Peacock feather wallpaper. Tiles that melt the snow. A “leather-clad commercial elevator”.
These are just some of the luxury features spread across the five floors, 11 rooms and sprawling backyard of the Manhattan colonial home that the EU’s diplomatic wing plans to buy for more than 20 million euros, according to a proposed purchase of the property seen by POLITICAL.
The intention, the document says, is to use the newly renovated Upper East Side house as a base for the head of the EU delegation to the United Nations in New York.
While elegant diplomatic quarters are common in New York and capitals around the world, the property at 138 East 65th St. stands out for its ostentatious ornamentation.
The dining room has Ralph Lauren “leather coated wallpaper”. The backyard has a built-in grill and stone fire pit. And ironically, the online property listing even shows a non-EU compliant purple and brown Union Jack rug in a bedroom.
In total, the renovations took three years and cost about $7 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The online listing boasts: “No expense was spared.”
However, according to the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic arm, luxury property is actually the “best value for money” and helps put the bloc on a par with diplomatic residences from their own countries. And frankly, the mansion is a good investment, he argues, and better than continuing to rent.
“The conditions of the NY real estate market are such that the purchase is financially more interesting than the rent”, says the document, which has 29 pages. “Despite the high prices, there is certainty that the property will gain in value over time, which makes it a safe investment.”
The proposal is intended to convince MEPs and EU officials, who have to approve the purchase. And no matter how solid the building investment is, the exorbitant price is sure to raise eyebrows.
A Parliament official acknowledged that the price was “high” and “raised questions”.
The issue will come to a head next Tuesday, when deputies are expected to vote on the purchase in Parliament’s Budget Committee. Olivier Chastel, a Belgian MEP and leader of parliament on the issue, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The proposal states that the acquisition of the 543-square-meter property – which has been on the market for nearly three months, according to the online listing – is “a priority” for the EU diplomatic mission “because of the importance of the EU’s presence there.” . ”
The building would give the EU delegation “an adequate residence in terms of location, visibility, image, representativeness, dimension, functionality” and so on, defends the document.
The delegation currently rents a 1,923-square-meter office for 60 staff and a three-bedroom residence for the EU ambassador to the UN, according to the document. The EU also has another Upper East Side home for the deputy head of its UN delegation.
“The residence of the Head of Delegation must be comparable to that of the Ambassadors of the Member States”, says the document.
The 20 million euros would be to replace the current residence and would be spread over 20 years, he notes.
“While not the cheapest offering, the building at 138 East 65th Street offers the best value for money.”
In a statement, the SEAE said it did not “comment on leaked documents”. But, he added, “more generally, when it comes to EU ambassador homes, the EEAS always conducts thorough research and a cost-benefit analysis for new properties – this includes an assessment of whether renting or buying is more profitable.” long-term. ”
In 2020, the EU Delegation in New York obtained permission from the EEAS to rent a new residence for its UN Ambassador after the expiry of the existing contract in May 2021.
The house that the ambassador has been using “can only receive a maximum of about 10 guests” and “there is no family space for the family during official events”.
After “unsuccessful attempts” to find a new location, the EU delegation extended its lease until May 2023, but also launched a “new market survey”.
The EU delegation later settled in the house and sent a letter on May 26 to the US Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions to request authorization for the purchase.
The document says that SEAE expects the signing of the “Deed of Sale” to take place by “end of July 2022” and enter in September. The purchase is presented as a “safe investment” according to environmental regulations, noting that the renovations made it “well insulated”.
Camille Gijs contributed reporting.