Home Tour: Richard Edwards' Downtown Penthouse
by Julie Belcove
photography by Robert Millman
A self-portrait by Elizabeth Murray hangs over the sofa in the living room. It is one of Richard Edwards’s favorites. The furniture collection includes chairs by Gio Ponti and a Felix Agostini coffee table
|Edwards on the rooftop patio with Bertie and Max, his fox terriers|
|Molded in wax, colored cups form the Tupperware 1995-2008 installation by George Stoll|
With his plummy English accent, clean-cut schoolboy looks—never mind that he’s a few decades past prep school—and vast connections, Richard Edwards is a charmingly loquacious raconteur. He entertains with chitchat about old friends from his University of Cambridge days and tales of his far-flung travels: In May he journeyed to Afghanistan with a friend, who won the trip in a charity auction. “Funnily enough, nobody bid against him,” Edwards says wryly. In October, taking advantage of Aspen’s brief off-season, he jetted to Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Namibia, doing business and meeting up with various pals.
Traveling brings to Edwards’s mind his late partner, Harley Baldwin, the colorful entrepreneur who helped build Aspen into the high-glamour, high-luxe resort it is today. As a real estate developer, he brought a cohort of chic tenants, such as Dior, Fendi, and Gucci, to town, and he also opened the exclusive Caribou Club, a still-thriving members-only boite. Together, the couple opened the Baldwin Gallery, which remains Aspen’s serious contemporary-art gallery.
Baldwin, Edwards recalls, particularly loved Italy, and they would often go in April for six weeks. An inveterate collector of objects ranging from furniture to Asian antiquities, Baldwin took a liking to Barovier & Toso Murano glass vases from the ’30s and started buying them for around 500 euros a pop whenever he found one. Two years into the exercise, Baldwin and Edwards came across a vase priced at 5,000 euros. When they inquired as to why it was so expensive, Edwards says the clerk replied, “There’s some crazy American going around Italy buying them all.” Edwards laughs at the memory and says, “We used to joke that if I left him alone for a few hours in some foreign city, a container would arrive in Aspen about three months later.”
As he speaks, Edwards, 55, has the habit of twirling his tricolor wedding band. Baldwin gave Edwards the ring the night before Baldwin entered Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York for surgery, saying he felt they were married even if the union wasn’t recognized by the government. Although they were initially optimistic about Baldwin’s prognosis, a series of complications befell him, and he died just four weeks later, at age 59, never having left the hospital.
Since Baldwin’s death in 2005, Edwards has made the Aspen apartment they shared a private retreat for himself and his two fox terriers, Max, a gift from Baldwin shortly after Edwards moved in, and Bertie. “After Harley died, I really needed somewhere peaceful,” he says. “It’s very personal, the house.”
He rarely entertains there anymore, preferring to use the Caribou Club in the building’s basement, and so the apartment, grandly decorated with a decidedly anti-minimalist flare, has developed a certain secretive aura. Located on the top two floors of the Collins Block, one of downtown Aspen’s last great Victorian buildings, the apartment boasts a breathtaking, unobstructed view of Aspen Mountain, matched inside by the first-rate art collection, hung, sometimes with a wink, amid overstuffed sofas and mid-century furniture. The overall mood could be called modern Baroque.
Aspen-based decorator Peter Hans Kunz first did the apartment for Baldwin nearly 20 years ago. “At the time, Aspen was all log cabins and A-frames, and things like that,” Kunz says. “Harley thought it would be cool to do a New York-Park Avenue apartment.” Edwards’s influence has helped give it the feel of a “21st-century English country house.”
Indeed, Edwards jokes that when he first moved in, the apartment was “sleek and glamorous. After about three years, Harley said, ‘Oh my God, you’ve made me English —all these dogs and books.’”
Aspen Peak editor in chief Erin Lentz goes behind the scenes at the annual charity race.