February 22, 2024

A Look Inside David Bowie & Iman’s Beautiful Mountain Home


It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine Iman and David Bowie invit­ing Vogue read­ers to join them on the above vir­tu­al tour of their moun­tain­top home near Wood­stock, New York when the rock leg­end was alive.

Grant­ed, short­ly after their 1992 wed­ding, he gave Archi­tec­tur­al Digest a peek at their ultra-lux­u­ri­ous, Indone­sian-style hol­i­day digs on the Caribbean island of Mus­tique, but, as reporter Christo­pher Buck­ley not­ed, “role changes have always been part of David Bowie’s per­sona.”

By the time they bought prop­er­ty and start­ed a fam­i­ly in New York, they had honed tech­niques for fly­ing under the radar in pub­lic, allow­ing them to lead a fair­ly reg­u­lar life in both Man­hat­tan and Ulster Coun­ty where the house they built on their 64-acre plot of Lit­tle Ton­shi Moun­tain is locat­ed.

Even the most ded­i­cat­ed city slick­er should be able to appre­ci­ate the beau­ty of their floor-to-ceil­ing Catskills views.

“It’s stark, and it has a Spar­tan qual­i­ty about it,” Bowie said pri­or to break­ing ground on the house:

The retreat atmos­phere honed my thoughts. I’ve writ­ten in the moun­tains before, but nev­er with such grav­i­tas.

WPDH in Pough­keep­sie report­ed that “the moun­tain­top retreat was kept “secret” from fans and paparazzi as much as any­thing can be hid­den in the age of the Inter­net and TMZ:”

Locals, how­ev­er, are well aware of Bowie’s moun­tain­top home. Although many knew of his address, the rock icon’s requests for pri­va­cy were most­ly hon­ored by his neigh­bors and fel­low Ulster Coun­ty res­i­dents. Bowie was spot­ted around town but rarely has­sled by strangers.

By and large, his neigh­bors left him in peace to pick up Chi­nese take out, browse the indie book­shop, and cel­e­brate his daughter’s birth­day at a near­by water park.

Bowie record­ed his final album, Black Star, on the moun­tain. Soon after, friends and fam­i­ly gath­ered to scat­ter his ash­es there too.

Iman con­fides that she found it dif­fi­cult to spend time at the house fol­low­ing his 2016 death, but spend­ing time there dur­ing the most intense part of the pan­dem­ic helped her come to terms with grief, and rejoice in the many con­tents that remind her of him.

Some high­lights:

  • Bowie’s 1980 paint­ing, Mus­tique, one of many self-por­traits he paint­ed over the years.

I feel like when I look at his eyes and I move around the house, it’s like it’s fol­low­ing me.

  • Lynn Chadwick’s sculp­ture “Ted­dy Boy and Girl”

Art con­sul­tant Kate Cher­ta­vian recalls how Iman enlist­ed her to help her track it down in the sum­mer of 1993 to mark the couple’s first wed­ding anniver­sary:

David had shared with her a small draw­ing of a sculp­ture by Lynn Chad­wick… a ver­sion of his Ted­dy Boy and Girl that had won the Inter­na­tion­al Sculp­ture Prize at the 1956 Venice Bien­nale. Although I didn’t yet know David, his inter­est in this sculp­ture, with its musi­cal ref­er­ences and incred­i­ble ener­gy, made per­fect sense. Ted­dy Boy and Girl is one of Chadwick’s best-known bod­ies of sculp­ture that helped rock­et the artist to inter­na­tion­al fame. The series elo­quent­ly embod­ies the emer­gent 1950s British Pop cul­ture as they depict post-war music-mad teens in their Edwar­dian frock coats danc­ing with arms in the air.

…way before David and I met, this was one of his favorite books. And actu­al­ly, he told me some of the lyrics from his song “Heroes” were actu­al­ly inspired by this book. And then of course, final­ly, when we meet, we can’t believe that we both adore the same book, but that also the whole sto­ry hap­pens from where I come from, Soma­lia.

  • A self-por­trait by their then-fif­teen-year-old daugh­ter Alexan­dria Jones, in which she and her moth­er are depict­ed inclin­ing gen­tly towards each oth­er:

It’s me and her and, of course, the black star. That’s David… she paint­ed this in 2016, which was the first year with­out David.

Of per­haps less imme­di­ate inter­est to those uncon­nect­ed to the world of high fash­ion is a pricey black croc­o­dile Her­mès Birkin bag, a sou­venir of a Parisian hol­i­day ear­ly in the couple’s romance. This item does come with an endear­ing sar­to­r­i­al sur­prise for Bowie fans, how­ev­er:

…and he bought him­self, you won’t believe it, san­dals.

Round­ing out the tour are a lim­it­ed edi­tion porce­lain pitch­er by Kara Walk­er and gifts from fash­ion design­er and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Hedi Sli­mane and fel­low for­mer mod­els Bethann Hardi­son and Nao­mi Camp­bell.

(Are we wrong to wish those san­dals had been Crocs?)

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Behold The Paint­ings of David Bowie: Neo-Expres­sion­ist Self Por­traits, Illus­tra­tions of Iggy Pop, and Much More

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

The Art Col­lec­tion of David Bowie: An Intro­duc­tion

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

 





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