Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette

Listed for $29.5 million by Cris Condon at Sotheby’s International Palm Beach, Louwana is the landmark estate designed in 1919 by Addison Mizner for Marie Louise Wanamaker Munn and Gurnee Munn. As you may recall in 2008, the Spence School bought the Wanamaker-Munn House at 17 East 90th St. from the estate of Aimee de Heeren.
Palm Beach’s wheel of fortune
By Augustus Mayhew

As today’s herd of Louboutinistas highstep down Worth Avenue, Palm Beach’s best-known icon from its barefoot era, Lilly Pulitzer, has put up a For Sale sign at her South County Road one-acre estate. Liza Pulitzer, a Brown Harris Stevens associate, has the $11.5 million listing on the Kemp Caler-designed early-1980's four-bedroom main house that features a three-bedroom casita and a pool house, “stamped by the iconic fashion designer’s elegant yet casual aesthetic,” according to the BHS web site. The site was originally the western portion of Elizabeth and Alfred Kay’s Casa Ananda. The Kays’ main house that now fronts South Ocean Boulevard has been ground zero for the DeMille-scaled renovation by author James Patterson that appears to be nearing completion.

Four doors north of the Pulitzer jungle, Carroll Petrie has re-priced Elephant Walk, her well-manicured house on County Road that has a Jungle Road address, once owned by C. V. and Mary Lou Whitney, and before them, Alfons and Alexandra Landa. Petrie bought it in 2008 for $7.45M and has it now listed at $9.6M with Fite Shavell’s Gary Little. Nearby at Casa Nana, Terry and Cynthia Taylors’ big dig that closed South Ocean for a few days was completed in record time. Now whoever buys the Mizner-designed onetime Woolworth Donahue estate can walk to the beach unnoticed in their private tunnel. Further south on Ibis Isle, Kelly Klein is moving forward with approvals to build a Smith and Moore-designed house on her newly-acquired Waterway lot.
Carroll Petrie's Elephant Walk. Petrie bought it in 2008 for $7.45M and has it now listed at $9.6M. (Stevens Photography via The Wall Street Journal).
Recently, Suzanne DelChambere Munn died; she was the third Mrs. Gurnee Munn Jr. Her North End house at 249 Sandpiper Drive was sold for $1.15 million to Sandpiper PB LLC. When Gurnee died in the late 1970s, Suzanne had a publicized kerfuffle with her stepchildren who questioned the cause of their father’s death and attempted to get a court order to exhume him. Although Mr. Munn was allowed to rest in peace, it remains uncertain whether the matter was ever clearly settled. I met with Mrs. Munn several times but unfortunately found her French-accented English very difficult to decipher. I could never quite understand whether she and Gurnee met on the beach in Marbella or a Parisian cafe. Nonetheless, in 2008 she made the local papers again when matters arising out of her guardianship made for several days of news stories.

Here is a look at some of the latest and a glimpse at Uncommon Palm Beach, a mid-century modern house on Ibis Isle inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Schulhofs sell 1075 North Ocean Boulevard for $22.5M
Architect Thomas Kirchoff designed this Venetian-style Mediterranean estate located next door to the Wanamaker-Kennedy house.
New York residents Michael and Paola Schulhof appear to have taken $500K less than the $23 million they paid for 1075 N. Ocean Blvd in 2008, although thus far, still making for the year’s largest sale. Mr. Schulhof, former Sony-US head, was represented by Cris Condon, associate at Sotheby’s International Realty Inc.

This is the 3rd Palm Beach house the Schulhofs have bought-and-sold during the past few years. The buyer was the Bruce T. Halle 2003 SB Irrevocable Trust, represented by Lawrence A. Moens, principal of Lawrence A. Moens Associates Inc.

Paola and Michael Schulhof.
Mr. Halle is founder and CEO of Discount Tire, the largest tire retailer in the world with headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The seven-bedroom more than 10,000-square–foot Mediterranean-style residence was built on spec in 2007 by Paul Wittmann and partner, Peter Callahan, former National Enquirer owner.

