The historic 1850s townhouse at 11 Gramercy Park South belonging to famous dance music producer Jellybean Benitez and his wife, former model and iconic Union Square Coffee Shop (which is closing this October after 28 years) co-owner Carolyn Benitez, is for rent once again, asking $39,950 a month for a triplex with a garden and a coveted key to the private Gramercy Park. The home’s last tenant was Diana Widmaier-Picasso, who happens to be an art historian–and a granddaughter of Pablo Picasso. It was up for sale back in 2013 when its asking price slid from $25,000 to $18,000. The Benitezes purchased the 11,610-square-foot property way back in 1992 so it’s likely that they’re getting ahead on the house either way.
The 27-foot-wide Manhattan townhouse looks like it’s had a renovation somewhat recently, but its interior is dripping with grand details and sophisticated updates. Above this 9,965-square-foot garden triplex in the five-story house are two more rental duplex apartments on the building’s fourth and fifth floors.
Enter the ground floor via a gracious gallery that sits between a wood-paneled library and the home’s large eat-in kitchen.
In the kitchen you’ll find chef-ready appliances like a Viking six-burner stove, a Sub Zero fridge and a Miele dishwasher. Tidy white cabinetry and a sleek black granite countertops share space with splashes of colorful detail and plenty of windows. Also on this floor are a full bathroom, a washer/dryer utility room and a maid’s room.
Head right out of the kitchen to a tranquil private south-facing patio and garden with bluestone pavers and a low brick wall. Surrounding planters provide privacy and plenty of opportunity for a dream garden.
Up a grand staircase, the parlor level features a living room framed by Louis XIV paneling and 14-foot ceilings. A wood-burning fireplace and French doors overlooking Gramercy Park add a rare and notable level of grandeur. A formal dining room has another wood burning fireplace, a butler’s pantry with a kitchenette and garden views.
On the third floor you’ll find a media room, three bedrooms and two more bathrooms. The master bedroom boasts a large custom walk-in closet and an en-suite bath with a soaking tub and separate shower.
As mentioned, the house has seen plenty of creative activity over the years: According to Real Estate Weekly, in 2016 the homeowners sued artist-celebrity Domingo Zapata, who trashed the place, damaging the ceilings, floors and antique art. The New York Times reported on a bash Widmaier-Picasso gave for celebrity guests including director Ryan Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Robert De Niro, Ron Howard, Debra Messing, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, David O. Russell, Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Baz Luhrmann, Ansel Elgort, Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, though from what we can see, no destruction ensued.
The residence is being offered partially furnished, with the assumption that the new tenants will treat the furniture as if it were their own.
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Images courtesy of Douglas Elliman.
Neighborhoods : Gramercy Park