NEW YORK – Nice digs.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced ex-chief of the International Monetary Fund accused of sexually assaulting a New York City hotel maid, is out on bail and living in luxury in a 6,800-square-foot Manhattan town house with its own private spa, movie theater, gym, bar and rooftop terrace with barbecue grill.
Strauss-Kahn, charged earlier this month in the alleged attack on the 32-year-old maid, posted $1 million bail last week and agreed to remain under house arrest. But since then, Strauss-Kahn has had to live in temporary housing because his first choice for an apartment fell through when his prospective neighbors complained of a media circus.
He moved into a more permanent abode on Wednesday -- a 27-foot-wide mock-Federalist town house for rent on a once-quiet cobblestone street in New York's tony Tribeca neighborhood.
And his new neighbors sure aren't happy about it either.
"This is terrible," local resident Annette Goodman said. "I'm not commenting on whether he's innocent or guilty, but assuming he is, the maid is living with the nightmare of the experience and he is living in luxury. Is that fair?"
The Frenchman’s new $14 million chateau costs $50,000-a-month to rent, according to online listings. The three-story, pre-war building was recently renovated by renowned architect-designer Leopoldo Rosati. It’s got four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, a fireplace, steam bath, two jet tubs, “waterfall shower” and “rainfall steam shower.”
The first floor has a “nanny” room, a kitchen with uber-high-end appliances, limestone radiant heat floors, and a “great room” with a big skylight and fireplace. On the second floor of the Frenchman’s pad, you’ll find — what else? — antique French oak wide-plank floors, two bedrooms with custom closets, and Italian limestone bath. Then there’s the terrace, with a Japanese paper glass wall and Wolf natural gas grill, where the Frenchman can wile away his time barbecuing and lounging in the sun. But he’s got to walk one more flight up to find the wet bar. Yes, there’s a wet bar in the master suite. And the whole town house is hooked up with an automatic speaker and lighting system — the latter of which Strauss-Kahn quickly put to use Wednesday night when the world’s press showed up at his new abode.
As reporters and satellite trucks from around the globe descended on the block and police officers set up metal barricades to pen them in, inside the town house, shades were drawn down and lights inside Strauss-Kahn's new home turned off one by one, until the top two floors were pitch dark.
"I had no idea he was coming here. This is the height of bad decision-making. This is the height of hypocrisy," Goodman said.
"He couldn't stay with his daughter or on the Upper East Side because those were residential areas -- this is a residential area! And he's got a spa and theater in there. He's really suffering, he's really having it rough," she said sarcastically.
"I'm concerned that all this (commotion) is going to attract other elements to the neighborhood," said Goodman, a mother of two.
Linda Buongermino, who lives nearby, got off the subway yelling "please God, no, please," hoping that the all the press meant anything but that the infamous Frenchman had moved in.
"It's not a quiet neighborhood by any means, but this is crazy. I mean, I guess he has to go somewhere," she said.
Ruben Sonz-Darnes was more laid back about "the Great Seducer" moving to his block.
"A lot of this kind of stuff happens here," he said. "The neighborhood is used to this. Now we have a front-row seat."
Multiple residents said the throngs of media and satellite trucks lining the street brought back memories of when John F. Kennedy Jr., who lived nearby, died years ago.
But Sonz-Darnel seemed unimpressed with the scene.
"It could be a lot worse," he said.
Then he screamed, as a few feet away a fight broke out. A resident began screaming and cursing at the crew occupying a local CBS news truck. He sprayed them and the truck with a powerful water hose, and a screaming match looked like it would turn into a fist fight when police standing in front of Strauss-Kahn's new home rushed over to break up the fight, threatening to arrest the hose-armed man who continued to spew expletives.
Elton Wells, 39, a financial trader who lives nearby, said the water-hose fight was more interesting than anything going on across the street at the Strauss-Kahn town house.
"I think it's going to be painful for a few months. It's entertaining for me, but for most people it's going to be very stressful," Wells said.
People like the man with the hose are very angry about Strauss-Kahn's arrival, Wells said, "but he did pick a nice place to move to. There's great takeout around here."