Inside David Bowie's Multi-Million Dollar NYC Apartment

When David Bowie died on January 10, 2016, just two days after his 69th birthday, it set music fans around the world — and especially in New York — into a state of mourning, if not denial. The British-born music icon had just released his 26th album, "Blackstar." And "Lazarus," the musical with lyrics and music composed by Bowie, had opened only a month earlier. It seemed impossible that Ziggy Stardust had left the earth he was sent to save.

The news of Bowie's death on that winter day was a discombobulating shock to fans, who gathered outside his building at 285 Lafayette Street in the Soho/Nolita neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. What started as a rotating handful of people taking a moment of silence around a cluster of candles and a few bouquets eventually grew to a massive crowd that created a shrine made of photos, albums, poems, notes, balloons, and other memorabilia, per Gothamist. The man who was born in London, and lived in Lausanne, Switzerland, Berlin, and Los Angeles, among other places, had become an unmistakable part of New York — something that was true to fans and to Bowie. "I've lived in New York longer than I've lived anywhere else. It's amazing. I am a New Yorker," he told Beliefnet in 2003, adding, "It's strange; I never thought I would be."

285 Lafayette was perfect for David Bowie

David Bowie and his wife, Iman, the Somali-American model, bought the apartment at 285 Lafayette for $3.81 million in 1999. It's now been sold for more than four times that amount at $16.8 million, according to the Independent. The Bowie penthouse spent less than a month on the market after initially being listed on June 14, 2021 by the Corcoran Real Estate Group, per StreetEasy. The nine-story building was originally built in 1886 as the Hawley & Hoops chocolate factory before being converted into an apartment building, and later condominiums in 1999. That's when Bowie bought two penthouse units to combine into one, eventually taking residence full-time in the building in 2002. 

However, not all the building's tenants were impressed with news of a celebrity buying a condo at 285 Lafayette. One longtime resident, Diane Villani, seemed unfazed, telling the Observer in 1999, "I'm never going to see them," adding, "I mean, how much time is David Bowie going to spend in this building?" The location was the key, and Bowie and Iman spent much time at 285 Lafayette. "By all accounts, Bowie loved living in Soho/Nolita," Will Brooker, wrote in his book, Forever Stardust: David Bowie Across the Universe. Bowie enjoyed spending time on the streets of Lower Manhattan, such as strolling in Washington Square Park and browsing the books at McNally Jackson without the bother. Brooker wrote that Bowie "felt at home, semi-anonymous, among New Yorkers too cool to act star-struck at celebrity sightings."

David Bowie's apartment is a palace in the city

Bowie's condo measures just over 5,000 square feet with outdoor space totaling more than 1,000 square feet across three terraces (yes, you read that correctly), according to floor plans [via Zillow]. The four-bedroom unit has a 56-foot-long great room, a library, and direct elevator access. Although the apartment isn't a loft like the other units in the building, it still has a sizable ceiling height at 11 feet. A doorman stands guard 24/7 at the red-brick mid-rise building that lays claim as one the best-landscaped rooftop gardens in the city, per StreetEasy.

For Bowie, the details had to be perfect for spending lots of time at home. Just months prior, he bought a 5,200 square-foot loft at 704 Broadway for $1.5 million. But he never lived in it and put it back on the market. "David is even more of a homebody than I am. At least I go to parties once in a while," Iman told the Guardian in 2014, noting that Bowie enjoyed his own company.

First impressions are everything. Direct elevator access from the lobby to the apartment's entrance gallery leads to a great room (pictured above) that measures 56 x 42 feet. The bright but warm and massive room has three exposures with walls of windows and a large terrace. (Note in the picture above that the couple must have collected significant works of art for them to be blurred out in the real estate listing.)

David Bowie's master bedroom is a dream to wake up in

David Bowie may have gotten through his 1975 album, "Young Americans," by taking in massive amounts of cocaine and staying up all night, per the Independent, but his sleeplessness couldn't last forever. Nor would you want it to, given the master bedroom suite he had at 285 Lafayette. He and Iman dedicated more than 1,000 square feet to the space, which has a floor-to-ceiling fireplace as a focal point. The suite has a dressing room, which makes entirely too much sense when you're married to a supermodel and you have quite a few costume changes yourself. It also has a sizable private terrace and an oversized luxury bath.

In a 2013 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Iman said she would begin her nighttime routine in their suite at 8:15 with a skin regimen. By 8:45, she would get in bed with her daughter, Lexi, for a half-hour of "girl talk," before lights out. Then, at 9:45, she and Bowie would retreat to the suite to watch movies or BBC documentaries in bed. "My bed linens are all Pratesi. I usually sleep in the nude or in vintage T-shirts (I love but never wear Bowie T-shirts, since I'm already in bed with him!), and I love sleeping in vintage Fernando Sanchez teddies," she said.

Bowie and Iman used their luxury kitchen

David Bowie's kitchen (pictured above) may seem small and understated, but, per the listing, it's filled with gorgeous detail from an exclusive Italian designer that includes wood lattice work on the side walls and handmade tiles behind the more-than-adequate range. 

When people see a kitchen in a celebrity's home, they might make the assumption that it never gets used. And that may be an understandable conclusion when it comes to Bowie, given his unusual eating habits early in life of eating large quantities of peppers and drinking even larger amounts of milk, per CheatSheet. Even in his later years, he would sit at or get takeout several times a week from his favorite Italian cafe, Bottega Falai. "He would sit here and write, scribbling away in a little notebook," said owner Danilo Durante to Entertainment Weekly. "Considering how he was singing and acting on stage — a rockstar, you know — he was a normal guy."

Still, Bowie liked meals at home, as well. He made his own weekly grocery shopping trips around the corner at Dean & Deluca on Broadway. "Everybody always appreciated how nice he was, how he just seems like a regular guy," store manager Marla Tremsky told the New York Post.

285 Lafayette is the second New York Bowie property sold

The condo at 285 Lafayette is the second former New York property of Bowie and Iman that  sold in 2021. The Central Park apartment where the couple lived prior to their Soho purchase had remained in their possession, but they vacated it in 2002 when their penthouse had been completed. The two-bedroom, 2½-bath unit is 1,877 square feet and comes with a 28-foot-long living room overlooking Central Park, had been on and off the market in recent years. It was listed at approximately $6 million in January 2021 when it sold but it's not known what the final sale price was, according to The New York Post.

That may be a drop in the bucket compared to the whopping $16.8 million 285 Lafayette brought in, but it didn't have even half the square footage, nor did it have the gigantic terraces (pictured above). However, that Soho/Nolita property had a hefty tax bill as well. According to Realtor.com, the penthouse at 285 Lafayette carried yearly taxes in recent years that ranged from $80,000 to nearly $100,000 each year. The Daily Mail reported that both properties were owned — and the sales of each were initiated — by a trust linked to Bowie's estate.