Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette

A sign of the times or a Gulfstream G550 landmark for take-offs and landings? Palm Beach's uber-confidential Realtor, Lawrence Moens, thinks big and puts his name up in lights 24/7, if not his quiet listings, on this billboard located at Southern Boulevard and I-95. Mr. Moens' off-the-chart ionospheric sales for $95 million, $90 million, $68 million, $50 million, you get the picture, have made him PB's most-sought-after vestpocket broker.
By Augustus Mayhew

A substantial oceanfront unit at The Breakers has sold to a well-known New York City resident. The William S. Farishes have signed off on Gulf Stream. A prominent New Jersey developer has snapped up a Midtown condo. And, yet another Washingtonian has added a Palm Beach address, reason to glance at a round-up of the DC-to-PB influx

The Samuel N. Shapiro family have sold their Two North Breakers Row condo for $7.6 million to Bob Roberts, according to court papers recorded April 6th by Palm Beach attorney Maura Ziska, who closed the transaction with a warranty leasehold estate deed conveyed by trustees of the Samuel N. Shapiro Marital Deduction Trust.

In 1986 the Samuel Shapiros purchased the 3,000-sq.-ft. unit for $1 million from Flagler Systems Inc., owners of The Breakers that have a leasehold estate on the land. Mr. Shapiro, who died in 2001, was the president of the Maryland Cup Corporation and Sweetheart Plastics Inc., the nation's leading manufacturer of disposable containers for fast-food burgers, theater popcorn buckets and ice cream cups.
A Two North Breakers Row apartment sold last week for $7.6 million, affording the new Upper East Side New York owner access to the hotel's splendid amenities and room service.
The buyer, Bob Roberts, sold his Palm Beach Biltmore condominium in 2005 for $3.6 million. Mr. Roberts owns an extensive New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania-Florida portfolio of commercial buildings and shopping centers. In New York, Mr. Roberts resides at 4 East 80th Street, the former Barbara Hutton mansion.

Two North Breakers Row has made news recently as several residents are tangled in the Madoff flap, including Bernard Marden and Carl and Ruth Shapiro.

Deep discount sells Gulf Stream oceanfront ...

Bubble sitters take note.

From Jupiter Island to Miami buyers have a vast selection of available oceanfront estates priced from $12 to $72 million. Nonetheless, a Gulf Stream couple, James and Jane Orthwein, were not deterred from spending $8.38 million, according to the warranty deed, for William and Sarah Farish’s two-acre estate set on 175 ft. of oceanfront, more than $5.5 million less than the property’s original listing price only a few months ago. Even though the 8,000-sq.-ft. Bermuda-style house, steps south of the exclusive Mizner-designed Gulf Stream Golf Club, featured a two-bedroom former president George W. Bush slept-here guest house, it remained unsold. But unlike the hundreds of other waterfront sandcastles languishing on the market, the Farishes chopped their price to $11.9 million, having already resettled in Boca Grande near the family's historic Gasparilla Inn & Club.

A scion of the St. Louis Busch family, James B. Orthwein, Jr., took title as trustee for the James B. Orthwein, Jr. Revocable Trust, according to court documents. In 2002 the Orthweins sold their other Gulf Stream property, 330 Banyan Road, for $5 million.

The Delray Beach office of The Corcoran Group listed and sold the Farish property.

NJ commercial developer acquires Royal Palm Way condo ...
In April 2007 a penthouse at One Royal Palm Way sold for $4.225 million.
New York City residents Richard E. and Jean Deems have parted with their One Royal Palm Way condo, unit A-5, for $2.9 million to Joseph and Sharon Muscarelle, according to recent court records. Located across the street from the Midtown public beach, Richard and Jean Deems bought their apartment in 1994 for $530,000. Mr. Deems is former head of Hearst magazines and a director of the WR Hearst Foundation; Mr. Muscarelle is CEO of the Jos. L. Muscarelle Company in Maywood, NJ. Previously, the Muscarelles owned unit G-4 in the building, purchased for $1.2 million in 2003.

