Crowded House

They thought that they had found the perfect apartment but they weren't alone.

Written by Tad Friend and Originally Published in The New Yorker on May 27, 2013

Manhattan, the vertical city, greets newcomers as a sheer rockface. To even begin the ascent requires agility, nerve, and a secure base camp. If you can’t establish that base—the right apartment—the plunge is swift: you bounce to a friend’s couch, then to a squat in Bushwick, and suddenly you’re at the Port Authority holding a sign for bus fare home.

In the spring and summer of last year, people from all over—from Brazil, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Bangladesh, Japan, even the Upper West Side—pounced on a Craigslist ad for a base camp in Chelsea: a twenty-five-hundred-square-foot loft with two large bedrooms and two baths. When they visited, Apartment 6-E at 211 West Twentieth Street proved even better than advertised. The ceilings were eleven feet high, and the windows and pendant lamps flooded light across a wood-burning fireplace, Mies Barcelona chairs, and a West Elm sofa set topped with Hermès blankets. Almost everything was dazzling white: walls, floors, furniture—even the books were cloaked in white jackets.

The apartment’s owner and impresario was a photographer named Michael Tammaro. In profile, Tammaro, who was fifty-four, resembled the Indian on the Buffalo nickel, but he was a fey charmer who adorned his shaved head with a driving cap and his arms with a Cartier watch and a gold Hermès bracelet. The one constant of his ever-changing décor was Tucker, a boisterous pit-bull-and-shepherd-mix rescue dog. On Facebook, he posted a photo of him and his dog on a rocky beach and captioned it “Family Portrait.” . . .

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