“I’m afraid to tell you this, but I will tell you this: I really didn’t know her,” her old landlord told Vulture.
Despite being one of the most recognizable faces on the planet — and the highest-paid celebrity in the world — Taylor Swift’s old landlord admitted he actually didn’t know who she was before he met her.
David Aldea, a former Soho House executive, rented the “You Need to Calm Down” songstress a West Village townhouse for a period of time between 2016 and 2017 while her Tribeca apartment — which she still owns — was undergoing major renovations.
The 5,500-square-foot, four-bed, five-and-a-half-bath property, which was located at 23 Cornelia Street, is now forever immortalized in the ninth song on Swift’s new album, Lover, titled “Cornelia Street.”
In the ballad, Swift tells the story of starting a new, magical relationship and being scared for its potential demise because it would be difficult for her to ever revisit the place where she and her beau fell in love.
It begins with the line, “We were in the backseat/Drunk on something stronger than the drinks in the bar/’I rent a place on Cornelia Street’/I say casually in the car.” It is assumed that the song is referring to the beginning of Swift’s relationship with actor Joe Alwyn, 28, who she has been dating for almost three years.
Aldea, who owned the Cornelia Street home she is referencing for 15 years before selling it for $11.5 million earlier this year, admitted in an interview with Vulture that he was unaware of Swift’s fame at first.
“I’m afraid to tell you this, but I will tell you this: I really didn’t know her,” Aldea told the publication. “I’m just not a pop-culture guy, and I even said to someone, ‘I’m meeting a person named Taylor Swift who wants to rent my home.’ Now, mind you, I knew her songs because I had them on my running playlist. I just didn’t match the name to the song. I know, it’s silly.”
He does have strong memories of Swift now, however, noting that she exclaimed, “Oooh, it’s so crafty,” when she walked into the home, asking if she could rent it fully furnished.
“So towels and dishes and glassware and furniture and just kind of ‘Take your clothes and go,’” Aldea said. “So I did. She was an absolute delight to deal with.” He moved out and she moved in approximately two weeks later, with Swift renting the place for a reported $39,500 a month, according to Vulture.
Aldea says that the converted 1912 carriage house was ideal for the singer not only for its luxuries — like an indoor swimming pool! — but also because of the security it afforded her. Most of the windows faced into the backyard, and there was a massive garage that allowed her to come and go in a vehicle without being seen.
“Her SUV could pull into the garage, the garage doors would be closed, and from the outside, it kind of looks like a fortress,” Aldea said. “You never really see anything from the street.”
Swift returned to her Tribeca property in early 2017 when the renovations were complete, but the space evidently still means a lot to her as the birthplace of a relationship, which she opens up about in the new song.
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According to Aldea, Cornelia Street — which is only one block long — became a site of pilgrimage for Swifties everywhere: “It was a zoo on the street for probably the first two months,” he said. To this day, fans still leave flowers and invitations on the front steps.
As for Aldea, he no longer owns the place on Cornelia Street that became Swift’s muse, but he is honored to have a song written about his former property, he tells Vulture.
“I put my heart and soul into building, designing, and decorating this house, and for somebody like Taylor to come along and see what I saw and love what I loved, love what I created, it was a total compliment and I will always be grateful to her for that,” he said. “And when I heard the song came out, I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, that is the most incredible sort of thank you and nod that anyone could ever get.’”
We bet he won’t be forgetting her name any time soon!