A $26 Million Central Park Luxury Apartment
Lauren Bacall owned a fabulous apartment on Manhattan’s better side, overlooking Central Park. She didn’t just own it, she lived in it for years up until her death. All three of her children, her daughter and two sons, were raised there. Filled with countless collectibles and keepsakes from her mythical career, her home contained her heart and soul.
In 2014, a month before her 90th birthday, Bacall passed and left her belongings behind. When her 4,000-square-foot home went on the market, it was listed for $26 million.
Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall made a huge splash in Hollywood when she starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not. She shook the scene. With “the look,” her trademark pose, and her phenomenal film success, she landed herself amongst the company of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell practically overnight. Her deep, sophisticated voice and enchanting eyes instantly mesmerized onlookers, including Humphrey Bogart, who proposed to her a year later. The romance they screened was genuine and passionate. Offset, they were tumbling wildly in love.
When the 19-year-old aspiring actress came to Hollywood, she was Ms. Betty Joan Perske. On screen, she became Lauren Bacall. Her Hollywood manager, film director Howard Hawks, changed her name to Lauren, but let her choose her much-adored mother’s maiden name, “Bacal.” However, she went through life preferring to be called “Betty.” When she met her co-star, “Bogie”, he was 44 and on his third marriage. Despite the 25-year age difference, the two stars from Hollywood’s golden age married a year after the film was released.
New York City’s Most Exclusive Building
N.Y.C.’s amazing historical gem, the iconic 72nd Street Dakota building, was the stately address of Bacall’s apartment. It’s the same legendary property where John Lennon lived and was infamously gunned down. The tragedy occurred near the landmark archway as he was returning to his apartment. The exclusive building is coveted by many wealthy figures. Ms. Bacall adored it. Her expansive apartment was more like a nine-room mansion located on N.Y.C.’s Upper West Side. It had been hers since 1961. She purchased it after the death of hubby Bogart.
The spacious apartment soared with vaulted ceilings and cavernous living spaces. The master suite featured bay windows overlooking the famous park. Original hardwood floors cover much of the expansive square footage. The fantastic property sold for $21 million. Her collections were worth more, sentimentally, at least. We’re going to take a look inside her sprawling menagerie.
Spacious and Vaulted Rooms
The apartment’s massive master bedroom, with hardwood floors and white, bright interior, opened up to views of Central Park from bay windows. A lavender chaise begged a sit and a look. High crown molding gave the room luxuriating openness. A private study and, not just one, but two walk-in closets completed a perfect retreat.
The kitchen was another gem inside this coveted piece of real estate. Slightly larger than the master bedroom, vaulted and open with 13-foot ceilings, it provided all the space necessary to eat and entertain. It was spacious, with more calming views of the park. The large 3-bedroom apartment included a library, a gallery a guest bedroom and five fireplaces beautifully ornamented by wood-carved mantelpieces.
The Dining Room and its French Accent
The dining room was gorgeous—a spacious area dwarfing the long dining room table. Lined by oak wainscoting, the room was punctuated by an ornate fireplace and hardwood flooring inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry. Large windows, 11-foot pocket doors, a china closet and a swinging door to the butler’s pantry dignified this room. Beautiful French accents predominated by the style of Louis XIII, highlighted the formal dining room.
Deep blues and creams with a dab of rusted red accented the furniture, upholstery and wall hangings with a casual appeal. She and her family shared countless meals and memories there. Near the fireplace hung the Belle Époque poster by Jules Chéret. It went for an incredible $7,000 at the estate sale and auction by Bonhams New York. Over 1,500 bidders from all over the world, endeavored to purchase a piece of the iconic Lauren Bacall legacy.
Fine China and Wall Décor in the Formal Dining Room
Ms. Bacall had a fondness for French antiques and styles. As an avid collector, her belongings spilled out of her dining room to her entire home. Similar to the fabulous Jules Chéret Bell Époque poster, several other vintage French posters adorned the walls of the formal dining room with a provincial air. China collections, displayed like artwork, lined the walls side-by-side with the famous French posters.
The actress adored art and was known as a connoisseur. In her memoir, Betty confided, “I filled my house with wonderful furniture and art to satisfy my aesthetic sense and as a way of building a solid life, subconsciously thinking that all would bring me stability, permanence.” She lived in her palatial abode for 53 years.
Antique George III Oak Welsh Dresser
While Ms. Bacall loved French pieces, she was definitely eclectic in tastes. This stunning late 18th century George III oak Welsh dresser had a very special place in the corner of her dining room and a very special purpose. It displayed a slice of her wide array of artwork, couture, and collectibles. Many Victorian-era majolica pieces adorn the hutch, giving the space an English countryside kitchen feel. The dresser is a rare piece from the U.K. made of oak instead of mahogany.
The rarer, the more valuable. At the auction, it sold for $6,875. The George III Rococo-influenced dresser appealed to Bacall, a lover of Rococo art styles, which developed in early 18th century Paris. The period is predominated by curvy lines, lighthearted amorous scenes and nature themes, it’s elegant and romantic at heart—much as our actress was.
The Master Retreat Accented in Pink
More artwork, antiques, and rare pieces adorned the master suite. A veritable gallery wall displayed paintings above her bed. Henry Moore lithographs hung near photographs from David Hockney. The lavender chaise basks in one of N.Y.C.’s best views, overlooking the park from a bay window. A priceless place of intimate repose.
Tiffany lamps sat on a table and dresser. A birdcage chandelier distinguished the room. Bacall chose a very feminine accent in this room. Besides the lavender chaise, a white and pink quilt set covered the bed and softened the room. The painting over the bed holds delicate memories of Humphrey Bogart, it hung over the bed in their Los Angeles home.
