|By Augustus Mayhew
The art of the deal has new meaning among Palm Beach’s real estate croupiers. Joanne Leibovit, her late husband, Louis Leibovit, was an attorney and Palm Beach Country Club founder, closed on her 110 Wells Road house this week at $4.6 million, having been under contract for many months with the buyer’s additions and alterations approved last year by ARCOM. The buyer, 110 Wells Rd Inc., managed by TAJA Realty Trust, a Massachusetts-based trust, secured a $5 million mortgage from the Boston branch of Ireland’s Anglo-Irish Bank plus the seller is holding a $1.387 million purchase money mortgage that, according to Exhibit B in recent court filings, is additionally secured by the following art works as collateral: three Jim Dine metal sculptures, two Barry Flanagan sculptures (Birdbath and Elephant with tusks), one Antonio Jacobsen painting, two Warhols (a screen print and a lithograph) and three Tom Wesselmann works, two color pencil pieces and an acrylic/pastel, Great American Nude.
Besides Christie’s recent auction of 54 pieces from connoisseurs George and Frayda Lindemann’s collection of French mid-century and Art Deco furnishings, as well as objet d’art from their former Peter Marino-designed Palm Beach house, reportedly resulting in sales of $3.9 million, the Lindemann’s pocketed a pre-holiday $8 million adjustable-rate mortgage @ 6.375% with JPMorgan Chase Bank for Casa del Corazon, their 3.4 acre estate a few gates north of Limbaughland on North Ocean Way, purchased for $23 million in September after they deposited the super-uber $67.5 + million from the sale of their Blossom Way oceanfront house.
|As Palm Beach County court clerks await the traditional year-end rush of December 30th real estate closings (will it happen this year?) PB and Newport pillar Maureen Donnell may be the only one in her Clambake Club circle that sold any Palm Beach real estate during the past two months, closing at $4 million on 300 Parc Monceau, her south of South End, 9000-sq.-ft., 5/8 lakefront that she and her late husband (Marathon Oil) paid $2.5 million for in 1984, according to property records. $4M is only about more than $10M short of what nearby lakefront teardowns have sold. But, Donnell is keeping it in the family. The buyer, Geoffrey Caraboolad, is Donnell's son from her first marriage and a Boston-based real estate developer.
Hogarcito, once home to Marjorie Merriweather Post, before she built Mar-a-Lago is still waiting for just the right buyer. The landmark is now represented by associate Stephen Ploof at the Linda A. Gary Real Estate bureau, the house was previously tagged by the former listing agent at $19.5 million. After Midwest serial bride, Marjorie M. Post, and her husband, E. F. Hutton, moved in to their first PB villa overlooking the Everglades Club golf course, MMP found the multi-story manse too small.
Thus, the Hutton's architect, Marion Sims Wyeth enlarged Hogarcito's crescent plan and, abracadabra, Mar-A-Lago, where the Huttons were able to bring in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Former AmEx CEO and Bristol-Myers Squibb exec, James D. Robinson III, and his wife, PR strategist, Linda Gosden Robinson, will be commuting from their 778 Park Avenue co-op to a new Florida hideaway. Having sold their Wellington pad for $4 million during the summer, they bought a $5.5 million golf course villa at Lost Tree Village, according to the warranty deed filed 24 December. Purchased from James and Kathy Batts, who paid $5.565 million in May 2007, the Robinsons' 6,600-sq.-ft. house features lake-and-fairway views and is a 25-minute drive north of Worth Avenue.
Among Mr. Robinson's numerous endeavors, he and his son, James IV -- who still owns a Wellington residence bought in May 2007 for $3.95 million -- are partners at RRE Ventures Inc., whose senior advisors include former U. S. Senator Sam Nunn, Terry Semel and Gustavo Cisneros.
And then, just how did Robert and Ellen Jaffe buy their Palm Beach house at 444 North Lake Way and will their astute paperwork protect their Florida homestead from any and all potential post-Madoff civil suits?
In January 2003 Mrs. Jaffe filed for Florida residency, claiming a lakeside apartment at 333 Sunrise Avenue as her primary residence, having previously purchased 447 Primavera Way in April 2002 for $6.25 million through the Jaffe’s Sylvan Trust.
Unfortunately, even for the Jaffes, building on one of the island’s non-conforming properties can prove treacherous, however aesthetic the site and the views, where variances often dictate a house’s final design. Eventually, in 2004 the same developer who sold them the property bought back the unfinished house for $8.4 million, only to sell it again ten months later to Southampton’s Randall and Barbara Smith, who tore the new MedRev house down and put up an even newer Italian Renaissance-inspired villa.
|Having nailed down the 444 North Lake Way property for $7.8 million, the Jaffes set up a trust as they did at 447 Primavera Way. This one was designated the Three Fours Trust, with their Boston attorneys, Lourie & Cutler's Amy Naughton and David Adelman, taking title as co-trustees, and when the lawyers subsequently resigned, title passed to the successor trustees, Robert and Ellen Jaffe, according to court records.
Along North Lake Way, the Jaffes find themselves next door to William and Phyllis Mack, no more than two doors from Bernard Madoff and a mere few steps to the south of Charles Bronfman. Bernie and Ruth Madoff own 410 N Lake Way (in Mrs. Madoff's name only), the former address of Peter Pulitzer who sold to developer Michael Burrows in 1989. Burrows demolished the old Pulitzer house, built new, and sold a new house to the Madoffs in 1994 for $3.8 million.
The Jaffes demolished the existing house, La Ronda, the John Volk-designed Modernist round house built for James and Ziuta Akston, and proceeded to build their version of a 21st-century Palm Beach, 11,000 sq. ft., winter cottage. Considering the Jaffe’s various savvy real estate maneuvers, who knows if Robert Jaffe might have tutored his North Lake Way neighbor, Bernard Madoff, on how to make real money?