The Real Deal New York

An UES eviction saga between fashion and design legends finally ends

Would you fight to keep your rent-stabilized triplex in a $6M mansion... for 30 years?
March 18, 2018 02:28PM

From left: Upper East Side, Oleg Cassini in 1955. (Credit: Hornswoggle)

Two legendary figures have been fighting over a 3,000-square-foot triplex for close to three decades and, finally, one of them gave up.

Marianne Nestor–the secret wife of late fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who was engaged to Grace Kelly and styled Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis while she was First Lady–and her sister Peggy wanted to convert the five-story building at 15 East 63rd St. into one mansion, but one tenant refused to leave: the venerable interior designer Thomas Britt, known for designing grand spaces around the world for clients such as Her Highness Raj Mata of Jaipur and Count and Countess John Forgach among others. Britt had lived in the building since the 1970s and wasn’t going anywhere.

“This is an Upper East Side story. It’s fashion vs. design,” as lawyer Todd Lamb, who represented Britt in the 30-year saga, told the New York Post.

But after decades in Housing Court — the latest argument was whether Britt was primarily living in the UES apartment or in the Hamptons — Britt decided to vacate, as the Nestor sisters have demanded he do for years.

“Mr. Britt said it was time to move on. It was his decision,” Lamb told the Post. The lawyer noted that as Britt’s assistant handed over the keys, “we could hear the cheers through the door. I thought it was tacky.”

The prewar mansion is now worth an estimated $6 million and, until January, Britt paid just over $3,000 per month for his rent-stabilized apartment, which would go for $15,000 a month on the market now.

The Oleg Cassini Design Studio is located on the ground level of the building. [NYP]Erin Hudson