Palm Beach Social Diary: Billionaires Row, Part II

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Jet Aviation’s runway is minutes away from Palm Beach’s Billionaires Row yet light years from the private railroad cars and steam yachts that once brought Fifth Avenue bluebloods and Wall Street titans to their Ocean Boulevard mansions. Pictured above, the 22-passenger Gulfstream N650GA jet once registered to Billionaires Row resident Steve Wynn’s company Wynn Aircraft II LLC - Las Vegas, that Wynn later replaced with a Gulfstream N650ER, according to Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

From Mar-a-Lago to Widener’s Curve

“The house here is about finished. It is very large and very beautiful, but like all building operations, it has cost far more than we had any even wild idea of,” wrote Marjorie Post Hutton to a relative in an April 1927 letter found among The Post Family Papers housed at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historic Library. The cost overruns she wrote “… have sunk our finances beyond anything we had imagined so I have been having trouble with Ned about it … so here we are in a fine mess.” Hutton added, “Incidentally, it means we have got to sell some of our pet Postum stock, and you can imagine how unwilling we are to part with it.”

Mar-a-Lago Invoice, April 1927. Among the available records, this document (Order#F80681) shows Mar-a-Lago’s every 25-watt lightbulb was subject to an “OK” approval from “MMP.” Charles W Post Papers, Bentley Historical Library, Michigan State University.

Understand, the Huttons were not the only Billionaires Row swells to express a money crunch. In April 2018, Ken Griffin halted plans to build his longer-than-a-football-field oceanfront house, according to The Shiny Sheet’s real estate editor Darrell Hofheinz. Griffin told building officials his approved plans would cause “… substantial cost overruns” causing him to temporarily shelve the project. The following year, Griffin’s Providencia Partners spent $99 million on an adjacent property with plans to demolish the existing house. Several seasons after Mar-a-Lago was completed, the Huttons took delivery of a new and bigger Hussar, later known as Sea Cloud, a 320-foot, four-masted sailing yacht with 70-member crew.

Otto Kahn on the cover of Time, November 2, 1925.

Early on, Billionaires Row’s shared allure was a taste for extravagance and folly. Today the disconnect between the Mar-a-Lago Club and the Bath & Tennis Club is far greater than the 40-foot right-of-way that separates them. Much like the divide between Palm Beach’s Right Wing and Left Wing, the clubs exist as parallel universes in alternate dimensions.

In actual fact, B&T founders Tony Biddle and Ned Hutton originally made the club the town’s most inclusive, with Mortimer Schiff and Otto Kahn as shareholders in the company that owned the club and founding members, along with several other prominent Jewish families. At the club’s opening, the Huttons’ head table included Bernard Baruch, one of Ned’s school classmates and mentors.

The three-quarter-mile stretch of Billionaires Row to Widener’s Curve manifests paradoxes and anomalies that are commonplace norms of Palm Beach’s social and cultural history. Heiress Alice Delamar, having championed Addison Mizner’s work and the Town’s historic preservation program for decades, de-landmarked her property, allowing it to be demolished and subdivided. Marion Sims Wyeth’s oceanfront Puertas Viegas at 1410 South Ocean escaped landmark designation while Regents Park was designated a historic district. Builder Clarence Mack’s Regents Park is a mid-century subdivision with facades most likely inspired by John Volk’s Royal Poinciana Shopping Plaza. In 1984 Tom Waldron made headlines as a “silent partner” in a $13 million sale of Mar-a-Lago; a decade later, Waldron was convicted of bank fraud, sentenced to three years at a federal prison camp.

After Venezuelan banker and polo patron Victor Vargas divorced his first wife Carmen, she continued to live at their 1960 South Ocean casa grande ($33.6 million) while Vargas moved up Billionaires Row with his second wife Maria Beatriz, paying George Lindemann $68 million for 60 Blossom Way. Lazaris (aka Jach Pursel aka John W. Pursel), a spirit channeler and former State Farm insurance claim adjuster, lived at 1423 South Ocean with his ex-wife Peny North (nee Penny Lake) and her current husband Michaell North (aka Michael Presenti) who managed Lazaris’ New Age company Concept Synergy.

Wellington. Victor Vargas, far right, and his daughter Marguerite, Duchess of Anjou, far left, with a family friend. “I have three planes, two yachts, and six houses. I’ve been rich all my life,” Vargas told WSJ. “Do you know who I am?” Vargas asked me (I admitted I had no idea who he was …). After selling his Palm Beach ($77 million), Wellington ($17 million) and New York ($28 million) holdings, Vargas first moved to the UK and Spain before settling in the Dominican Republic as his current home, according to recent reports. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

Since recounting Palm Beach’s past can be as bewildering as piecing together a Chinese puzzle, readers please take note: As properties expanded and contracted, house address numbers were changed or deleted. For example, Lazaris, a numerologist as well as spirit channeler, changed 1425 to 1423 South Ocean, that when Sydell Miller merged it into her La Reverie estate, it has become known as 1415 South Ocean. Mr. and Mrs. Leon Levy of New York, at 720 South Ocean were not the same Mr. and Mrs. Leon Levy of Philadelphia, at 1409 South Ocean.