The Master Suite Private Study
A cozy private study is the envy of Bacall’s intimate master bedroom space. With an antique, hand-carved fireplace mantlepiece decorated with her collections, relics of the years when she and Bogie dominated Hollywood’s gilded-age screens, bordered by an inviting comfy-cozy modern lounge, you wouldn’t notice the time.
the dakota new york city floor plans Inspirational First Look Inside Lauren Bacall s Dakota Apartment of 53 YearsAn adorable hardwood round pedestal table is the perfect place to set a book or cup of coffee. A shelf behind undoubtedly holds literary classics and other published favorites. Perhaps you’d find a copy of Audubon’s The Birds of America.
The Gallery Walls of the Study and Retreat
Amongst the beautiful antique fireplace ornamented by carved mahogany candlesticks and plates in silver and stainless, is yet another gallery wall. Prints and paintings stack and line the walls. With 13-foot-high walls, space was no limit for this lover of art. Also, the room’s white walls were perfect to highlight her hanging choices.
Though she perfectly utilized every square inch of space, we imagine she had to pick and choose. Next to the fireplace, two oil paintings of ships at sea hang near two hand-made figurines. One could stare at these things all day.
The Brilliant Yellow Guest Bedroom
This was the most striking room in the entire apartment. Bright yellow walls and antique hardwood floors demanded attention and furnished a cheerful welcome. The yellow wallpaper, ornamented with a bold and elegant white-lace design, added a very pretty panache. Crown molding and recessed tray ceilings also added to the room’s elegance.
Ms. Bacall was great with color. The splash of turquoise on the rug and quilt only enhanced the room. Over the bed, however, hung the crowning jewel of the bedroom. Bogart and Bacall were avid art collectors. They both loved works by Andres Segovia, a Spanish and Argentinian artist. This 1954 work depicting a woman carrying a basket of fruit was won at an auction for $18,750. The large framed canvas over the rod iron headboard brought an important elegance to this whimsical space.
The Great Blue Room
This is the great room. It’s also called the living room, the robin’s egg blue room and the most spectacular room in the place. Entered through a magnificent foyer and a 70-foot hallway gallery, Bacall’s artistic presence forged a masterful presentation. Antique hardwood floors and massive 19th century carved mahogany doors with an imposing fireplace of the same vintage style demanded attention. Strikingly, blues in a robin’s egg tone covered the walls. The bold color delightfully accentuated the grandeur of the great room.
This was a room for entertaining. It was reserved for special occasions and for hosting her wide net of social connections; a mixture of politicians, artists, and friends. Her decorative style and the room’s grandeur made it perfect for photoshoots and interviews. Vanity Fair and The New York Times both chose it for an interview location. It was, quite simply, the best place to cover Lauren Bacall.
The Baby Grand Gallery Wall and Family Photo Collection
The great room wouldn’t be great without a baby grand piano. Bacall’s piano also served as the base for a photo collection. Framed photographs of her family filled the top of the baby grand. On the wall behind the piano hung six large framed Henry Moore figure drawing lithographs, one could only guess the value. For her, it would be more, since she became friends with Moore when they met in London in 1975. The piano is a Mason & Hamlin, an 1854 New England-based company. The lovely instrument sold for $6,875 at the auction.
Back in the day, when Betty entertained and everyone was enjoying cocktails and conversation, it was not uncommon for someone like Leonard Bernstein and others to sit and play on that very baby grand. This according to an interview at People magazine. Those were the days, those glorious days, America’s golden era of showbiz. You probably know that after Bogie passed, Lauren Bacall and Frank Sinatra nearly tied the knot.
One More Peek into the Blue Living Room
The living room fireplace is towering. As the largest of the apartment’s five ornately carved wood-burning fireplaces, it is somewhat unique. The antique carving frames the fireplace as well as an enormous mirror. Upon the fireplace sit two dog sculptures, painted in an eye-catching blue. Above this, another item of décor that can’t be missed is a pair of long slender antlers. The deer antlers, which were long admired by fellow actor Lee Roy Reams, were won by him at the auction. After years of coveting those horns, Reams took them home for $2,000. Lauren Bacall loved animals. Dogs especially.
The overstuffed, modern white and blue couches paired facing each other near the fireplace, are not only inviting, but add an element of casual fun amongst the revered art and antique treasures. Patterns are very difficult to design around, but Bacall pulled it off. Between the sofas was a circular Italian walnut coffee table, a well-placed contrast that was worth almost $3,500. The sofas, which were offered for $400 to $600 at the auction, are clearly most valuable for their tenure—being owned and sat upon by the fabled Hollywood legend.
Back in the Master Suite for the Antique Furnishings
Ms. Bacall had a real passion for collecting items she loved. She collected artwork, artifacts, and other handcrafted relics, but she also collected furniture. Each and every piece of furniture she had was hand-picked. We’ve seen that she preferred French provincial styles in the kitchen. Similar styles adorn the master bedroom.
A stunning Regency-era provincial walnut commode served as a drawer space and a vanity. The Regence period in French history falls just before Louis XV officially reigns as an adult, from 1715 to 1723. Above the commode, an ornately decorated French-styled mirror inlaid with mother of pearl and Syrian bone hung. At the estate auction, the commode fell into the hands of a very lucky bid-winner for $3,750. The mirror sold for $5,625! Just next door, below two enormous framed sketches, was a mid-18th-century French-provincial secretary desk. The Louis XV bureau with tons of tiny nooks and drawers was crafted of walnut and purchased from the auction for $5,000. Can you imagine owning a gorgeous piece of furniture with such a singularly fabulous story behind it?
Ms. Bacall’s Passion as a Collector
On the outside, the fashion-savvy actress presented a sleek and sophisticated look, but inside her fabulous apartment, Bacall’s privately held maximalist tendencies came pouring out. She lived in the Dakota since her mid-30s, but it held valuables from her entire life including Bogie’s games table which also went to auction. As a very eclectic collector, she displayed pieces of Picasso’s pottery, sculptures from Robert Graham, Congolese headrests, tribal masks and figurines, and Victorian needlework, not to mention quilt pieces. When Jon King, vice president, and director of Bonhams, a longtime friend she put in charge of the estate auction, went through her belongings he discovered some evidence of her passion for collecting.
