Jim Steinman, who died final yr at 73, left behind one of essentially the most distinctive catalogs of music in historical past, full of chart-topping hits written for the likes of Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler and Celine Dion. With songs starting from the stressed (“All Revved Up With No Place To Go”) to the wrenching (“For Crying Out Loud”), Mr. Steinman spent many years establishing himself as a complicated songwriter with the spirit of a youngster.
“As far as Jim was concerned, life was about being forever young, and lusting after this and yearning after that,” stated David Sonenberg, Mr. Steinman’s longtime good friend, supervisor and now the executor of his property. “He was going to be 17 forever, and in some ways he was.”
But maybe nothing evokes Mr. Steinman’s legacy just like the Connecticut home the place he lived alone for some 20 years — an imposing museum of the self, connected to a quaint cottage within the woods of Ridgefield. He spent years increasing and reimagining the home, reworking it into an embodiment of his personal eccentric, sophisticated persona.
“The house — it’s a trip, it’s extraordinary, it’s one of a kind,” Mr. Sonenberg stated. “People would walk in and their heads would spin.”
Mr. Steinman, a lifelong bachelor who had been in declining well being for years, left no directions about what he needed executed with the home after his dying. Now his longtime buddies are placing the property up for sale — with a provision: It is being offered “as-is,” which in actual property lingo usually means “in terrible condition.” In this case, it implies that the sale consists of practically all of Mr. Steinman’s private belongings, which stay in the home: the gothic furnishings, spooky paintings, wall-mounted data, grand piano, even closets full of clothes.
“We are going to try to keep Jim’s vision and legacy intact,” stated Jacqueline Dillon, Mr. Steinman’s longtime artistic assistant and shut good friend. “Jim has been a pop-culture fixture for 50 years.”
Their hope is to promote the home — which, regardless of its 6,000-odd sq. ft, has simply two bedrooms — to a musician, artist or author, or somebody searching for a artistic retreat or efficiency area. The asking worth is $5,555,569 — the $69 is a tribute to Mr. Steinman’s beloved Amherst College, the place he graduated with the category of 1969 — and the annual property taxes are round $32,000.
Ms. Dillon described Mr. Steinman — by all accounts a reclusive, nocturnal introvert — as “super-shy, but always so kind, and with a lightning-quick wit.” She met him three many years in the past at a live performance, she stated, and was quickly recruited to launch his web site, jimsteinman.com, to attach with followers and to observe press mentions.
She is now serving to to supervise the home sale. “This is not a sale where there is a comparable,” she stated.
As with many of Mr. Steinman’s grandest achievements, the home virtually by no means occurred. It was Mr. Sonenberg who discovered it practically 30 years in the past. Driving by means of Ridgefield, he noticed the house on a secluded lot of about 1.5 acres and thought it might be excellent for his good friend.
“The house was so charming,” stated Mr. Sonenberg, whose personal creative desires have been dashed after he met Mr. Steinman within the Nineteen Seventies. “I wrote a song called ‘Pear Tree in the Shade,’” he stated. “Jim wrote a song called ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart.’”
Mr. Steinman, who began writing musicals for Joseph Papp on the Public Theater earlier than conquering the pop charts with songs for Meat Loaf’s 1977 smash album “Bat Out of Hell,” was searching for a spot to cover away and work. After years of delays, he and Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) have been finishing manufacturing on “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell,” which (to nobody’s expectation however their very own) would turn into one of the best-selling albums of the Nineties.
Mr. Sonenberg advised that Mr. Steinman purchase the Ridgefield home: “I said, ‘It’s perfect — you’re by yourself, you never have any guests.’ And he said no, it was too small.”
Around that point, whereas Mr. Steinman was working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the musical “Whistle Down the Wind,” he visited Lloyd Webber’s manor home, Sydmonton Court, in Hampshire, England, and “was just blown away,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.
So Mr. Steinman determined to purchase the Ridgefield cottage, paying about $425,000, and convert it right into a hovering sanctuary, a creation as epic as his music.
