Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette and then some ...

Christmas at The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach.
by Augustus Mayhew

Some recent real estate high notes spare me from a retro column of the past year's highlights, one year after the Bernard Madoff tsunami. Here are the year's brightest, the latest and the highest sales before taking a look at some of Worth Avenue's art galleries, who hosted the season's first Gallery Walk. Then, a morning visit during the holidays to St. Edward Church, designed by New York architect Mortimer D. Metcalfe (1880-1957), who was affiliated with several prestigious firms, Warren and Wetmore, among them, served as New York State Deputy Architect and assisted in the design of Grand Central Terminal.

Villa Leoncini sold for $6.8 million
With its plantings catalogued as part of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens, the historic Ballinger House, designed by architect Howard Major, was sold by the late Wynne Sharples Ballinger's estate for $6.8 million to Englewood Cliffs, N.J., residents, Richard Kurtz, and his wife, Patti Kurtz, according to the warranty deed. Wally Turner, associate at Sotheby's International represented the seller; Susan Furman, a salesperson with Linda A. Gary Real Estate, represented the buyer. The buyer, Richard Kurtz, heads up a New Jersey development company, Kamson Corporation, who along with architect James Paragano, recently transformed the original 60-acre Henry Clay Frick II (1919-2007) estate into the Estates at Alpine, retaining the historic 13,000+ square foot English Manor-style main house on 27 acres plus 12 additional estate sites.
Midtown sells for $2.5M

Seminole BD LLC, a West Palm Beach-based company, sold 201 Seminole Avenue for $2.5 million to David T. Collier, of Myrtle Beach, S. C., according to the court record. Built in 2007, the approx. 5,000-sq.-ft. two-story house was listed for $2.65 million by Jeremy A. Fasel, affiliated with Realty Associates Florida Property; the buyer was represented by Bobby Goodnough, associate with Linda A. Gary Real Estate.

Mizner's La Bellucia sold for $24 million, record high for 2009

The year's highest recorded sale is the landmarked oceanfront Addison Mizner-designed house, La Bellucia, in a recent $24 million sale from sportsman Malcolm Glazer to LA billionaire Jeff Greene. Yes, a bit of a skid from Maison d'Amitie's $95 million but in a year with uncommon house trades, friendly foreclosures, price meltdowns and lukewarm sales, the brokers on this sale deserve their commission checks. The property was strategically listed for $27.5 million by Paulette Koch and her partner/son, Dana Koch, associates with The Corcoran Group Palm Beach.
Set on more than three oceanfront acres, La Bellucia's sea oats and seagrapes form a barrier from the wind and sand.
Amazingly, La Bellucia sold within 30 days. The buyer's agents, Lynn Warren and Gary Little, are affiliated with Fite-Shavell & Associates, whose office is that sleek Streamline Moderne building at the northeast corner of North County Road and Royal Poinciana Way. Warren said the buyer looked at several offerings before settling on this spectacular estate south of the Bath & Tennis Club. A 20-year Palm Beach real estate veteran, formerly Mr. Warren was involved in marketing for Better Homes & Gardens, the magazine and book divisions.

While Mr. Glazer and his family still own several Palm Beach houses, Jeff Greene has listed his 50,000-sq.-ft.+ Beverly Hills house on 25 acres for lease and/or option, known as Palazzo di Amore, with Joyce Rey, among Southern California's penultimate real estate brokers. Along with his Lania Lane estate, Mr. Greene and his wife, Mei Sze Chan Greene, also have property in Malibu and Miami Beach, according to recently published reports. Mr. Greene's rise in the billionaire ranks, #317 with an est. $1.3 billion on this year's Forbes 400 list, has been widely reported by MSNBC, Forbes and was this week's Miami Herald cover feature in their Business Monday magazine, titled "The Greene Machine," detailing how he made a fortune from subprime loans. According to The Herald article, Mr. Greene owns three jets. Heidi Fleiss lived in his guesthouse for a year. His yacht, Summerwind, is undergoing repairs in a Miami boatyard. He worked as a busboy and waiter at The Breakers. And, he plays a role in Gregory Zuckerman's recently published book about John Paulsen, "The Greatest Trade Ever."
Looking towards the loggia connecting the living room and dining room, the ocean terrace is paved with coral stone.
Engel & Volkers opens Manalapan office

Despite what you read, some see the current market as an opportunity. PB's Engel & Volkers has opened an office in Manalapan. Located in Plaza del Mar, across from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the office's new associates include, Bunny Hiatt, Jack Elkins and Charlie Velie.