“I found receipts from all over London, all over Los Angeles, all over New York, Paris, Rome, Australia—wherever she went. That’s the sign of a real collector. They just can’t stop looking,” King said of Ms. Bacall. She had an eye for picking things out, but she also had a great sense of pulling different pieces together. King, admiring her eclectic panache, said, “She was combining French 18th century with Burmese rain drums, with Henry Moore prints, with David Hockney, Victoria Staffordshire [lamps].” Her home represented her style and personality, her complexity and her intelligence. Sadly, the reverent sanctuary is gone. Like a cosmopolitan antique shop, the entire spread was disassembled and auctioned off.
Audubon’s American White Pelican Engraving
In the living room hung the American White Pelican. Its subtle dark blues complemented the robin’s egg blues of the room, and it rested, magnificently, on the gallery wall, a tad bit higher than the rest. The prized piece, estimated at $60,000, went for an astonishing $173,000 (because it was Lauren Bacall’s, naturally). The framed engraving called White American Pelican, was an original work, hand-colored in 1836 by world-renowned naturalist John James Audubon. The prominent naturalist was also an ornithologist and a painter. The pelican print came from a page of his life work, The Birds of America, published from 1827 to 1838 and containing 435 prints from engraved plates.
The book also contains descriptions of the birds, like this one from, plate 311, the American White Pelican, “I feel great pleasure, good reader, in assuring you, that our White Pelican, which has hitherto been considered the same as that found in Europe, is quite different.”His work served as an enduring gift to science. He identified 25 species of new birds. He also documented six birds that are now extinct. The original edition, sometimes called the Havell Edition, was printed on large handmade paper, with pages as large as 39 by 28 inches. The life-sized etchings required a lot of paper space! Bacall’s American White Pelican originated from this edition.
The Louis XIII Walnut Fauteuils Living Room Chairs
This pair of Louis XIII antique chairs was another remarkable element of the living room. The walnut fauteuils chairs came from the Louis XIII French-style, based on the period. In those days, fashionable designs borrowed from Italian and Flemish styles, created an original look. Interesting feet and legs on furniture, like these two demonstrate, typified Louis XIII styles. And, though the French style is not the most popular in France, this style, developed between 1610 and 1643, is unique.
These beautiful pieces in near-perfect condition went for $1,875. A handsome price for two chairs, but also a steal considering Bonhams’ auction price was set at $2,000 - $3,000. And look at the intricate carving that went into the frame and the stunning upholstery that cushions it. Incorporating antique and later elements, this unique Louis XIII furniture turned in walnut is magnifique!
An Auction Favorite, Bacall’s Louis Vuitton Luggage
This set of monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage went for $37,500. That’s a lot to drop on four bags, but the unique and hard-to-find set included a vintage trunk and a case that was exceptionally prized because of its rare gold-hinged fastener. Bacall loved Louis Vuitton luggage and personally monogrammed three of the four pieces. The gold letters, “LB,” can be seen painted beneath the gold hinge on the Boite Bouteilles. Pictured in this group, there is also a Boite Chapeaux, an Alzer suitcase, and a Stratos suitcase, the first two also monogrammed with her initials.
Louis Vuitton, a luggage purveyor out of Paris, France, has been an exclusive brand for many years. It was in 1854 when Louis Vuitton first designed the classic trunk. Beyond style and class, his invention was a practical contribution to travel. Vuitton’s flat-on-top trunks could be easily stacked, in contrast with the rounded top style of the early 19th century.
Lauren Bacall’s Director Chair
Here’s a classic piece of Hollywood history. Lauren Bacall’s personalized director’s chair, made of fine hardwood and canvas, went to a very lucky collector for $4,750. Listed at $300 to $500, a token representing the legacy of Bacall’s stardom brought in nearly ten times its asking price. The two-day auction of the apartment’s contents racked up $5 million, most items selling for three times what was expected. Two paintings by Albert York auctioned at $161,000. Those two fetched the highest bid of her collection.
Betty Bacall, actually Betty Joan Perske, was named Lauren by her Hollywood director who wanted to give her a very modern and sophisticated marquee name. Her mother’s maiden name was Bacal, which made the spelling variation for her last name meaningful. Her father was not remembered fondly, and she and her mom went off to live on their own when Betty was just six. She recalls the loving relationship they shared, and she held a lot of respect for her mom who was very caring and hardworking. Lauren Bacall became one of the most hardworking actresses on stage and on screen, priding herself for her work ethic. She worked all her days. Her final role was doing a voice-over for Family Guy. Sadly, she left us at 89, after succumbing to a stroke.
The Sculpture Trio in Bronze
This set of three bronze figurines held the distinct honor of being prominently placed in the foyer collection. To enter the private residence, one passes through a mahogany vestibule replete with towering doors into the spacious entry. There, just like three little greeters, the female nude sculptures stood proudly on tall pedestals receiving Ms. Bacall’s guests. Upon arriving, the owner affectionately introduced visitors to “her girls.” The pieces were very special indeed. The artist was a personal friend. Renowned sculptor, Robert Graham, who passed in 2008, was commissioned for the “Olympic Gateway” at the Coliseum for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. where he sculpted the full-size bronze statue of Roosevelt.
Anjelica Huston, Graham’s wife, and Bacall were good friends. Much of Bacall’s collection comes from friends and acquaintances. She owned a lithograph print of Senator Ted Kennedy’s Daffodils which he and his wife had given her. (Who knew Kennedy was an artist?) Bacall held a great appreciation for Graham’s work. She loved the way the sculptor depicted the female nude in natural-looking stances. At the auction, the bronze grouping went for over $30,000.
