Green Afternoon

Location Chelsea
Price $529,000 in January 2006 [$718.92 maintenance]
Square feet 500 [junior one-bedroom co-op apartment in pre-war building]
Occupant Nicholas Leighton [executive director, not-for-profit cancer research organization; owner, Emerald Energy products]

Emerald Energy! I’m just about to make some. It’s probably been the busiest week of my life. The cancer research organization was on the Today show. I had 482 voice mails today. Last night, I had 1,000.

Why is Emerald Energy orange? I mix it in vegetable juice. Here, this will do it for you.

[Swallow] More protein than beef. It tastes like nothing. Technically this is a studio, but in the ’80s, this wall was built, making a bedroom. This apartment is in one of the four corner buildings, the London Terrace Towers co-ops. In between are the Gardens, the rentals. They can use the pool for a fee.

I read that a tenant was thrown out because he had sex in the pool. I think there were other reasons he was removed. I’ve only been here for three days.

That’s why we’re sitting on the bare floor in an empty room. Though by the time the photographer gets here, you’ll have your furniture. The building went co-op in 1987. I’ve only been here for three days. It was funded right before the stock market crash in 1929. The owner jumped off the building and killed himself.

This wide pile is like a person who has spread. They’re sighing. What were you expecting?

I have been here before. I was just reflecting. Only a few buildings are the size of a full city block in New York.

They call it a white-glove building. It was for people who wanted all these amenities, fancy middle class. London Terrace has this whole reputation that it’s like a fortress. It’s not like some Upper East Side co-op. There are many with an artful, political sensibility—Annie Leibovitz, Stephin Merritt, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Ethnically, economically, it’s pretty diverse.

People in their seventies and eighties were in your lobby. It may have just been a moment in time. Nice—institutional memory.

Susan Sontag was the queen on top of the mountain. Below were all her subjects. And now . . . I was lucky. I bought from original owners so no board approval or having to put down 20 percent. It’s very standard for co-ops to require 20, 30, even 50 percent. Condos allow more flexible financing but they’re more expensive per square foot. A major percent of Manhattan apartments are co-ops. So because there’re less condos and they’re easier to buy, they’re just more expensive—supply and demand. Because condos are real property, there’s mortgage tax which for me could have been upwards of $10,000. Did you see the view of the Statue of Liberty? I had no light before. I was at 10th near University, the Albert.

You’re a pre-war person. I’d want to put in crown molding here some day. I grew up on the West Coast. I painted the walls pebble gray. It’s almost like shadow. Some people, they envision their wedding. I envision mid-century modern. I have a Florence Knoll sofa. It’s really uncomfortable but it’s OK. It’s seven feet long. I have a baby grand.

What do you sing on your piano? I play Chopin, Debussy.

Oh. I have little paper in the house. I scanned the contents of 25 file drawers on a flatbed. It took seven days. The crystal candy dishes are Oswald Haerdtl. I inherited them from my grandfather. The second wife had very expensive taste. The other night I had friends over for a vodka tasting. I’ve had tonic water tastings, vanilla ice cream.

You’re so social. In the future, I’d like to do butter.

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