“It is really special, almost otherworldly,” stated Laura Freed Ancona, the itemizing agent, of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty. “Yes, it was a roof over Jim’s head. But it was also a creative space for him.”
Ms. Ancona stated the plan now could be to start out with non-public and group showings, and to achieve out to varied arts and cultural organizations, searching for a possible purchaser. “We want to cast as wide a net as possible,” she stated.
The home, Mr. Sonenberg stated, might be offered to a college or establishment and used for a mixture of residing, workplace and efficiency area.
Mr. Steinman, who grew up primarily in Hewlett Harbor, on Long Island, moved to Manhattan after graduating from Amherst and was employed by Mr. Papp, who was captivated by songs Mr. Steinman had written for his senior venture, a rock musical referred to as “The Dream Engine.” It later morphed into “Neverland,” impressed by Peter Pan, the boy who by no means grew up. (Just a few years after getting the Public Theater gig, Mr. Steinman, all the time pitching, wrote a letter to Mr. Papp asserting that “writing and conceiving serious strong musical dramatic works” was one thing “I really think I can do better than anyone I’ve ever come across or heard about.”)
Back then, “his taste in décor was zero,” stated Frederick Baron, a university good friend, who remembered visiting Mr. Steinman in a spartan condo with naked partitions and a fridge holding solely leftover pizza and spaghetti.
“He lived the life of the mind,” Mr. Baron stated. “He had this extraordinary level of creativity. He was truly brilliant. All of his life energy was in that keyboard.”
After Mr. Steinman began making critical cash, he purchased a two-bedroom condo in a postwar co-op overlooking Central Park. That’s the place he met Bonnie Tyler, who would prime the charts in 1983 with the Steinman-penned “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” She and her supervisor have been welcomed with a trail of M&Ms leading to his door.
Mr. Steinman later used that dwelling largely as an workplace and for wine storage, and moved right into a rented home within the woods of Putnam County, N.Y., with a bunch of cats.
“Jim was a homebody, and being in the city was quite busy for him,” Ms. Dillon stated. “He was always being asked to go to people’s shows. Leaving the city removed him from having to do a lot of things. He didn’t go to big events. He let his art do the talking.”
He referred to as the Ridgefield cottage “the house that ‘Bat II’ built,” Ms. Dillon stated. “Jim used the expression ‘cottage to compound.’” The album opened with the hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” with an accompanying video depicting Meat Loaf as a “Beauty and the Beast”-like recluse residing alone in a gothic mansion.
To increase the home, Mr. Steinman employed Rob Bramhall, a Boston-based architect, ultimately spending about $6 million. Mr. Bramhall labored on the venture for the higher half of a decade, greater than doubling the home’s measurement. After their preliminary assembly, Mr. Bramhall despatched Mr. Steinman a e book by the influential California architect Bernard Maybeck, he stated, and “Jim knew I got his sensibility.”
The model was English Cotswolds. “Jim wanted the gables, from left to right, to become slightly larger,” he stated. “I remember doing skull-and-crossbones for the faucets in the powder room off the great room. Some of the wall light fixtures were made from aircraft parts.”
Although Mr. Bramhall met with Mr. Steinman in Manhattan and helped him choose and place the paintings, “Jim never saw the house until it was done,” he stated. “It was a fun and interesting project. I haven’t done anything like it since.”
The authentic half of the home — vivid and sunny — consists of a big front room with Mr. Steinman’s many gold and platinum albums on the wall, open to an equally massive kitchen with a eating nook. There’s a laundry room and a sunroom, though Mr. Steinman most well-liked the darkish.
“That end of the house represented normalcy to him,” Ms. Dillon stated.
In the eating room, the desk is about with Mr. Steinman’s china, within the Royal Copenhagen Fairy Tale sample — not that he ever used it. He most well-liked to eat off disposable tableware, particularly blue Solo cups and Chinet plates.
In the den, or “viewing room,” he loved watching singing competitions like “American Idol,” and critiquing the judges. He additionally watched cooking exhibits, Yankees video games and “Jeopardy!”
