Trump snares $100 million contract on oceanfront estate


EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally was published in the Palm Beach Post print edition on May 15, 2008, on page 1A. It was posted online on Friday, March 10, 2017.

The Donald is getting his price.

An oceanfront Palm Beach mansion Donald Trump owns is under contract for sale to an unnamed foreign buyer for $100 million — the property’s official asking price — according to sources close to the billionaire real estate mogul.

The 80,000-square-foot property at 515 N. County Road sits on 6 acres and has 475 feet of unobstructed oceanfront, making the price per linear foot $210,526.

» RELATED: Trump in Palm Beach: Why did Russian pay so much for his mansion?

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Trump would not comment on the just-signed contract except to say that the property “is the best piece of land anywhere.”

The deal reflects the still-booming mansion market in Palm Beach, a market seemingly immune to the gyrations in the residential real estate industry.

“It speaks to the absolute wonder of Palm Beach and why everybody wants to be here,” said Susan Polan, a broker associate with Illustrated Properties Real Estate of Palm Beach.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

The unnamed buyer is considering tearing down the recently remodeled mansion and possibly subdividing the property, according to sources. Although bulldozing an 80,000-square-foot luxury estate might seem bizarre for the average homeowner, it’s nothing new for ultra-rich buyers willing to pay huge sums for precious oceanfront property.

Trump paid the fire-sale price of $41.35 million for the estate in 2004. He bought it from bankrupt Abe Gosman, a former health-care magnate and Palm Beach philanthropist, then poured $25 million into a renovation overseen by Kendra Todd, winner of the third season of Trump’s TV show The Apprentice. The redo resulted in a 62,000-square-foot mansion with nine bedrooms, a ballroom, a conservatory and a 48-car garage.

But as proof that even the super-rich are not completely immune to the whims of the market, Trump did have to come down from his original asking price of $125 million.

» MORE: Ghost mansions of Palm Beach

When he put the estate up for sale in October 2006, it was the most expensive property listed for sale in the United States at the time. The part-time Palm Beach resident, owner of Mar-a-Lago, only recently dropped the price to $100 million.

Neither his listing agent, Lawrence Moens of Palm Beach, nor the buyer’s agent, Carol Digges of Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach, returned phone calls seeking comment.

If the deal closes, it would set a record for Palm Beach, surpassing the $81.5 million paid in April for the home of billionaire businessman Sidney Kimmel. The buyer of that home, at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd., was former Goldman Sachs partner John L. Thornton.

Not surprisingly, the $100 million price doesn’t faze luxury real estate agents here who deal regularly with buyers wanting a sweeping view of the ocean.

“This is really pristine direct oceanfront property,” said Burt Minkoff, a real estate agent with The Corcoran Group on Palm Beach.

Moens, considered a deal-maker extraordinaire, was brought in a few months ago to replace the former listing agent, Christina Condon of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Three years ago, Trump predicted Moens would sell the estate at this exact price - before the property even went up for sale. In a 2005 interview with the Palm Beach Daily News, Trump said, “I probably will use Lawrence Moens to market it, and I’ll sell it for $100 million.”

Trump has turned down $90 million and other offers of $85 million and up. Around the time he switched to Moens, Trump floated the notion of turning the property into a high-end hotel.

The property has a rich history of ownership by captains of industry, who have used it to entertain politicians and artists for nearly 100 years. The original house was designed by H. Hastings Mundy in 1917 for Robert Dun Douglass, a New Jersey financier whose family founded Dun & Bradstreet, according to Jansen, by James Archer Abbott. The property later was bought by Charles Wrightsman of Standard Oil Co. He entertained such guests as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.

In 1985, Leslie Wexner, chief executive of retail giant Limited Brands Inc., bought the site for $10 million and razed the original estate. Miffed when the town would not let him open The Limited store on Worth Avenue, Wexner decided not to rebuild and sold the land for $12 million to Gosman.

In 1990, Gosman built the current French-Renaissance-style home and called it Maison de L’Amitié, or House of Friendship. Famous Gosman guests included Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel; President George H.W. Bush; and the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

The property is appraised at $58 million by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office, which put the 2007 tax bill at $980,033, according to county records.

- alexandra_clough@pbpost.com



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