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Historic Limestone Mansion in Contract in Lenox Hill

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The current owner of this French-inspired limestone mansion at 58 East 66th Street, who also happens to be the wife of developer Zach Vella, bought it for $14.5 million in 2008, proceeded to gut the place, stripping it of its kitchen, bathrooms, etc., and then put it back on the market. That is not a recommended house-flipping strategy, but it seems to have worked. The house, which was most recently listed for $20 million, is now in contract, the Observer reports. The real estate agent who brokered the deal estimates that it needs between $3 million and $6 million of work.

But perhaps more interesting than this house's future is its past. Daytonian in Manhattan wrote an essay last year about the 1909 house, which was built for Arthur Sachs, of the investment firm Goldman Sachs. And he may not even be the most interesting owner in its century-long history. Let's run down the former inhabitants of 55 East 66th Street, which include a mafia doctor and a man who was arrested for flirting too much.

Samuel Adams: Before Sachs built his mansion, the site was occupied by the brownstone of Samuel "Not That Samuel Adams" Adams. While this Samuel Adams never got a beer named after him, he was a prolific flirter, which is an early 19th century way of saying that he was a huge creep. Apparently, the sexagenarian Adams (that means he was in his 60s, not that he loved sex, although he obviously did) would roam Central Park, "flirting" with various women and neglecting to tell them that he was married. In 1903, a woman brought him to court for deceiving her into thinking that they were an exclusive couple for four years, but a judge dismissed the charges.

Arthur Sachs: Sachs had the brownstone torn down and, in its place, commissioned a limestone mansion "in the design of the French Renaissance, with a balcony with large casement windows over the central entrance." Ten years later, he had a new, larger mansion built three blocks north and moved in there. It's good to be a Sach.

Lewis Brown Gawtry: Power company executive Gawtry was the next owner. He was known for founding the first "industrial" Boy Scout Troop, with child laborers from the Consolidated Gas Co. factory. He went on to become the National Treasurer of the organization.

Dr. Gerald O'Brien: After Gawtry sold the house it passed to an intermediary owner for one year, and then to Dr. O'Brien, who paid $57,000 for it in 1944. O'Brien was known as a mob doctor, who would treat members of the organized crime syndicate in his home. His most famous patient was Luciano family boss Frank Costello. When Costello was jailed for tax evasion, O'Brien tried to convince the judge that the mobster had a health condition that necessitated him visiting a hot spring in Arkansas. The judge did not agree.


· A Steal at $15 M.? Beaux-Arts Mansion Last Listed for $20 Million Enters Contract [NYO]
· The 1909 Arthur Sachs House -- No. 58 E. 66th Street [Daytonian in Manhattan]
Photo by Alice Lum, via Daytonian in Manhattan