Author James Patterson at 710 South Ocean is not the same James Patterson as Louisville’s James A. “Codfather” Patterson at 560 South Ocean who founded the Long John Silver’s franchise, among others, and was Dan Swanson’s partner (PS Addison Development) at 1485 South Ocean. Newspaper publishing scion Daniel Mahoney at 1200 South Ocean was not related to Norton Simon’s David Mahoney at 1296 South Ocean. William Mann at 1440 South Ocean is the same William Mann who would later live at 1285 South Ocean.

1100 South Ocean Boulevard

Marjorie Post Hutton & E. F. “Ned” Hutton, 1928, at Palm Beach. Courtesy Library of Congress Chronicling America Newspaper Collection and the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, 1928. Bath & Tennis Club. Courtesy The Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Mar-a-Lago, 1928. PB-NYC columnist Nancy Randolph described the dining room as a “copy of that in Premier Mussolini’s Roman palace.” At the time, Il Duce enjoyed worldwide popularity. The Italian government bought the Chigi family’s palace in 1918. Today the Chigi Palace serves as the Italian prime minister’s official residence.” Courtesy Chronicling America, Library of Congress.
Mar-a-Lago’s dining room mirrored the historical realism Joseph Urban was known for when he designed sets for W. R. Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures. A 1920s London journalist described the Chigi Palace’s reception room as ” … a beautiful Renaissance room full of fine old furniture, gay with Venetian chandeliers, its doors white and gold with scroll carvings, surmounted with oval pictures of cherubs immersed with astronomy or playing with globes, and suites separated by hangings of precious velvet … recalling the pomp and charm of the 18th century.” Photo Library of Congress.

Too much? Too big? Too rich? Whatever It was, shortly after this 1929 headline, rumors swirled as Ned Hutton was reported to be spending more time on the yacht or at an Everglades Club maisonette than Mar-a-Lago. Sailing the South Seas on the new 320-foot yacht may not have been enough to keep the couple together. During the early 1930s, the Huttons did not entertain at Mar-a-Lago. Within months after their 1935 divorce, Hutton, 60, married Dorothy Dear Metzger, 28. Hutton moved south on Billionaires Row to 1768 South Ocean where Treanor & Fatio designed Four Winds; MMP married Washington lawyer Joseph Davies, recasting her life amid international diplomatic circles.

Mar-a-Lago, aerial 1930-1932, with completed lakefront golf course. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Mar-a-Lago Square Dance, Invitation. 1960s. Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Mar-a-Lago square dance, c. 1960s. Pavilion. Seasons past, I attended a holiday dinner Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou hosted at the Wyeth-designed pavilion, expecting to hear the echoes of do-si-do and allemande-lefts. Mrs. Post’s hanging Moorish lanterns were gone, as were the Orville Bulman paintings and the Charles Baskerville mural, replaced with heavyweight crystal chandeliers. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

For a detailed account of the building of Mar-a-Lago, follow this link to Mrs. Post’s Mar-a-Lago at the New York Social Diary. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Bath & Tennis Club
1170 South Ocean Boulevard

Palm Beach Causeway Park, plat. Before the Bath & Tennis Club acquired the South Ocean site, a Chicago-Miami based development company announced plans for a 12-story apartment house, a hotel, ocean casino, a residential subdivision, and commercial retail buildings. The Huttons stopped construction on Mar-a-Lago until a company was formed that bought the property for use as the Bath & Tennis Club.
Bath & Tennis Club, 1170 South Ocean Boulevard. January 1927, as originally designed by Joseph Urban before it changed its entrance from the curve to the west. Adjacent to the south, La Billucia, Bill and Lucy Kingsley’s estate, and Figulus, the Blossom Estate. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Bath & Tennis, 1927. Club members enjoying the seaside ambiance. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Inaugural Bath & Tennis Club Membership List, 1927. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

1200 South Ocean Boulevard

Among one of the earliest parcels the Blossom family sold from their Figulus estate, 1200 South Ocean was an ocean-to-lake site at the north end of their holdings with about 215-feet of frontage. The family sold it to Addison Mizner who sold the site and a new house in 1920 to Bill and Lucy Kingsley who named the house La Billucia. After her husband’s untimely death, Lucy Kingsley continued to live there with her new husband Alexander Rutherford. A designated landmark, the house retained much of its original structure until 2009 when Jeffery and Mei-Sze Greene purchased the property for $24 million. With new additions, the Greenes’ 3.6-acre estate now contains 36,000 square-feet of living area.

