Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s Old Apartment Hits the Market

The book Just Kids, Patti Smith’s personal and poetic account of her deep, quasi-romantic relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe spanning from the time they met in their early 20s until he died in 1989 from complications of AIDS, should be required reading for everyone. So we’ll assume you’ve read it, right? Right?


Well, the building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where they rented their first apartment in the late 1960s is up for sale. This was the place before their fleabag motel on the Lower East Side—where they almost died from sheer squalor—and well before their now-mythical time at the Chelsea Hotel. These days, the townhouse is a lot nicer than it used to be (and so is Clinton Hill, where many models currently live). Where once the couple paid $80 a month for their small unit, the three-floor building is now going for $1 million. Which actually seems pretty reasonable, all things considered.

Here’s how Smith describes the property in Just Kids: “We had the entire second floor, with windows facing east and west, but its aggressively seedy condition was out of range of experience. Robert cut a deal with the landlord, agreeing to clean and paint it himself provided we pay only one month’s deposit, instead of the required two. The rent was eighty dollars a month. We paid one hundred and sixty dollars to move into 160 Hall Street. We regarded the symmetry as favorable.”

Leave a comment