“He could listen to music, watch a TV show and type a letter” , Ms. Dillon stated. “His mind never stopped working.”
The “good room” — to not be confused with the nice room — holds one of his wheelchairs, which he wanted after struggling a sequence of strokes. Of course, “it was a crazy wheelchair, like a Batmobile,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.
Mr. Steinman referred to the unused visitor room because the “Wendy Bedroom,” after the heroine of “Peter Pan.” The plush bear on the mattress hails from the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, in London, which owns the mental property rights to “Peter Pan” and denied Mr. Steinman’s request to stage a rock musical based mostly on the story, deeming the script — which opened with killer nuns — unsuitable for youngsters.
The addition, all customized made and full of elaborate and peculiar artwork and artifacts, begins with the Ring Room, a small, oval area unfurnished save for sculptures on the partitions, that are a coloration Mr. Steinman referred to as obsidian blue. (Obsidian was the identify he gave to Neverland’s metropolis.) The ceiling is dotted with LED stars.
“And that leads you from this sweet cottage into this other universe, which is modeled after Steinman’s vision,” Mr. Sonenberg stated. “Jim was the most bizarre guy, but he was the sweetest and funniest and most generous. He was the only genius I ever met.”
The main suite is on the finish of a wardrobe hallway, the place the huge closets nonetheless maintain Mr. Steinman’s many garments, few of which he wore, though sweet wrappers stay in some of the pockets. So many clothes are crammed on the racks that “you would think you were in Bonwit Teller,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.
Parallel to the wardrobe hallway is a protracted hall resulting in the nice room, lined with patent leather-based panels and utilized by guests — most just lately, these engaged on “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” which is touring in Britain and is slated to open in Las Vegas in September.
The monumental bed room features a desk, sitting space and aquarium. The artwork on one wall, “Inferno” by Joseph Grazi, depicts taxidermic bats flying into the maw of an alligator cranium. Much of the idiosyncratic artwork Mr. Steinman collected was by artists from Bayreuth, Germany, the longtime dwelling and ultimate resting place of his idol, the composer Richard Wagner, whose operas enthralled him from childhood. The room can be adorned with gadgets collected from followers and, on the mattress, a coronary heart pillow in tribute to the surgeon who prolonged Mr. Steinman’s life.
Beyond the bed room is the home’s point of interest, the nice room, centered round a stainless-steel sculpture resembling a cluster of big quartz crystals — an allusion to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Mr. Steinman’s 2013 honorary doctorate from Amherst is on show. A bust of Wagner sits atop a Yamaha piano, though Mr. Steinman composed totally on keyboards. “He had this uncanny ability to play all the parts on the piano,” Ms. Dillon stated. “It almost sounded like a full band.”
Stairs ascend to a gallery overlooking the room. One chair is occupied by a skeleton mid-shriek. Another flight results in the room on the prime, with a skylight and studying chair.
Mr. Steinman typically used the tiny kitchenette off the nice room, stocked with contemporary fruit and cans of Progresso soup. He was a fan of scorching sauce, candy soda and chewy sweet. “When I visited him for the first time in his home, he had these containers of gummy bears from the pick-n-mix selection at Dean & DeLuca for $12.99 a pound,” Ms. Dillon stated. “Every month, we would get a bill.”
The indifferent two-story storage has plumbing and electrical energy, and will presumably be an adjunct dwelling unit. Mr. Steinman used it for storage — he didn’t drive or have a license. Despite his love of bikes (and songs about them), he possible by no means rode one. Instead, he stuffed the storage with copies of his applications and Playbills. “He liked stuff,” Ms. Dillon stated.
The query is: Will anybody need Jim Steinman’s stuff? Ms. Ancona is hoping that the property, like Mr. Steinman’s music, will encourage somebody searching for one thing stunning and a bit unusual.
“Every house needs its own approach, whether it’s a $500,000 home or a $5 million home,” she stated. “You really have to find your audience.”
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