Cruel Intentions Apartment
Film: Cruel Intentions
Kathryn Merteuil, the image of social perfection and womanising step-brother Sebastian Valmont live in a large eye-catching French Gothic house at the corner of 5th Avenue and 79th Street in New York City. They spend their days collaborating in schemes of manipulation and deciding upon who will be their next conquest.
otsoNY Comments: The Valmont mansion was in fact the Ukrainian Institute of America which was built in 1899 by architect C.P.H. Gilbert, who also designed the Jewish Museum and the Polish Institute buildings. The property on 5th Avenue was only used for exterior shots. All of the interior shots were done at Otis Chandler Mansion, Hancock Park in Los Angeles.
The house was originally built for manufacturing tycoon Isaac Fletcher, who left it (as well as $5 million and an art collection including works by Rembrandt,) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met sold it to Henry Sinclair (of Sinclair Oil, which still has gas stations in the Midwest, adorned with its dinosaur logo) in 1920. Ten years later, with his reputation in tatters after the Teapot Dome scandal (and a short stint in prison), Sinclair sold the house to descendants of Peter Stuyvesant. In 1955, the Ukrainian Institute bought the house for $225,000, and the exterior was given landmark status in 1978.
About 80 percent of what a visitor now sees is original, including the quarter-sawn white oak panelling and some very finely carved pieces of woodwork. The grand staircase’s banister is particularly impressive, with intricate hand-carved details stretching up four stories. The building also boasts its still-working original elevator and some of the original maid and butler call buttons. The exterior includes whimsical touches such as the tiny stone gargoyles over the service entrance. Many movies and television programs have been filmed here, including “Ugly Betty,” “Lipstick Jungle” and “I Love New York.”
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