La Billucia, view toward dining room. The owner of an upstate New York sanitarium, Kingsley was also a banker and manufacturer. Popular members of the cottage colony, during the summer of 1924 Kingsley was one of the co-directors of the group, along with Hutton and Biddle, who proposed buying the Everglades Club from Paris Singer. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
La Billucia and Figulus, c.1932. Following the death of her husband, Lucy Kingsley Rutherford sold off the lakeside parcel. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
La Billucia, auction, 1962. Upon Lucy Kingsley Rutherford’s death, much of La Billucia’s furniture was auctioned by Trosby Galleries on Royal Poinciana Way, as were the remains of many Palm Beach estates.
Ailsa Mellon Bruce was one of La Billucia’s several owners. Known then as the richest woman in the United States, Bruce owned other Palm Beach properties, including 850 South County Road. In 1945, she filed for divorce in Miami from David Bruce. From the Blossom Estate, she acquired a tract adjacent to La Billucia with reported plans to build, although it might have just been her desire for increased “social distancing.” Upon Ailsa Mellon’s death, her brother Paul Mellon sold the oceanfront La Billucia to Robert & Didi Ballinger, the adjacent parcel became the Emerald Beach subdivision, and the undeveloped lakefront site was sold to Howell “Mickey” Van Gerbig. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Diary.

To the south of Ailsa Mellon’s tract, Harry Payne Bingham built a Wyeth-designed oceanfront house in 1949 at what was then addressed as 1240 South Ocean Boulevard. Bingham’s wife Melissa Yuille Bingham continued to live at the property until 1970 when she sold the five-acre parcel to Chedington South Ltd, a Canadian company headed by brothers David Fingold and John Paul Fingold. In March 1973, the Fingolds sold the estate to Charles Norton Adams and his wife Marguerite “Peggy” Brokaw Crocker Adams. After Adams made a generous donation to the Animal Rescue League during the mid-1980s, the organization was renamed the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League. Following Adams’ death in 1992, Sidney Kimmel paid $5.5 million for the Adams estate.

Foreground, 1236 South Ocean (now 200 Emerald Beach Way) and 100 Emerald Beach Way. Afar, Charles and Ann Johnson’s 1220 South Ocean and Regents Park subdivision. Right, Jeff and Mei-Sze Greene’s La Billucia adjacent to the Bath & Tennis Club at 1170 South Ocean. Aerial courtesy Brian Lee/Woolly Mammoth Photography & Design.

Emerald Beach Way

Emerald Beach, 1979. Six lots.
Emerald Beach Way, 1982. Three lots.

Along the oceanfront Greenwich residents Lamia and Bradley Jacobs bought 100 Emerald Beach Way in 2002 for $17 million. In 2008, John and Margaret Thornton bought 200 Emerald Beach Way from William Elias through an LLC for $9.1 million. The Thorntons built a tennis court on the property and readdressed their 1236 South Ocean house as 200 Emerald Beach Way.

“Palm Beach mansion owner sues oceanfront neighbor.” During the past several years, the Jacobses and the Thorntons have entertained claims and counterclaims with the Thortons’ tennis court being the current focus of disputes.
200 Emerald Way, Tennis court. Image Palm Beach County Property Tax Appraiser.

1236-1240 South Ocean Boulevard
200 Emerald Beach Way

In 2008, fashion retailer Sidney Kimmel sold his Thierry Despont-designed seaside estate for a recorded $77.5 million to Goldman Sachs executive John Thornton and his wife, author Margaret Thornton.

1260-1265 South Ocean Boulevard 

Figulus. After a fire severely damaged Figulus, the Bingham family’s historic homestead, during the 1970s, the Blossom family demolished the existing structures and offered their approximate 17-acre estate for sale. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
During the late 1970s developer Michael Burrows sought to gain Town Council approval for a subdivision development plan. After Burrows’ financing was withdrawn and his option contract expired, the Blossom family listed. formerly listed the 16.8-acre property at 1250 South Ocean Boulevard with Previews for $8.5 million. Eventually, Burrows proceeded with a plan only years later be forced to transfer the property to Straub Capital that sold off lots. In 2011, Chicago hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin began acquiring what today amounts to 20+/- acres of the original Figulus estate for more than $350 million.
1265 South Ocean Boulevard, Ken Griffin Estate (Blossom Way Holdings LLC, Lungomare LLC, Providencia Partners LLC, PBH LLC, KP Holdings LLC, Black Calabash Family Holdings LLC, CPPB Holdings LLC).
Billionaires Row. A 2018 aerial view south of ten oceanfront properties from 60 Blossom Way (Figulus IV, demolished) to 1482 South Ocean Boulevard at Widener’s Curve. Aerial courtesy Brian Lee/Woolly Mammoth Photography & Design.

1290 South Ocean Boulevard

In 1989 Chan and John Mashek paid $5 million for a 6,000 square-foot one-story brick 1950s house set on four acres with nearly 300 feet of ocean frontage at 1290 South Ocean. The couple retained architect Charles Harrison Pawley to design a “Bermuda-Georgian” house. Six years later, Chan Mashek sold the property for $16.5 million to Bernard Marden. Several months after NVR homebuilder head Dwight Schar bought Casa Apava, his company’s CFO Paul Saville paid $32.5 million for the Marden house located next door.  Having swept up adjoining properties to the north, in 2016 Ken Griffin paid Paul and Linda Saville $85 million for their oceanfront estate.

