Main | Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Morning View - Payne Whitney Mansion

One of the many mansions that Stanford White designed for the megawealthy of the time, this Fifth Avenue showplace was built in 1909 for philanthropist Payne Whitney. The lot, which faces Central Park, was a graduation gift from Whitney's uncle, given when he graduated from Harvard Law. The home features a grand staircase which was used in a scene in Gone With The Wind.

Whitney died in 1927 and his wife maintained the home until her death in 1944, after which it was stripped of its fixtures, save one odd marble fountain featuring a statue of Cupid. In 1952, the building was bought by France, which uses it today as the NYC French Cultural Services building, part of the French Embassy. Last year, an NYU professor visiting the home took a closer look at the Cupid statue and realized that it was a Michelangelo. Art historians have concurred. As it is the only Michelangelo sculpture in America, it was christened the "Manhattan Cupid." And although it remains in the mansion, it now belongs to France.


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