Pitchforks and Torches

Ms. Viola supervised every detail of the makeover. She went on worldwide shopping sprees to find precise shades of Venetian onyx (even the elevator is onyx) and other decorative finishes, and visited Versailles so that she could replicate its grandeur in her 900-square-foot dining room. She recently installed the finishing touches in the duplex library — a ceiling mural painted by an artist from County Cork, Ireland, and a two-story rendition of Kipling’s poem “If,” hand-stenciled by an artisan who has designed custom Christmas cards for the White House and the Vatican.

The grand staircase of Italian granite has a custom-carved mahogany banister, and many of the walls are decorated with gold-leaf filigree. There are service kitchenettes and powder rooms off both the parlor-level living room — which has a fireplace of Brazilian travertine, a coffered ceiling, a south-facing Juliet balcony, and a heated walnut floor with an inlaid stencil — and the third-floor banquet room, whose heated floor is black walnut with a marquetry border.


  1. DrugMonkey says

    Speaking of world wide shopping sprees, I wonder if the French have any spare antique guillotines lying around…

  2. carlie says

    She already anticipated that: there is “a “panic room”/dressing room off the fifth-floor master suite hard-wired for total security.”

  3. rq says

    carlie @3
    In order to change into the appropriate damsel outfit upon rescue?
    I just wonder, how does one live in a house like that – and I don’t mean wander the rooms in slack-jawed amazement/boredom, I mean really live – tossing clothes here and there, scratching the linoleum black walnut, children drawing in crayon on the gold filigree… Doesn’t seem compatible with the museum they’ve constructed. :/ Do they charge guests admission?

  4. says

    Her 900 square feet and the grand dining room at Versailles don’t even belong in the same html page, let alone paragraph or sentence. If she visited Versailles for inspiration she missed the point that its previous occupants were so decadent that their last public jaunt was in a tumbril enroute to Place Nation. Versailles is a beautiful place that should always serve to remind us that occasionally killing the rich is a good way of getting the survivors to back off a bit on the bling.

    @rq#4 as a result of a mistake I wound up living for a week in the penthouse suite at the Ritz in Doha. It was absurdly ostentatious and the farm-dwelling loner (me) rattled around in there like a grain of rice in a gilded champagne bucket. The idea that there are people whose idea of reasonable is to stay in a hotel suite that has more walk-in closet space than my entire house has floor-space…. Disgusted me and makes me truly believe there is some merit to the old hippie slogan “eat the rich”. Just club the fuckers like baby seals and leave the meat for their pomeranians. The pomeranians probably have always hated them, too, and would relish gnawing on the manicured hand that used to pay for their food.

  5. says

    Drugmonkey @#2 – they are not hard to build and a modern one that used a hydraulic ram would be a couple days’ work for a skilled fabricator. The traditional design’s release and rail systems weren’t that reliable; they’d get gunked up and jam. A modern version would be hydraulic, powder-coated, and could move the blade at variable speeds. It’d be a huge improvement.

    During the “occupy” fad some of my less pleasant forms of leftist friends and I were mooting the idea of making a traditional model to take down to Wall Street (some of my friends are unemployed but fine knitters… They thought they could make scarves for all the occupy types…) there are pretty good resources on the web, including one page I found where a guy has pretty much tracked the origin and fate of every guillotine that’s been documented. They’ve done good service until surprisingly recently. If you google around I’m sure you can find it. Fascinating reading. I couldn’t decide if a guillotine is “obstructing the sidewalk” or a “weapon” or what but I’m sure the oligarchs’ reaction to seeing the red madame raise her head on Wall St would have been violent and severe.

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