Lurking just beneath the surface of the Klinsky family’s real life home in Manhattan, is a secret world that could double as the set for a Harry Potter film. Architect Eric Clough built a secret scavenger hunt into their $8.5 million, 4,200 square foot Fifth Avenue apartment; complete with riddles, ciphers, poems, hidden doors and compartments, mazes, treasures and games. No child, or adult, for that matter, could ever claim boredom again, dwelling in this enchanting masterpiece.
Almost more awe inspiring than the scavenger hunt itself, is the fact that it took the Klinsky family four months to discover it… and then several weeks to decipher it.
Clough turned the high-end renovation for which he was hired, into a “Rube Goldberg-like contraption.” Clough explains his illumination for building this Mystery on Fifth Avenue, saying, “I’d just read something about Einstein being inspired by a compass he’d been given as a child… I was thinking that maybe there could be a game or a scavenger hunt embedded in the apartment — that was the beginning.” Clough’s creative undertaking turned into a labor of love through which he “begged, borrowed and stole” from more than forty friends and artisans “in the collaborative process.”
The Klinskys slowly but surely started to unearth clues that their home was keeping many secrets. When the young son of the family had a friend sleep over, it was he who discovered the first signs of the embedded hunt. While lying on the floor, he noticed dozens of letters that were cut into the radiator grill. He further realized they were a cipher which spelled out Cavan’s (the son of the family’s) name. The family continued to find additional ‘clues’ for which they couldn’t make out any rhyme or reason.
They contacted Clough with regard to their gradual, cryptic findings, and he remained coy for more than a year before sending them a letter directing them to a hidden panel in their front hall containing a book filled with 18 perplexing clues that led them on a scavenger hunt through their own apartment.
“…the finale involved, in part, removing decorative door knockers from two hallway panels, which fit together to make a crank, which in turn opened hidden panels in a credenza in the dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which, when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of a crossword puzzle, the answers to which led to one of the rectangular panels lining the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, the poem written by Mr. Klinsky.”
Mr. Klinsky, the father of the house, in his initial meetings with Clough, had given him the “vague request that a poem he had written for and about his family be lodged in a wall somewhere” in the apartment. Clough certainly delivered, and then some. Talk about poetic justice.