They bought the site from Paul Saville for $8.2M, who had bought it about a year before for $6.9M from Mollie Wilmot’s estate. Wittmann Building Corp constructed a Kirchoff-designed house, selling it in 2007 to the Schulhofs for $23M, when $23M was the low end of oceanfront prices.

Although located next door to La Guerida, the Wanamaker-Kennedy estate, the property became infamous when a 500-ton Venezuelan freighter crashed into four-time divorcee Mollie Wilmot’s seawall during the 1984 Thanksgiving holiday. Mollie had acquired the modernist beach house in her contentious divorce two decades earlier from Albert C. Bostwick, Jr.

Originally, 1075 NOB was designed by Maurice Fatio for Evangeline Johnson when she was addressed as Princess Zalstem-Zalessky.

AIG co-founder, former CEO pays $5 million for 725 North Lake Way
Henry and Marie-Josee Kravis have a new neighbor moving in at 725 North Lake Way, across the street from their waterfront enclave.
In an apparent short sale, Richard Haisfield, acting as trustee of the 725 Lake Way Trust, along with his wife, Audrey L. Haisfield, sold their 725 N. Lake Way for $5.05 million to Connecticut resident, Howard Sosin, co-founder of AIG Financial. Reportedly listed for as much as $14 million two years ago and more recently for $9.75 by Steve Simpson, an associate with Fite Shavell & Associates, the two-story six-bedroom house was built in 2004 and sold the following year to the Haisfields for $8.6 million.

The buyer, Mr. Sosin, was represented by Scott M. Gordon, also of Fite Shavell & Associates. Previously, the Sosins paid $4M for a Jupiter Island house, demolished it; then, leased a house on Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, the sellers have a lengthy record of court filings in Palm Beach and Kentucky where they own a thoroughbred horse farm. Various Haisfield-owned properties have been subject to mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcy protection.

Bernard and Ruth Madoff’s headquarters sold, finally
With his brother Bernie's North Lake Way house now disposed, Peter and Marion Madoff continue to luxuriate at their well-trimmed 200 Algoma Road house in the South End, pictured above. According to various reports, this is where Ruth Madoff houseguests when she is in Palm Beach.
Although the Madoff closing was announced several weeks ago throughout the universe, the US Marshals Service recorded a $5.65 million warranty deed on the public record as of November 9. Although the unnamed cash buyer was reportedly from California; according to court filings and affidavits, the Texas buyer is the Bray Children’s Trust, Samuel J. Chantilis, trustee. Samuel J. Chantilis, M.D., a prominent Dallas-based fertility specialist, financed the transaction with a $5.2 million mortgage from the Dallas office of Compass Bank. Dr. Chantilis is listed among the nation’s best infertility experts. The buyer was represented by Mary Boykin, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty Inc. The initial asking price for 410 North Lake Way in September 2009 was $8.9M, although the property was once valued at $11 million and was valued at $9.3 million last year in the recorded forfeiture agreement. Most recently, the asking was adjusted to $6.5 million. The listing Corcoran brokers were Jim McCann and Burt Minkoff.

Maddock waterfront lot settles for $15 million
The Maddock family’s Landmark Estates Lot 3 lakefront parcel sold for $15 million.
Paul L. Maddock Jr. and the Bessemer Trust Co., as co-trustees, and Maddock, along with several family members, sold the family-owned Landmark Estates waterfront Lot 3, divided into two separate parcels. For the southerly parcel of Lot 3, PB Dock LLC, a Florida company, paid $7.508 million; PB Waterway LLC, also a Florida company, paid $7.503 million for the north portion. Both companies are represented by accountant David Lifson, at Crowe Horwath LLP in New York, and Robert Brody, a West Palm Beach attorney.

The buyers were represented by Realtor Lawrence A. Moens, principal of Lawrence A. Moens Associates Inc.

