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Fashion on the Move: Robert Duffy and Marc Jacobs

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

By Bart Boehlert

Robert Duffy and Marc Jacobs

The world of fashion never stands still, goes the axiom. Case in point, Marc Jacobs co-founder Robert Duffy has recently listed his Sutton Place maisonette at 444 East 52nd Street with Brown Harris Stevens broker Terry Naini for $2,000,000. The stand-alone, private, duplex residence located on an East River cul-de-sac features striking details like 9 feet-high beamed and coffered ceilings, and hardwood floors. A spacious living room, formal dining room and eat-in kitchen are found on the first floor while graceful stairs lead to three bedrooms on the second floor.

Duffy's living room at 444 East 52nd Street

Duffy is a real estate aficionado, having renovated and decorated many homes. Memorably, he transformed the neglected Astor teahouse, a Neoclassical building on the Astor family estate on the Hudson River near Rhinebeck, New York. That residence was featured in Elle Decor in 2016 and Duffy sold it in 2018.

Besides an eye for houses, he has an eye for talent. In 1984, Duffy discovered and hired Marc Jacobs when Jacobs was still a fashion school student. They co​-​founded the Marc Jacobs label, and Duff​y served as​ the business partner and CEO, enabling Jacobs to reach his full artistic potential as a leading American fashion designer. Together they built Marc Jacobs into a top luxury brand. In 1997 they sold a majority to LVMH and Jacobs became the first Artistic Director of Louis​ ​Vuitton, transforming the staid luggage label into one of the most valuable fashion brands in the world. Duffy stepped away from day-to-day duties in 2014 and remains deputy chairman of Marc Jacobs International. Jacobs continues to produce his trend-setting, cutting-edge designer collections, and present his fashion shows, which have become performance art and have been a highlight of New York Fashion Week.

Coincidentally Marc Jacobs has been making real estate moves of his own. Last year he sold his five-floor West Village townhouse in the handsome Robert A. M. Stern-designed Superior Ink complex on the Hudson River, which had been published in Architectural Digest. Consequently he purchased a sleek, historic Frank Lloyd Wright​ ​waterfront home on the Long Island Sound in Rye, New York, which the famous architect had built in 1955 for BMW importer Max Hoffman.

Observers were surprised that the born-and-bred New Yorker was moving to Westchester County. "Unlike Robert, I have never had a house outside the city," Jacobs told Women's Wear Daily. But wherever Robert Duffy and Marc Jacobs reside, they will always have a place in American fashion history.



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