1295 South Ocean Boulevard

1295 South Ocean Boulevard, 2019. View east to the ocean. Aerial courtesy Brian Lee/ Woolly Mammoth Photography & Design.

In 1993 Irwin and Terry Allen Kramer paid $4 million for a 4.5-acre ocean-to-lake tract located on the north side of Casa Apava. The Kramers proceeded to build La Follia, a thirteen-bedroom, 20,000 square-foot Italianate-style villa with two guest wings, a five-car garage, and an additional 17,000 square-feet of living area. In June 2019 Kramer’s estate trustees sold La Follia for a reported $110+/- million to Wemio, a yet to be identified Delaware LLC.

1300 South Ocean Boulevard

Martha Gottfried’s real estate ad for Casa Apava.

In 1987 developer E. F. “Bud” Hansen Jr. bought the 17-acre Casa Apava estate for $14 million and commenced splitting the property into smaller tracts. For an account on Casa Apava’s history and development, follow this link to Casa Apava: Architectural Flashback at the New York Social Diary. Hansen lost the landmarked house and unsold lots in foreclosure. In 1994 Ron Perelman paid a bank-controlled entity $11.6 million for the oceanside part of the estate, later adding lakeside parcels. Since then, the property has sold to homebuilder Dwight Schar and, most recently, to hedge-fund trader Paul Tudor Jones for more than $70 million without the lakefront lots.

1300 South Ocean Boulevard. Casa Apava, 1919-1921. Abram Garfield, architect. Library of Congress.
1300 South Ocean Boulevard, pool and pool house. C. 1949. In the swim at Casa Apava. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

1341 South Ocean Boulevard

In 1992, Malcolm and Angela Healey bought the oceanfront lot south of the historic Casa Apava mansion for $3.2 million. The Healeys built what was described as “an eyepopping house.” In 2000 they transferred ownership to The Bank of New York Cayman Limited before listing it for $26.5 million. The following year, it sold to Edward Watkins for $17.68 million. Watkins demolished the house and built an even grander one, christening it Pietra Mare. The new mega-mansion features 28,0000 square-feet of total living area with a six-car garage. Pietra Mare has been on-and-off the market with an asking price range between $105-$110 million.
Billionaires Row, 2019. Center, 1341 South Ocean Boulevard (Pietra Mare); left, 1300 South Ocean (Casa Apava); right, 1410 South Ocean (Puertas Viegas-Casa del Sud). Aerial courtesy Brian Lee/Woolly Mammoth Photography & Design.
1341 South Ocean Boulevard, Pietra Mare. Photo John O Pickett III, Brown Harris Stevens.

1410 South Ocean Boulevard

Louis and Constance Bader spent several seasons at one of The Breakers’ historic seaside cottages before Alice Delamar sold the Boston couple the north 200 feet of oceanfront from her four-acre compound. In 1926 the Baders retained architect Marion Sims Wyeth to design Puertas Viegas, their Palm Beach home for sixteen years. Soon after Louis Bader was committed in 1941 to a Boston “asylum for the insane,” he died. Six months later Constance married banker Max Ordway Whiting and sold Puertas Viegas.

Puertas Viegas was built on the north 200-feet of Alice Delamar’s existing estate. Courtesy Robert Yarnall Richie Collection, DeGolyer Library Special Collections, SMU-Dallas.
Puertas Viegas, 1410 South Ocean Boulevard. Image Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.

In 1988 Peter and Leni May began renovating and making additions to the house under the direction of architect Mark Ferguson. Puerta Viegas had never been landmarked and ARCOM approved the changes to the original Wyeth design. Among the alterations, the Mays added a two-story guest wing and made façade alterations, according to the ARCOM minutes. After the Mays sold the house to Jeffry and Barbara Picower in 1994, the Picowers also retained Mark Ferguson and gained approval to add an three-car garage, expand the north second-floor wing, among other changes to the house, now called Casa del Sud.

The house made headlines when Jeffry Picower was found by federal authorities to be the largest beneficiary, “pocketing $7 billion” according to Forbes, from the Madoff Affair, known as the largest private Ponzi scheme in American history. Picower’s ill-fated orbit, where he crossed paths with Ivan Boesky and Bernard Madoff, took him from a $55,000 La Palma condo at 2860 South Ocean to a Billionaires Row oceanfront mansion at 1410 South Ocean.

“Philanthropist tied to Madoff found dead in pool.” Palm Beach Post headline, 2009.

“Picower-Madoff transfers, June 2009. Source ProPublica.

1415-1425 South Ocean Boulevard

Billionaires Row, La Reverie, 1415 South Ocean Boulevard. Aerial photo Brian Lee @ Woolly Mammoth Photography.