The Art of Palm Beach
"A coterie of fine artists and society leaders create an atmosphere of elegance ..." according to the caption below this Palm Beach Daily News photo at Wally Findlay Galleries, perhaps more than 35 years ago. L. to r., Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Simone Karoff, Wally Findlay, artist Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt "Marylou" Whitney, whose artwork was being showcased, and Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney.
Jimmy Barker, Janet Annenberg Hooker and Vincent Massinello photographed at a James Hunt Barker Gallery opening during the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Daily News.
The bygone black-tie and floor-length gown attire for art openings may be over but the spirits of Wally Findlay, Mary Sanford, Piero Aversa and Alice De Lamar were certainly felt during Thursday night's Gallery Walk on Worth, the first attempt in many-many years to revive a Palm Beach tradition that faded as galas, silent auctions and table gifts became the town's prevailing zeitgeist. Hard to believe the resort's artists, galleries and studios once outnumbered real estate offices and bankers in PB's Midtown where gallery visits were considered a must pre-dinner ritual. Fourteen galleries are planning to open from 6-8 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month through May, sponsored by the Palm Beach Daily News and the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a browse through several of the galleries ...
Reflections from the Gucci Courtyard add dimension to Albert Watson's 2008 photograph of Naomi Campbell in the Holden Luntz Gallery window.
Roseanna Ellman, Jodi Luntz and Holden Luntz at the Holden Luntz Gallery.
Pam Henderson and Laurel Baker.
Thursday night's A.R.T. opening coincided with the Gallery Walk.
The party at Cartier was also happening on the Avenue.
At the Phillips Galleries, French artist Paul Ambille's vibrant diptych, Concert at Cathedrale de Saint-Louis-des-Invalides hangs above the sofa.
Located next door to Tiffany's, Gasiunasen Gallery's entrance is a mix of the surreal and the sensuous.
Gallery owner Arij Gasiunasen. At Gasiunasen Gallery, Jim Dine's acrylic on canvas, Blaze Fury, 40" x 40," painted in 2007.
From Wally Findlay Galleries, Vase de Feuilles, 1942, by Georges Braque (1882-1963), an oil and gouache over pencil on joined paper laid down on canvas, 18 ¾” x 25 1/8,
Juan M. Pretel, gallery director at Wally Findlay Galleries.
Arcature Fine Art. Ryan Ross and Dara Ross, at Arcature Fine Art.
At Zara's Antiques, The Piping Shepherd, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 18th c. Oil on canvas. Anne and John Surovek.
A view of Surovek Gallery on Via Parigi from the plaza.
On Via Parigi, John H. Surovek Gallery features the work of Maine artist John Whalley, above, "Picture Day," one of several in a series depicting early Palm Beach.
Gallery Biba, a showcase for modern and contemporary art.
William Church, Sarah Gates and Candelaria Hernandez at Gallery Biba.
Via Parigi had a magical feel during Thursday night's Gallery Walk.
Susan and Lee Gordon with David Ginn, gallery director of DJT Fine Art, behind the desk.
DJT Fine Art is on Tenth Avenue in New York as well as on Via Bice in Palm Beach.
Jean Michel Basquiat at DTR Modern Galleries.
Bryan Walsh, director of DTR Modern Galleries. Bretau Gallery, whose name artist was designated "Official Painter of NASA," features out-of-this-world art.
Just before dark, James Burge was putting the finishing touches on his painting of Via Parigi.
The Surovek Gallery captures the spirit of the season.
The art of whimsy at Barzina.
Worth Avenue was once a showcase for art.
The Graff window appears ready for the art of gift-giving.
St. Edward Church
Following his design for the Palm Beach Hotel, NYC architect Mortimer Dickerson Metcalfe, along with the stone masons and artisans at Mizner Industries, crafted St. Edward Church. Metcalfe shuttled between Shelter Island and Palm Beach from 1929 until 1952, when he moved to Palm Beach permanently.
J. F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Rose Kennedy's father, was a founding member of St. Edward. The stained-glass windows were donated by Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Joseph and Rose Kennedy, among other parishioners.
The morning sun lights the church's nave and main altar, separated from the narthex by a wood screen and spiral columns capped with gold-painted foliated Corinthian capitals.
St. Edward on a bright sunny Palm Beach morning as seen from Green's Pharmacy across the street. A statue of St. Edward the Confessor rests above the entrance doors framed by elaborate cast concrete embellishments.
Happy Holidays!
Palm Beach's Living Landmark and Historian, James Augustine Ponce, crossing the street to begin his December 9th Worth Avenue Walking Tour.
Seen in front of The Colony Hotel, Thursday night at 5:30.
The scene at The Colony Hotel.
PB Real Estate Roulette notes ...

Wellington equestrian facility sells for $4.3 million

Saddle River resident Noel Love Gross sold her 20-acre Wellington equestrian facility at 15255 Estancia Lane for $4.3 million, according to the warranty deed filed December 11.

Listed for $5 million, the Palm Beach Point facility situated on four-five acre lots included a 4.700-sq.-ft. main house with two master suites, an 8-stall barn with a 3-bedroom apartment, two grooms' quarters, tack rooms, seven turnout fields and a paved golf cart path surrounding the property.

SOLD: Noel Love Gross's 20-acre Wellington equestrian facility.
Mrs. Gross acquired the property in two separate sales, buying fifteen acres in 1998 for $616,000 and two years later, an additional five acres for $225,000, according to the property appraiser's records.

Affiliated with the New Jersey Racing Commission since 1994 and a Guggenheim heir, Mrs. Gross lost her husband, Nelson G. Gross, more than a decade ago in a highly-publicized case when he was kidnapped at gunpoint by three teenagers, forced to withdraw cash from his bank account and after a weeklong manhunt was found murdered in an embankment near the Hudson River. The ordeal is the subject of the book, "Bigger Than Life: A Murder, a Memoir," written in 2007 by Dinah Lenney, a daughter from Mr. Gross's first marriage.

NYC developer snaps up Breakers Row penthouse for $8M

Cohen Brothers Realty of Florida LLC, headed by CEO and president Charles S. Cohen, paid $8 million for Louis Epstein's 3,600-sq.-ft. penthouse at Two North Breakers Row, according to published reports, making for the biggest condominium sale of 2009.

Mr. Cohen's NYC-based company (CBRC) built and developed the nation's prime design centers, the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, NYC's D&D Building, the Decorative Center in Houston and Design Center of the Americas in Dania, Florida. Mr. Cohen has residences in New York and Connecticut.

The seller, Mr. Epstein, purchased PH-1 in the South building, a warranty leasehold unit on The Breakers hotel property, in 1987 for $1.8 million.

Nadine House, of Nadine House Realty, Inc., represented the seller and the buyer.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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