Monday, February 28, 2011

In Other London Property News

The British property tabs are abuzz with whispers and reports that American movie star and notorious man-eater Kate Hudson bought a £4,000,000 in North London where she plans to settle down with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy and the child they're soon to bring into the world out of wedlock. Scandale!

Anyhoo, details are pretty damn slim and at this point we're not even sure there's a shred of veracity to this particular bit real estate gossip but the story goes that the happy couple will move into the mews-style house after a renovation that's to include a nursery–natch–games room and guest bedrooms for Miss Hudson's super star mother Goldie Hawn and still quite fetching stepfather Kurt Russell.

Some reports indicate that couple also poked around Cornwall for a holiday home. Your Mama happens to to have heard through the celebrity real estate gossip grapevine that Miss Hudson and Mister Bellamy toured at least one house in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles several weeks back. However, we'd would bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that Miss Hudson has no real plans to sell or move from her longtime home in the upscale enclave of Pacific Palisades, CA.

Miss Hudson and Mister Bellamy–who wore the most amazing sparkly silver suit at the 2011 Grammy Awards a few weeks ago–have been dating less than a year after they reportedly met at Coachella, the music and art festival that goes down in the desert about 20 miles south of Palm Springs, CA.

We're skeptical about this one puppies but we'll just have to wait and see how this real estate story plays itself out.

Paper mache figure on a bottle

You need:

  1. wine bottle
  2. newspapers torn in strips
  3. paper tape
  4. wallpaper paste
  5. tempera paint
  6. brushes
  7. varnish
  8. fabrics
  9. wool, cotton, feathers etc.

Students make a ball of newspaper and tape it on the bottle with paper tape. Tear newspapers in strips and paste them with wallpaper paste on the ball far over the bottle so that the tape is not visible anymore. Be sure to use a lot of wallpaper paste.
If the ball on the bottle is smooth, students make eyes, nose, ears and paste them on the head. Fix them with paper strips and paste. Let dry for at least 24 hours.

After drying the figures can be painted. Start with the brightest colour. Paint several times to be sure the ink of the newspaper is not visible anymore. Varnish the dolls to make them shine.

After drying the doll has to be dressed and beautified. Use fabrics, wool, cotton, feathers, beads, lace etc. Paste them on the bottle and head with strong glue.

All artworks are made by students of grade 3

Thanks to Ruth Megens

zee longenecker : artists who blog

Today's guest is the lovely Zee Longenecker, a photographer born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil who now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her husband, two sons, and three cats. I love Zee's honesty as well as her gorgeous, nostalgic photographs. Enjoy.

Why did you decide to become an artist and could you imagine doing anything else? If so, what?

I did not decide on becoming an artist, I just follow my heart. I don’t know if I am an artist. If someone calls me an artist I will blush. I love to learn, to observe things around me. I think I am a very visual person. I rememember being a little kid, drawing on the living room rug forever. I was always quiet, introverted and drawing was a way to express myself. I got interested in photography when I was a teen and attended school in Rio de Janeiro. At that time, it was a very expensive medium for me and digital cameras did not exist. Soon, money became a huge issue and it was not possible to keep up with my photography endeavors. I had to work to pay the bills and help my parents. After marrying and having my children, my husband gifted me with a new camera and I restarted as a hobby.

I also enjoy sewing, working with textiles and drawing once in a while. I see myself doing many things. It’s hard, because I have two small children and my husband is often away from home.

Do you still believe "do what you love and the money will come?"

Yes and no. I can’t just create photos, sit and wait. Money won’t fall from sky. I understand that I must be very organized, I need to set up goals, do some marketing, contact people, do my homework, improve my skills. I am not making a lot of money yet. Hopefully one day!

How has blogging and the Internet affected your work as an artist?

I started to blog in 2003 only to talk about my personal life and feelings, but only in 2006 I started to focus on my photography and sewing. There were women like me, blogging about their passions, dreams and work. It was a wonderful discovery! Because I have only a basic photography training, I’ve learned a lot reading blogs and online tutorials. I’ve learned about aesthetics and how to have a cohesive presentation. I find a lot of useful information online. I can easily share whatever I do and connect with other people that share the same passions.The Internet is amazing. It opens doors for many talented people.

Please name 3 of your favorite blogs and tell us why these blogs are special.

Lately I’ve enjoyed decor8 because Holly always brings a lot of inspiration to her readers. I like Pia’s blog - her photography and her posts are so interesting, different. I also like Gennine’s blog her work is also truly inspiring, they make me smile.

What is your greatest fear and what do you do to overcome it?

Oh, it would be ending up sick, old and alone in a nursing home. Aging like that would be bad. I want my family always together. I don’t want our family being scattered, here and there.

Who would you like to trade places with for one day? Why?

I would like to trade place with my son, be a kid once again and feel like him, to be able to understand him better and perhaps become a better mom.

What are your secrets for managing your time wisely?

I don’t. I still don’t manage wisely. Last week I was able to manage my time for 4 days. Suddenly I felt lethargic and again all came into a mess. I have a battle with mood swings. Nothing serious, but it affects the way I see myself and the world around me.

If you could live anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – for one year, where would that be? Why?

