A Timeline of Sonja Morgan’s Many, Many Attempts to Sell Her New York City Townhouse

After over a decade of listing, unlisting, relisting, and even renting out the Upper East Side residence, the ‘Real Housewives’ alum has announced its upcoming auction.
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Back in November at BravoCon, the ultimate fan conference for all things Bravo reality television, former Real Housewives of New York City star Sonja Morgan shared an update on a piece of property that has become famous in its own right: her longtime Upper East Side townhouse. The five-story home at 162 East 63rd Street was practically another RHONY cast member—always in a little (or a lot of) disrepair and crawling with Morgan’s unpaid "interns." During the Ultimate Girls Trip Down Memory Lane panel, Morgan, 60, revealed that she was considering finally letting it go. "Dorinda and I had a really good chitchat this morning, and she’s like, ‘Just auction it and move on with your fabulous life,’" she said, referring to her former castmate Dorinda Medley, whose own estate in the Berkshires became a beloved set on the show.

Just six months later, that plan has shockingly been put into action. Morgan announced in late April that the 4,650-square-foot townhouse will go to auction on May 15 through May 29 with Concierge Auctions in cooperation with broker Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group. There is no minimum bid—uh oh—and Concierge Auctions said beginning bids could range from $1.75 to $3.75 million. That’s a long way away from where Morgan first listed the property 16 years ago: $12 million. The home might have fallen so far in value for a few reasons. It has not has not been seriously renovated in over a decade and most likely needs costly upgrades. It is also situated directly next to a parking garage (some think Morgan and her ex-husband, John Adams Morgan, initially overpaid for the 1899 townhouse when they bought it for $9.1 million in 1998). And while New York City’s townhouse market seems to be making a comeback, even as new luxury buildings proliferate, it had been a lagging sector since the early 2010s.

Real Housewives of New York City alum Sonja Morgan’s longtime Upper East Side townhouse will go to auction on May 15 through May 29 with Concierge Auctions. It spans 4,650 square feet with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms. 

Real Housewives of New York City alum Sonja Morgan’s longtime Upper East Side townhouse will go to auction on May 15 through May 29 with Concierge Auctions. It spans 4,650 square feet with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms. 

In all of those years, Morgan has never been able to successfully time a sale: Fans have watched her take the property on and off the market about a dozen times, sometimes "refreshing" fixtures or linens here and there. Mostly, Morgan has complained that the upkeep on the place is a major drain on her finances. She briefly explained how this merry-go-round has personally affected her at the BravoCon panel: "When it’s rented I take it off the market because I don’t show the house when it’s rented. So I had a wonderful family that just left a couple of days ago, so now I feel broke again, and then when I rent it, I feel homeless."

As a longtime RHONY fan and New York City resident myself, I have watched Morgan deal with the apparent albatross that is this townhouse with some secondhand terror. Now, hopefully (for her sake, if not ours), all of that is coming to an end. "The auction process aligns with my goal to sell at market value in an efficient and timely manner," Morgan said in a statement announcing the news, adding that "it’s now finally the time to take advantage of the moment." The subtext here is that auctions tend to be last resorts for homes that won’t sell, or, at least, are typically attractive to sellers who want (or need) to ensure a quick sale that is binding. Still, I feel relieved to see Morgan finally take advantage of this option, so she can, as Medley advised, move on with her fabulous life. 

Before this perennial fixer-upper lands in someone else’s—perhaps a Bravo fan’s?—lap, let’s salute its long reality television history.

1998: Morgan purchases the home with her new husband, John Adams Morgan, a great-grandson to J.P. Morgan who is 33 years her senior. The newlyweds paid $9.1 million for the property, which has five bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, and is unfortunately situated directly beside a parking garage.  

2006: The Morgans divorce, and Sonja retains the townhouse.

2008: Morgan puts the home on the market for $12 million.

2009: Unable to find a buyer, she drops the price to $9.25 million.  

2010: A big year for Morgan: She officially joins the cast of RHONY, but all is not well with the townhouse and the general state of her finances. She lists the home for $8.25 million, then $7.25 million, then takes it off the market to focus on her bankruptcy case. (It’s complicated, but basically, she got into a bad movie production deal in the wake of her divorce.) In the course of the bankruptcy proceedings, Morgan loses properties in France and Colorado and takes out a $3.3 million mortgage on the townhouse (eep). But she ultimately keeps the property.

2013: Morgan lists the townhouse for an optimistic $9.95 million, then drops the price to $8.25 million a few months later.

2014: She again drops the price to $7.2 million.

2015: Morgan’s bankruptcy case concludes, and she takes the townhouse off the market.   

2016: Morgan gets a new roommate: her castmate Luann de Lesseps. The pair film most of RHONY’s eighth season at the townhouse and have a predictably wobbly time. "Cohabitation with the Countess was very interesting," Morgan says at the time. "We raided the wine cellar. We fell up the stairs, we fell down the stairs. We brought the luggage up in the elevator, and then we eventually brought the luggage down in the elevator, because she got engaged."

2017: After de Lesseps moves out, new RHONY cast member and former New York socialite Tinsley Mortimer moves in, but she is less than impressed with the home’s amenities. One episode famously revolves around Morgan making excuses for why the ice in her freezer is…brown.

2018: Morgan lists the property again, this time for rent! She asks for $32,000 a month, which would help her pay the $350,000 her bankruptcy attorneys say she owes them (oops). At this point, her castmates have taken to referring to the property as Grey Gardens.

2019: Morgan takes a big step and moves out of the Upper East Side townhouse and into a rental in Columbus Circle. At the end of the year, she optimistically lists it once again for $10.75 million. This time, the listing claims that the house comes with staff: "Butler, Chef, Driver, Gardener, Housekeepers (2), Masseuse, Personal Trainer (Yoga & Pilates), Turn-Down Service and night Valet if desired, and parking garage at an additional fee."

2020: Morgan loses her renters at the start of the pandemic and moves back into the townhouse. "If no one’s renting the townhouse, I can’t be shelling out cash every month to rent my little pied-à-terre in Columbus Circle," she tells Bravo. "I am a guest in my own house until this gets rented or sold." She attempts a renovation and relists the property for $8.75 million, calling it a "Covid discount." It will go on and off the market at the same price for the next four years.

2024: Morgan finally takes the property off the market and puts the online auction plan in motion. 

What happens at the auction is anyone’s guess, but interested buyers will probably bid as low as they can to allow room for a full renovation. If only the city still allowed Airbnb: I’m sure plenty of Bravo fans would sign up to spend a night in Morgan’s former manor, brown ice and all.

Top photo: Exterior of 162 East 63rd Street in New York City, courtesy Concierge Auctions

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