When Adam Pomerantz purchased the building at 498 Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village—which houses his shop, Murray's Bagels, as well as apartments—Patricia O'Grady was living on the top floor of the walk-up.
Over the years her rent had fluctuated slightly—in 1955 she moved in and was sharing the $16/month rent bill with two roommates. When Pomerantz took over in 2002, she was living alone and paying $26.45/month, which he was able to raise to $28.43, according to Hannah Frishberg for the NY Post (who first reported the story). In March, the 84-year-old former actress was struck by a car on 13th Street and died of her injuries. The story of her rent-controlled apartment took over the headlines.
Photographer Stefano Giovannini documented the two-bedroom apartment recently, where O'Grady had lived for 63 years by the time of her death. His documentation (click through to see some images) shows old photos of her, her family and friends, posters (one for the film The Boys In The Band), stacks of books (Movie Stars, Real People & Me and multiple copies of Joyce Carol Oates's Solstice among them), and a piano.
Giovannini also told us Pomerantz is a humane landlord, and O'Grady refused whenever he'd offer to do renovations because "she felt guilty paying so little rent." According to CNN, "He pleaded with her to let him install a hot water heater, but she refused. Nevertheless, he installed a $12,000 heating unit in the apartment—the equivalent of about 35 years of her monthly rent payments." She still used fireplaces to heat her apartment, however, and Giovannini told us the paint was peeling and chipped, and the floorboards are in bad shape. There is also no full bathroom, just a toilet (to shower, O'Grady went to the nearby Y).
These photos show the apartment in worse condition than when she was living there. Pomerantz and some workers have been packing up and bagging items, and are preparing the place for renovations, which could take as long as six months. When that's done, the apartment's rent will be closer to $5,000/month. We're told renovations could cost around $50,000 to $100,000.