“I moved in to this house seven years ago this July [2015]. It’s located in New York City’s Treadwell Farm Historic District, which, back in the day, was sort of an Upper East Side meets Hell’s Kitchen — it was considered THE theatrical neighborhood in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor all lived nearby.

My house dates to the 1800s; it was owned by the ROOSEVELT family and, in the 1960s, was the home of MONTGOMERY CLIFT. When he lived here, this bar was built.

It apparently was the watering hole for the city’s film and theater community at that time, and a lot of the mise en scène of Clift’s colorful, controversial life took place around the bar.”

“When I moved in, the house was very preppy — it was painted entirely in FEDERAL YELLOW.

My dear friend BIBI MONNAHAN, who’s an art director, stylist, and interior designer, helped me pull its current look together. I love the color red; this shade, MILLION DOLLAR RED, in particular.”

“This photo is by Miles Aldridge, a fashion photographer who does a lot of work for us at MAC Cosmetics.”

“When I started to discover what FORNASETTI was all about, around 15 years ago, I had a couple of pieces.

I’m an obsessive compulsion person, and now I have a collection of more than 450 of their plates. It’s a passion.”

“I have a monkey obsession.

The portrait of me as a monkey in a THOM BROWNE suit is by MARK GAGNON, an artist whom I discovered through Bergdorf Goodman’s LINDA FARGO.

Mark painted this about nine years ago; the background color is Million Dollar Red.”

“I began collecting fashion photography early in life.
These pictures are from a collection of David Bailey photographs
I acquired; there are around 35 of them.”

“I also collect paparazzi photography from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

This is GRACE JONES, probably in her twenties, shot by PATRICK McMULLAN at STUDIO 54. I’ve always been a slave to the rhythm, so I have an affinity towards personas like hers.”

“The ‘Tune Up’ sign is originally from an old bar in the Deep South, but I found it at PAULA RUBENSTEIN [antiques], in New York City.”

“This is an original photo from the series that was shot for David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album cover. I got it at Art Basel, in Miami, two years ago.

I’m always adding pieces. It’s curated chaos.”


Photography byMolly Hodson

As told toAnthony Rotunno

John Demsey is the New York City-based Group President of The Estée Lauder Companies, a portfolio that includes Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, and Tom Ford Beauty among others.

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