It’s a common saying that money can’t buy good taste, but Peter Brant proves that old adage doesn’t apply to billionaires. According to city records, the American industrialist and businessman just closed on a former Con-Ed substation located at 421 East 6th Street for $27 million—$2 million above asking.
Constructed in 1920 to serve the city’s power needs, the building was altered in the 60s and again in the 80s to accommodate a live-work space for a famed sculptor Walter de Maria. Even with more than a century of history behind it, today the structure still keeps many of its original relics and the overall gritty aesthetic of its industrial past. As a lover of art himself, we’re curious to know how Brant will go about redesigning the space—if he does. Brant, who also happens to be married to supermodel Stephanie Seymour, is the publisher of both Interview and Art in America magazines and has been previously been called a “Donald Trump with taste” by the New York Times.
The building was originally designed by William H. Whitehill and constructed in 1919 to support The New York Edison Company’s citywide operations. In 1963, an alteration permit was issued allowing the building to be turned into a “photo studio, developing, printing & offices.” But it wasn’t until the 1980s that Walter de Maria moved in. The artist lived and worked in the building until his death last year, and shortly after his passing, the estate was listed for $25 million.
Though de Maria resided in the building with his wife for more than 30 years, the pair didn’t alter the property much. Only five small bedrooms and few other modern comforts were added to the 16,402-square-foot structure. The rest of the space was left wide-open and used as studio space and for storage. Many of the original fixtures and features from the station remain, including exposed brick, a through-floor pulley elevator, cast iron staircases, and the cavernous spaces boasting ceilings of up to 32 feet high.
There’s been no word on whether Brant will be living in the building, but when word got out back in May that he might be the buyer, many speculated that the space would be used for the Brant Foundation, his nonprofit dedicated to promoting contemporary art and design.
Neighborhoods : East Village