Fiji, Samoa, Polynesia, Hawaii or maybe somewhere in the Mediterranean. A gorgeous island for sure. Lots of sun, beautiful beaches and nature. Pure bliss!

How do you maintain a healthy balance between your professional and private life?

I am still crawling as a business, so far I’ve only sold my photographs on Etsy and I am closing contracts with two different companies (licensing) which is wonderful after only one year of work.

Everything related to my photographs or sewing I do when kids are at school. Sometimes they join me in the studio and they can participate on something (crafts or drawing). So far, it’s been all right. I have a blogFacebook and Twitter but I am not an avid user of social networks and yes, I don’t bring much family and personal life to the web.

What are your top 5 goals that you’d like to accomplish within the next 5 years?

I would love to work with magazines and advertisement (editorial and commercial photography) and I must to work harder to improve my skills and have more photos to show on my portfolio. I wish to meet people in the industry.

I would like to take more classes at college.

I wish I could travel with my family to Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Learn more about textiles and pattern construction.

Have a stable handmade business for handbags created by me and home decor items.

What is your advice for someone who would like to turn his or her creative dreams into reality?

I don’t have much experience, because as I said, I don’t have a big business. It’s still very small! But I think you must set up your goals, know what you really love, work hard, be organized, get skills, learn as much as you can, get good connections and have a cohesive, consistent work.

Thank you Zee for your kind, open, honest answers. I wish you all the best in realizing your dreams!

Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone Wants to Unload in Chelsea

SELLER: Bernie Ecclestone
LOCATION: London, U.K.
PRICE: £14,000,000
SIZE: 4,175 square feet 3-4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Itty-bitty British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone may indeed be a controversial character with an Andy Warhol style hair-don't he's also a real estate baller. Once upon a time, in the not so distant real estate past, the bantam billionaire paid a panty-knotting and eye-popping £50,000,000 for an immense pile in Central London that overlooks London's Kensington Palace and previously served as both the Russian and Egyptian embassies.

However and alas, his then wife, a much younger 6-foot 2-inch former Armani model from Croatia named Slavica , apparently didn't care much for the palatial pad and reportedly refused–or declined–to move into the house that includes 20-car underground parking and a private damn hair salon. Word to the wise: It's best to consult your spouse when spending 70 or eighty million smackers on a new house. In 2004, three years after buying but never occupying the 15-bedroom beast, the Formula One race car honcho sold the the place at a significant profit for £57,000,000 to steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. Brace yourselves butter beans because according to our trusty currency conversion contraption that works itself out to a stratospheric $91,835,000 at today's rates, a figure that does not read as the price of a private residence but rather the GDP of an impoverished country.

Theirs was a cliché romance and marriage–she a striking young filly with a taste for the good life and he a petite billionaire old enough to be her father and with money to burn–but it endured an impressive 24 years and produced a pair of statuesque daughters. Mister and Missus Ecclestone publicly split in 2008 and the following year spun through the court of dee-vorce where Missus Ecclestone became ex-Missus Ecclestone and received a settlement rumored and widely reported to be in range of a billion bucks. Not such bad work if you can get it, no?
As far as Your Mama knows–and we really know so very little–Mister Ecclestone's primary residence in London remains the staid if somewhat mousy-looking mansion (above) that overlooks upscale Chelsea Square. Mister Ecclestone's mansion happens to be directly across the street from a converted art school building where he owns a lavish cond0-crib that recently reappeared on the market with an asking price of £14,000,000. That's $22,556,000 at today's rates for all us folks the good ol' U.S. of A.

The big-spending octogenarian billionaire reportedly paid £6,875,000 for the first-floor spread in June of 2006. A few quick calculations shows that comes to 11,076,600 U.S. bucks at today's rates. The apartment was previously reported to have been occasionally used by ex-Missus Ecclestone and the former couple's towering twenty-something year daughters Petra and Tamara. A little more on the real estate shenanigans of those globe-trotting glamazons to come.

Listing information and marketing materials for the Mister Ecclestone's contemporary condo show it measures a mini-mansion-sized 4,175 square feet and includes 3-4 bedrooms and 4.5 poopers. Although the apartment is only on the first floor–that's the second floor for all us posies across the pond–two elevators open directly into a gracious but far from grand entrance hall.

The main living spaces include an oddly-shaped but quite commodious reception room that stretches 37-feet at its widest point and has dark hardwood floors, built-in bookshelves, a fireplace and a series of floor to-ceiling windows and French doors that open to a terrace at the back of the building. The adjacent formal dining room was done-up by the nice, gay decorator in what we think of as a South Beach boo-teek hotel-style. The walls are painted with the identical shade of dusty-blush as the floor to ceiling draperies that help but do not completely disguise the wonky shape of the room.

The clean-lined eat-in kitchen has plenty of room for a private chef to whip up a gourmet meal for 20 and includes integrated appliances, a separate utility room and pantry and a television mounted between the two large windows that overlook Manresa Road. The muted palette of gray counter tops and striated chocolate and caramel colored cabinetry gets anemically enlivened with a trio of baby-blue stools pulled up to the large work island lit by a couple of chandeliers that look a little like jellyfish or, perhaps, space ships beaming cones of light down on earth.

