When art dealer Bee Tham opened The Bee in the Lion gallery in New York’s Gramercy Park neighborhood in the spring of 2017, she eschewed the de rigueur penchant for a warehouse-sized space capable of showing Hindenburg-sized installations and instead aimed to create a more intimate environment for looking at, considering and, of course, acquiring contemporary works of art. Indeed, since it opened, the by-appointment-only gallery has been housed in a petite, studio-style apartment on the second floor of a converted turn-of-the-20th-century warehouse building called The Foundry.
Born and raised in Singapore, the art maven no longer seems to operate The Bee in the Lion as a gallery space. Their website now promotes an online art initiative called The Front Room. She does, however, own the apartment, which has been for sale for more than a year, first at just under $600,000 and now at $550,000. Also for sale, with a more blue-chip asking price of $13.5 million, is Tham’s extensively (and expensively) renovated Upper East Side townhouse that, once inside, unsurprisingly resembles an art gallery as much as it does a private residence.
Located on a tree-lined block between Park Avenue and Central Park, tax records show Tham and her husband, Tham Khai Meng, former worldwide chief creative officer of advertising powerhouse Ogilvy, who was fired in 2018 for unspecified complaints of misconduct, purchased the property just over six years ago for $7.238 million. They subsequently spent, according to promo materials, several more million bucks on a two-and-a-half-year gut renovation. The time, money and effort shows.
The restored exterior of the circa 1874 townhouse looks as it always has, with a carved stone frieze over the arched front door and an elaborate cornice capping its roof. The interiors, however, have been stripped of period ornamentation and radically transformed into airy, loft-like living spaces that, according to listings held by Jaime Richichi of Nest Seekers International, pay homage to giants of minimalist architecture like Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and John Pawson.