Widener’s Curve to Sloan’s Curve
Subdivisions + Modern & Contemporary
“Anyone who doesn’t think Palm Beach is growing should examine our records from 1945 to 1955,” said Edward Ehringer, the town’s chief building inspector. The resort’s post-World War II building permits surpassed 1920s as subdivisions rapidly changed the landscape from the status-quo to the bigger-the-better. With the remaining ocean-to-lake estates between the curves have the potential for further development, here is a look at today’s existing subdivisions as well as the diverse mix of modern and contemporary styles that may not be there tomorrow.
On Billionaires Row between the curves there are six subdivisions comprised of 35 houses: Ocean View (7), Lagomar Park (8), Seagrape Circle (4), Via Fontana (3), Parc Monceau(7), Corley Beach Estates (2), and Via Agape (4).
1530 South Ocean Boulevard
1550 South Ocean Boulevard
A former attached three-story building housing Edith Rea’s staff was later remodeled by Valerie Bland in 1956 as a three-bedroom 3,500 square-foot guest house and deeded separately as Lot 1 on approximately one-quarter acre. Following the death of Pablum and Johnson & Johnson D. Mead Johnson in 1993, his estate sold the property to Maria “Minnie” Victoria Osmeña, the granddaughter of Sergio Osmeña, the Republic of the Philippines’ second president.
Osmena arrived on Palm Beach following her divorce from Dwight Stuart, having foregone her residencies in Beverly Hills and Monte Carlo. As well, she moved into her oceanfront mini-estate after she survived a tabloid-headline altercation during an Aspen party with Dewi Sukarno, the Japanese fifth wife and widow of Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. Allegedly, according to police reports, after Minnie insulted Dewi’s friend Imelda Marcos and called Dewi “a whore who worked in brothels as a teenager and was a mistress to a gangster.” Dewi slashed Minnie’s face with a broken champagne glass. Sukarno was sentenced to 60 days in jail and probation. Osmena, whose political family went into a Southern California exile during the 1970s, has since lived quietly in the shadow of Lagomar.
1568 South Ocean Boulevard
Modern & Contemporary
1574 South Ocean Boulevard
In 1995 Audrey and Martin Gruss received approval for a Bridges Marsh & Carmo-designed 12,500 square-foot, 8-bedroom, Italian villa with a formal Italian garden, lily pond and hedge maze, according to ARCOM minutes. Set on 4.2 acres with 345 of oceanfront, the parcel is believed to be the north boundary for Richard and Bula Croker’s historic homestead called The Wigwam.
1600 South Ocean Boulevard
Built in 1983 on 1.7 acres, according to the property appraisers records, 1600 South Ocean has been owned by various Canadian corporations linked since the 1970s to the late billionaire Paul Desmarais’ family (Forbes #235). Recently, the more than 15,000 square-foot residence was approved for a 6,100 square-foot, second-story addition that would include six more bedrooms and a 2,900 square-foot basement enlargement.
1620 South Ocean Boulevard
1632 South Ocean Boulevard
123 Via Fontana
1742 South Ocean Boulevard
In February 2020 an LLC managed by Anthony Lomangino, co-founder of Southern Waste Systems, paid $10 million to Gunther Lehmann for this 1980s 6,000 square-foot contemporary oceanfront home set on more than one-half acre. Lomangino also bought 1620 South Ocean Boulevard for $12.65 million.
1744 South Ocean Boulevard
1840 South Ocean Boulevard
1900 South Ocean Boulevard
1906 South Ocean Boulevard
1930 South Ocean Boulevard
Originally built in 1973 and designed by John Volk, 1930 South Ocean features more than 20,000 square-feet of living area. The house is currently owned by Lloyd and Susan Miller, once the residence of Siegfried Otto. This ocean-to-lake estate is perhaps best known for having been the US residence for Canada’s leading intellectuals Conrad Black (Baron Black of Crossharbour) and his wife Barbara Amiel.
A decade ago, as Black awaited sentencing on multiple felony convictions, he engaged in several transactions regarding the ownership of 1930 South Ocean. In 1997, the Conrad Black Capital Corp. bought the property for $9.9 million. In January 2010 he transferred the property to the CMB Palm Beach Property LLC for $163,000 before moving it to Blackfield Holdings for $11.6 million.
As you may recall LJC Property Holdings, Jeffrey Lehman, principal, took title from Blackfield Holdings in 2010 for $10 million + the existing mortgage amount on the property. Subsequently, LJC extended a lease-option agreement to Lakeside Capital, a Marshall Islands corporation whose president was Dan Colson, a former Hollinger COO and close associate of Conrad Black’s. Toronto attorney Stanley Freedman’s office at the Bay Adelaide Centre was listed as Lakeside Capital’s North American contact. Voila! LJC Property Holdings LLC sold 1930 S. Ocean Blvd. for $23.1 million (originally listed for $34 million) to 1930 South Ocean Boulevard Trust, at the time linked to its present owners Lloyd and Susan Miller. Before being pardoned in 2019 by POTUS 45, Black spent 37 months away from his Billionaires Row mansion in a Florida federal prison cell.
1960 South Ocean Boulevard
With the Sloan-Blair house demolished, in May 2000 builder Dan Swanson (PattSwan LLC) presented plans by Phoenix Architects for “the largest spec house ever built on Palm Beach.” In an interview, Swanson told The Shiny Sheet the house set on 2.25 acres would have seven fireplaces, an onyx pub room, a card room, and a 30-by-40 ballroom. It would be “inspired by Casa Bendita” and “built to a developer’s dream, not a customer’s budget.” In 2000, Swanson said he “toyed with asking $25 million.” In 2003, the asking was $35 million.
Two years later, it sold for a recorded $33.6 million to White Sea Holdings, an offshore company linked to Venezuelan Victor Vargas. In 2008 Vargas and his wife divorced and he moved to 60 Blossom Way where he paid $68.5 million for a Peter Marino-designed oceanfront house owned by Frayda and George Lindemann. The house at 1960 South Ocean with interiors by Juan Pablo Molyneux went back on the market in 2017 at $75 million.
As Billionaires Row begins its third decade, its mansion makeovers, high-rise prices and bigger-than-life personalities have become as synonymous with the Palm Beach brand as Via Mizner and Lilly Pulitzer. Likewise a century ago, South Ocean Boulevard’s panorama was engineered then to be the resort’s calling card. Tidal storms and shifting values, however, redefined and restructured the boulevard into the episodic mix existing today, the seen and the unseen, the sublime and the commonplace.
Above all, today’s Billionaires Row is the thoroughfare’s platinum sandbar between the sea and the lake, glimpsed as a rapid succession of places comprised of two disparate sections unhindered by sidewalks and Stop signs. At the north end, private clubs anchor a secluded enclave screened from view by gates, walls, hedges, and cameras. Nearly a mile south, a windshield spectacle of top-shelf estates located between the curves where cliff dwellers mingle with counterparts of lesser dimensions. Unlike Newport’s Ocean Walk, that allows for a shared appreciation of the town’s historical architectural progression, Billionaires Row most often relies on real estate ads for an inside look at its unsettled revolving-door history. Created from a lengthy 10,900-foot strip of uncharted jungle with snakes and shipwrecks afloat between the sea and the lake, Billionaires Row has evolved from a marketing concept into a commodity trading floor without room for abstractions, a structural illusion for untold wealth.