This whimsical painting by a local Palm Beach artist is in Paul Maddock’s South County Road office. It depicts Duck’s Nest, the Maddock family’s 1891 landmark family homestead, in an ark-like Orville Bulman fashion. Palama is an acronym for Paul Lacoste Maddock
“Considering the recent contraction in the general market, we were happy to make the sale at this price level,” said Mr. Maddock who described the sale as “bittersweet,” “considering how long this property has been associated with my family’s history in Palm Beach.”

Adjacent to the deconsecrated Old Bethesda Church, Lot 3 contains 45,973 square feet, or 1.06 acres, and has approximately 180 feet of lake frontage, according to the plat filed in 2008.

The Maddock family subdivided the historic Duck’s Nest-Old Bethesda Church property into Landmark Estates in 2008. Two vacant Landmark Estates parcels on the north side of Maddock Way remain on the market, priced at $5 million and $5.5 million, Maddock said. The larger of the two dry lots, Lot 6, is .62 acres.

The family still owns Duck’s Nest, its 1891 historic lakefront homestead, and the deconsecrated Old Bethesda Church, home to interior designer Mimi Maddock McMakin.

Out Wellington Way

The Ethel Walker School, Simsbury, Connecticut, has sold a 3.6 acre equestrian parcel with a residence at 2705 Appaloosa Trail in Welllington for $1.85 million to Derbydown South LLC, whose principals are Bright Star 158 LLC and Louise Serio. In May 2010, the Ethel Walker School was deeded the property for $10 by Forbes-listed Franklin Resources billionaire Charles B. Johnson. Mr. Johnson paid $2.2 million for the property owned by family member Sarah Johnson Redlich, a trustee of the Ethel Walker School who serves on the school’s investment committee. Sarah Redlich had bought the property in 2007 for $1.85 million.

Marilla Van Beuren, of Newport and a direct descendant of John Archbold, president of Standard Oil, has sold a 10-acre equestrian facility at 12295 Indian Mound Road, Wellington, for $1.8 million to Joanne G. Stoudenmier of Crosby, Texas. Van Beuren bought the property in 2002 for $975,000.

Ex-Tyco CFO sells Casa Vera for $9.2 million
The entrance gates to Casa Vera, a 1920s Mediterranean mansion designed by Marion Sims Wyeth that has never been landmarked.
Former Tyco CFO Richard Power and his wife, Maria, have sold Casa Vera at 125 Via Del Lago for $9.285 million to GEH Properties LLC, a Florida-registered company based at the Clinton Group office in New York. Last December George E. Hall, Clinton Group founder and president, bought 190 Via Palma for $3.975 million as LAH Properties LLC. LAH are Mrs. Hall’s initials. Their latest acquisition is one block north of their current Palm Beach house.

Formerly listed for more than $15 million, in September Lawrence A. Moens principal of Lawrence A. Moens Associates Inc., acquired the listing for $11.5 million and represented both the seller and the buyer for the transaction. The unlandmarked 1928 Mediterranean-style estate was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth for Dr. Thomas Bennett, a prominent anesthesiologist who was known to have put to sleep more celebrities than any other doctor of his time

In 1998 The Powers paid $4.5 million for Casa Vera. During his tenure at Tyco, Mr. Power was accused of numerous SEC infractions that were eventually settled with civil penalties.
According to the county appraiser’s office, 125 Via del Lago has a current market value is $7.08 million.
200 Jungle Road sells for $7.2 million
Listed for $7.9 million by Ned Monell, associate at Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., 200 Jungle Road has sold for $7.2 million. The buyer was represented by Carole Hogan at Brown Harris Stevens Palm Beach. In May 2007, Maria K. Bockmann bought the property from John and Elizabeth Schuler for $7.7 million.
661 North Lake Way sold for $5.4 million
Thomas and Judith Iovino sold their 661 North Lake Way house for $5.4 million. Listed for $6.45 million by Corcoran associates Paulette Koch and Dana Koch, the 6,500-sq.-ft. Gottfried-built four bedroom house features a two-bedroom guest house. The couple bought the house for $2.7 million in 2003. Mr. Iovino is CEO of Judlau Contracting, College Point, NY.
ARCOM approves demolition for century-old Breakers golf cottage
Twilight at 45 Cocoanut Row. ARCOM approved the demolition of the truly historic Breakers golf clubhouse, to be replaced by sod and landscaping. With much of Palm Beach’s authentic charm already supplanted by contextual ersatz designs, the loss of this reportedly more than century-old Shingle-style ensemble without the slightest nod of recognition allows the island’s more serious preservationists to safeguard and defend a nearby shopping center and supermarket. Across the street from The Breakers golf course, Rabbit Hill, another more than century-old significant historic landmark, remains undesignated.
Jordanian royal couple make $3.6M price adjustment