Framed Sketches in the Great Room Gallery
Ms. Bacall filled her home with artwork. In a late interview by Vanity Fair held inside her beloved apartment, she sat down and shared intimate details of her life and work. She described how her place had become a “map of memories” in which she lived, a recollection of her life.
Ms. Bacall held a large collection of art that she had accumulated, much of it from personal friends. On her walls and displays, she exhibited works from world-renowned artists such as Henry Moore, John James Audubon, Max Ernst, David Hockney, Jim Dine, and others. Pictured prominently, above, is David Hockney’s, Celia amused, a lithograph signed in crayon. The large drawing is centered between several smaller framed sketches. Hockney was another of Lauren Bacall’s social acquaintances, she knew him from the art scene when she lived in Los Angeles with Bogart.
Irreplaceable Old-World Charm Furnishings
Her home was literally filled with rare antique furniture. These one-of-a-kind pieces cannot be reproduced or recreated. Hand-carved furniture is obsolete. Take a look at the gorgeous corner piece rounding out the foyer. This armoire-like cabinet from the latter half of the 19th century makes a bold statement. It’s a Dutch piece made of mixed woods and inlaid with brass.
At $2,000, it was a steal at the estate auction. But Bacall had beautiful and unique pieces like this throughout her home, obviously preferring the elegance of traditional and vintage to modern sleek and chic styles. Of course, all this is belied by the preponderance of modern art found throughout.
N.Y.C.’s Priceless Park Views
Few views in the world are more coveted than this slice of Central Park scenery. And, with 100 feet of Central Park-facing real estate, about half of the apartment and most rooms overlooked the historic green space constructed during the Civil War era. There’s only one crazy, bustling New York City and there’s only one Central Park. “Outside that window lies Central Park; my relief from the city. . .,” Bacall once reflected.
And the windows were something to behold. Mahogany-framed floor-to-ceiling windows in a room with 13-foot-high walls not only created an awesome light source but provided vast and sweeping views of the peace-inspiring park. The lofty views, from a height of approximately 30 feet above the park’s tree line, also included an exclusive view of the Dakota building historic courtyard. This could be seen from the kitchen.
N.Y.C.’s Most Elite Property
The Dakota building, standing majestically at 72nd Street and Central Park West, is an architectural masterpiece. Built as a luxury apartment building in 1884, a risky move since apartments were virtually unheard of at the time, the beautiful Victorian-era German Renaissance-style building also exudes strong French architectural influences. It is constructed in a square, leaving an enclosed courtyard in the center. The fabulous arched entrance gate, the porte-cochère pictured here, was built large enough for the horse-drawn carriages that once carried passengers in and out of the Dakota.
It’s striking. From the street, one stands in awe. The Upper West Side iconic relic is packed with history and stories of New York, and with stories of its residents. Lauren Bacall lived among an exclusive circle. Connie Chung and Yoko Ono once rubbed elbows with Ms. Bacall inside the world’s most luxurious apartment building.
Roses in Memoriam of Lauren Bacall
It was a Tuesday on a late summer morning when Lauren Bacall died of a stroke. She was 89 years old, just weeks shy of her 90th birthday. On that day she was at home in her treasured Dakota abode, when, according to her grandson, she had a “massive stroke.” Betty Joan Perske was born in the same city nine decades prior, on September 16th, 1924, to Natalie Weinstein-Bacal and William Perske. Her grandson, Jamie Bogart, also said, “She was, you can say she was a tough personality. She wanted the best and if you weren’t doing the best, she let you know about it. She was a great person. Catch her on a bad day it could be interesting. She was a good grandma.”
Fans, in honor and appreciation, placed roses in the ironwork of the gates outside her apartment. Adoring admirers from all over the country and all over the world left gifts and mementos to celebrate the famous Hollywood actress in the weeks following her death. After her funeral, an exclusive gathering of friends and family met at her Dakota apartment and reminisced by pouring through her many belongings. Friends Anjelica Huston and Michael Douglas were among the guests.
West Coast Farewells
On August 12th, 2014, we lost one of the most iconic movie stars from the golden age of classic cinema. With Lauren Bacall 25 years younger than Humphrey Bogart, she represented the last of these purveyors of a certain genre of stylized coolness, a modern look that defined the American character to the rest of the world. Condolences poured in from all over the world. At her Walk of Fame star in Hollywood, flocks of grieving fans stopped by to honor her legend.
People left flowers, teddy bears, even token stogies to celebrate her life and mourn the loss. Her sidewalk Walk of Fame star, located on the 1700 block of Vine, was commemorated on February 8th, 1960. Lauren Bacall hit the Hollywood scene after she was discovered at 18, posing on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion model.
The Vanity Fair Interview
It’s one of the last interviews Lauren Bacall gave. In 2011, the actress invited Vanity Fair magazine into her Upper West Side home to photograph and interview her. The profile was written by Matt Tyrnauer, who interviewed Ms. Bacall during four sittings on those winter afternoons. Vanity Fair published the piece for its March 2011 issues.
Sitting with her Papillon, a pooch named Sophie, Bacall opened up about details of her life with characteristically frank descriptions. Like the time some “son of a bitch” nearly knocked her over. Walker in hand, she dodged this “horse of a man” who came flying out of the building. He almost leveled her, and she screamed, “You’re a fucking ape!” to zero effect. She was 86 at the time of the interview, and she revealed some private details and little-known secrets about her life.
The Time Frank Sinatra Proposed
Lauren Bacall was only 32 when Bogie died. “I hated feeling that my life was over at thirty-two. Up to that time, there had been either my mother or Bogie to lean on. Now there was no one.” That aloneness allowed legendary singer and entertainer Frank Sinatra into her life. Sinatra, who loved and emulated Humphrey Bogart, also loved his wife. In her revealing memoir, By Myself, Ms. Bacall told this story of the time Sinatra proposed. He courted her, wooed her over, and took the place of Bogart in the swank social circle she and Bogie and some friends had established. Friends, like Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Judy Garland, Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar, and Mike Romanoff, for instance. With Sinatra and Bacall at the center of this exclusive A-list, its members hung out at exclusive soirées.
