When the first three buyers failed to close on townhouse-style gallery duplexes in the Chelsea Modern building at 447 West 18th Street, between Ninth and 10th avenues, earlier this year, developer Robert Gladstone, owner of Madison Equities, turned to a new marketing strategy– inviting a celebrity artist to live in the building — for free. The developers have provided a $2.85 million, 2,700-square-foot gallery duplex to New York City-based artist and “Real Housewives of New York” guest star Brian Farrell (he’s the one that dated and painted ‘Real Housewife’ Sonja Morgan’s portrait on the show) to use as his painting studio and gallery. He has been encouraged to host events with the goal of driving prospective buyers to the building.
“When we developed the building, we understood that West Chelsea is the number one location for modern art in the world,” Gladstone said, “and Brian, [who he knew previously] typified the kind of person we thought of when we built these live/work lofts.”
Since moving into the space in March, Farrell has planned and hosted seven events for the arts, fashion, and finance communities. His stay, originally slated to last only 10 weeks, has now been extended through the summer. Though Gladstone insists there were no minimum party or marketing requirements attached to the deal, he said, “if there were a number, he would have exceeded it by double… All in all, it’s been a very useful partnership.”
“People are thrilled to be here,” said Farrell, a Long Island City resident who is currently living in the space about 80 percent of the time and gifted two valuable paintings to Madison in return for his stay. “They are overwhelmed by the building.”
Ten out of the Audrey Matlock-designed condominium’s 47 units are on the market, according to Streeteasy.com, including resales. The six apartments on the market since sales commenced at the 12-story building in 2007 include the three duplexes, Gladstone said, and three penthouses. Those are priced at roughly $4 million apiece. The apartments are being marketed exclusively by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group’s Marie-Claire Gladstone, Robert’s wife.
As for celebrity freebies in general, Gladstone said: “I don’t believe anyone has asked us for a freebie… Some buildings — we know who they are — have celebrities come along and say, ‘you have 200 empty units, give me one for one-and-a-half off.”
Actor and comedian Paul Rudd was said to have visited the Chelsea Modern in 2009. Fashion designer Christian Cota also purchased in the building.
Farrell said of his association with Morgan: “We had… em… a television relationship.”