When forced to flee Washington after her husband’s death, Jackie Kennedy relocated her family back home to New York and 1040 Fifth Avenue. Not far from her sister Lee Radziwill‘s home, the 15th floor apartment overlooking Central Park was to become a home for the former First Lady for the rest of her life and a refuge from the glare of Washington and the world for both her and her children Caroline and John. Throughout her marriage to Onassis and into her final years, it continued to be that refuge right up until her death in May 1994, when she checked herself out of hospital to return home before quietly passing away there surrounded by her family.
Whilst 1040 Fifth Avenue might not have been anything like as large as the living quarters she had been afforded in the White House, visitors to it noted the same design touches, it’s old world feel, and it’s lack of pretension and it’s cosiness. During Sotheby’s famous sale of it’s contents in 1996, the world was granted a glimpse inside its doors. And, as Carolina Herrera once said of it in an interview in Vanity Fair, “”It was an apartment of someone who comes from an old family. Not a showplace full of marble like the homes of all these new people. It was her taste.”
That taste preferred the personal over the grand. A fan of print and colour, Jackie liked to head to a firm called Design Works for her prints in the early 1970’s. Red and gold drapes coloured the dining room, whilst chintzes covered the sofas, and bold, graphic prints were found on tablecloths. A fan of chinoiserie, she decorated with laquer cabinets, blue and white chinoiserie lamps and even had a screen festooned in cherry blossom. There was an easel she liked to draw at in the living room, books scattered throughout the apartment, pictures of horses and dogs on the walls and the same kitchen existed virtually unchanged for the thirty odd years she lived there. 1040 5th Avenue was a home – not a style statement. Much like with her approach to fashion, it was the result of an uncompromising approach to her very own and very personal aesthetic – and no one else’s. Click through our gallery above for pictures of it here.
Painting by Aaron Shikler of Jackie Kennedy with John and Caroline in the Living room at 1040 Fifth Avenue
The entrance to 1040 Fifth Avenue
Jackie, John and Caroline outside 1040 Fifth Avenue
Ron Gallela’s shot of Jackie outside her apartment
Interiors pictures from the Sotheby’s sale of the apartment contents, 1996