Having previously listed their 1320 North Lake Way house with Corcoran for $17.5 million, purchased in July 2008 for $11 million, Princess Alia Al-Hussein of Jordan, the eldest daughter of the late King Hussein, and her husband, Mohammad Anwar Farid Al-Saleh, have listed the seven bedroom 10,000-sq.-ft. lakefront house with Brown Harris Stevens for $13.9 million. The Jordanian royal couple also owns the house next door at 1330 North Lake Way. Princess Alia’s brother, King Abdullah, is the current ruler of Jordan.

New dawn for Worth Avenue
7:12 a.m. Sunday morning at Worth Avenue’s new clock tower.
The new plaza between Chanel and Tiffany & Co.
The Hibiscus plaza is nearing completion.
Finding a flat on Worth Avenue is always difficult during the season.
Renato’s in the Via Mizner.
Worth Avenue arcade.
Timeless Worth Avenue at the ocean.
The taxman cometh

Even with the ongoing high-end price meltdown, it still appears two Palm Beach residential property owners will have the privilege of writing a $1 million-plus check for their 2010 property taxes, according to the property appraiser’s November 1st market value assessments.

Nelson & Claudia Peltz will be sending Palm Beach County’s tax collector slightly more than $1.4 million for Montsorrel, their more than 12-acre spread at 545-548 North County Road, with an aggregate appraised market value of about $80 million, downhill from last year’s approx. $100 million.
Montsorrel, 545 North County Road, was originally purchased by Nelson and Claudia Peltz for $13.5 million from the estate of Anita O’Keeffe Young in 1987; later, the Peltzes added the six-acre parcel across the street.
Next door at Maison d’Amitie, oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev’s onshore winter palace at 515 North County Road where he reportedly paid $95 million in July 2008, the 2010 tax brings some good news. The tax bill of $1.09M is down from last year’s $1.4 million, based on an appraised market value of $57.7 million, just a few rubles short of whatever amount he might have paid.

Down on Billionaire’s Row, residents will have a little more jingle as this year’s appraised market values have lost some of their edge. At Casa Apava, the Dwight Schars, who reportedly paid Ron Perelman somewhere between $70-$90 million for their landmark estate, have a current assessed market value of $47 million with a tax bill due of $904,000, slightly less than the $1.08 million check they wrote last year.
Casa Apava, the home of Dwight Schar.
Nearby at 1236 South Ocean Boulevard, John and Margaret Thornton, who reportedly paid Sidney Kimmel $77.5 million in April 2008, are now appraised for $41.8M with a due amount of $792,000, a savings from the previous year’s $1.03 million.

Next door at 60 Blossom Way, White Sea Holdings may have paid George and Frayda Lindemann $68.5 million in June 2008 but their 3.4 acre oceanfront property is now valued at $35.8 million with $678,000 due, according to the property appraiser’s web site.

Not to worry, Palm Beach is never affected by what happens on the mainland.

Uncommon Palm Beach
Scottsdale? No, it is a dash of avant-garde mid-century Palm Beach. This Ibis Isle waterfront house on the island’s South End was inspired as much by Alfred Browning Parker’s Tropical Modernism as Frank Lloyd Wright’s low-profile Usonian designs. “The Administration Building at Florida Southern College is one of my favorites,” said Timothy Hoffman, who designed the house for his family in 1960.
Recently I was on Ibis Isle to photograph the waterway lot Wellingtonian Kelly Klein bought for $2.3 million when I circled around Ibis Isle Drive to motor by one of my favorite Palm Beach houses that I always fear will be the Cushing Demolition truck’s next appointment. Since 1980 as many as 600 single-family residences have been demolished on Palm Beach, including a number of mid-century modern houses often supplanted by spec mansions. I called the owner, who also turned out to be the architect and something even more unique these days, the house’s original owner.