In addition, Clare and P. Kevin Condon have their B-4 unit under contract that was listed for $2.6 million by Mary Boykin at Sotheby's. The Condons purchased their apartment in August 2004 for $1.975 million. Other residents in the building include former Dean Witter head, James F. Higgins, who paid $2.6 million for his penthouse in 2000, lipstick VIP Martin Revson and financier John D. Koch, who paid $3.5 million in 2004.

Washington Merry-Go-Round: DC in PB ...
A Midtown Palm Beach house that sold last week to a Washington couple, Joel and Carol Jankowsky, looks as if it could have been transplanted from a Georgetown street. Let's see, if they can add an off-street parking space, in Georgetown that might add a million to the resale value.
Palm Beach's breezy patios and cushy loggias have always been a sanctuary for frontline Washingtonians wanting some distance from Capitol Hill handshakes, Chevy Chase wing chairs and Kalorama fireplaces, finding reprieve from the glare of White House seating charts and Pentagon protocols. While the island may lack L'Enfant's sophisticated geometry, its social circles more than atone with their convergence of the political right and left's deepest pockets. Where else could a Valerie Plame and a Dick Cheney run into more of their old friends than at the Publix in Palm Beach?

Until her final byline in 2004, Garnett Stackelberg’s social column in the Palm Beach Daily News was a weekly must for DC’s who’s who, who liked knowing the latest Georgetown happenings. The island’s shady palms have attracted presidents, generals, OSS-CIA retirees, Red Cross ambassadors, Alexander Haig and, most recently, lawyers, lobbyists and real estate brokers. No matter how soft the island’s real estate market, Beltway habitues remain undaunted in their acquisition of Palm Beach pads. Lately, with so few closings, NW and SW addresses have become more noticeable, perhaps making the DCA-PBI shuttle as popular as LGA-PBI.
Purchased from Ivana Trump for $2.55 million in 2004, this Via Palma house was bought by Washington renovator Erick Cedron and broker-investor Ted Gossett. Mr. Cedron quit-claimed his interest in the house in February 2008 to Mr. Gossett who is also affiliated with Sotheby's in Palm Beach.
A Washington attorney Joel Jankowsky, affiliated with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld LLP, one of DC’s most prominent lobbying firms, bought 250 Pendleton for $3 million, a half-million less than what it sold for in 2005. According to their web site, Mr. Jankowsky's represents "numerous clients with an emphasis on entertainment, telecommunications and technology-related issues." Several weeks earlier, another DC attorney, Sanda K. Lambert, closed on the late Dysie Davie’s house on Windsor Court for $3.54, buying it in the name of the Sanda K. Lambert Revocable Trust.

Last fall DC exec and tire scion, John D. Firestone, paid seller Carroll Petrie $3 million for 151 Seaview Avenue. According to court records, Petrie took a $500,000 loss on a house that has seen four different owners in two years. Previously, in March 2006, Mr. Firestone acquired a Villa d’Este condo on Everglade Avenue for $1.3 million.
Pictured above currently undergoing makeover touch-ups, 125 Wells Road was purchased by Ted Gossett with partner, Robert M. Abee, in June 2008, financed by an $8 million commercial mortgage from NC-based Branch Banking and Trust Company, secured by the Wells Road property and the Via Palma house, according to court documents.
But, aside from Vicki Bagley, Yolande Fox, William L. Walde and other prominent Potomac denizens, real estate brokers from one of the District's first-class firms, Washington Fine Properties, appear to be DC-to-PB’s most frequent fliers, inking more than dozen warranty deeds filed mostly during the past several years.

