Oleg Cassini’s foreclosed townhouse auctioned off for just $5M

135 East 19th Street in Gramercy Park goes to lone bidder

Oleg Cassini with 135 East 19th Street
Oleg Cassini with 135 East 19th Street (Getty. Google Maps)

The saga of late designer-to-the-stars Oleg Cassini’s Gramercy Park townhouse has finally come to an end.

The four-story home, at 135 East 19th Street, was foreclosed upon and auctioned at the New York County courthouse Oct. 19, selling to the only bidder for $5 million. It was once valued at $15 million.

Thus ended a litany of litigation that engulfed the property after the 92-year-old designer died from a stroke in 2006. The auction was the culmination of a 2016 complaint filed against Cassini’s widow, Marianne Nestor, claiming she failed to pay a $900,000 mortgage on the property.

In 2018, Cassini’s grandson, Alexandre Cassini Belmont, demanded that the single-family home be sold off by the sheriff’s office and nearly $770,000 of the proceeds go to the estate of his late mother, according to paperwork filed in Nassau County Court.

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Originally, Cassini’s only living child, Christina, was entitled to half of his $55 million fortune under a 1953 divorce decree between the artist and his movie star wife, Gene Tierney. However, Christina battled over control of the estate with Nestor before eventually dying penniless in Paris.

In 2014, a judge removed Nestor as executrix of the estate, citing mismanagement, misconduct and hostility to Christina. At one point, Nestor sat in a Nassau County jail rather than turn over records the court needed to divide the estate in two.

The Gramercy home, built in 1901, was also known as the Joseph B. Thomas House.

New York auction house Doyle in 2019 auctioned a portion of the estate, including suits of armor, daggers, a Louis XVI ormolu-mounted writing table, a 1987 Silver Spur Rolls-Royce and letters and memorabilia documenting Cassini’s relationships with Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy, according to the New York Times. Cassini outfitted the first lady during her years in the White House.

Cassini also had a 43-acre estate with a 14-bedroom, Renaissance-style mansion in Oyster Bay Cove on Long Island. In 2019, it went into contract after its price was slashed by $6 million, to $13.5 million.