As chairman of the Town of Palm Beach’s Code Enforcement Board, architect Timothy Hoffman stays up-to-the-minute with the island’s building codes and regulations; at home, not much has changed in 50 years, where he lives with his wife Phyllis in one of the town’s last remaining exemplars of Palm Beach Modernism. The Hoffmans’ house is in the stylistic tradition of other mid-century houses designed by Byron Simonson, John Stetson, Howard Chilton and Alfred Browning Parker, among others.
The T-shaped driveway turns into an open parking area to the left, a carport to the right. Mr. Hoffman’s studio is an extension of the carport.
A more tropical view shows the front entrance protected by a lone foo dog.
Stainless steel columns brace the roof’s broad eave. The dentil molding, robin’s-egg blue Oriental-styled roof tiles and red brick make for an artful ensemble of decorative and functional elements. The upper rows of glass panels are clear; the lower levels are screened with a geometric play on the Greek key pattern.
Façade detail with carport extension.
Tim Hoffman, at home in mid-century Palm Beach. At the left end of the sofa, a Frank Lloyd Wright sculpture. A graduate of the University of Florida School of Architecture, Mr. Hoffman was affiliated with Miami architect Ken Treister and the West Palm Beach firm of Ginocchio & Spina before establishing his own business. “I met Wright twice; in Lakeland when Florida Southern was being built; later, in Miami,” said Mr. Hoffman, a longtime supporter of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Of course, I had to ask if FLW was as eccentric as he is often portrayed. “Not at all,” Tim responded.
Mr. Hoffman is an accomplished watercolorist. Phyllis Hoffman manages residential services at the Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service of Palm Beach County. More than 45 years ago, when the Hoffmans’ daughter Troy was born with severe developmental disabilities, there were no local services available. Mrs. Hoffman obtained a degree in special education and dedicated her life to working with mentally handicapped children. She founded, and for many years operated a school, Troywood, named for their daughter, for special needs children.
The patina-toned brick-course tiles are found on the front entrance as well as the waterfront patios and terraces.
The Great Room’s multi-level ceiling allows for natural and artificial light. “Tim matched all the redwood siding boards,” said Mrs. Hoffman.
In the Great Room, looking left towards the front door: to the right, the space opens into the dining area.
In the Great Room, looking west towards the den located on the other side of the brick divider; the southerly wall of glass doors open onto the terraces and pool.
Looking from the den’s patio, up to the Great Room’s covered terrace, out towards the pool, and beyond the waterway basin to the east, a view of the Town of Palm Beach’s Par Three Golf Course.
High tide provides a scenic southerly view of the Intracoastal Waterway.
From the Great Room’s terrace, looking south. “Our kids loved the bridge across the pool, as much as our grandchildren do now,” said Phyllis Hoffman, describing their unique H-shaped pool.
“Mack Ritchie engineered the cantilevered roof over the terrace for us,” said Mr. Hoffman. A former Mayor of Palm Beach, Mack Ritchie was responsible for the largest and most significant donation of Addison Mizner architectural drawings to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
The custom thermal-pane French doors reflect the Intracoastal Waterway beyond.
The master bedroom features high ceilings and built-in-drawers. “After the last hurricanes, we lifted up the wall-to-wall-rug in the bedroom and have lived with the terrazzo ever since,” said Phyllis Hoffman.
A perfect patio planter. An understated sculptural work of nature buffers the view in the front yard.
The glazed roof tiles, stained siding, unpainted red brick and smooth white concrete make for a harmonious L-shaped composition.
Modernist houses were once a part of Palm Beach’s architectural history, when houses were built as if they actually were in 20th-century South Florida.

Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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