Two modest-size guest rooms with windows on the street-side of the building each have well-appointed but, unfortunately, windowless en suite facilities. The sizable master suite contains a long entrance hall off of which are a large bedroom, custom-fitted closet and dressing room plus additional closets and storage space, a pair of über-luxe but windowless bathrooms and an adjacent room that could be used as an office, sitting room, gym, Pilates studio, or as a small-ish.

The swanky condo is fitted with all the high-tech hoo-has and doo-dads one can expect in a recently renovated London residence that costs twenty-something million bucks. These features include, according to listing information, an integrated music/television system, electronically controlled curtains and blinds, air conditioning and filtration systems, and radiant heat throughout. The condo comes complete with two private parking spots and the fancy building offers large communal gardens and 24-hour porterage, which means wealthy residents of the building need never carry groceries or baggage from their car to their condo. The yearly fees associated with the unit amount to a reported £60,000 per year. That's nearly eight U.S. smackers per month. Lawhd, people, it makes Your Mama's weak heart skip a damn beat to think of coughing up eight grand a month just so we didn't have to open up the door to the damn building or carry our own groceries.

Both Mister Ecclestone's Chelsea Square mansion and his condominium across the street are mere real estate child's play when it comes to the residential circumstances of his young socialite daughters Petra and Tamara. The elder Ecclestone off-spring, 26-year old Tamara, is reported to be on the precipice of the purchase of a £45,000,000 property in Kensington Palace Gardens, the same swish and super-secure enclave in Central London as the above mentioned monster-manse that Lakshmi Mittal bought from Poppa Ecclestone a few years back. That's a heart-stopping $72,501,300 for all us Americanos. Young Miss Ecclestone–who already owns a behemoth bachelorette pad in hoity-toity Belgravia, and her live-in stockbroker man-beau–will soon be hosting backyard barbecues for the slew of neighboring billionaires who include a Saudiroyal or two, Russian-American business tycoonLeonard Blavatnik and British real estate mogul Jonathan Hunt.

When Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter moved into our far more modest Hollywood Hills abode the neighbors were all very sweet and brought over welcoming gestures such as a tin of home made cookies or a bottle of wine. What, pray tell, does one bring over as a housewarming gift to a 26-year old girl with a 70+ million dollar house? A Mercedes? An Hermès Birkin bag? A minimum-wage worker whose salary is paid up for a year?
In December of 2010 word slipped down the international real estate gossip grapevine that the younger Ecclestone daughter, 22-year old Petra, shelled out a knee-buckling and equilibrium-upsetting £66,000,000 to acquire Sloane House, a monumental Grade II-listed mansion near London's natty and nabobish Sloane Square. That, chickdereeos, amounts to well over $100,000,000 at today's currency conversion rates. When she completes renovations and moves into the mall-sized her new neighbors will reportedly include Mick Jagger, Jemima Khan and Elizabeth Hurley.

Believe it or not, hunnies, Mister Ecclestone has publicly insisted that his daughters, neither of whom appear to have jobs, are not spoiled. Bitch, pleeze. It's your money to spend as you wish Mister Ecclestone, but we beg to differ. Any 22-year old gal with a seventy million dollar house the size of a tsarist-palace paid for by mumsy and daddy is unquestionably and irretrievably spoiled. There really are not two ways about that Mister Ecclestone. There just isn't.

There are scads of reports that suggest that in addition to his London property holdings Mister Ecclestone also owns the so-called Chalet Le Lion in Switzerland's glittery aprés-ski resort of Gstaad. We would be shocked clean out of our Chelsea boots if that was the extent of his personal property portfolio.

exterior photo: Knight Harwood
interior listing photos: Aylesford
photo (Sloane House): Beauchamp Estates

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Lettering Book!

Cheryl Gebhart, one of our regular readers, commented on THIS POST--she also suggests The Scrapbooker's Handwriting Workshop: 20 Unique Fonts to Practice and Play With (oops, out of print**) and it DOES look like fun!

**NOTE: I had the wrong link--this edition is NOT out of print: The Scrapbooker's Handwriting Workshop: 20 Unique Fonts to Practice and Play With

It's on Amazon, with the "Click to Look Inside" option, so I did.  (Don't forget to hit "Surprise me," you can see a lot more.)

Has anyone else used it?  Cheryl, can you tell us more about why you like it?

I can see I'm facing temptation again...

Making masks

You need:
  1. white cardboard
  2. rectangular aluminum containers
  3. paint
  4. brushes
  5. scissors
  6. glue
  7. cutting knife
  8. oil pastels

We look at masks from Venice, masks from Africa and the culture of the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs through photos on the internet. We discuss the form of the masks and look for the differences between the African, Venetian and those of the Incas. We look at the position of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Let students choose the style and material they want to use. The aluminium containers are meant for students who want to make an Inca mask, since Incas often used silver or gold.
Draw with pencil the shape of the mask and cut it out. Mark the spot where the eyes should be (at half or slightly above or below the half) and cut them out. Draw a nose and cut it partly in order to create some relief. Colour the mask with oil pastels.
For an Inca mask: cut the aluminum container, cut the eyes, cut a nose and paste it on, cut a mouth. Paint the mask with tempera, making sure there will be some shiny material to be seen.

