$75 million mansion in Florida selling ‘as is’
Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:01 pm
By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
WINDERMERE, Fla. (AP) — Listed as a “monument to unparalleled success,” the largest home for sale in the United States comes with plenty of space but no carpet, tiles or interior walls. It’s up to the future buyer to finish it.
The mansion started by timeshare tycoon David Siegel boasts plenty of big numbers: 90,000 square feet. Twenty-three bathrooms. Thirteen bedrooms. Ten kitchens. A 20-car garage, with additional space for two limos. Three pools. A bowling alley. Indoor roller rink. Two-story movie theater. Video arcade. Fitness center. Baseball field and two tennis courts.
All that and more for $75 million “as is.” There’s an option to buy it completed for $100 million.
Nicknamed “Versailles” for the French royal palace that inspired it, the edifice hit the market recently. Construction was halted last year to save money in a recession that proved particularly hard on Siegel’s once-booming industry.
“This mansion is a great anecdote of the overconsumption that led to the housing bust, and it might be the poster child of such overindulgence,” said Jack McCabe, a Florida-based real estate analyst.
The unfinished palace at 6121 Kirkstone Lane makes Tiger Woods’ place just down the street in this gated Orlando suburb look more like a guest house.
It has the square footage of nearly two football fields, is almost double the White House and about 36 times the size of the average American family home. The master bedroom alone, which would have had a rotating bed under a skylight, is twice the size of a standard house.
“It’s like a living piece of art,” said Lorraine Barrett, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent who has the listing.
At least it will be upon completion.
Instead of stonewalled gates, a chain-link fence with a green covering keeps onlookers out of the 10-acre property. The driveway is overrun with dirt and rocks. Weeds fill the planned baseball field.
The home opens into a grand hall with symmetrical staircases and a ceiling complete with a stained-glass dome befitting a cathedral. The rest of the mansion is more an outline — only steel beams, insulation and most of the electrical wiring are in place. The two elevator shafts are empty.
Stone for the exterior is waiting in boxes that fill the cavernous garage. The Olympic-length pool that will have a waterfall flowing into another pool is a carved-out shell. A cleaning company has to come to the vacant mansion to keep things tidy.
“He figured it would be for his family. They’d never have to leave, because they would have everything they needed here,” Barrett said during a recent tour of the mansion. “Nothing broke his heart more.”
She said Siegel, who has 12 children, could have easily moved forward with construction but wanted to avoid cutbacks at his company, Westgate Resorts. Requests to interview Siegel were not returned through Westgate Resorts or Barrett.
Selling a high-end home is never easy, and that’s only magnified in this recovering market.
Sheri Chase, founder and president of Chase Realty International, has had the listing for a $100 million estate in Lake Tahoe, Nev., for about four years. The 20,000-square-foot home on 210 acres of property is owned by Tommy Hilfiger co-founder Joel Horowitz.
“There are only so many billionaires in the world,” Chase said. “Who’s looking at prices in this stratosphere? Very few people, so patience is key.”
There also aren’t many homes in the U.S. priced so high.
The Lake Tahoe estate is the third-most expensive on the market, according to the annual ranking by Forbes magazine. That’s only behind a $150 million mansion in Holmby Hills, Calif., owned by Candy Spelling, widow of television giant Aaron Spelling. Another Holmby Hills mansion owned by Suzanne Saperstein, the ex-wife of Texas billionaire David Saperstein, has a $125 million asking price.
In 2008, a Russian billionaire bought Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $95 million. Trump had asked for $125 million.
The Versailles mansion, inspired by a visit to the real palace near Paris on the Siegel’s honeymoon in 2000, is currently tied for fifth by price with several others. But it has, by all accounts, the most square footage under one roof in America for a home after the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.
The structure might not look so massive from the front. The foundation sits some 20 feet below the rest of the block — making the entrance to the home on the second floor — because there’s a 47-foot height restriction. In reality, the mansion is 67 feet high.
It’s not cheap to maintain, either.
Taxes alone on the property, if sold at $100 million, would be between $1.45 million and $1.74 million annually, according to the Orange County property appraiser’s website.
The yearly upkeep also would likely fall in that range, real estate agents said.
“It’s going to take a very unique kind of buyer to purchase the property,” said Carol Ann Hewitt, who has listings for high-end homes in Windermere for Oxford Realty. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but it could take a while.”
Published in The Messenger 6.23.10