Former Sony Music head Tommy Mottola single-mindedly pursued a remarkable vision when building the Connecticut home where he lives with his superstar wife, Thalía.
Halfway is not a concept Tommy Mottola has ever much embraced. As a head honcho at Sony Music Entertainment from 1989 to 2003, the hard-charging executive personified the industry’s last days of Champagne-soaked excess, believing that great returns required great investment and the devil was in the details. “It’s the little things that matter”, says the man who guided the careers of Billy Joel, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, and his former wife Mariah Carey, among others. “Whether that’s the imaging or the mixing or the right lyrics, even changing a single line to make a song better.”
So it makes sense that Mottola’s Georgian-inspired estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, is designed to his precise specifications. It took four years to plan, build, and decorate the place, which he shares with his wife, Thalía, the Mexican-born singer-songwriter hailed as the ‘Queen of Latin Pop’, and their young children, Sabrina and Matthew. And in those four years Mottola fretted over details major and minor, from the weathered look of the oak floorboards to the exact texture, size, and shape of each stone in each hearth. “Tommy had the conservatory fireplace ripped apart three times because the stones weren’t placed correctly”, reports an amused Thalía, whose latest album, ‘Amore Mio’, was released in November. “He kept telling everyone, ‘It looks too perfect!”
Mottola knows his way around a construction site, having erected or renovated and moved in and out of 14 homes over the last few decades. “I give my houses the same attention to detail that I put into everyone’s careers at Sony” says the self-proclaimed serial psycho builder. “It’s my blessing and my curse. I have to live with it.” With the split-second timing that has won her additional accolades as a telenova actress, Thalía chimes in, “And I have to live with you!”
Growing up in the Bronx, Mottola didn’t get much of an education in fine architecture or the distinctions between, say, Art Deco and Art Nouveau. But his father ran a shipping business and did well enough that the family was able to relocate from its three-bedroom home near Fordham University to a larger house in the leafy Pelham Parkway neighborhood and from there to affluent Westchester County. When it came to real estate, “my mother was a wanderer” Mottola says, noting that from early on he learned to enjoy rather than fear the prospect of moving to a new place. A fascination with architecture, from classical to modern, followed. “Once you build a great house”, he says, “there’s this need to know. What’s the next one going to be like?”
Mottola had plainly thought this question through very carefully when he bought the Greenwich property. “Clients often don’t know themselves well enough to articulate what they want”, says David Abelow, whose Manhattan firm, Abelow Sherman Architects, designed the Mottola family residence. “With Tommy, we had a very clear mandate right from the beginning.”