The New York Times
Bette Midler’s Fifth Avenue Penthouse Goes on the Market for $50 Million
By Vivian Marino
Sept. 6, 2019
Bette Midler is selling her longtime family home on the Upper East Side, an airy triplex with lush landscaped gardens, complete with composter and shed, and sweeping vistas of the Central Park reservoir and Midtown skyline.
Ms. Midler, an award-winning entertainer, and her husband, Martin von Haselberg, a performance artist, bought the penthouse at 1125 Fifth Avenue and 94th Street in 1996. The venerable prewar co-op proved a perfect fit: It’s near the school their daughter, Sophie von Haselberg, attended, has a full-time doorman to assure privacy, and is a short drive from the theater district and Carnegie Hall.
But at around 7,000 square feet — and that’s not even counting the additional 3,000 square feet of outdoor space — the apartment is too big for the empty-nester couple, and so they’re placing it back on the market. The asking price is $50 million, according to the listing broker, John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens, with $25,515 in monthly maintenance.
“It’s time for another family to enjoy it,” Ms. Midler said in an email, adding that she and Mr. von Haselberg “consider ourselves die-hard New Yorkers” and plan to downsize into another Manhattan home.
The penthouse, a combination of two units, occupies the top three floors of the brick-and-limestone building, all of which are connected via curved stairways with brass balusters. (Elevator service is available on the 15th and 16th floors, but not the top floor of the triplex.
After the units were purchased, the interior was remodeled over two years into a comfortable loft-like space by the architect Frederick Fisher and Partners and the exterior was landscaped by Sawyer Berson. “The ceilings were lower,” Ms. Midler said of the previous layout, “the corridors narrower, and many of the rooms were much smaller.”
Today, she said, “it’s like a country house in the city.”
The apartment contains four main bedrooms and six and a half baths, along with a home gym that could be converted into a fifth bedroom. There are also three wood-burning fireplaces.
The main entrance is on the 16th floor. A spacious central gallery, with a powder room and small office, leads to a greenhouse with a seating area. On the west side is a 24-by-25-foot living room anchored by a wood-burning fireplace with surrounding ceramic tiles handmade by the artist Kim Dickey. Off the living room, a wraparound terrace with limestone pavers alternating with turf provides direct reservoir and park views, as well as a place for lounging, eating, and one of Ms. Midler’s favorite pastimes, bird-watching.
“Our street is the highway to the East River for all sorts of water birds,” she said. “The red tail hawk often comes to visit.”
Ms. Midler added a birdbath and birdhouses along the terrace. She also had purple ribbons taped on some of the apartment windows as a safety measure for wayward birds.
On the main floor’s east side is the dining area and kitchen, which also opens to the terrace and offers cityscape views and an herb garden — something Mr. von Haselberg, who enjoys cooking, has used for his dishes. The kitchen is equipped with stainless-steel appliances, including an enormous stove hood, marble countertops and an abundance of custom cabinets and storage.
The kitchen and dining area also open to the wraparound terrace, which contains an herb garden.CreditEvan Joseph
The en-suite bedrooms, a family room, and a windowed laundry room are on the 15th floor. The sprawling master suite has a large dressing room with a fireplace; numerous closets; a small beauty parlor; two steam rooms; and the home gym. One of the two master baths features a Japanese hinoki-wood soaking tub.
The top floor contains a 21-by-18-foot library/music room with another fireplace and a full bath. Built-in shelves houses a sizable collection of vinyl record albums. And then, of course, there’s the rooftop garden.
Ms. Midler, who won a Tony Award two years ago for her performance in “Hello Dolly!,” has a special affinity for green spaces. In 1995, she founded the nonprofit New York Restoration Project, which is dedicated to reclaiming and restoring city parks. Her garden terrace is lined with terra-cotta tile and features potted pine trees and tomato and lavender plants, as well as an assortment of flowers, including roses and hydrangea.
At the top of the triplex is a library/music room, which features built-in shelves that house a sizable collection of vinyl record albums.
Besides the spectacular views, Ms. Midler says she will especially miss the home’s tranquillity.
The penthouse was decorated in soft, neutral colors by Fernando Santangelo, and includes an eclectic mix of antiques and traditional furnishings with many pieces of art pottery.
Throughout the unit are light oak floors, high ceilings, and numerous oversized windows. “There isn’t a darkroom in the apartment,” Mr. Burger, the broker, said.
The 1125 Fifth Avenue apartment house, in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood, was designed in a neo-Renaissance style by Emery Roth and built in the mid-1920s; it was converted to a co-op in 1951. Notable residents have included the actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, Disney’s chief executive Bob Iger and the financier Ted Ammon.
In July, a 14th-floor apartment, just below Ms. Midler’s penthouse, sold for $19 million.