Meanwhile, Bacall said there were “insane electric currents running between them all the time.” It was running hot, but it was only a few weeks after Bogie’s death in 1957. In 1958, Sinatra proposed. To celebrate, Ol’ Blue Eyes took Betty out to the Imperial Gardens restaurant on the Sunset Strip. The next day, one of Bogart’s good friends, Swifty Lazar, leaked their engagement to the press. The morning edition of The Los Angeles Herald ran this headline on the front page: SINATRA TO MARRY BACALL. They were shocked. Perhaps the ghost of Bogie spooked him. Sinatra called off their engagement over the phone and did not speak to her for the next 20 years. In the interview, she told Vanity Fair that, in all honesty, Frank Sinatra “behaved like a shit.”
Bacall’s Second Marriage to Jason Robards
As she says, Jason Robards took up more of Ms. Bacall’s life than Bogie did. He lived with her in the Dakota apartment. Robards, another talented actor, won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor in All the President’s Men and Julia. He married Bacall in 1961. It was no simple feat. The couple first planned to marry in Vienna, Austria, but Austrian authorities denied a license. That same summer in Las Vegas, Nevada officials also denied them a marriage license. So, on July 4th, 1961, Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall drove down to Ensenada, Mexico and exchanged their vows.
They stayed married until 1969 when she divorced him for being an alcoholic and cheating on her. In her memoir, she describes those years as being a nightmare. The couple had one child, Sam Robards. With Bogart, she had two children, a son named Stephen Humphrey Bogart and a daughter named Leslie Howard.
Bogie and Bacall’s Beloved Boxers
When Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall married, they received a week-old boxer pup from Louis Bromfield, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The couple fell in love with the dog.
“We named him Harvey, after the invisible rabbit. He was really smart,” Bacall said. Though the couple had many dogs between them, Harvey, often photographed with the family, was their favorite. Bacall affectionately described him, saying, “He was really smart. He knew he wasn’t allowed to get on the furniture so he would only put two paws on at a time, and he would sit between us if we had a fight.” The two were both avid dog-lovers.
The Growing Boxer Family
They loved boxers so much after Harvey came to live with them, they got two more, George and Baby. These two boxers joined the family at their California estate which included eight ducks and fourteen chickens where all the animals were free to roam.
Pictured above, George and Baby relax on the floor with Harvey while Bogart and young Stephen read next to the fireplace. Bacall looks on in this endearing family portrait. When Harvey died, just six months after Bogie, Bacall was very sad. “I went to see him at the vet’s and said goodbye. Five minutes after I got home, I was told that after I left, Harvey had eaten his dinner and died.”
The Pooch Connection
Humphrey Bogart was 45 when he doted on the young 19-year-old Betty. When they married in 1945, many wondered what they could possibly have in common. Well, besides their love for acting and sharing animated discussions about politics, such as the terrible scourge of Senator McCarthy and his exploits, they shared a deep love for dogs. Starting with Harvey.
Truth be told, both actors had always loved dogs. Before they met, Bacall cherished cocker spaniels and Bogart had several dogs he adored, including a Newfoundland terrier named Cappy, plus many other terriers. After Bogie passed, and then Harvey died, Bacall brought another cocker spaniel into her heart, pictured above. Her treasured Papillon Sophie was by her side until her death.
The Lauren Bacall Estate Auction
Five months after her death, Bonhams New York auctioned off an estimated $3 million worth of Ms. Bacall’s possessions. It went for closer to $5 million during the three-day event held between March 31 and April 1, 2015. Photographers and members of the press got a sneak peek and documented the intimate interior of her fabulous abode. It would be the last time her museum-like home was seen.
Prior to the auction, the meticulously arranged apartment was disassembled. Her belongings and art collections went on display in L.A. on February 27th at Bonham's auction house on Sunset Boulevard.
Humphrey Bogart Statue
One of the items that sold was this bronze statue of Humphrey Bogart. Dressed as Sam Spade in the 1940s private detective role, he is pictured standing upon a film reel. The sculptor is unknown. What is known, this German painted figure was cast by the Otto Strehle foundry. It was estimated by Bonhams to be worth up to $800. At the auction, it went for quite a bit more. The bronze Bogart figurine sold for $16,250.
Lauren Bacall’s known for her “look” and the intense romance between film god Humphrey Bogart and herself. The affair was kindled by love letters and clandestine meetings. The high-intensity chemistry was all documented in her film debut, To Have and Have Not. It defined them as a couple. The movie, a loose adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel, is where they gave each other nicknames and even originated their son’s first name. He called her “Slim” and she called Bogie “Steve.” This is the personal legacy that predominated her life, prompting her to tell Vanity Fair, “My obit is going to be full of Bogart, I’m sure.”
Aaron Shikler Drawing
Here’s a rare work of art. In 1964 Lauren Bacall sat for Aaron Shikler. He sketched this drawing of her seated in profile on paper in red chalk. Bacall also commissioned Shikler to draw her children. Her kids kept their portraits. Shikler was known as a painter of American royalty.
In the late 1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy hired Shikler to paint her children. Later, he would posthumously paint the official White House portrait of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Many notable people sat for him, including President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.
A Turkish Carpet for $2,250
Inside Bacall’s home, a wealth of treasures could be found. Take this Turkish carpet, for instance. The 10 by 13-foot floor covering sold at auction for $2,250, despite the fact that it’s been well worn. These carpets are rare. They come from the traditions of the former Ottoman Empire that was found in Asia Minor.
This carpet features dragons and phoenixes, common to Chinese design using ornate geometric patterns. We just call them Turkish rugs.
