Yesterday the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved some big changes to 14-16 East 67th Street, the 48-foot-wide mansion—one of the biggest private homes in the city—combined from two separate townhouses in 1920. In the fourth biggest deal of the decade, filthy rich hedgie Philip Falcone purchased the 27-room home for $49 million in '08. He bought it from the creditors of Bob Guccione, the legendary Penthouse publisher who lived in the mansion for decades before getting forced out. Guccione added all sorts of personal touches to the landmark, like a Roman-inspired indoor pool and, uh, marble columns with his face carved into them. It was, in essence, his Caligula Castle. But to Falcone, the mansion is a $49 million fixer-upper.
When it was on the market, 14-16 East 67th Street was renamed the Milbank Mansion to separate it from its porny past. Now architect Brian O'Keefe is finishing the job. Permits are on file with the Buildings Department for interior demolition, structural work, excavation and other labor in conjunction with an enlargement. Yesterday Falcone's team, 10 men strong, went before the LPC to make sure the plans are kosher.
The Landmarks Commission only has a say on the exterior stuff, but the full plans were laid out, from the minor—new windows, facade restoration—to the major, like a new rooftop addition and a cleaned-up, above-grade backyard with a swimming pool. Swimming pool?! What about Guccione's chamber of slippery sin? It's a goner, as is the interior courtyard on the fourth floor, it's open ceiling filled in for the new addition. All of the changes sailed through the LPC, and the plans seen in the gallery above do look like solid improvements. One Upper East Side group did offer some token resistance to the building's rear facade facelift, to no avail. This will no doubt be one of the city's best mansions when all is said and done, but we're sad to see Guccione's grand vision relegated to the history books. But in a world where smut isn't even welcomed in Long Island City, what chance does it stand on the Upper East Side?