Saturday, March 1, 2008

Potential Buyers Serenaded

From the "Big Deal" column in THE NEW YORK TIMES by JOSH BARBANEL

Published: February 17, 2008

You never know what a broker is going to find when showing a Manhattan apartment.

Sharon E. Baum of the Corcoran Group came across the unexpected when she opened the door of an apartment at 27 West 67th Street, owned by the estate of Albert Fuller, a harpsichordist and influential figure in the revival of early instrumental music. The co-op was as a haven for artists at the turn of the 20th century.

Ms. Baum and her client were greeted not by dirty laundry or even sweet-smelling cider bubbling on the stove, but by the strains of a work by Heinrich von Biber, a 17th-century composer, played on a Baroque-style violin with gut rather than steel strings by Colin Jacobsen, accompanied by a lute, harpsichord and cello.

Mr. Fuller’s apartment, a five-room duplex with a double-height living room and a barrel-vaulted 17-foot ceiling, had been used for decades as a musical salon and performance space, and while it was on the market, it was still being used for rehearsals.

Mr. Fuller died last September at the age of 81.

Since the first showing, Ms. Baum and James Roe, the executor of the estate and artistic director of the Helicon Foundation, which was founded by Mr. Fuller in the 1980s to support the early instrument movement, have been coordinating schedules. Now, musicians play when many potential buyers walk through.

“The kind of people who look at an apartment like this want to be near Lincoln Center and Juilliard,” Ms. Baum said. “Everyone who walks in doesn’t want to leave; they want to stay.”

The apartment, owned by Mr. Fuller since the 1970s, is decorated in an exuberant style. “The residence retains many prewar details awaiting restoration to their original glory,” Ms. Baum wrote in the listing.

Mr. Roe said that the foundation was supported in its early years by gifts from Alice Tully, a soprano and philanthropist, who died in 1993. Now, he said, a part of the proceeds of the sale will go to the foundation.