Director Baz Luhrmann To List Manhattan Townhouse
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Director Baz Luhrmann To List Manhattan Townhouse

The 19th-century property is Anglo-Italianate in style and is to fetch approx. $27 million.

By Katherine Clarke
Fri, Mar 4, 2022 11:47amGrey Clock 4 min

Australian writer and director Baz Luhrmann and his wife and creative partner Catherine Martin are listing their New York home, a 19th-century townhouse with a bold, colourful interior, for $27.2 million.

The 8.5-metre wide Gramercy area property dates to the 1850s and has views over Stuyvesant Square, one of the city’s oldest parks. Anglo-Italianate in style, the house has stately proportions, with four rows of round-arched windows, a panelled cornice and a patterned cast-iron balcony that runs the width of the house.

Mr. Luhrmann, director of films including “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge,” and Ms. Martin, a costume designer and his frequent collaborator, purchased the property for their family for $13.5 million in 2017 and completed a multiyear renovation project. New Yorkers for over a decade, they had planned to live there full-time, but the pandemic threw a wrench in the works, keeping them on the Gold Coast of Australia, where they have been working on the biographical film “Elvis,” starring Tom Hanks, for the last two years, Ms. Martin said. Meanwhile, their two children have reached around college age and the couple is on the verge of becoming empty-nesters.

“We just thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’” Ms. Martin said of their decision to list the home. “The house has been empty for nearly three years. And somebody should be enjoying it. But it’s breaking our hearts.”

It isn’t the first time the couple, who have a passion for historic homes, have been reluctant to sell a piece of real estate even long after it was practical. They finally sold their Sydney home—an Italianate mansion dating to the late 1880s and listed on the State Heritage Register—roughly six years ago, after not living there for almost a decade. “We left it empty for almost 10 years, not having the heart to sell it,” Ms. Martin said. “But there’s also a time when you have to allow a space to have another life.”

The couple fell in love with the New York home five years ago after losing out in a bidding war on a previous house they rented on MacDougal Street downtown. Ms. Martin said they were awed by its generous proportions, the ceiling heights and the light that poured in from the park, as well as its outdoor space. It was close to the school their children were attending at the time and the proximity to Union Square was convenient for transit links around the city. Spanning roughly 8,500 square feet with six bedrooms, it had plenty of space for the four of them.

They completely redid the house in their own vivid aesthetic, filled with rich colours and crazy patterns. Ms. Martin said the goal was to take the essence of a Victorian house and adapt it for modern living.

A fan of contrasting different styles, colours and patterns, Ms. Martin, an Oscar winner for her work on “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge,” transformed a shabby white entryway into a much more dramatic introduction to the house, with dark wood floors and walls and a red wine coloured runner. For the family room, she chose blood-red and emerald coloured furnishings and statement patterned wallpaper, one of many wallpapers in the home that she personally designed. An entertaining space known as the White Room is the polar opposite, with mostly white and beige furnishings and dramatic 16-foot ceilings. Ms. Martin said it was designed to be a more “adult” room for entertaining and cocktails.

The couple also bought out a tenant who had been living on the building’s top floor for more than 50 years, negotiating her move to another place in the neighbourhood. That floor was then transformed into Mr. Luhrmann’s creative space, where he wrote a lot of “Elvis” and hosted meetings and readings, Ms. Martin said.

The couple have incorporated pieces they held on to from their moviemaking adventures into the home. In Mr. Luhrmann’s study, there is a Hawaiian shirt that was worn by actor Leonardo DiCaprio in “Romeo + Juliet” and a top hat worn by the actress Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge.” The property also includes a screening room.

There was more practical work, like fitting a new energy-efficient boiler and HVAC systems.

Ms. Martin said she and her husband will look for another property in New York that is geared toward empty-nesters, something they can easily lock and leave as they plan to travel more. She said they might be willing to sell some of the furniture, which she describes as having been chosen specifically to complement the space.

Listing agent Steve Gold of the Corcoran Group said the market for single-family mansions has been particularly active in Manhattan over the past year. There were 130 townhouse sales in Manhattan that closed for $5 million or more in 2021, a record high, according to the Corcoran Group’s research.



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Judge Blocks Effort to Auction Graceland

Family of Elvis Presley was fighting the attempted sale, alleging fraud

By TALI ARBEL
Sun, May 26, 2024 2 min

A Tennessee judge on Wednesday blocked an allegedly fraudulent attempt to auction off Graceland, the former Memphis home of music legend Elvis Presley and a major tourist destination in the state.

Elvis’s granddaughter, actress Riley Keough , says a company that had planned a Thursday sale was fake and trying to defraud the trust that owns Graceland.

Judge JoeDae Jenkins in Chancery Court in Shelby County, Tenn., granted the injunction to stop the auction, according to a court clerk. The court had granted Keough a temporary restraining order on the sale last week.

The auction was initiated by an entity called Naussany Investments & Private Lending. It had filed a public notice for a foreclosure sale in Tennessee, alleging Lisa Marie Presley , Elvis’s only child, defaulted on a $3.8 million loan it made to her. The group said it now owns Graceland because Presley defaulted on the loan.

Presley, Keough’s mother, controlled the Graceland trust until her death in January 2023 . Keough then took over as trustee.

Lawyers for Keough said Naussany’s loan documents are forgeries, and the firm “appears to be a false entity created for the purpose of defrauding” the trust that owns Graceland, Presley’s heirs or any purchaser of Graceland.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, which manages Graceland, has also said Naussany’s claims were fraudulent. “There will be no foreclosure,” said Elvis Presley Enterprises spokeswoman Alicia Dean . “Graceland will continue to operate as it has for the past 42 years.”

Keough’s lawyer declined to comment.

Naussany Investments and Kurt Naussany, named in the complaint as acting on behalf of the entity, couldn’t be reached for comment. A phone number listed in the complaint didn’t work, and emails sent to associated addresses weren’t answered. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t separately find contact information for a Kurt Naussany. A lawyer for the entity couldn’t be identified.

The Graceland complex in Memphis, which includes an exhibition center and a 450-room hotel, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Elvis bought the property in 1957, when he was 22 and an ascendant star. He died in 1977 at the age of 42 and is buried on the Graceland property. Graceland opened to the public in 1982.

Lisa Marie Presley’s mother, Priscilla Presley , reached a settlement in 2023 with Keough over who would control the trust. The settlement came after Priscilla Presley challenged a 2016 amendment to the trust filed by Lisa Marie Presley that removed her mother as trustee.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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