- Real Housewives of New York -A Historical Look At The Listing, Re-Listing, & De-Listing Of Sonja Morgan's Townhouse
Real Housewives may come and go, but real estate is harder to get rid of. Just ask Sonja Morgan. (Or maybe, don’t? Might be a touchy subject).
In 2010, Sonja was introduced to Real Housewives of New York viewers by way of Luann de Lesseps in the seventh episode of Season 3 called "New Girl, Old Money.” We found out that this new girl with old money had a new lease on life (puns!) but was saddled with an old townhouse... that we would still be hearing about over a decade later.
Over the last 10 years, the Upper East Side townhouse has been home to many parties and quite a few Housewives (Sonja learned about Luann’s Eskimo-like teeth here, lest we forget; and Tinsley Mortimer was Sonja’s roommate for a while) and it gifted us many iconic RHONY moments within its walls, and outside its walls. Remember when Sonja made the women wait outside in the pouring rain before driving to Atlantic City? It also gave us this:
But now, once again, Sonja’s anchor and albatross is up for sale. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s almost always up for sale. Or up for something. She’s been trying to get rid of this palatial baggage for years. The 2008 financial crisis and the 2020 global pandemic be damned; nothing can get in the way of Lady Morgan and her efforts to move the hell out and on with her life.
Which means, hey, listen. We know Zillow is your new go-to app. You wanna help a Sonja out and buy her house?
Here’s a quick rundown from the official listing of what you’re getting when you buy what is earnestly called “The Morgan Townhouse”:
Owned and renovated by Mrs. John Adams Morgan, this elegant 5-story house with mahogany-paneled elevator has 11 rooms, 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms on 5 floors with approximately 5,500 square feet (including the 800 square foot basement). In addition, it has 3 sunny south-facing outdoor spaces: a spectacular landscaped garden of 575 square feet with fountain and koi pond, a full-width balcony in the master suite and a 150 square foot terrace on the fourth floor. Each level has delightful open and airy views.
Not mentioned in that listing description is: Sonja recommends you don’t use the elevator if she’s not home (you may get stuck); one of the bathrooms had plumbing issues and an overflowing toilet thanks to the RHONY camera crew; that landscaped garden once hosted Sonja’s Mad Hatter party during the height of the 2016 presidential election; and just how many toaster ovens were tested in that kitchen.
Ten years in, Sonja’s townhouse deserves an apple and an intro because it is as much a part of this show as any other cast member (and has the cosmetic touch-ups to prove it).
Now, let’s take a look at the townhouse's epic history:
1998: Where It All Began
In 1998, then-Sonja Tremont married John Adams Morgan, great-grandson to J.P. Morgan. The two eloped in June after their April wedding was canceled. They also bought the Upper East Side townhouse we now know as Sonja’s Grey Gardens for a cool $9.1 million, according to 6sqft.com. (For perspective, the average home in the U.S. cost around $120,000 at the time.)
2006: Once A Morgan, Always A Morgan
After eight years, Sonja and her husband decided to end their marriage in 2006. (In a Season 10 argument with Dorinda Medley, Sonja famously screamed: "My husband didn't leave me, I left my husband.") In 2019, Sonja further explained her divorce to The Daily Beast, saying, “My breakup is pretty boring. We were in love and then we broke up. There was no drama… We still love each other and it was painful for both of us.”
For the time being, the townhouse remained.
2008: End Of An Era
Although the RHONY cameras started rolling in 2008, it’d be two years before Sonja was the apple of our eye. We were focused instead on Alex McCord getting to the opera on time, Bethenny Frankel giving out food samples at a grocery store, and Luann navigating the cool yet foreign "downtown" scene with her niece.
Also happening that year was the financial crisis of 2008, the perfect time for Sonja to list her townhouse for $12 million. In a surprise to no one (given the fact that she still owns it), it didn't sell and she ended up taking it off the market.
2009: Let’s Try This Again
Another year, another attempt at selling the townhouse. Well, another failed attempt. This time around, Sonja rather dramatically dropped the price down to $9.25 million in November 2009. And only a few months later…
January 2010: Down It Went
According to the New York real estate site Streeteasy, the house’s price was dropped by 11%, down to $8.25 million in the first week of 2010.
February 2010: OK, A Lil More
Shortly after dropping the price below what it was originally bought for, Sonja dropped the price again another million, down to $7.25 million.
March 2010: “New Girl, Old Townhouse”
Just days after Sonja’s inaugural season began airing, the townhouse was taken off the market. Who wants to be the new girl with an unsellable townhome, right?
November 2010: Bankrupt
At the end of 2010, Sonja filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. She listed her debt at a stunning $19.8 million and $13.5 million in assets in her filing, according to E! Online. The financial woes, which were partially shown on RHONY, were partly due to a failed movie venture between Sonja’s production company and another production company, Hannibal Pictures, Inc. John Travolta was supposed to star in a film that never got off the ground and landed Sonja with a lawsuit and a $7 million judgement.
April 2013: The Queen Of Toilets
The house goes back on the market at $9.95 million, according to Streeteasy, but just for a few months. Sonja told The Real Deal in spring 2012 that she had decided to not sell the house despite her legal problems (don’t worry, those aren’t over yet) because she wanted to “provide stability” for her daughter. She was also, at the time, finding the house easy to maintain (reader, it is not) and told The Real Deal she had even fixed a toilet earlier on the day they spoke. “I’m the queen of toilets,” she told the site.
How that didn’t become her Housewives tagline is a mystery we’ll never solve.
Sept. 2013: I Kid You Not, It’s Back Again
The house is back on the market but for a million dollars cheaper, at $8.25 million.
June 2014: Au Revoir St. Tropez
Around the time Aviva Drescher was slamming her leg on the dinner table, Sonja was losing her house… well, her St. Tropez house, that is. According to The Wrap, Sonja’s French Villa was sold by the trustee in her bankruptcy case for $5.7 million. It wasn’t the full $8 million Sonja originally wanted, according to TMZ, but such is life when it comes to real estate and Sonja Morgan.
Jan. 2015: The Whiplash Continues
The house, which had been reduced to $7.2 million, is no longer listed as of January 1, 2015, according to Streeteasy records.
June 2015: Sweet Relief
Nine million dollars later (that’s the $7 million lawsuit plus another $2 million in fees — the fees always get you!) Sonja was finally financially free. “I paid what I had to pay and it wasn’t easy, but at the same time it was an experience,” Sonja told E! Online at the time, also saying she’s “out of Chapter 11.”
In the process Sonja lost a Colorado home in addition to the French villa, and yet somehow the townhouse with nine lives survived.
August 2018: Pivot!
As documented on the show, Sonja pivoted from selling her townhouse to renting it and becoming the most sought-after landlord. It was a bit of an effort, as anything with this townhouse is, to find the right tenant, but she did and made $32,000 a month for the property, according to Bravotv.com.
Nov. 2019: She’s Back, Back Again
In case you didn't know by now, Sonja lives by the old adage, “When at first you don’t succeed selling your townhouse, raise the price and try again.” At the end of 2019, Sonja relisted (is this the tenth time or the 400th time, I really do not know) her home for $10.75 million according to Streeteasy. It didn’t stay on the market for long — it was delisted in July 2020 — which brings us to…
August 2020: Hello, Old Friend
Want to live in Sonja’s townhouse? It has new carpeting and Ramona loves it! For the low, low price of $8.75 million (or for $32,000 a month), you could live in the five bedroom, five and a half bath townhouse in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
When contemplating the decision, think about this: Can you put a price on living in the same home Frenchie once lived in?