While the TV working version of 123 Sesame Street, home to the long-running PBS children's educational program, is located at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Long Island City, N.Y., the Upper East Side townhouse is where fuzzy, felty folk like Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and much of the Muppet clan were born and raised.
For decades, 117 East 69th was known as the Muppet Workshop. The Muppet-cohabitating landlord was Muppet creator Jim Henson, pictured below. He held creative court in the space following his purchase of the building in 1977 for
The History of The Muppets $600,000 from the New York State Pharmaceutical Association. Fifteen years after Henson's death in 1990, of a severe bacterial infection, his estate resold the mansion in 2005 for $12.4 million.
Fast forward to 2008, when the current owner, Edgar Bronfman Jr., the former CEO of Seagram, vice chairman of Vivendi Universal, and CEO of Warner Music Group scooped up the lair for a whopping $28.5 million. Bronfman gutted it with plans to turn it into a residential refuge, but his three-year renovation plan never materialized; he has since moved to London.
The next owner will have to be someone who can "bring home the bacon," as Kermit tactlessly suggested to Miss Piggy in Muppets Take Manhattan. Brokers Alina Pedroso and Paula Del Nunzio at Brown Harris Stevens declined comment on the prized property, as did representatives of the Jim Henson Company. Sotheby's Tom Doyle speculates that while "Muppets themselves don't have cachet, brokers will still babble" about the little guys to add hype around the listing.
The 12,000-square-foot townhouse was first owned by a Beekman Winthrop, a descendant of New England governors. In 1928, Winthrop hired designer Julius F. Gaylor to build the palatial digs for his family.
Although little has been revealed about the actual space, the Muppet mansion, originally known as the Beekman Winthrop Mansion, reportedly has a winding staircase that leads up to a massive skylight, a "spectacular garden," and an upper floor terrace. The 40-foot-wide townhouse replaced two smaller townhouses and today enjoys some mixed-use zoning. So the next owner can enjoy the property either as a private single-family home, or, as "trophy headquarters [that] could possibly be used as the home of a small bank, hedge fund or other enterprise."
A possible reason Bronfman is getting out of Muppetville may be his conviction last month for insider trading. Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Jason Segel is headlining the new Muppet movie, due out in late 2011, for which he also wrote the screenplay.
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