The Real Deal New York

Gershwin apartment on sale for first time in 70 years

Central Park West residence was first home to composer's mother, then brother

February 19, 2013 12:30PM
By Katherine Clarke

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George Gershwin and the apartment at 25 Central Park West

UPDATED, Feb. 19, 1.25 p.m: A Steinway baby grand piano nestled in the corner of the classic six at the Century Condominium on Central Park West serves as a reminder of the apartment’s storied musical past. The park-facing residence has been home to the family of the late American composer George Gershwin for more than 70 years, The Real Deal has learned.

The apartment, at 25 Central Park West, has come on the market for the first time in those seven decades, according to a listing posted last weekend by Michele Gershwin, a broker and the wife of the composer’s great nephew. It is asking $4.65 million.

The owner of the 12th-floor property is the estate of Judy Gershwin, the widow of George’s brother Arthur, who was also a composer as well as a stockbroker. Judy passed away several weeks ago, Michele told The Real Deal. She was 95 years old. The couple had moved into the apartment shortly after they got married. George’s mother Rose, who died in 1948, also lived in the building prior to her passing. Arthur died in 1981, according to an obituary in the New York Times.

Judy once found musical manuscripts belonging to the late musician Charles Hambitzer in a storage room of the apartment in the early 1990s, along with a manuscript page of George’s “Porgy and Bess,” probably dating to 1935, according to news reports. The family donated the Hambitzer manuscripts to the Library of Congress. George died in 1937. Autographed pictures of cultural icons such as Charlie Chaplin and boxer Jack Dempsey are also on display in the apartment as well as a self portrait of George himself — in a top hat — Michele Gershwin said.

The family has occupied the apartment since before the building became a condominium in 1989. They bought into the property shortly after it was developed by renowned Art Deco architect and builder Irwin Chanin.

Chanin, who is also known for building half a dozen Broadway theaters, owned the Circle in the Square Theater beneath the Paramount Pictures building on West 50th Street, which shared an entrance with the Gershwin Theater on West 51st Street.

Michele said “it was time” to sell the apartment following Judy’s death. While the sale of the residence will represent “the end of an era” for the family, George’s musical legacy will be continued through Michele’s husband, Todd Gershwin, who handles the rights to George’s music along with his two brothers, she said. The piano in the apartment was originally owned by George himself, she confirmed.

The Central Park West tower, built in 1931 on the former site of the Century Theatre, spans the entire block from West 62nd to West 63rd streets. The three-bedroom apartment features walnut floors, beamed ceilings and arched doorways, according to the listing, but could use a “designer touch.”

Michele is listing the property alongside Lorraine Ding. Both agents are with Akam Sales & Brokerage.

  • Jennie Watson

    It is the end of the family era for real. What a pity that they have to sell it. It is a really nice apartment to live in with so many memories in the family. Hope one day they can earn it back. :-)

  • bostongrammy

    What about Ira? Is he now an unperson?

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