In November 2019 Sydell Miller’s La Reverie sold for a recorded $105+/- million to the Steven B. Schonfeld 2011 Delaware Trust. The 37,000+/- square-foot mansion with more than 80,000 square-feet of total living areas on 3.7 acres with 330-feet of ocean frontage was modeled on an adaptation of Monsorrel, the North End estate built by Anita O’Keeffe Young now owned by Nelson and Claudia Peltz.

In 1995 Matrix Essentials co-founder Sydell Miller paid $4.9 million for a vacant South Ocean Boulevard lot. Miller’s plans were announced the following year for a JohnGosman-designed 20,000 square-foot house.  However, as seasons past, Miller acquired a different architect and bought the property next door for $11.25 million with an existing 20,000 square-foot house.  She gained approval to demolish the existing house and built La Reverie on both lots, a far more baronial house designed by architect Jeffery Smith.

1423 South Ocean Boulevard, demolished. Built in 1988, the house with a 14-car garage was approved for demolition in 1999 to accommodate La Reverie, Sydell Miller’s new house.

The house at 1423 was actually built as 1425 South Ocean Boulevard when Gottfried sold it in 1991 for record-setting price of $9 million to an unorthodox New Age threesome — Jach Pursel (nee John W. Pursel), a former insurance claims adjuster, known internationally as a channel for Lazaris, a non-physical entity with a Scottish accent, Pursel’s ex-wife Peny North (nee Penny Lake) and her current husband Michaell North (nee Michael Presenti) who was Lazaris’ business manager. Lazaris and the Norths had landed on Palm Beach from Beverly Hills in 1988. By then, Lazaris had been praised by the likes of Shirley MacLaine and other celebs when the like-minded triangle bought Caroline Firestone’s 955 North Ocean Blvd mansion for $3.9 million. Having resold 955 South Ocean, they moved on to the greater grandeur of the Gottfried-Gosman mansion at 1425 South Ocean.

After they sold the house to Miller, Lazaris and the Norths moved to Central Florida where tragedy struck. In 2001 Peny North weighed 315 pounds and was found dead in her wheel chair, having overdosed on codeine and vodka. Hours later, her husband Michaell, overcome with grief, committed suicide by inhaling nitrous oxide, according to police reports. Despite the shadowy circumstances, Jach Pursel was left heir to their $6 million estate.

When Sydell Levine merged 1415-1423 South Ocean, she reassembled Alice Delamar’s original estate that was subdivided after Delamar de-landmarked the property during the 1980s. Courtesy Robert Yarnall Richie Collection, DeGolyer Library Special Collections, SMU-Dallas.

1425 South Ocean Boulevard, Delamar Estate. Demolished. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

1435 South Ocean Boulevard

For the past 25 years, this three-story house with 12-foot ceilings built in 1989 on an oceanfront parcel has been associated with Hall-of-Fame British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart who paid $7.2 million for it in 1995. Stewart’s management company bought it from Kentucky Fried Chicken owner Jack Massey and his wife Barbara. Situated in the Ocean Vista subdivision, Boston builder Patrick Carney developed the property having acquired it in 1987 as part of Chieftans, Bernard and Alva Gimbel’s estate.

1472 South Ocean Boulevard

1472 South Ocean Boulevard, east elevation. The two-story 6,000 square-foot house was designed in 1953 by John Volk for Sonja Phipps and her husband Austrian Count Christian Scherr-Thoss, according to the Palm Beach Post.

During the 1970s former chair of the American Motor Car (AMC) company and prominent Detroit industrialist Robert Evans and his wife Jane bought 1472 South Ocean sited on two oceanfront acres. A decade earlier, Evans had bought the La Coquille Club in Manalapan from Rockefeller heir Spelman Prentice for slightly more than $1 million. In 1996 the Evanses sold their Palm Beach house for $5.95 million. Magnum Marine’s Katrin Theoldi bought the property in 2011 for $25 million.

1482 South Ocean Boulevard

1482 South Ocean Boulevard. Aerial view, c. 1940s. Believed to have been built for A, O. Edwards, English hotelier who developed Stotesbury Park and Singer Island. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

A longtime West Palm Beach and Miami Beach real estate buyer-seller Hannah Gertrude Hogan moved into 1482 South Ocean after she sold the Chateaux Enchante subdivision after demolishing Heamaw, the onetime Henry Phipps mansion on North County Road. Believed to have been designed by F. Burrall Hoffman Jr. with additions by Addison Mizner, Hogan first claimed plans to restore the distressed showplace with a 30-by-60 ballroom. Nonetheless, once she gained approval for a five-lot subdivision she resold it and moved to a smaller house at 1482 South Ocean. After Hogan’s death in 1976, her estate sold the oceanfront house perched on Widener’s Curve for $500,000 to lawyer Robert B. Cook, a former Palm Beach County attorney, who was associated with controversial developer Thomas Waldron. Cook placed a $480,000 mortgage on the property.