Look at each others masks at the end of this lesson and discuss what style or influence you recognize.

Artworks made by students of grade 3

Thanks to Ann de Naegel (Belgium) and her students

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Customizing your gear...a new gouache box!

Just because something comes to us as one thing doesn't mean it has to STAY that way, if it doesn't work for us.  Don't get rid of it till you give it a good hard look and see if you can work a conversion!

I loved this little Winsor & Newton watercolor box, except for a few drawbacks that made it end up neglected in a drawer...I don't like half pans, because I prefer the option of painting a nice juicy wash with a big brush, and half pans just don't cooperate for me. 

I also didn't care for the wee water dish...I made a seriously muddy painting trying to use this as it came from the manufacturer, so it got retired.

But it was lightweight and had nice mixing areas, so I just couldn't quite let it go...

I was looking at it the other day and ah-HA, realized that I could pop those tiny half pans right out...

I considered putting the paint directly in the double-half-pan size holes that were left...but I like to be able to change out my colors if I want.

Full pans were just a hair too big...till Joseph nipped off the little niblets at the top of each pan.  He cut them off with his handy Swiss Army Knife--just the top two--and a full pan fit perfectly.  I fix mine in place with rubber cement so they stay put but can be easily changed out when I need a new color.  (This Alizarin Crimson at upper left will go as soon as I find a's muddy.)

I opted to use a warm and cool of the reds and blues, a single yellow, a burnt sienna for neutrals, and keep half pans for colors I don't use often--black and white.  (Wished I had indigo or Payne's grey instead of black, but...I don't!)

I used M. Graham and D. Smith--OOPS, meant Horadam Schmincke!--gouache, mostly...

The top offers a nice mixing area, and a sliding tray beneath gives you another one...the silly water cup that fits on the side is next to useless, though! Too easy to spill, too...

Sooooo...I used an old 35 mm film can fixed in place with a bit of blue sticky-tac and I'm ready to go.  I've even got two folding travel brushes that fit just fine in the brush trough above the pans of paint.  I'm ready to get OUT there with my gouache!

Drawing tricky subjects--hands!

We were talking about drawing hands the other day, and I remembered someone suggesting you think of the hand shape as a mitten, first, simplify it to that form, THEN add fingers and thumbs and details.  So I decided to do a couple of quick demos.  (And yep, I turned over my mug of coffee, but I don't like to waste paper!  These are leftover sheets from my bookbinding project, cut to handy demo size. 

Most of them are still coffee-free...

I was able to see the foreshortened forms easily this way...but my thumb's still a bit short too!
More playing with mitten shapes and tricky hand positions...

You can see where the "mitten" lines were...and also see that I've got a bit of arthritis!

Tweak as you need to, nobody says you HAVE to stay within the lines if you see you need to correct a bit, but it DOES give you good guidelines...

Longing for spring: printing flowers!

You need:

  1. piece of linoleum of 12 by 12 cm
  2. several sorts of paper
  3. lino knives
  4. block printing ink
  5. flat piece of glass
  6. linoleum roller
  7. lino press
  8. coloured cardboard 34 by 12 cm
  9. scissors
  10. glue or stapler

Students draw one or more flowers on their piece of linoleum and cut it out. Then the flower has to be printed on three different sorts of paper. In this lesson I choose for coloured construction paper, a brown paper bag and white white woven towels from the dispenser.
Cut the prints with 1 cm around. Paste or staple them on coloured cardboard.
Spring can come!

Both artworks are made by students of grade 4

Friday, February 25, 2011

Real Estate Round Up: Courtney Love

We probably should just leave this alone but we just can't resist ourselves a wee bit of Courtney Love's special brand of I'm-a-rock-star-crazy, especially when it comes to her peripatetic real estate ways.

In late 1997 Miss Love reportedly bought a house in Beverly Hills, CA for about $3,000,000 from the then recently out-of-the-closet comedienne Ellen Degeneres. In 2001, having already bought a condo in New York City, Miss Love sold the Bev Hills house to British superstar Sir Paul McCartney. It was here at this house that Mister McCartney's former Beatle band mate George Harrison died in 2001.

Miss Love subsequently settled into her fourth floor loft in a newly converted and super-luxe warehouse building 0n cobble stoned Crosby Street in New York City's SoHo 'hood. She paid $2,647,500 for the 4,123 square foot sprawler located in the same swank boutique building where fashion-forward high-heel wearing musician Lenny Kravitz recently sold his duplex penthouse for $12,750,000 to multiple Grammy winner Alicia Keys and her music producer baby daddy and huzband Swizz Beatz.

Anyhoo, as is often the case wherever Miss Love goes, hilarity and chaos reigned supreme during her tenure on Crosby. There are scads of stories and scandalicious reports of antics and bizarre behavior that included a bewildered Miss Love peering into car windows and cadging cigarettes from pedestrians on the street in front of the building. One tenant told the press a story about nearly tripping over an obviously panty-less Miss Love who had, ironically, spilled panties out of her suitcase and all over the floor of the building's attended lobby.

