A lavish, Gilded Age estate once owned by one of the richest men in the world just hit the market for under $6.5 million. Take a look inside.

The former home of the wealthiest man on the Titanic is on the market.
The former home of John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest passenger aboard the Titanic.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography, Bettmann/Getty Images
  • A Gilded Age, nine-bedroom villa, one of the last of its kind in New York, is going for $6.5 million. 
  • The estate was once owned by John Jacob Astor IV, one of the richest men in the world when he died.
  • The current owner said he tried to preserve the estate's history as he made it his family home.
  • He hopes the next owner would do the same.

One of the last remaining Gilded Age estates in a little village overlooking the Hudson River is selling for under $6.5 million.

The estate lies within the village of Irvington, New York.
The estate lies within the village of Irvington, New York.
Google Maps, Houlihan Lawrence and Danile Milstein Photography

Nestled along the banks of the Hudson River in the village of Irvington, New York, lies Villa Nuit. Its current owner says it's one of the last remaining Gilded Age estates — a home built in the late 1800s by the world's super-wealthy.

Marty Dolan, 64, told Insider he grew up in Irvington in the 1980s, watching great houses once owned by the likes of the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Carnegies "chopped up" into smaller properties. 

As a child, Dolan – who just put his 4.78-acre estate on the market for $6.49 million – said he remembers playing in the yards of these empty estates before seeing them disappear.

"I was a little kid in that village, and you couldn't miss it," he said. "If you were in someone's estate playing around with your friends, and then three weeks or three years later they were developing the townhouses, you would see that, and you'd feel that."

But before Dolan bought the estate, he said it nearly suffered the same fate as others like it that were replaced by condos.

The front view of 2 Clifton Place.
A front view of Villa Nuit.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

"There were about 40 or 50 estates that were set up by the wealthy in the 1800s," he said, most of which have now been demolished and divvied up into condos.

According to Dolan, his estate had a lucky escape in the 1970s.

The owners at the time "had enough," he said. But before it could be bought by someone else, the newly established National Trust caught wind of the sale and intervened, he said.

"There was a deal done where the new owners of the villa were given a tax deduction by donating the development right to the National Trust," Dolan said. "And that's how Villa Nuit was temporarily saved from being divided up."

By "sheer luck," Dolan, who was living in London with his family at the time, saw an advertisement about the sale of Villa Nuit in 2000.

The conservatory at 2 Clifton Place.
The conservatory.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

Dolan, an investment banker, spent 12 years in London with his then-wife and three children but decided to move back to the US in 2000 before his eldest entered high school. 

His parents still lived in Irvington, so he and his family always spent summers vacationing in the town that he said is about the size of a "shoe box."

As Dolan was selling a townhouse he'd renovated in South Kensington, London, he saw a $4.5 million listing for Villa Nuit in a small advertisement. It's a moment he describes now as "sheer luck."



While the US National Trust had some restrictions on renovating the historic, limestone home, Dolan said he never wanted to change how it looked from the outside.

The entrance of 2 Clifton Place.
The exterior of the home is built from French limestone.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

"When we bought the house, it was already restricted," Dolan said.

Given its status in the National Trust, nobody could make changes to the exterior, which he said is built from limestone carved in France and shipped to the US by the original owner in the mid-1800s.  

"It seemed to bother some people; it didn't bother me at all," he added. "I said, 'Okay, well, who would wanna change the exterior of the house anyway?'"

The original owner had built one of the first architecturally driven houses in the US, and he named the villa after his hometown in France.

A dining area at 2 Clifton Place.
The paneled dining room.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

According to Dolan, the man who first built the mansion was a cotton exporter from a town called Nuits-Saint-Georges in the Dijon region of France. 

"He built what was in 1852 in the US one of the first architecturally driven houses," Dolan said. "He got a European architect, and he said, 'I wanna build a house with the showpiece, not just the home.'"


Being such a "showpiece" home, it's not surprising that the wealthiest man on the Titanic, John Jacob Astor IV, once called Villa Nuit home.

John Jacob Astor was one of the 1,500 people who died in the Titanic sinking in 1912.
John Jacob Astor was one of the 1,500 people who died in the Titanic sinking in 1912.
The Print Collector/Getty Image

One of the well-known prior owners of Villa Nuit was British business magnate John Jacob Astor IV, one of the richest men in the world when he died, Insider reports

He and his second wife, Madeline Force, were first-class passengers on the ill-fated Titanic cruise liner, which sunk in 1912. While Force survived, Astor was one of the 1,500 people who died in the tragedy, according to the UK National Archive website. 

His body was recovered at sea and later buried in Trinity Cemetery, New York.

Despite its enduring exterior, a lot has changed inside Villa Nuit over the years. Dolan said the couple who lived there previously began the renovation by gutting the issues in the home, and his family completed it.

A sitting area at 2 Clifton Place.
A sitting area.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

From 1980 until he bought it in 2000, Dolan said a couple kept Villa Nuit as a second home.

