Marianne Friedman-Foote spends most nights in Central Park, wrapped in a sleeping bag – just a mile away from the $10million Park Avenue apartment where she grew up.
Friedman-Foote, 63, was once an Upper East Side heiress, the granddaughter of an affluent textile manufacturer in Manhattan.
She had a housekeeper, took ballet lessons and graduated from a prestigious New York prep school.
But after her mother’s death, the family fortune slipped between her fingers. Friedman-Foote faced depression, a heroin addiction – and, in August, an eviction that left her homeless.
‘I grew up in a home with a parlor. S**t does happen, doesn’t it?’ Friedman-Foote told the New York Post in a story published Monday.
She and her husband, Frank, have settled north of the Central Park Reservoir. They keep their belongings in trash bags and sleep on a foam mattress.
Friedman-Foote grew up at 940 Park Avenue. Her family owned an entire 4,000-square-foot floor of the Art Deco building. The apartment would now be worth $10million.
But it sold for only $3million when Friedman-Foote’s mother died, which she spent with her sister, Georgia.
The two girls were the granddaughters of Isidor Kaplan, a wealthy magnate of Manhattan’s textile industry.
Friedman-Foote doesn’t have fond memories of growing up in the fifties and sixties. Her mother had depression and sometimes had panic attacks.
‘I remember my mother sitting in her dressing room like that,’ Friedman-Foote told the New York Post before slouching on a park bench.
Friedman-Foote’s graduation photo, taken in 1971, shows her as a long-haired teenager, smiling and looking away from the camera. She was a dance student at the Upper West Side’s prominent Calhoun School.
Her grandfather died the following year and her mother sold the family business for millions.
Friedman-Foote meanwhile had left her childhood home. She graduated from Boston University, became a nurse and married her first husband.
The couple had a daughter named Giselle. But about three decades ago, Friedman-Foote’s husband, an FBI employee, had to move to New York for work.
They moved back to her childhood neighborhood and, not long after, separated.
Her husband moved to Florida and took Giselle with him. Friedman-Foote hasn’t seen her daughter since she was three.
‘I could tell you what she wore the day she left. She had a blue top and bottoms that had white crosses, checks, down the sides and everything. I can still see her,’ Friedman-Foote said.
‘It eats at me daily. And surely, when I see all the children in the park. Not good. This is where the sarcasm stops. And I’d like to get off this subject, please.’
She lost touch with her mother and sister, who according to Friedman-Foote believed her ex-husband should have custody of Giselle.
Friedman-Foote has depression. She became addicted to heroin in her forties and has taken methadone four times a week for about six years.
After her mother’s death, having split a $3 million inheritance with her sister, Friedman-Foote met her current husband Frank, 59, a construction worker.
They got married in 2000 and bought a house in Amityville, Long Island, but lost it during the recession.
‘We just went through my mother’s money like crazy,’ Friedman-Foote said.
The couple ended up staying with the friend who had introduced them to each other, Donna Eltinger. She had cirrhosis and lung cancer. Friedman-Foote and her husband became her caretakers.
Eltinger died three years ago. The couple were evicted from her apartment in August.
Their attorney, who took up their case pro bono, now hopes the city will find them a place to live – and believes Friedman-Foote will die if she has to spend the winter in the park.
In the meantime, Friedman-Foote and her husband stay with friends whenever they can – and she holds on to her fierce sense of humor.
‘I don’t believe in suicide, but if I can’t find some humor, something in this, I will go to the highest tree and jump,’ she told the New York Post.
‘I’ve gotta find something in this that will get me through this.’