The irrepressibly lubricious Miss Love sold the 4,123 square foot loft, according to Streeteasy, in March of 2006 for an even-steven five million big ones. New Your City über-agent Wilbur Gonzalez told Jennifer Gould Keil at the NY Post in late December 2010 that when Miss Love vacated the premises she left scrawlings on one of the walls in the kitchen that included the telephone numbers of Elton John and Michael Jackson. She may be as batty as three bees in a tornado and sometimes get so drunk she can't pull up her own socks but, chickens, this Miss Love is still a goddam celebrity with a little black book that would make even the most jaded star fucker swoon with envy and self-loathing.

Miss Love landed back in Los Angeles in the mid-naughts. For some time she's said to have lived on Alpine Drive in the flats of Beverly Hills, in the Hollywood Hills house once owned by Natalie Imbruglia and for a some time she lived near the Sunset Strip in a rented Mediterranean-style mansion on a gated street just below the recently rehabbed Beverly Hills residence of t.v. and movie actress Jennifer Aniston who, the real estate children surely know by now, has (allegedly) engaged Platinum Triangle super-broker Jade Mills to shop her 9,000+ square foot extravaganza off-market for more than forty million bucks.

During an impromptu August 2009 interview with a reporter from New York magazine conducted in a public toilet at NYC's Sunshine Cinemas, Miss Love revealed that she and her teenage daughter Frances Bean Cobain were fixin' to decamp Tinseltown for The Big Apple. This was just months before the legendarily mercurial mommy lost legal custody of young Miss Cobain who inherited a substantial fortune from her famously deceased rock star father Kurt Cobain.

We don't claim to know of all of the unlucky locations where Miss Love has bivouacked since heading east to New York City in late 2009 but we do know that she shacked up for a short time in a posh parlor-floor pad in the Chelsea Mansion, a Greek Revival-style townhouse on West 20th Street where the five modestly-sized but well-serviced apartments rent for $15,000 per month or more.

After leaving the Chelsea Mansion, Miss Love and her recently suspended twitter account alighted in the tourist swamped shopping mecca of SoHo where she set up house rockstar-style in a suite at the chic and celebrity-friendly Mercer Hotel. At least once she's appeared in all her boozy glory in the hotel's chi-chi lobby and given an extemporaneous concert, behavior that some speculated would not have been tolerated had she not been (allegedly) shtupping handsome Andre Balazs, the hotel's jet-setting owner and former man-friend of Uma Thurman.

Since at least the beginning of August 2010 (see item #3), Miss Love began to twitter and tell press people about her burning desire to acquire the four-floor West Village townhouse that model turned actress Mila Jovovich then had on the market for $7,500,000. There was a lot of noise made on the matter, mostly by by Miss Love, including a tweet in late November that stated that she'd finally secured the lease to the townhouse. But alas, it was not meant to be if it ever was at all. Just two short weeks after Miss Love's tweet of real estate delight, news broke that Ms. Jovovich's townhouse had actually been sold to IMAX Corp. CEO Rich Gelfond.

Miss Love reportedly left for London, tail tucked between her real estate legs, in late 2010 and speedily fell into the arms and home of contemporary art dealer and gallery owner Henry Allsopp who, in her own words, "saved" her from her own damn self and to whom she has, reportedly and shockingly, signed over power of attorney of her assets.
All of this brings us to the latest news on Miss Love's ongoing, ever-present and always entertaining real estate whirlwind. Either Mister Allsopp and Miss Love have parted ways personally (and professionally) or Mister Allsopp has approved the reported (and alleged) lease by Miss Love of a four-story townhouse in New York City's West Village (above). A tipster recently told the fine folks at Curbed that Miss Love has finally settled on a townhouse and signed a lease for a quaint, quirky, sophisticated and fully-renovated 25-foot wide 4-story townhouse on West 10th Street. No word on what's she's actually paying but the house was last on the market fully furnished with a $28,000 per month price tag.

The house had been for sale on and off since May of 2009 with an asking price as high as $8,800,000. Property records shows the sellers were a couple of gentlemen, one of them a former banker and the other the much lauded and applauded nice gay, decorator Steven Gambrel. In all seriousness and with all due respect, Miss Gambrel really knows how to work a room over and as such the townhouse was featured in the January 2009 issue of Elle Decor. The buyer, who records reveal paid $7,640,000 for the totally turned out townhouse in early October 2010, is listed as a business entity that connects to an address in Chicago as well as to at a ritzy residence in Coconut Grove, FL that happens to be currently on the market with an asking price of $9,800,000. Make of that what you will.
The glossy black front door of the Greek Revival-style townhouse from the early 1800s opens into a wide entrance hall with a sexy curved staircase straight ahead and, immediately to the right, a small reception room with lusciously lacquered steel-blue walls and smartly over-scaled and unvarnished herringbone-patterned antique wood floors. The fireplace in the intimate reception room is the first of six in the house. Up half a flight from the entrance all and concealed door hides a service and guest wing that includes laundry facilities, three-quarter bath and an itty-bitty bedroom papered in an over-sized and beyond bold red, blue and yellow ikat pattern.

The curving staircase sweeps up another half flight to a 25-foot wide living room that has Tiffany blue walls, heavy moldings and fireplaces at each end. Off the short hall that connects the stairs to the living room are a study/bedroom, wet bar, stereo cabinet and powder pooper.

