The low-key exterior of a four-story town house for sale in an affluent area of Manhattan offers few clues that it was the home for decades of legendary Chinese American architect I.M. Pei.
The four-bedroom Sutton Place property, on the New York borough’s East Side, which boasts a grand marble entrance hall, was bought by Pei and his wife, Eileen, in 1974 from a cousin of United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The neighborhood is also associated with many other famous names, including Marilyn Monroe, Freddie Mercury and all United Nations secretary-generals since the 1980s.
Kai Cheng, an adviser to the Peis for the past 15 years, said the property includes a library with a wall of books where they enjoyed drinks and shared laughs, a living room that hosted many prominent guests, and a bright, white-themed dining room where they gathered for meals and casual conversation.
Pei, whose iconic works include the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris, liked to spend time sitting on a bentwood rocking chair by floor-to-ceiling windows.
He looked out at the picturesque Sutton Square Gardens, the East River and the Queensboro Bridge, enjoying time alone to think about designs, Cheng said.
Months after Pei died on May 16 at age 102, and five years after the death of his wife, the house was put on the market for $8 million.
Cheng said of the family’s decision to sell, “We would like the world to know more about Mr. and Mrs. Pei after their passing.”
Co-executor and co-trustee of Pei’s estate, Cheng said selling the house would “let the world know that such a wonderful couple and such a wonderful, legendary figure used to live here”. He added it would also continue to promote Pei’s legacy.
Renovated by the architect, the house carries a taste of his signature modernist aesthetics, including a delicate spiral staircase winding up toward an oblong skylight.