Several months later, Cook flipped the property for $780,000 to I-W Associates, a general partnership between Waldron and an offshore Netherlands Antilles company. Soon after the closing, the NV entity quit-claimed its interest to Waldron for $100. “When I helicopter over Palm Beach, I think how much it would take to buy it all,” Waldron told The Palm Beach Post. In 1984 Thomas Waldron was named as a “silent partner” set to buy Mar-a-Lago for reported $13.5 million in a transaction that never materialized.

1482 South Ocean Boulevard. Because Waldron allowed the site to deteriorate, the Town’s Code Enforcement Board levied fines.

Three years later, Waldron began an extensive renovation of 1482 South Ocean that resulted in the house “… become nothing more than an empty lot with a couple walls,” described Martha Gottfried in 1989. That year Waldron sold the “ghost house” to Malcolm and Linda Glazer for $2.9 million. Convicted and sentenced for bank fraud in 1994, Tom Waldron was sentenced to three years at a federal prison camp in Atlanta. The Glazers’ extensive renovation was considered by some as the first of Billionaire Row’s Reaganesque Revivals.

1482 South Ocean Boulevard. As the Glazers raised the ceilings, during the reconstruction, excavators found “a 5,000-year-old pre-Columbian skull and 1500-year-old pottery fragments.” Local archaeologists assessed the remains as “a beautiful skeleton and burial ground.” Malcolm Glazer died in 2014; his wife Linda is still the owner of 1482 South Ocean, according to public records. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Along the Lake Worth Lagoon:
Regents Park to Villa Venezia

More than a century ago, the habitat west of the ocean boulevard was a submerged wetland with native plants and hardwoods where wading birds and mangrove cuckoos flocked. Once lined with piers, boathouses and guest houses, today’s existing 21 parcels include a mid-20th century subdivision and a $41 million Venetian-inspired Grand Canal villa.

Billionaires Row. Aerial, c. 1935. This pre-development view shows where current residences exist along the lagoon from Regents Park south to Villa Venezia at Widener’s Curve. Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Regents Park, plat. In 1958 Clarence Mack bought the lakefront lot for $125,000. He built five houses with neo-classical themed facades, more recently, designated a local historic district. Palm Beach County Court records.

500 Regents Park Road. Built in 1959, this lakefront villa sold in March 2020 for $7.5 million to Robert A. Merrill. The same month, Merrill’s mother Hillie Mahoney transferred her 1296 South Ocean Boulevard house to the Mahoney Merrill Trust LLC for $40 million.

1220 South Ocean Boulevard

1220 South Ocean Boulevard, entrance gates. Charles and Ann Johnson’s lakefront estate now stands on the former Via Pelicano site.

When the Blossom family sold Ailsa Mellon Bruce an ocean-to-lake parcel next to her Il Billucia estate, she already owned three other Palm Beach properties and was making plans to build a new house. When she died before she could build, her brother Paul Mellon, her estate’s executor, sold the lakefront parcel in 1972 to Howell “Mickey” Van Gerbig Jr. who replated the vacant lot as Via Pelicano with two lots, building on one of them.

In 1997 Van Gerbig sold Via Pelicano’s existing house and lot to Ray and Maria Floyd for $1.1 million; the following year, the Floyds sold to Neville and Lana Marks for $1.5 million. In 2006 the Marks sold for $4.695 million to the Via Pelicano Revocable Trust. The Trust then sold Via Pelicano for a recorded $20.8 million to spec builder Dan Swanson who had plans for a turnkey 9-bedroom, 26,000 square-foot, French Renaissance-inspired house. Although the estate on 2.5 acres was described as “top of its asset class, years passed and the house with its wine cellar remained unsold, leaving Swanson in a publicized financial crunch. Finally, a trust linked to former Franklin Templeton mutual fund CEO Charles B. Johnson and his wife Dr. Ann L. Johnson closed on the never-lived-in 1220 South Ocean in June 2013 for a recorded $42 million.

1255 South Ocean Boulevard

Before Thomas Peterffy paid $22.6 million for adjoining vacant Blossom Estate, the double lakefront parcel had already been turned over by five different owners during the past decade. Back then, a Canadian company, craftily called the American Farm Investment Corporation, managed by billionaire Gerald Schwartz, had bought in at $2.3 million from Robert Fomon who at one time planned to build a two-story “modified California-style bleached-grey two-story house with a tennis court, an orchid house, and its own saltwater lake” designed by Charles Harrison Pawley, according to ARCOM Minutes. In 2011, the Canadian company sold the parcels for $6.5 million to Blossom Estates LLC. Four years later, the LLC, linked to Lin Castre Gosman, aka Linda C. Gosman, best known for the Maison d’Amitie-Abe Gosman debacle on North County Road, quit-claimed the scenic lakefront lots to designer Reed Krakoff for $9.4 million. When plans were stymied, Krakoff sold the undeveloped lot to the 1255 South Ocean Boulevard Trust for $10.65 million. Two years later, with some infrastructure work completed, the anonymous trust sold it to Greenwich billionaire Thomas Peterffy for $22.6 million, according to court records.