On the top level a petite guest room has a fireplace and private hall bathroom and the master bedroom has another fireplace and attached facilities. Closet space is slim but there's a large custom-fitted and windowed dressing room that helps to make up for that shortcoming. Any guest of Miss Love's who stays in the upper level guest room will surely be treated to seeing their 40-something year old train wreck hostess parade back and fourth between the bedroom and the dressing room.

Half way down the stairs from the entrance level to the basement kitchen glass doors open to a tiny but charming terrace. The unfortunately all-but-windowless lower level has a massive fireplace flanked by a cozy sitting area and an eat-in kitchen outfitted in a sophisticated style that marries contemporary cabinetry and high-tech appliances with original architectural details like the exposed (and painted) brick walls that act as a bumpy back splash and give the room some historical gravitas.

We really haven't any idea if Miss Love has leased this townhouse or not but for a woman who herself often cries poverty to the press, she sure does manage to scrape together the do-re-mi to live in pretty pricey and damn luxe circumstances, don't she?

More mouth-watering photos of the townhouse can be found on the website of the quite accomplished designer Steven Gambrel.

photos: Corcoran
floor plan: Halstead via Curbed

A Big Deal Goes Down at NYC's Lordly 834 Fifth Avenue

In the late 80s, Columbus, OH-based billionaire businessman Leslie Wexner bought a palatial 21,000 square foot townhouse on the Upper East Side of New York City. In 1996 or '07 he sold the East 71st Street townhouse, complete with a secret lead-lined bathroom with closed-circuit television, to the lavish living prostie lovin' financier and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein whose prurient affinity for very young woman landed him in the clink in 2008.

About the time he was selling his titanic townhouse to Jeffrey Epstein, Mister Wexner reportedly paid a wealthy Italian lady somewhere in the neighborhood of nine million clams for a 16-room fixer-upper duplex at the high-nosed 834 Fifth Avenue. The apartment, with only two rooms that face Central Park, was previously owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch who hauled his heiny up a few flights when he famously paid a heart-stopping $44,000,000 for the triplex penthouse at 834. Your Mama has been told a number of times by a number of Upper East Side types who tend to know about these things that Mister Wexner and his wife Abigail had their five bedroom crib at 834 worked over by autocratic French architect Thierry Despont.

Shortly after news broke in late December 2009 that the Wexner's had snatched up a 3,480 square foot condo at 15 Central Park West for $13,100,000, the folks at the New York Observer snitched that Mister and Missus Wexner had quietly floated their duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue on the market with a mind-numbing $60,000,000 asking price. In early December of 2010 it was revealed, also in the New York Observer, that the asking price had dropped dramatically to $34,000,000 and sold to an unknown buyer.

A couple weeks late the buyer was identified in the NY Post as commercial real estate magnate Lazarus "Larry" Heyman who, it may surprise the children to know, is not yet forty years old.

This week The Real Deal announced that the Wexner actually sold his duplex digs at 834 for $36,000,000, a number that would indicate that there may have been a second interested party that drove the final sale price up to two million above the reported asking price.

Mister Heyman and his wife Kim, formerly of Sutton Place, now have uppity neighbors who include Bing Crosby's son Harry, philanthropist, haute couture queen and high society doyenne Carroll McDaniel Portago Carey-Hughes Pistell Petrie who once lived on the 5th floor and now lives in Pauline Pitt designed digs on the 10th floor and famously fat living former "King of Wall Street" John Gutfreund and his very social wife Susan whose live primarily in a plush Parisian apartment they put up for sale in 2010 but still maintain an opulent Henri Samuel designed 16-room apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue that measures in at a hefty hefty hefty 12,000 square feet.

photos: The Office of Thierry Despont

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interview #7--meet Alissa Duke!!

Alissa Duke is keeping busy these days--she's one of the artist-journalers in the upcoming book that originally gave birth to this blog, of course, and she was in Watercolor Artist Magazine this month (in the April issue, you know how magazines are).  She's one of the correspondents on the Sketching in Nature blog, and is also involved in the Sketchabout at the Royal Botanic Gardens, as we mentioned in THIS post!  We figured this was the perfect time to do the interview with her...

11Feb11 Sketchabout sketchbook cover her own words, here's Alissa!


I was born in New Zealand but lived all of my life in Australia. I grew up in large regional city called Toowoomba and then spent most of my adult life in Brisbane, the capital city of the state of Queensland, Australia. 

Looking back, our household was a creative one with lots of craftwork and I also entered the local paper drawing competitions, often winning a $2 or $5 money order!  I started drawing when I was at high school and I did art as a subject at school, but was not particularly good at it. My best friend and I would draw after school and on weekends- mainly drawing 1980’s pop stars, copied from magazines. I drew irregularly after I completed school and it was always copying from pictures. Only in the last eight years I have been drawing from real objects and scenes.  

I moved to Sydney six years ago for work (I am a Librarian/Researcher) and am still enjoying exploring my ‘new’ city.

19Feb11 Art Gallery lunch

How did you get started journaling?

