turn up suddenly, like Jimmy Hoffa.’”
“‘Mille Baisers,’ by Kees Van Dongen (1916), was the last piece my mom and dad bought together before my father, Edgar, died in 1987. Mom loved the colors and the fact that the woman bending over the table was the artist’s daughter completing a drawing by adding the words ‘Mille Baisers’ [‘A Thousand Kisses’].”
“My parents started acquiring Fabergé animals, frames and boxes in the 1980s. I think there was a kinship between the craftsmanship and how mom labored over her work for her appearances. She’d say, ‘Look how amazing. Art is in the details.’”
“Mom always sat on this baroque-style foot stool in the library when she was on the phone or in meetings. Sitting on the stool was her way of strengthening her posture, which was extremely important to her. Half my life I was told not to slouch. Mom, on the other hand, could fall asleep sitting up straight.”
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