Manhattan townhouse with hidden panic room finally sells

An Upper East Side townhouse that has lingered on the market for four years is finally in contract.

The home, at 20 E. 78th St., was last asking $24.9 million — down from its 2016 asking price of $38 million. It was the second-highest contract signed above $4 million last week, according to the latest Olshan Luxury Market Report.

The five-story, 25-foot-wide townhouse is 8,760 square feet and features eight bedrooms, 8½ bathrooms, a wine cellar, a gym, a garden terrace and an elevator. It also has a rare conservatory. But its most impressive feature, however, is a vault-like panic room along with a James Bond-style wall with a hidden door, straight out the movies.

A vault behind the door stored shoes and bags. (No, the seller was not Imelda Marcos — she lived at Trump Tower.)

The red-brick and limestone townhouse a block from Central Park dates to 1866 and had a variety of owners including a cotton dealer named Michael Fielding and socialite/filmmaker Pia Miller Getty.

Details include mahogany doors, elaborate moldings and millwork, ornate ceilings, inlaid floors, custom bookcases and woodburning fireplaces.

In 2003 — when the floor plan had fewer bedrooms, bathrooms and floors — Gimme Shelter’s Braden Keil reported the home’s security system this way:

Should the buyer of Pia’s pad happen to have a price on his head, the four-bedroom, seven-bath home features an elaborate security system built into the six-story mansion, starting with a key-card entry gate leading to the ram-proof and bulletproof front door. Inside, infrared detectors and cameras track the slightest movements, giving the owner ample time to make a dash for the sophisticated vault-like ‘panic room,’ just like the one Jodie Foster fled to in the mindless movie of the same name. ‘It’s amazing — just like a command center,’ said a source who took the tour last year. They have it equipped with several phone and electrical lines that can’t be cut. There are 12 television monitors, to watch each room. It has a refrigerator, food supplies and a door that could survive a major blast. To keep fence climbers at bay, the backyard features 17-foot-high walls, as opposed to the usual — and legal — seven-footers.

We couldn’t have said it any better.

The listing brokers were Carrie Chiang and Loy Carlos of Corcoran.



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