Initially the rumor was that an unknown collector contacted the owner after the first open house in June and a deal was made to sell the items. (This after I was told that the bookcase and piano were to stay with the house.) But the realtor tells me this isn't accurate. She says the owner simply moved them out of the house. Whether or not the owner did this because he plans to sell them at a later date is not clear.
Two bathtubs that dated back to Houdini's time were also on the property in June. One was in the backyard being used as a planter. The other was in the front of the house at the sunken garden floor entrance. Reports are the one in the front of the house is also gone. Despite the legend, I've never heard anything about either bathtub having the initials HH.
(Speaking of initials my tipster confirmed for me that Bess's top floor bathroom does not have the BH tiles.)
It does break my heart to see these leave the house. I loved that they had survived all these years. But who knows what would have become of them with new owners who might not care about the history. So if they wind up in private collection where they will preserved and cherished as a piece of Houdini history, then I guess that's a good outcome. But it appears the great dissolution of Houdini's historic 278 has begun.
The sale of 278 is being handled by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
UPDATE: The above story was rewritten when the realtor confirmed that the bookcase and piano had not been sold, so the comments below may not accurately reflect the information here. Attendees to the most recent open house (10/15) report that they are still absent. I have also now confirmed that one of the two bathtubs has indeed been sold.
UPDATE 2: David Copperfield has Houdini's bookcase and a message for all of us.
- Inside Houdini's 278
- Heads up! Open House at 278 this Sunday
- The owners and occupants of Houdini's 278