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How a Picasso Aficionado Decorates His New York Loft

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A "rare bridge to a bygone era" is how New York Magazine describes Picasso biographer John Richardson, whose Fifth Avenue loft apartment also fits the bill. Now 90, Richardson spent some of his early years living with his mentor, the art collector Douglas Cooper, in a ­château in the south of France, and helped establish Christie's offices in New York when he moved there in 1960. Naturally, given his background, the urge to collect and curate in a classical European vein plays out all over the place, given a shot in the arm by a maximal sense of scale. The enormous landscape painting in his living room (pictured above), hung above a sofa by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, is a perfect example. "I spotted this rolled up at a Sotheby's sale in London and told a friend of mine to buy it," Richardson told the magazine. "He got it for £30. He ended up leaving the painting to me in his will. It was a good buy."

Richardson bought the 5,000-square-foot apartment, previously a dance studio, in 1995, and proceeded to carve it up into rooms separated by double doors topped with neoclassical pediments. The turquoise study (pictured below) where he now works on the fourth and final volume in his Picasso biography includes a center table (currently obscured by large stacks of books) that Richardson designed himself. "It is easy enough to do," he explains. "I had the top cut to size and the legs cast in Connecticut."

At the other end of the room, a sofa from Mercedes Bass sits atop a carpet from the late Mark Hampton, and the tables are topped with the same ikat and suzani textiles that cover the pillows. Displayed among these are works of art from friends and acquantances like Lucian Freud and Kathy Ruttenberg. There's also a Warhol, a photograph he took of Richardson that went unseen for years. "When he was doing my big portrait," says Richardson, "he did these polaroids and we found this in the back of the drawer."

· At home with Picasso biographer Sir John Richardson. [NY Mag]
· All Adventures in Interior Design posts [Curbed National]
· All Printed Page posts [Curbed National]