Bacall’s Auction Included 32 Lots of Jewelry that Sold for $503,625
The “Lauren Bacall Collection” presented by Bonhams of New York included 32 lots of jewelry. In all, her collections totaled 740 lots. But the jewelry brought in over half a million dollars, as many of the pieces went for far more than was estimated. “The sale was an exciting success,” said Susan Abeles, Bonham's director of U.S. Jewelry.
You never know how much pieces with a legacy behind them will go for. Abeles explained, “The estimates were regular market values. It’s impossible to calculate the value of provenance. Single owner high profile sales with glamour always produce unpredictable results—this was no exception. Obviously, we expected the more sentimental jewelry to sell well.”
18k Gold Ear Clips with Gems
These earrings were one of the most valuable pieces of jewelry in the collection. The French-designed pair were by Montures Schlumberger. Each clip featured amethysts, emeralds, and blue sapphires set on a gold weaving. They sold for $22,500, even though they were estimated at $6,700.
The sentimental value for these earrings goes back to Academy Award night in 1997 when Lauren Bacall wore these ear clips. She received her first Oscar nomination that night for Best Supporting Actress for The Mirror Has Two Faces. She was expected to win, but the Oscar went to Juliette Binoche.
Lauren Bacall’s Personalized Tiffany 14k Gold Necklace
This necklace holds a very special sentimental message. Perhaps that is why its auction sale price completely plowed through estimates. The 14k gold chain with individual heart pendants by Tiffany & Co. was given a market value of $6,000 to $9,000. It sold for $52,500!
Each heart held a personalized inscription. While this may lower market value in any other setting, it absolutely raised the value at Bonhams “Lauren Bacall Collection.” After the auction house cracked the code, the letters inscribed on the hearts were found to spell out these words: “To my own beautiful star from her proud director Ron.” It’s believed that Ron Field, her director for Applause gave the necklace as a gift for her starring role. In 1970 she won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Applause won for Best Musical. Much applause, to be sure.
A Schlumberger Bracelet Sold for $35,000
This 18k gold bracelet designed around a series of blue pailloné enamel panels was sold for $35,000. The striking blue enamel sparkles behind 18k polished gold bars, cones, and leaves. As an amazing piece by French designer Jean Schlumberger, the gorgeous bracelet was one of the most anticipated items of the “Lauren Bacall Collection” showcase. The dazzling piece from Bacall’s favorite jeweler was priced to that expectation, at $20,000 to $30,000. The auction went very well for Bonhams. It took in close to $5 million over the two-day bidding event that 1,500 bidders from 34 countries clamored over. In auction lingo, it was a “white glove” auction, meaning every item sold. A total success.
Susan Abeles from Bonhams who was obviously thrilled about the outcome said, “I was surprised that her more classic jewelry such as her south sea cultured pearl necklace sold well.” The necklace, made of 35 white cultured pearls with a diamond pavé clasp sold for $18,750, a little more than its $6,000 starting price. With the auction, her home also went up for sale. The Upper West Side apartment hit the market at $26 million. Lauren Bacall was not the only celebrity dwelling behind the fantastic façade of the Dakota.
Pop sensation, American singer and actress Rosemary Clooney’s career took off during the early 1950s. Her first hit, “Come On-a My House” was wildly popular. She followed it up with tunes like, “Half as Much,” “Mambo Italiano” and “Tenderly.” Hobnobbing with the Kennedys at her peak, the late sixties and early seventies found her struggling to sign gigs. It turned around after recording with Bing Crosby and she worked until her death in 2002.
She has a notable nephew; popular actor George Clooney called her Aunt Rosemary. Perhaps he visited her at the Dakota when she lived there. Legend has it that Rosemary Clooney found the place oppressive and creepy. She felt her children were more prone to accidents while living there. Her writer friend, Ira Levin, felt the eeriness too. Several years on, he published a bestseller we all know, called Rosemary’s Baby. One more detail: Ms. Clooney happened to be pregnant at the time. I guess the Dakota’s not for everyone.
José Ferrer married Rosemary Clooney twice. They had five children together in as many years. For a while, the couple set up home in the Dakota building. But things were fairly unstable as they divorced in 1961 and 1967. They remarried in 1964 in Los Angeles, but Ferrer’s affair with Stella Magee, his next wife, ended that. In total, he was married five times.
Ferrer was an astounding actor as well as a successful theatre and film director. In 1950, he won an Academy Award for Cyrano de Bergerac, becoming the first Latino actor to win an Oscar. Ferrer was Puerto Rican-born. He was a distinguished actor who was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1981. And in 1985, he received the National Medal of Arts from Ronald Reagan, the first actor to receive the medal of arts.
As the only solo artist to win the “Record of the Year” Grammy Award twice, consecutively, Roberta Flack was a major chart-topper in the 1970s. Her hit singles, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” played on continuous rotation throughout the radio waves in those years predating the iPod. In 1982 Flack’s hit single was “Making Love,” a song written by Burt Bacharach. It was also the title track to the 1982 film with the same title. She hit the charts again in 1991 when her song “Set the Night to Music,” a duet with Maxi Priest, hit #6 on the charts.
For 40 years she lived in the very apartment that is rumored to have been inhabited by Judy Garland at some point. There is so much history in that building! In 2018, Roberta Flack sold her two-bedroom Dakota apartment with 72nd Street views for $5.8 million. Five-point-eight million dollars is an outrageous price for a two-bedroom spread, but considering it was first listed for $9.5 million in 2015, the 2,000-square-foot prime location property price seems fair.
Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher
Buddy Fletcher is the founder of the Fletcher Foundation, a nonprofit civil rights and educational support organization. Fletcher amassed his fortune as a hedge fund manager and equity trader at Bear Stearns and other firms. He went to Harvard and Yale, but he also went bankrupt in royal fashion in 2011, when the FIA Leveraged Fund blew up in his face.
One of his favorite properties was his seven-room Dakota apartment on the fifth floor with Central Park views. In 2016 he listed it for $12.5 million, after his FIA hedge fund went bankrupt. He tried to hang on to the property, but he couldn’t even afford maintenance fees.