I have been drawing on and off since I was a teenager. In late 2008 I started to draw when travelling and when participating in Sketchcrawls and I write along side of my drawings. I would make note of the place or object (often food) I was drawing. I also started sketching in Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks.   

Currently on my sketch page I sometimes write a small commentary about the place and event I am drawing. Often it is just capturing my own reaction at the time.

There are often people about, but Alissa manages to concentrate on her drawing...

Do you feel comfortable working in public? 

Yes, I do now, although it has taken some time and I still stand or sit out of the way. I am not yet comfortable with looking at people and drawing them, so I usually draw them from the back or the side.

How often do you meet up with other artists to sketch?  How did that come about?

I draw with others Sydney sketchers regularly, and sometimes it seems to be every weekend ! I met my fellow sketchers Liz, Wendy and Annie in 2008 at International Sketchcrawls . Liz and I were the only ones there at a Sketchcrawl in June 2008 and spent most of the day chatting as well as drawing.

I have more recently become one of the two Assistant Organisers with the Sydney Sketch Club, which is a Meet Up group. We sketch around Sydney at various places, with anywhere from 2 to 18 people turning up. 

from the Royal Botanic Gardens
*NOTE: Alissa's recently gotten involved in a wonderful new project at the Royal Botanic Gardens
as we mentioned up top--read her account at the link!

You’ve done a lot of birds and animals…do you enjoy them most. Or what’s your favorite subject?

When I look through my drawings from the past two years (in thirteen Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks, which sit in my bookshelf) there does not seem to be a particular subject that features. Perhaps I do more objects, rather than larger scenes, although as a member of Urban Sketchers, I hope to become more practiced at drawing places as well. However, I do enjoy drawing birds and animals. They have such character!  I seem to go through stages and themes with my subjects:   animals, places, family history, objects around the apartment:  too many things to draw and not enough time !!!

This magpie looks like he could hop right off the page!

I can become enthusiastic about any subject if it is part of a project or theme. That’s why I love the EDM group, Illustration Friday.. Sketchbook Project, EveryDay In May etc.  Only recently I realised that I used to previously waste so much time trying to find the “right” object or view or scene, sometimes, often I ended up not drawing anything at all. I have only recently got past that and I think that is why I can now sit down and attempt any subject without much fuss.

Do you do all your sketching on the spot, or finish some back in your studio?

If I am going out sketching, I will do most of my drawing on the spot (writing notes in pencil) At home I will add a little more colour, write my journal commentary in ink and format the page a bit. I don ‘t often take a photo to complete later, although this will depend on the situation. At a dinner with non –sketching friends I might take a photo of dessert so that I can draw a page to record the occasion when I get home. And I do have a shoebox full of ‘source photographs” to use if needed. 

Sometimes I will take a found object home to draw, such as a feather or leaf. Otherwise, I draw at my desk, with the object propped up in front of me.

I had to laugh when you asked if I draw “back in my studio”. I live in a studio apartment, so my beautiful (ergonomically incorrect) silky oak dining room table is my art desk, which constantly has my watercolour pencils, sketchbook spread over it. It is also my computer desk, dining table and “everything else” table. 

This is one of the family history images that will appear in the book.

Tell us a bit about the family history project...

My great aunt died in 2008 and I became aware of some fascinating objects that had belonged to her and my great grandfather's family , including WW1 medals and badges, photographs, letters and other objects. I been previously researching the family tree and began with the idea of trying to visually document possessions in my family. I decided to draw each object and then find out about the history of it and add some commentary to the page. The next stage will then be to add some notes about the person and that time of their life. In this way I hope to show them as a real person and to create a record of a part of my family history that would otherwise be lost

What's your favorite, most satisfying medium, and why? 

Watercolour pencil. I really don't have experience with many other mediums. I have been using watercolour pencil for about two years. They are excellent for sketching while travelling as I can take and use them anywhere. I can either use them as the main medium or just to add a wash to a pen drawing. Previously I have only used graphite pencil and some ink pen.

Watercolor pencil and graphite

I notice you're branching out a bit into ink and watercolor...tell us a bit about that?

I like the looseness that an ink pen can potentially provide me and I would like to be able to use it like a pencil.  It could be that I am influenced by drawing with Liz Steel , who uses ink so confidently on the page.
Ink doesn’t suit all suit object or pages. Ink does give a consistency of style over a number of pages of drawings. So the pages where I am journaling more, I will tend to use the ink pen. And you know that I have just discovered the Lamy Safari Joy ink pen with a nib. The nib provides a lot more flexibility of line on the page, which I  couldn’t get using Art Line, Micron., Pitt Pens etc 

This is one of Alissa's recent images with her new pen!

Other thoughts? Whatever else you feel is more important, personally, to YOU...

Drawing and journaling allows me to focus and use the creative and artistic force inside me. I can try to capture a place or time as only I experienced it, through a creative process that I love. It also
makes me look and think more and appreciate things more.

This is one of my favorites from the Sketching in Nature blog, where Alissa's a correspondent.


Thanks, Alissa!  And I hope you all have enjoyed this interview--there are many more to come, so stay with us...

Anyone up for...

...a little Charlie Sheen real estate crazy?