Ted Gossett, an associate broker at WFP, who lists "renovating houses in Palm Beach" as one of his "outside interests," along with partner, Erick J. Cedron, appear to have begun their PB transactions in 2002 when they bought a North Lake Way house for $1.5 million; selling it August 2007 for $3.7 million. Mr. Gossett's client roster includes Ethel Kennedy, Sargent and Eunice Shriver, and former North Carolina senator, John Edwards.
Last year Mr. Cedron and Mr. Gossett bought 134 Casa Bendita for $5.7 million. Still needing some polish to be brought up to showroom standards, the former Durie Appleton house is steeped with Washington gossip, as the late Miss Appleton spent her life refuting allegations that she was secretly married to John F. Kennedy, although she always said they only met once.
Two other Washington brokers, Dana E. Landry and William F. X. Moody, are also caught-up in PB's real-estate revolving door. In 2006 Landry and Moody acquired 232 Sandpiper for $3.375 million, one of PB's most popular quick-change-of-addresses with seven different owners in eight years, quickly turning it around to Elesabeth I. Gillet who plunked down $4.07 million for the North End's most irresistible house. Coincidentally, the same month, Mrs. Gillet had sold Pelican Hall, 159 Via del Lago, for $11.8 million to District notable William Tiefel and his wife, Norma K. Tiefel, a native Washingtonian.

Before taking on Palm Beach projects, Mr. Landry, principal broker at WFP, conveyed several buy-and-sells in Palm Beach County before acquiring 341 N. Lake Way for $1.4 million with Mr. Moody, selling it four years later for $1.8 million, according to court records. In addition to their joint island properties, Mr. Landry also owns property in West Palm Beach, recently adding a foreclosure to his portfolio at the One City Plaza highrise for $430,000. Additionally, in 2005 Mr. Moody, a co-founder and partner at WFP, acquired a PB condo at 330 S. Ocean for $750,000, letting it go last year for $1.165 million.
Mr. Landry and Mr. Moody snagged One Pelican Lane for $5 million and cashed it in for $13 million last summer to their neighbors who wanted to expand their waterfront estate.
Mr. Landry and Mr. Moody bought 260 Dunbar, the former Melhado residence, last summer for $6.4 million.
Two months after closing on the Dunbar property, Mr. Landry and Mr. Moody acquired 241 El Vedado, for $8.2 million. Known as Twin Banyans, the house was designed by John Volk for Harold and Sue Whitmore.
And, if anyone still believes living and working in a gold mine might be all sparkle and glow, considering Lin Gosman's recent fate and recalling Gregg Dodge Moran's similar misfortune, though her missteps were compounded by the tragic loss of her husband, ponder the fate of a South End mansion district couple whose financial facade became unglued after appearing in the book, Tiffany's Palm Beach, John Loring's stylish PB showcase.

Chapter 7 in Palm Beach

Palm Beach residents Jeffrey and Dawn Prosser are in the third year of their $400+million, or is it $600+ million, Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, involving Mr. Prosser's various Virgin Island, BVI, Belize, France and other offshore telecommunication holdings with New York hedge fund, Greenlight Capital, being one of Prosser's largest debtors ($130 million plus).

During the past year of court filings, Mrs. Prosser unsuccessfully attempted to sever herself from her husband's case; instead, bankruptcy judge, Judith Fitzgerald, as well as the appeals court judge, Curtis V. Gomez, attached her children's assets allegedly acquired through corporate credit cards. Previously, the El Bravo Way residents surrendered to court-appointed trustees their Boeing jet, Bentley Arnage, a Pissaro painting, "Le grand noyer" that Christie's gaveled at $4.2 million last May, sixteen of Mr. Prosser’s sixty Armani suits, cuff links and several cable and telephone companies, including the Virgin Islands Daily News.
Jeffrey and Dawn Prosser's historic Palm Beach house has yet to become part of their Chapter 7 scenario, photographed during last year's storm season with their shutters secured and a Ford Escape in the driveway.
Although the Prossers have lost every appeal during the past year, according to court documents, they have not let go of their two prime real estate holdings, yet. They still own a Lake Placid, NY, residence, albeit Mrs. Prosser's most recent attempts to block the sale have failed and their El Bravo Way PB house, purchased by Prosser's Innovative Communication Corp. for $5.65 million in 1999 before being deeded to the Prosser's personally six months later for the same amount. In March, the trustee liquidated their St. Croix property at 143 Anna's Hope for $800,000. Last week the court gave an initial approval for Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative to acquire Mr. Prosser's existing companies. RTFC is owed more than $500 million by Mr. Prosser and his corporate interests.

Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.