Charles Henri Ford
This celebrated artist didn’t reside in the Dakota until his final years. During his active creative years as a poet, novelist, diarist, filmmaker, photographer and collage artist, Charles Henri Ford bounced around from France, where he hung out with Gertrude Stein’s salon crowd in Paris, to his circle in N.Y.C., which included E.E. Cummings, Carl Van Vechten and Orson Welles. He also chilled with Salvador Dali when he came to visit the big city.
Later he lived in India for some years and met up with an assistant who was like a son to him, and who became his caretaker in those last years at the Dakota. Ford died in 2002, at the age of 94.
Frances Ethel Gumm came from a family of vaudevillians. She started her career performing vaudeville with her two older sisters. When she was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teen, she became Judy Garland. She appeared in many films, but we remember her best as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. The movie star was characterized by a unique vocal range that gave her a powerful and beautiful singing voice. She was a Hollywood legend.
As a child, Judy Garland grew up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Fame brought her out West. There, Garland lived most of her years in and near Hollywood, in exclusive areas like Malibu and Bel Air. However, Judy lived with her family in the Dakota building for a short time after residing in England for about a year. Plans for relocating the family to England fell through and, so, in 1961, they stayed in a three-bedroom spread at 72nd Street West in N.Y.C. A three-bedroom unit that sold recently for about $10 million is rumored to have been tenanted by the Hollywood star.
John Lennon was also drawn to the historic gothic-style building. In 1973 he and his wife Yoko Ono purchased their 7th floor Dakota apartment. They liked it so much they eventually bought four more. John Lennon fit in well with the artistic set who were also drawn to the ornate and opulent building that offered some level of privacy behind large entrance gates. His son Sean was born there. Most residents recall Lennon as a doting dad who was preoccupied with little Sean. John Lennon was, by far, the most famous resident the Dakota ever took in. As one of the best singer-songwriters the world had ever seen, he founded the most popular band in history. The Beatles took over the world during the 1960s with its Beatlemania tour. Lennon and his bandmates, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, played huge venues singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to decibel-shattering squeals of enthusiastic fans. Off on his own, Lennon’s solo career garnered masses of hippie fans almost as devoted.
He became a voice of the peace movement during the civil rights era with anthems like “Imagine” and “Working Class Hero.” Speaking out against the Vietnam War earned him both a continued effort from the Nixon administration to deport him, and a long legal battle with immigration denying him permanent residency in the U.S. When his son was born in 1975, he took somewhat of a sabbatical from music. However, in 1980 he began releasing singles. All that came to a swift and tragic end on December 8th, 1980, when a gunman shot John Lennon. He and Yoko Ono were returning from a Rolling Stone photoshoot and a recording session. Exiting the limo and walking through the landmark archway, a fan, who had just received an autograph, shot Lennon in the back four times at close range. After the killing, hundreds of thousands of fans gathered, singing “Imagine.” The tragedy made the Dakota the most famous building in the world, and a popular tourist attraction.
NFL coach, John Madden, turned to broadcast after winning a Super Bowl and being inducted into the football coach Hall of Fame. He may be better known for his post-NFL career as a legendary sports commentator, or for his long-running collaboration with Madden NFL video games.
Madden lived in the Dakota. He purchased Gilda Radner’s two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath pad with a rare, private entrance through the storied courtyard. Relocating to the Bay Area, Madden recently sold the 2,000-square-foot apartment for $3.9 million, after paying just $625,000 when he purchased it in 1985. Radner did even better, she snagged it for just $150,000 in the late 1970s.
Documentary filmmaker, Albert Maysles, lived in the Dakota for 35 years. He and his wife Gillian, plus their four children, called the apartment home. They entered and left the building through the same courtyard as Lauren Bacall and Yoko Ono and recall the days John Lennon called it home, too. As creatives like these are getting squeezed out for an even wealthier class, Albert Maysles and his wife decided to relocate in 2005 and purchased a swank pair of Harlem brownstones.
Albert Maysles’ success as a filmmaker goes back to his work with his brother, David Maysles. The Maysles brothers produced documentaries focused around art, musicians and artists. They made over 30 films together. Best known were Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. Gimme Shelter was a film about the Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour, which captured momentous live moments. Albert’s brother David died in 1987. Albert continued to make documentaries. He died on March 5th, 2015, of pancreatic cancer. He was 88.
Media personality and actress Rosie O’Donnell is known for a lot of things. She’s known for her insanely popular talk show and she’s known for her Twitter feed. She’s a proud gay mom and an LGBT activist. She’s very outspoken. She’s a comedian, and also one of the wealthiest TV stars.
She’s owned several high-end homes in New York and Florida. She owned a pad at the Dakota. Her life’s been a bit bumpy in recent years. After a messy divorce with her ex-wife, and then the suicide death of that ex-wife, O’Donnell is settling down with a new wife.
In 1973, Yoko Ono and John Lennon moved into the Dakota preparing to set up a family. They chose it because the Dakota offered better security. She met Lennon at her art exhibition in London in 1968. As an artist, her craft has a wide range. She’s a singer, a performance artist, a film performer, and a peace activist. When she moved to the city, she became active in N.Y.C.’s downtown artists scene. After Lennon was killed, a makeshift memorial in Central Park called “Strawberry Fields” popped up as mourners poured in from all over the world. Since then, Ms. Ono has maintained the memorial site by funding the landscaping.
It’s a 2.5-acre area of Central Park located in the backyard of the Dakota nearby Lennon’s murder site. In 1985, on what would have been his 45th birthday, the “Strawberry Fields” area was officially dedicated. “John’s spirit, in a way, is still alive, in people’s hearts,” said Ono, adding, “In a way, it’s like, he’s alive.” According to legend, Yoko said she saw John’s ghost sitting at his white piano after his death. And, while we’re on with ghost stories, Lennon said he saw the ghost of a woman crying at the Dakota.