Col. Gaddafi's Second Son Lets London Pad

OWNER: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
LOCATION: London, U.K.
PRICE: £9,750/week
SIZE: 7,757 square feet, 7-8 bedrooms, 8 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Anyone who's even remotely conscious ought to know by now that things are really gettin' down and goin' plum nutty in northern Africa and the Middle East. An angry but peaceful grass roots revolution have already sent Egypt's long-time president Hosni Mubarak packing and in Yemen anti-government protests going on right this very second have the government shaking in their beaded slippers. Even though he's publicly declared he'll die a martyr before leaving, Libya's despotic dictator Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi may not have a choice. A brave and roiling revolt that rages in Libya wants him gone and an obviously rattled Gaddafi has already lost control of much of the eastern part of the country he's ruled since taking over in a 1969 coup. If things continue the way they're already going Mister al-Gaddafi may soon be on the lam.

Many recent reports suggest that Misters Mubarak and al-Gaddafi siphoned and squirreled away vast sums of ill-gotten gains. Well, duh! Some reports suggest Mister Mubarak's riches may add up to between forty and seventy billion bucks and additional news stories suggest that Mister al-Gaddafi may have amassed a slightly smaller but still obscenely monumental fortune of around $60,000,000,000. So, you know, children, neither Evita Perón nor Argentina itself will cry for these two tyrants or their families as they sadly whittle away the rest of their lives in lavishly-appointed exile in whatever country (or countries) will harbor them.

Quirky and unpredictable Mister al-Gaddafi has a long-standing and complicated but quite cozy relationship with, among others, the government of the United Kingdom. Over the years Mister al-Gaddafi invested large sums of money into British concerns and real estate. These lucrative investments include a substantial stake in Pearson Group, the company that owns the venerable and influential U.K.-based newspaper the Financial Times. On a smaller scale, a business entity registered in the British Virgin Islands reportedly paid £10,000,000 for a mansion in the upscale Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London in December of 2009. The company and the house are believed and reported to be owned by The Colonel's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Despite having a despot for a father, young Saif managed to live an open and glamorous life in London and other chic and sophisticated cities around the world. He's legend among the global glitterati for hosting parties in glitzy locales like St. Tropez and Monaco. In 2009 he celebrated his 37th birthday in Montenegro at a party reportedly attended by international movers and shakers such as Albert II–that would be the Prince of Monaco, natch–London-based steel tycoon Laskmi Mittal, Canadian gold-mining magnate Peter Munk, Austrian billionaire businessman Martin Schlaff and Russian uber-billionaire Oleg Derispaska.

Like the rich and famous who live in relative peace and freedom in democratic countries, the children of north African autocrats also have a propensity to catching a case of The Real Estate Fickle. Apparently and despite a very recent gut-renovation of the four-floor house, Mister al-Gaddafi the Younger has decided he no longer wants to live there and–we learned from the always informative London property blog The Rat and Mouse–has put it up for lease at a pricey £9,750 per week. A quick consult with our trusty currency conversion contraption shows that works out to a very high-fallutin' $15,792 per week for all us Americanos.

Listing information for the Hampstead Garden Suburb house generously provided to us by a fine informant we'll call LaToya Lettin'yaknow shows the house spans 7,757 square feet and includes 7 or 8 bedrooms and 8 full and 2 half bathrooms.

The stately and traditional brick-built exterior belies the minimalist modern architecture and day-core on the inside. The glam grips you right inside the front door that opens into a triple-height sky-lit reception hall where a glass-railed stair wraps dramatically around the room. To one side a small sitting room and straight ahead a giant drawing room with white stone floors (that may or may not be marble), contempo fireplace and a semi-circular bay window lined floor to ceiling with glass. Frosted glass panels fold back and join the drawing room to an L-shaped dining room/family room/kitchen combo. French doors in the dining area open out to a terrace that overlooks the substantial landscaped rear garden.

Upstairs, three bedrooms, each with en suite facilities, surround a master suite complete with dressing area, built in entertainment systems and private bath that includes two sinks, a terlit and a bidet, a soaking tub for two and, somewhat oddly, two glass enclosed shower stalls. The top floor contains two more bathrooms and a jumble of flexi-use rooms that could easily accommodate two to four more bedrooms.

In addition to a staff room with attached bath, storage space and utility room, the lower ground floor–which marketing materials calls the "leisure level" and Americans call a finished basement–includes a chocolate-colored suede-lined cinema room and a mirrored exercise/yoga/massage/relax room flanked by a bathroom, steam room and sauna. Floor to ceiling glass panels separate the room from the blue Bizazza-tiled indoor swimming pool and spa.

Naturally, young and flashy Mister al-Gaddafi's sybaritic residence comes fully equipped with a state-of-the-art home automation system that control the fireplaces and curtains as well as the the lighting, heating and cooling, audio-visual and hardcore security apparatus that includes cameras that record on to a hard drive.

As luxe and impressive as a house like this may be to whomever can afford the fifteen grand a week rent, what sort of person would feel comfortable with the all-but-unhinged and kinda freaky Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi for a landlord? Especially right now when he's probably in a very sour and bombastic mood.

Anyone? Hello? Is anyone there?

listing photos and floor plan: Glentree International