1255 South Ocean Boulevard, Unbuilt. Richard Meier, architect. Reed Krakoff commissioned architect Richard Meier to design his lakefront house. Richard Meier & Partners, Architects.

1275 South Ocean Boulevard 

Architect Alfred Browning Parker’s Tropical Modernist 9,000 square-foot design “of spacious elegance” on a 1.8-acre site was among the unsold properties in January 1986 that Michael Burrows turned over to Straub Capital. That December, Parker House was sold for $3.1 million. A decade later, the house was demolished when an LLC formed by spec builder Dan Swanson paid $9.5 million and replaced it with a 17,000 square-foot design. In 2006 Swanson’s LLC deeded the property for $15 million to 1275 South County Inc. for $15 million, an entity linked to Bruce and Sandra Hammonds. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie paid the Hammonds $28.5 million in 2017.

Parker House, 1275 South Ocean Boulevard. Demolished 2005.
Billionaires Row. Lakeside, 2019. View of 11 lakeside properties from Lungomare, upper left, at 1285 South Ocean to Villa Venezia at 1485 South Ocean, lower left, at the beginning of Widener’s Curve. Courtesy Brian Lee @ Woolly Mammoth Photography.

1285 South Ocean Boulevard

Lungomare, a company associated with Ken Griffin, paid a reported $18 million in 2018 for 1285 South Ocean, then owned by Scottish-born journalist Anna Torv Murdoch Mann. The following year, ARCOM approved a demolition permit for the site, although the house still stands. Anna Mann had bought the house for $11 million in 2003, several years after her divorce from publisher Rupert Murdoch. Designed in 1983 by architect Charles Harrison Pawley, the house’s 10,000 square-feet of living areas were builtwith what was described as “Space Age futuristic symmetry.”

1296 South Ocean Boulevard

1296 South Ocean Boulevard, entrance. Known as Hilago, the three-acre estate features 285 feet of lakefront with as much as one-acre of the property submerged. Before the house could be built in the early 1990s, the owners were required to submit extensive studies and plans dealing with mangrove mitigation. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

In a March 2020 court-recorded transaction, Hildegarde “Hillie” Mahoney conveyed the deed to her two-acre Palm Beach estate for $40 million to the Delaware-registered Merrill Mahoney Trust LLC, reported as an “estate planning transaction.” Mahoney’s late husband David Mahoney acquired the property in 1988, paying $1.7 million to land trusts associated with Bolton family members. The Mahoneys built an 18,000 square-foot house designed by architect Lindley Hoffman and landscaped by Morgan Wheelock, according to available records. While the house appears to be one-story house from the ocean boulevard, it opens to two-stories on the lakeside, with living quarters on the second floor and ancillary functions on the ground level.

1330 South Ocean Boulevard

Sunshine Estate Partners, a Swiss-based company reportedly linked to Gerald & Isabelle Herz, paid $31.5 million in 2018 for a 14,700 square-foot spec house built on approximately 180 feet of lakefront by Boca Raton-based builder Mark Pulte.

1340-1350 South Ocean Boulevard 

In July 2018, an entity called the Greene Family Trust bought a 16,800 square-foot spec house for $34.5 million from an LLC associated with Boca Raton-based builder Mark Pulte.  The same buyer, through the 1350 Land Trust, also secured the adjacent vacant lot for $20.275 million from an LLC linked to Steve Wynn. The transactions were conveyed in two separate sales to two different entities linked to the Green Family Trust. Four years earlier, Dwight Schar had sold Lot 4 to Wynn for $20.2 million. 1350 South Ocean has also been known as 1375 South Ocean Boulevard.

1409 South Ocean Boulevard

1409 South Ocean Boulevard, Ocean Vista subdivision. Aerial Image Palm Beach County Tax Appraiser.

Twenty years ago, current residents Theodore and Ruth Baum acquired 1409 South Ocean on a 1.4-acre site with 200-feet of lake frontage for $7 million. Noted art collectors, the Baums removed the tennis court, added a garden, affixed a 2nd floor to the garage, and embellished the front entrance, according to the Town of Palm Beach ARCOM Minutes.

The original house was designed by architect John L. Volk in 1950 for Leon and Blanche Paley Levy. A Philadelphia dentist who became a radio broadcast pioneer, Leon was a major CBS stockholder along with his wife Blanche’s family, her brother Bill Paley who built CBS, as well as her father Sam Paley and uncle, Jacob Paley. Levy’s radio station (WCAU) was CBS’s first affiliate. Thoroughbred horse owners (Jaclyn Stables), the Levys were part of the Wideners’ Hialeah Park set.

