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Tip Top Townhouse

13.01.20

Billionaire businessman Vincent Viola’s elaborate Manhattan townhouse—a 40-foot-wide limestone building with interiors inspired by France’s Palace of Versailles—is back on the market with $9 million price cut, and is now asking $79 million.

Mr. Viola, 63, the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and President Donald Trump’s one-time pick for Army secretary, has owned the enormous Upper East Side mansion for 15 years, buying it through a limited liability company in 2005 for $20 million, according to property records.

The 18-room house has flirted with the market over the past six years and at one point demanded a whopping $114 million. The new price tag, updated Wednesday, still makes the mansion the most expensive townhouse listed in the city. It was most recently asking $88 million.

The Violas, particularly the businessman’s wife, Teresa Viola, who is the president of interior design firm Maida Vale Designs, put substantial work into restoring the 20,000 square feet of lavish interiors, according to records accessed through PropertyShark. It has a double-height library with painted ceilings, a saltwater swimming pool and an Old Hollywood-style duplex home cinema.

The home’s original architect, William Bosworth, designed the townhouse over a century ago, around the same time he was working with industrialist John D. Rockefeller Jr. on major updates to the family’s iconic Kykuit estate in upstate New York. Rockefeller later assigned the architect to undertake major restoration to several French monuments, including the Palace of Versailles—a connection that greatly influenced the sellers in their restoration of the Manhattan townhouse, according to the listing with Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens. Ms. Del Nunzio was not available for comment.

The palatial inspiration is apparent in the size of the rooms, including a dining room that can accommodate 50 guests, an office with ceilings soaring 24 feet high and a grand entryway with ornate barrel-vaulted ceilings, according to the listing.

The home was close to selling a couple of years ago, when a Chinese buyer had reportedly entered into contract for the townhouse for $80 million—a would-be record for Manhattan—but the deal fell through. Although it is unclear as to why the sale died, China underwent a regulatory clampdown around the same time of the reported sale, which caused many to divest assets, Mansion Global previously reported.

Mr. Viola, the founder and chairman of Virtu Financial, is also the owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. He was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of the Army but withdrew his name after reportedly concluding it would be too difficult to untangle himself from his business ties.

An email sent to Virtu Financial requesting comment from the Violas was not immediately returned.

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