Maury Povich was a TV sensation in the 1990s with The Maury Povich Show. The reality TV tabloid talk show hosted average American guests who aired a wide variety of emotional or domestic issues. As host, he tried to referee a conclusion to their issues. Sometimes it got out of hand. This was good for ratings.
In 1984 he married fellow news media colleague Connie Chung. As a news anchor and journalist for the major networks, she’s known as one of the most respected news anchors in the field. Currently, they both live in the Dakota building. Ms. Chung and Lauren Bacall would sometimes hobnob in the Dakota hallways.
Gilda Radner, one of the original cast members at Saturday Night Live during its comedic heyday, played roles like the hilarious Roseanne Roseannadanna character. It made her an iconic figure in American comedy. Sadly, she passed in 1989 of ovarian cancer. Radner’s legacy continues to be celebrated. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for arts and entertainment achievement and, in 2002, ABC aired a movie about her life.
Radner lived in the Dakota apartment from 1979 to 1985, at which point she sold it to John Madden. She paid $150,000 for the apartment back in 1979. In 1985 she cashed in on her investment after selling it to Madden for $625,000.
Celebrities Denied by the Dakota
For an apartment residence known for its creative and famous tenants, there is quite a long list of celebrities who have been turned down. When Albert Maysles tried to sell his apartment to Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, the strict co-op board at the Dakota rejected the purchase. The Dakota has one of the most restrictive boards in Manhattan. It also turned down such hopeful buyers as Cher, Billy Joel, Madonna, Alex Rodriguez, Judd Apatow, Téa Leoni and Carly Simon. The board has been notoriously picky about accepting applications. Carly Simon was denied after she insisted on installing a second bathroom in a one-bedroom unit.
At one point a lawsuit was filed against the board for racial discrimination, but the case was later dismissed. It’s an exclusive building, with a lot of restrictive rules. For instance, chauffeurs are not permitted in the lobby or near the doormen. Only firewood provided by the building may be burned. Nonresidents, like domestic employees and messengers, are required to use only service elevators, and childcare providers or nurse care providers may only use passenger elevators when accompanying clients.
Where the Dakota Building Got its Name
The Dakota building was constructed a long time ago. In the 1880s, the Manhattan area was a sort of wilderness, far removed from the bustling downtown area. It was so far out in the boondocks that people compared it to the vast unmapped Dakota territory out West. The name stuck. We think. There’s a lot of lore surrounding this building. The earliest link to this story goes back to a 1933 newspaper interview, when the Dakota’s long-time manager was quoted saying, “Probably it was called ‘Dakota’ because it was so far west and so far north.”
An author of a book about New York during those days believed it was so-named because Edward Clark, the building’s financer, had a fondness for the Western states and territories. Perhaps this is why, high above the entrance, a face of a Dakota Indian is carved into the façade. Clark died before the building was completed.
Built with Luxury Amenities, Like Elevators
Clark’s vision was to build the most opulent, high-end residence anyone had ever seen. To ensure his building offered only state-of-the-art luxury, he commissioned architectural firm, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. The striking gothic and Victorian exterior with intricate balconies, high gables, and beautiful street-level ironwork hid technological breakthroughs inside. Upon entering, one would find the world’s first elevators, central indoor heating (which was virtually unheard of at the time) and electricity powered by its own in-house power plant. The indoor heating system was a cutting-edge, steam-operated system. The radiators were invented by a man named Reed.
Upscale residents flocked to the building, including the famous Steinway piano-makers and classical composer, Peter Tchaikovsky. It attracted people from the arts at its very inception. Modern elevators were invented by German inventor Werner Von Siemens, in 1880. The Dakota building was on the cutting edge when they offered elevators. They wouldn’t become common in buildings until after the 20th century got underway. The building revolutionized luxury apartment living in N.Y.C.
The Founding of a Sewing Machine Company
Edward Clark, a lawyer and investor who was also a businessman, made his fortune sort of by a fluke. After learning Latin and Greek at college and passing the bar to become a lawyer, he became a partner and practiced at the most prestigious firm in town. He met Isaac Merritt Singer in 1849 and advised him on his new invention, a sewing machine. He helped Singer patent the product, and Singer gave him three-eighths of the patent, since he could not afford the legal fees. Two years later, the two men co-founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Clark’s acute business sense contributed to the company’s success. For instance, he created the hire-purchase plan, which was America’s first installment plan. As it happened, Singer passed away in 1875. Clark took over the company and with him as president, the company became much more successful. Property development became an interest for him in the 1870s.
The Dakota apartment house idea was, for the most part, laughed off and called “Clark’s folly.” The distant location from the fashion metropolis of New York and the idea that wealthy folks would live in an apartment building was completely ludicrous. At the time, it was custom for the upper-class to live in large homes, while apartment living was a stigma relegated to lower class living. Nevertheless, construction began in October 1880 and finished in 1884, two years after Clark’s death.
Clark’s development plan was to create an upscale suburb out of the “Dakota” district. He’s actually the father of the Upper West Side, considering modern-day Manhattan. According to Tom Miller, author of Seeking New York: The Stories Behind the Historic Architecture of Manhattan, “[Clark] urged other developers and landowners to work together to ensure what he called the ‘exclusive character’ of ‘the West Side plateau.’”
The Unknown Artwork
The distinct architecture, the turreted roof, and the ornate designs and ornamentation that cover the building give it an awesome presence. It’s also alluring because of its enigmatic presence. There’s a sculpture of a Native American, possibly a Sioux Indian, on the façade. Not much is known about it. In addition to that, there are two sets of portraits carved and encircled. One is over the 72nd Street entrance and the other above an arch on the Central Park West Side.
The year, 1881, in large numbers, frames the Indian sculpture, representing the first year of construction, presumably. The sets of profile sculptures found on either side of the building contain Roman and aristocratic elements, but the subjects are unspecified.