Palm Beach Social Diary: Billionaires Row: Part IV

Featured image
1906 South Ocean Boulevard. Stonefox, a New York architectural design firm, principals Christopher Stone and David Fox, designed this tri-level home with more than 17,000 square-feet of living area within 39,000 square feet of building space for Amy and John Phelan. The house displays the firm’s mantra of “… polished aesthetic dexterity.” Image Stonefox.

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).

Located between Il Sogno and Lagomar, Ocean View was platted in 1946. Palm Beach County Clerk, Plat Book.
Ocean View subdivision, 2020. Palm Beach County Property Appraiser records.

1530 South Ocean Boulevard
Ocean View

The two-level 5,200 square-foot house with beach front lot was built in 1995. It is currently owned by Seaspray LLC, last selling in 2010 for $6 million. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

Lagomar Park

Lagomar, c. 1932. The aerial outlines the location of what became the Lagomar Park subdivision. Aerial courtesy Robert Yarnall Richie Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU-Dallas.
Lagomar Park subdivision in 1953.
Lagomar Park subdivision, 1953. Palm Beach County Clerk, Plat Book.
Lagomar Park subdivision view. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1550 South Ocean Boulevard
Lagomar Park

1550 South Ocean Boulevard. An un-landmarked work by Addison Mizner, albeit remodeled, on high-profile Billionaires Row. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

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.

The Osmena-Sukarno brawl made international headlines.
1550 South Ocean Boulevard.

1568 South Ocean Boulevard
Lagomar Park

A touch of Olde Palm Beach. Gary Knapp bought 1568 South Ocean in 1997 for $1.3 million. Jean Van Wavern lived at this charming villa during the 1980s.
Palm Beach Estates, 1920. Extended from 1620 South Ocean to 1900 South Ocean. The owners and Bula Croker battled in court for nearly two decades.
Corley Beach Estates,1956. Frank Scarpa and Maureen Donnell’s ocean-to-lake estates are located in this subdivision. Palm Beach County Clerk, Plat Book.
Parc Monceau. In November 1959 Cleveland builder Clarence Mack paid $115,000 for a three-acre tract platted for seven houses. Palm Beach County Clerk, Plat Book.
Parc Monceau, 1700 South Ocean Boulevard. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
Parc Monceau, 1700 South Ocean Boulevard, façade detail. Demolished. The late Gertrude “Save-A-Pet” Maxwell residence, sold in 2014 for $4 million, is being replaced by a two-story house. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
125 Parc Monceau, façade. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

Modern & Contemporary
1574 South Ocean Boulevard

1574 South Ocean Boulevard. Built during the 1980s, the residence was demolished in 1993.

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.

Aerial, 2020. Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.
1574 South Ocean Boulevard. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1574 South Ocean Boulevard, lakeside view. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

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.

1600 South Ocean Boulevard, east elevation. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1620 South Ocean Boulevard

1620 South Ocean Boulevard is situated on the northerly lot of the Palm Beach Estates subdivision, platted in 1920. Former New York sanitation suzerain Anthony Lomangino, co-founder with nephew Charles Gusmano of Southern Waste Systems, recently paid $12.65 million for the house that appeared to be in prime condition. Lomangino has also acquired 1742 South Ocean for $10 million. Courtesy Brian Lee/ Woolly Mammoth Photo & Design.
1620 South Ocean is undergoing a 2020 re-renovation. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1632 South Ocean Boulevard

On the market at $15.7 million and sold for $14 million to the MMXX Mare Visum Land Trust LLC, 1632 South Ocean was built in 1955. Twenty years later, Heilweil sold what she called “my little museum” for $8.75 million to the Maurice Pinsonnault Company, a Canadian corporation. Pinsonnault obtained approval to demolish the house in 2016. Instead, the following year he made additions and alterations, demolishing the existing loggia. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

123 Via Fontana

In 2012 Augusta Harrison’s estate sold her lakeside home to Joe Brennan for $4.9 million. The house, an enchanting mid-century house, pictured above, was demolished, replaced with plans for a 15,000-square-foot spec house. The following year, Brennan flipped the lot for $7.55 million to Walter and Mary McPhail. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

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

Once owned by longtime Palm Beach residents Samuel and Ella Scher, this mid-century modern classic was demolished, replaced by a $60+million spec house. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1744 South Ocean Boulevard, lakeview. Demolished.
Having asked $99 million in 2014, the current owners pulmonologist Norman Traverse M.D., and his wife Nassrine Traverse are now asking $59.9 million for a more than 18,000 square-foot spec mansion with seven bedrooms and 14 bathrooms with a tennis court. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1840 South Ocean Boulevard

This 1997 real estate ad gives a last look at a 1971 Henry Harding design on 2.66 oceanfront acres, eventually demolished and supplanted by Ruby Rinker with a Dan Swanson-built more than 16,000 square-foot multi-level Island-styled house.
In 1999 Ruby Rinker paid $7.4 million for the Henry Harding-designed house. She sought approval to add a second floor and transform its mid-century classic motif to Mediterranean. More than a decade later, Rinker demolished the house and built a new one, selling it for $23.5 million to Dr. Ernst Langer, Hamburg Germany.
1840 South Ocean Boulevard. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1900 South Ocean Boulevard

1900 South Ocean Boulevard, lakeside view. Listed in 2018 for $61.5 million, the more than 22,000-square-foot home was built in 2007 and bought by Keith Frankel for $15.9 million. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1900 South Ocean Boulevard, 2020. Keith Frankel is the CEO of Vitaquest, a vitamin and diet supplement manufacturer. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1900 and 1906 South Ocean Boulevard, lakeside view. 2019. Photo Augustus Mayhew.

1906 South Ocean Boulevard

1906 South Ocean Boulevard. In December 2018 John and Amy Phelan, as 1902-1906 South Ocean Blvd. LLC, paid a recorded $23.9 million for a double vacant lot with 300 feet of ocean frontage, addressed as 1906 South Ocean. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1906 South Ocean Boulevard. Image StoneFox.

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.

1930 South Ocean, aerial. Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.

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

1960 South Ocean Boulevard. Casa Riviera, 2020. Courtesy Andy Frame Photography

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.

1960 South Ocean Boulevard, 2020. In August 2019, 1960 LLC, a company linked to Steve Wynn, paid $43 million for the 35,000 +/- square-foot, 7 bedroom/19-bathroom hacienda with “gilt-embossed leather walls.” A former Las Vegas-Macau resort and casino operator, at Palm Beach Wynn has apparently been recast as an art collector and padel-ball enthusiast. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
1960 South Ocean, Casa Riviera. Photo Augustus Mayhew.
An early 1940s aerial depicts South Ocean’s configuration before the 1947 hurricane washed it away resulting in crafting Sloan’s Curve to bring the road along the lakeside. Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Endpoint of Billionaires Row, 2020. The parcel between 1960 South Ocean and Sloan’s Curve remains vacant, currently owned by Nathan Silverstein. Aerial — Palm Beach County Property Appraiser.

Above All

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.

Click here for Billionaires Row, Part I
Click here for Billionaires Row, Part II
Click here for Billionaires Row, Part III

Contemporary Aerials courtesy AFP/Andy Frame Photography and Brian Lee / Woolly Mammoth Photography & Design

Recent Posts