"They found a perfect place to hang out on the weekends where nobody bothers them, and they renovated the house as far as they could," he said. 

He said that the couple emptied the house of all the things that were defunct or wrong with it.

"My family and I bought it as a shell to complete the renovation," Dolan said. 

Knowing the home's history, Dolan said he felt responsible to maintain the estate as well as he could while turning it into a home fit for his family.

A study at 2 Clifton Place.
The study.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

One of the more crucial renovations Dolan said he did to modernize the estate from when it was originally built in the 1850s involved landscaping. 

The driveway, he said, was still designed with small "twisty turns" to accommodate a horse-and-carriage, making it less than ideal for a car.

"Everything, in the end, had gotten bigger," he said. Delivery trucks arriving at the house would end up destroying the lawn and causing a commotion, he said.

"So we spent a lot of money and energy on making the landscaping and the driveways work for the modern world," Dolan said.

Dolan said he made changes to the home inspired by his kids as they became teenagers, such as putting in a heated pool.

The swimming pool at 2 Clifton Place.
The swimming pool.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

Renovations lasted years, but changes came and went periodically, Dolan said. The first issue was making sure the home was livable for his family, and then they added things like a Gunite heated swimming pool.

Dolan said he didn't have a huge renovation budget, so he loved getting his own hands dirty with renovations.

A bedroom at 2 Clifton Place.
One of the nine bedrooms.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

Both Villa Nuit and his former home in London required renovations, which Dolan said he enjoyed doing.

Though his primary job was being an investment banker, he said he picked up construction skills from his time working as a member of an Irvington community college grounds crew in his childhood.

With both projects, Dolan said he had "a bit of money, not a lot," which meant he got his own hands dirty with renovations.

While careful changes have been made, the home still has a Gilded Age vibe. Dolan said you can be transported back in time when standing inside the home.

A billiards table in 2 Clifton Place.
The billiards room.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

From the roaring fire in the billiards room to the intricate handmade molding on the ceiling of every room, Dolan said Villa Nuit makes him feel like he's stepping back in time. 

Dolan said when he would walk around the house, he could almost picture the workers in the 1800s building it.




But the home also blends in some modern additions, including a media room and a gym.

A sitting room at 2 Clifton Place.
A modern sitting room.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

According to the listing, Villa Nuit features plenty of new additions that make it suitable for modern living. These include a media room and gym. 

Despite its rich history, Dolan said his family never experienced ghostly encounters. But he did say they made continuous discoveries over the years, such as a hidden coal chute in the basement.

The wine cellar at 2 Clifton Place.
A wine cellar.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

Dolan said he and his family made several discoveries in their historical home through the years.

One such occasion occurred when they noticed pieces of wood in the basement were covering up flooring that didn't look quite right – on closer inspection, he said they found a hole that once played an essential role in maintaining a Gilded Age home.

After studying the house plans, the family realized it was an old coal chute.

Given its size at 12,564 square feet, Dolan said Villa Nuit – which comes with nine bedrooms – is "a lot of real estate for one person." He's ready to downsize.

The kitchen table at 2 Clifton Place.
The eat-in kitchen.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

The 12,564 square foot villa comes equipped with nine bedrooms and eight and a half bathrooms on top of having a guest house on the estate, according to the listing. 

After Dolan's now-adult kids moved out of the family home, he said he felt ready to begin a new chapter outside Villa Nuit.

"It's a lot of real estate for one person," Dolan said.

But he said he has fond memories of the estate. He particularly loved the conservatory, with its cozy views of the outside.

Inside the conservatory at 2 Clifton Place.
Dolan's favorite room is the conservatory.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

Dolan said his favorite room in the entire villa has to be the greenhouse conservatory, built by a company called Lord & Burnham in the 1800s. 

While he said that its primary use back in the day was to grow vegetables, it became his favorite spot to cozy up and observe the changing of seasons.

"It's wonderful," Dolan said. "In the winter, it's incredibly bright and beautiful. In the spring and autumn, you get wonderful breezes in and out. It's an incredibly beautiful space."


Carolyn Joy, a broker from the Tishelman Joy Team at Houlihan Lawrence, called the listing a "rare" opportunity for a new buyer.

Entering 2 Clifton Place.
The entrance.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

"This rare Gilded Age estate, with gated entry, sits on five landscaped acres with pool and guest cottage offering an unparalleled lifestyle just 25 miles from NYC," Joy told Insider via email.

And Dolan said he hopes Villa Nuit becomes a home to someone who would also "appreciate" its history.

2 Clifton Place surrounded by greenery.
The mansion is surrounded by five acres of land.
Houlihan Lawrence/Danile Milstein Photography

"I'd just grown up in this little village, and I was very sad to see all the old estates get divided up or burned down," he said. "Here was my chance to save one."

Having rescued Villa Nuit from developers, Dolan said he hopes to hand it over to someone who appreciates it.

"You really feel responsible that it should be here," he said. "When people come to the villa, they're like, 'I can't believe it's still here.'"

Dolan feels lucky to have been a chapter in Villa Nuit's history.

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