In 2003, Steven Klinsky and Maureen Sherry, seasoned stock market whizzes, purchased an apartment for well above $8 million dollars. Located in the moneyed section of Manhattan, between 50th Street and 60th Street, their newly purchased apartment was formerly owned by E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Located on the 14th floor, Klinsky and Sherry enjoyed breathtaking views of their Central Park high-rise. However, they became bored with those views, prompting a renovation.
Klinsky and Sherry desired to renovate their 4,200 square foot, roaring Twenties-Esque apartment in 2004. They commissioned it with Clough’s 212box design firm. The renovation’s focus was to give the children a novel living experience – to enable them to go on a scavenger hunt any time they wished. Klinsky gave Clough and his staff great latitude to create an architectural masterpiece with countless subtle clues and riddles.
Clough weaved 18 separate puzzle pieces into the apartment’s existing textiles. Embedded encryption took the form of hidden chambers, encrypted messages, text enigmas, and even a story that stitched 40 of history’s most important men and women from ceiling to floor. Clough made sure to camouflage his renovation secrets into the hybrid Roaring-Twenties-apartment-meets- 16th -century-Belgian-furniture motif. General Contractor Secure File Share camouflages your data, in the same way, to protect it from unwanted sight.
The circa 1920s co-op included exquisitely feathered tropical wood from faraway locales. The ornate wood and newly constructed walls helped Clough create his life-size mystery on Fifth Avenue.
Clough worked with the couple on some ideas and others he kept to himself. Along with Clough’s familiarity with encoding and cipher manuals, his furniture craftsmen also had their own hidden designs. While the outside construction took 18 months to complete, the hidden puzzle took 48 months to complete.
Clough used 40 of the greatest riddle-making minds he could find for the maze-making renovation. He and his team created 18 sequential clues including:
Aesthetics were not sacrificed and the renovation’s secrets went completely unnoticed for years due to Clough’s impeccable design and apartment functionality. Unbeknownst to the entire family, except for Steven who created the original idea to conceal a poem in the apartment’s wall, Clough took that idea and created additional original ciphers that even Steven was unaware of.
Months after the family settled into their re-designed apartment, Cavan Klinsky, their 11-year-old son and a friend noticed characters etched into the house.
Inscribed into the radiator, “FDYDQ” was one of many words the boys discovered and were initially baffled by. Cavan’s friend, however, was familiar with Caesar cipher. He realized this combination of letters was actually “Cavan,” an encryption language originally developed and implemented by Julius Caesar.
Caesar’s encryption method used a simple, but effective form of deception to the untrained eye. Shifting the written letter’s meaning by an agreed upon “X” moves to the left or right in the 26-letter alphabet. This mutually understood encryption was meant to let only the sender and recipient to be able to decode the message upon the agreed to shifting.
During the fall of 2007, when the family was settled in their home, Klinksy opened up an unexpected letter that contained an unexplained poem containing the following stanza:
“We’ve taken liberties with Yeats
to lead you through a tale
that tells of most inspired fates
in hopes to lift the veil.”
This poem began a scavenger hunt that they did not even know, except for Steven, was designed for their home, the same way an internet filing cabinet is designed for you.
Reading the poem let the family discover a secret panel in the facing hall that hid an alluring manuscript, setting the scavenger hunt in motion.
Upon reading the manuscript, Klinsky’s family was instructed to carefully remove door knockers from a few hallway panels. The family then had to assemble the door knockers together, making a crank, which helped to unlock additional concealed panels in the credenza in the dinette. From there, they discovered keys and a series of keyholes.
After the family figured out the right series of keys and their respective keyholes, the family gained entry to the drawers. In the drawers, the family found acrylic letters along with a table-sized cloth with spaces for the letters.
After assembling the letters, based on further clues, the family found themselves in their study, focusing on a rectangular panel. They found a magnetic cube that unlocked the remaining two dozen panels after it was passed over each panel. Put together, all the clues spelled out the original poem in large type.
A feature film is being made about this story.