Once luxurious duplex apartment of about 200 square meters has not only been empty for 24 years (since the departure of the last ambassador), but it is in a very bad condition: the paint from the walls is peeling off, a piece of plaster fell from the ceiling in the middle of the living room, furniture and carpets are ruined by damp and the passage of time, Tito’s portraits and paintings have a thick layer of dust on them, dirt has accumulated in fireplaces, and windows have holes in them so the wind rustles through the house like a real ghost.
Such an image as a set for a horror movie goes through 14 rooms: four bedrooms, three guest rooms (or servant’s rooms), living room with a library, kitchen, dining room and five bathrooms.
An unexpected sight for such, tens of millions of USD worth of property, which is located at No. 730 Park Avenue, one of the most prestigious and most expensive streets to live, located on the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan known for its very wealthy residents, mostly Jews.
To the former home of the Yugoslav ambassador, US media prefers to give importance and refer to it as Tito’s residence or Marshal’s apartment, still fascinated by the Yugoslav leader and his lifestyle, completely unexpected for a communist leader.
The famous anecdote in which on one reception a mayor asked Tito: “Today you are the biggest communist in the world. What would have happened if you managed to go from Germany to America during the twenties?” Tito gave a witty answer, to the astonishment of those present: “I would be the biggest capitalist,” he said.
And just like the capitalists, Tito enjoyed life and had a fine taste: he wore Brioni suits, smoked Cuban cigars, kept his cigarettes in a silver cigarette case, protected himself from the sun with Panama hats, smelled of Dior cologne or YSL perfume, and was visited by some of the most famous people in the world such as: the Queen Elizabeth II, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Currently, Serbia is paying for its maintenance 13,400 USD a month or 161,000 USD a year, but they are still using the three-storey building at 854 Fifth Avenue and 67th Street, where is located the headquarters of Serbian peacekeeping mission to the UN. From that small building, as well from real estates in Bern and Tokyo, Serbian diplomats will have to move out from, and there is still a debate what to do with the abandoned property in Bonn, for whose 1758 square meters was even suggested turning it into a shopping center. Either way, we have to wait until the next meeting of the Joint Committee, scheduled for March 2017 in Belgrade.