Art World Superstar Rashid Johnson Drops $9 Million on Manhattan Townhouse

Mark David
·3-min read

At the chaotic onset of the Covid pandemic, art world heavy hitter Rashid Johnson decamped New York City for his home in the Hamptons, according to a recent profile in Architectural Digest. However, it looks like the multidisciplinary conceptual artist, whose energetic 2016 work “Color Men” sold at auction a few years ago for half-a-million bucks, is making plans to re-settle back in Manhattan with the $9 million purchase of a Gramercy Park townhouse that was long owned by late and legendary rock star Ric Ocasek and OG supermodel Paulina Porizkova.

Though the sale price tallies up to 10% below the final asking price of $10 million, it’s a staggering 40% discount from the pie-in-the-sky original hang tag of $15.25 million that the four-plus bedroom and three-full-and-two-half-bath residence was saddled with when it first came to market in early 2019. Still, Porizkova, a two-time Sports Illustrated cover model who’d amicably split with Ocasek several years before the Cars frontman passed away in September 2019, will reap an enviable fortune on the sale of the roughly 5,800-square foot Federal-style townhouse they picked up shortly before their August 1989 wedding for $2.5 million .

Listings held by Debbie Korb at Sotheby’s Int’l Realty show the almost 24-foot-wide townhouse dates to the mid-1800s but was re-built in 1919 to include a 750-square-foot combination living and dining room designed by renown architect Rosario Candela, whose other high-brow commissions include several of the finest and most exclusive co-operative apartment houses along Park and Fifth Avenues. With a 20-foot-high exposed beam ceiling, a gigantic unadorned fireplace and cheetah-print wall-to-wall carpeting, the unusually capacious space spills out through a double-height wall of casement windows to a sun-dappled and brick paved south-facing garden. Arranged around a large island with up-to-date top-end appliances, the adjacent kitchen faces the street with classic black-and-white floor tiles and a service entrance.

rashid johnson house
rashid johnson house

The second floor provides a more casual and intimately scaled den and office area decked out with brocade-patterned wall-to-wall carpeting and a whitewashed brick lined arched fireplace. Three tall archways showcase intricately scrolled filigree screens and provide an overlook to the living room below.

With bubble-gum pink striped walls, floral carpeting and puffy Austrian-style shades, the main bedroom strikes a decidedly feminine decorative chord. French doors open to a large but not especially attractive terrace, and a closet-lined dressing corridor leads to a small bathroom. There are three and potentially more bedrooms sprinkled about the third and fourth floors, along with a cozily compact library and an airy home office/art studio flooded with natural light thanks to a vaulted glass ceiling. An elevator services all five floors of the townhouse, including the windowless basement that contains copious storage space and a large laundry room.

Property records indicate the Porizkova continues to own an approximately 5.5-acre country estate about 90 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, in beautifully bucolic Millbrook, N.Y., that she and Ocasek snapped up in 1997 for $650,000.

And, as for Johnson, who made his debut as a film director with the Sundance-screened and HBO-aired drama “Native Son,” and his wife, Iranian-American artist Sheree Hovsepian, they’re trading up from another somewhat smaller Manhattan townhouse they scooped up in 2013 for $3.7 million.Tax records show their aforementioned private hideaway in the Hamptons was bought about five and half years ago for a tad more than $3.8 million.

Launch Gallery: Inside the Townhouse Artist Rashid Johnson Bought from Paulina Porizkova and Ric Ocasek

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