In 1989 Blanche Levy sold 1409 SOB for $3.75 million to Peter May who owned Puertas Viegas located across the ocean boulevard at 1410 South Ocean. In January 1994, May bought the adjacent waterfront lot at 1375 South Ocean, now known as 1350 South Ocean Boulevard, from Robert Meister for $2.3 million that contained an existing boathouse and a staff cottage. Seven months later, he sold the vacant lot for $3 million to a company linked to Ron Perelman. While architect Mark Ferguson was directing a renovation of May’s oceanfront house, Ferguson also supervised updates at 1409 South Ocean, according to ARCOM Minutes. In 1996 May sold off 1409 to a Land Trust owned by Sidney Kimmel for $6.4 million who then sold it in 2000 to the Baums.

1424 South Ocean Boulevard

Since 1989, 1424 South Ocean has been the home of John A. and Carole Moran, a former Republican Finance Committee chair, Wynn Resorts board member, and a president’s council member at the University of Utah. Moran paid Detroit auto designer-engineer and ENTECH founder George Milidrag $3.5 million for the 8,000 square-foot house built in 1982 on a three-quarter acre lot. In March 2020, the Morans paid $7.8 million for 100 Regents Park, located on Billionaires Row north of their 1424 South Ocean location.

1440 South Ocean Boulevard

1440 South Ocean Boulevard, c. late 1980s aerial view looking east from the Lake Worth Lagoon. Once a part of Alice Delamar’s ocean-to-lake estate, the existing house was demolished in 1999 when Sydell Miller merged the vacant parcel’s 230-feet of lake frontage with her La Reverie oceanfront estate.

In June 1941 architect John L. Volk announced designs for a two-story lakefront modernized Georgian-style house of painted brick at 1440 South Ocean for Greenwich crayon manufacturer Sidney Vere Smith. Built by Warner & Prather, the house featured a large entrance gallery, a cocktail pavilion, three-car garage, four servant’s rooms, and five master bedrooms. During the early 1970s the Archbishropic of New York deeded the house to Doyle and Nicola Rogers. The brother of US Congressman Paul Rogers, Doyle was Marjorie Post’s lawyer who represented the Post Estate when Mar-a-Lago was on the market for sale. In 1982 the Rogers’ sold 1440 SOB to Patrick Henry. Several owners later, Lydia Buhl Mann bought the property, paying $4.5 million in 1989. Following her death, it was Mann’s estate that sold the property for $10 million to Sydell Miller. When Miller sold La Reverie, her oceanfront estate, she retained ownership of the vacant lot at 1440 through an entity called 1440 Holdings LLC.

1450 South Ocean Boulevard

1450 South Ocean Boulevard, architectural drawings. Schwab & Twitty, architects, 1990.

Once part of the lakefront section of Bernard and Alva Gimbel’s Chieftans estate, developer Patrick Carney bought the Gimbels’ ocean-to-lake property in 1987 for $3.1 million. Carney built a 12,800 square-foot contemporary house on the one-acre lot featuring a porte cochère, a rotunda entrance, and four master bedrooms.

In 1991 New York garment executive Herb Rounick and his 2nd wife Della Rounick paid $4.4 million for the house. After Herb’s first marriage to Judy Mazor (Miss Israel-1962) ended in divorce, Mazor married Al Taubman, living at 1820 South Ocean. An accomplished artist Della Rounick took over her husband’s company after his death in 1993. She sold 1450 South Ocean in 1998 for $8+ million to billionaire Enterprise rental car founder Jack Crawford Taylor and his wife Susan. Divorced in 2000, the Palm Beach house is deeded to the Susan O. Taylor Revocable Trust.

1485 South Ocean Boulevard

Named in honor of Venezia, Damon Mezzacappa’s mother, according to Town & Country magazine, the Grand Canal-inspired villa was sold in 2015 for $41.2 million to Thompson and Caroline Dean. Five years in the making, the two-story 22,000 square-foot house built around an H-shaped central block was enhanced by trefoil arches, Moorish niches, arcades, and a lakeside loggia. Among the interior details under the direction of Bunny Williams, there were colorful tiles, terrazzo floors, and walls described as “waxed Venetian plaster.”

Damon and Elizabeth Mezzacappa bought the 2.25-acre lakefront site in 1996 from PS Addison Development that reportedly had planned to build a “20,000 square-foot spec house.” Once part of the Walton family’s Mahawata estate, PS Addison Development partners Dan Swanson and James A. Patterson had acquired the secluded parcel $2.7 million in 1993 from Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle, regarded then as the largest building contractor in New Jersey.

1485 South Ocean Boulevard. Villa Venezia, entrance gates. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

Next: Billionaires Row III   

Widener’s Curve to Sloan’s Curve

1820 South Ocean Boulevard, Collado Hueco, c. 1930. Addison Mizner, architect, 1924. White Birch Farm Inc, an entity linked to Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour Brant, recently paid $46.75 million for the former 3.3-acre Billionaires Row estate. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

Click here for Palm Beach Social Diary: Road Trip — Billionaires Row, Part I

Contemporary Aerial Photography: Brian Lee @ Woolly Mammoth Photography
Historic aerials: Robert Yarnall Richie Collection, DeGolyer Library/SMU.
Archival newspapers: Palm Beach Post archive & Chronicling America, Library of Congress.

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