David Rockefeller’s sprawling, 40-foot-wide townhouse at 145 E. 65th St. has sold for $20 million. The sale was recorded on April 10, 2018, after the home spent almost a year on the market. It went for well below the $32.5 million list price, and the buyer was not disclosed.

The sale comes just ahead of a highly anticipated auction of Rockefeller’s extraordinary art collection, which has been on exhibition across the globe. The auction will run from May 1-11 via online sales and at the Christie’s auction house.

Photo of Rockefeller townhouse

Rockefeller died in March, when, at the age of 101, he was the eldest billionaire and the last-remaining grandson of America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller. David Rockefeller was the longtime head of Chase Bank, a mover and shaker in the economic and political world (he hosted every American president from Calvin Coolidge to Barack Obama), and a philanthropist whose giving was unparalleled.

Originally, Rockefeller’s Manhattan townhouse was listed for sale at $32.5 million, but the price dropped to $27 million in October, thanks to a somewhat softened market for townhouses. The Lenox Hill townhouse is situated between Third and Lexington avenues, which may pull down its market value against luxury townhouses closer to Central Park and Fifth and Park avenues.

The ‘Auction of All Time’

Now Vanity Fair and other publications are starting to focus on an upcoming auction at Christie’s of the vast art collection owned by David Rockefeller and his wife, Peggy. It is being billed as nothing less than “the largest art auction of all time,” estimated to be worth as much as $650 million, with all the proceeds going to charity.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that figure would far surpass the $484 million raised by Yves Saint Laurent’s estate sale at Christie’s in 2009, as well as the $469 million liquified in a 2015 sale at Sotheby’s of the estate of retail magnate A. Alfred Taubman.

Photo of 146 East 65th Street townhouse

What’s striking about the Rockefeller townhouse is that it now seems to be vacant of all the art that was once showcased there. Rockefeller also kept other residences in the Hudson Valley, Columbia County, and Maine. As Vanity Fair puts it in a 2017 issue:

Consummate connoisseurs, they collected masterpieces across myriad categories: 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings, English and American furniture, European porcelain, Asian art, pre-Columbian ceramics, silver, textiles, decorative art, folk art, and Native American art. All these items they harmoniously integrated into their well-staffed, gorgeously sited, but never ostentatious houses … [including]

… the 40-foot-wide, four-story, red-brick Colonial Revival-style town house on East 65th Street in Manhattan, replete with eight bedrooms and six staff bedrooms. “The staff this year still included a butler and three maids,” says a family friend. “It was running like it was 1948 till the end.”

Photo of David Rockefeller townhouse on UES

Look around at these listing photos, courtesy of Mary K Rutherfurd, Paula Del Nunzio and Leslie R Coleman of Brown Harris Stevens. In addition to the genteel (but dated) interiors, what is most noticeable are all the apparently empty picture frames on the walls. They may be blurred out on purpose, or perhaps the artworks are being shown to select Christie’s clients ahead of the blockbuster series of auctions.

Photo of David Rockefeller Townhouse on UES

About 1,600 items will be included in the sale, all in accordance with Rockefeller’s wishes. A dozen or so nonprofits will reap the benefits of this sale, including Rockefeller University, Harvard University, the Museum of Modern Art, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Photo of Rockefeller townhouse on UES

Originally constructed in 1924, the Colonial Revival-style house was purchased by the Rockefellers in 1948. It was included in the Upper East Side Historic District extension of March 23, 2010.

This double-wide house runs about 9,780 square feet above ground over four levels. An additional 2,465 square feet is in the basement. The garden and outdoor space add another 2,958 square feet.

Photo of David Rockefeller townhouse on UES

There are 8 bedrooms, a library, plus 6 staff rooms. There are 8 full baths, 3 half baths and 8 fireplaces. The center of the home is noted for a spiral staircase leading to a skylight. But of course, there’s also an elevator.

Photo of David Rockefeller townhouse on UES

Illustration of David Rockefeller townhouse on UES

While anticipation cranks up to full throttle over the Rockefeller art collection auction, the lesser star is the 65th Street “museum” where the Rockefellers housed some of these precious works.

Hey, why not like StreetEasy on Facebook and follow @streeteasy on Instagram?