Final days for flute-playing monkey in Gold Coast co-op?

Edward Minieka, 78, who owns the co-op unit, said he appears to have lost a battle with his neighbors to preserve the elaborate paint scheme in his foyer.

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A flute-player monkey and the other whimsical designs on the walls of Edward Minieka’s 12th-floor Gold Coast foyer are soon to be painted over — much to Minieka’s dismay.

A flute-player monkey and the other whimsical designs on the walls of Edward Minieka’s 12th-floor Gold Coast foyer are soon to be painted over — much to Minieka’s dismay.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

One day many years from now, a clumsy mover might thump the foyer wall with a sofa leg, chipping away the paint to reveal a monkey’s tiny hand.

Perhaps an art historian will be summoned, and she’ll gently peel away the paint to expose a fanciful scene beneath of a monkey playing a flute, another with a cello between its legs.

In the meantime, Edward Minieka, 78, is preparing himself for the worst: In early July, crews are expected to paint over the cherished design spread across the foyer outside his 12th-floor Gold Coast co-op unit, bringing to an end a monthslong neighbor dispute.

“It’s awful. I’ve decorated this foyer for decades, carefully and always in sync with the neighbors. And I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on it,” Minieka said this week.

The trouble is, Minieka isn’t in sync with his current 12th-floor neighbors, who are trying to sell their unit and want something brighter to lure potential buyers.

“I admire your enthusiasm for the lobby project completed so many years ago. I wonder if you could agree that it has had a very good run!” the woman who lives next door wrote in response to an email from Minieka explaining the history behind the foyer.

The co-op’s board of directors stepped in a few months back, saying it would come up with an alternative decor scheme. If squabbling owners couldn’t agree, then the board would pick one.

Minieka, whose unit is filled with antiques, has been told the painting crew is coming July 5. Unless he can find legal help between now and then, he said he’s resigned to seeing the foyer, which also includes an ornate French mirror dating to the 1730s, painted over.

“If you have not done so already, please make all necessary arrangements to remove all your personal belongings from this area,” the building’s property manager wrote in a June 16 email to Minieka. “The Board of Directors may presume that you do not want any items which remain in the common elevator vestibule after the above-mentioned date and time.”

The property manager said he had no comment when reached by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Minieka said the new lobby design isn’t to his liking, but it’s the best of the three the board proposed.

“It’s a cheap, white paint-over job,” he said.

Cheap, perhaps, by Gold Coast standards. The total price, which includes a 1960s Italian crystal chandelier, is about $4,000, according to estimates Minieka received. The couple selling their condo are on the hook for the renovation, Minieka said. The couple could not be reached for comment.

It’s always possible, Minieka concedes, that the people who buy the neighboring unit might have tastes more like his.

“At this point, I’m so devastated by this, I don’t want to spend any more money on the foyer,” he said.

A rendering of the remodeled foyer.

Here’s what the remodeled foyer is expected to look like.


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