Albert Ellis Institute and late founder’s UES home hits the market for $29M

Albert Ellis and the longtime home of the Albert Ellis Institute at 45 East 65th Street

[Updated: 3:05 p.m., Nov. 8] When Albert Ellis, father of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and one of the most renowned, if eccentric, psychologists in the history of the field, died three years ago at age 97, he left behind a rich legacy of therapeutic techniques and theories. And like many well-to-do New Yorkers, Ellis also left behind litigation over control of the Upper East Side mansion he’d lived in since the early 1960s.

That lawsuit was dismissed in August, and last week, the mansion, a six-story brick and limestone property at 45 East 65th Street that the Albert Ellis Institute also calls home, hit the market for $29 million. Steve Chasanoff of Colliers International, who declined to comment through a company spokesperson, has the listing.

The 13,000-square-foot townhouse, which has 12 fireplaces, an elevator and a grand staircase, officially belongs to the institute. Using book royalties, Ellis bought it for $150,000 in 1964 and deeded it over to the organization he had founded in exchange for a modest top-floor apartment, a $12,000-a-year stipend and medical care.

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It was out of that townhouse that Ellis conducted his world-famous Friday night therapy workshops, during which he would pick members of the audience to help demonstrate his sometimes brash, and usually provocative, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy technique.

But towards the end of his life, Ellis became embroiled in a nasty dispute with the institute over his health care costs, during which he was removed — and then reinstated — as a member of the board.

In June 2007, just before his death, Ellis filed a lawsuit seeking to recover his medical expenses and to wrest control of the townhouse by way of a constructive trust. According to attorneys for the Albert Ellis Institute, the suit was “amicably settled” this year. (Note: clarification appended).

Ellis’ attorneys could not be reached for comment.