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Palm Beach Real Estate Roulette

“The wheel that can’t be stopped; it’s human nature.” In between Jingle Bells and Auld Lang Syne, Palm Beach real estate agents were busy with a rush of year-end closings. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
By Augustus Mayhew

Palm Beach appears, now more than ever, the perfect spot for elusive billionaires who want no more than for no one to know where they live or, however mundane, how much they paid for their house. And, where more ideal to remain anonymous and keep a low profile than behind Palm Beach’s hedges, well-known for its real estate agents being second only to the Vatican’s Swiss Army guards in keeping secrets.

Palm Beach’s recently-published real estate market report was optimistic. A few asterisks to some of the report’s findings might be in order. Somehow, the Maddock family’s $15 million lakefront sale in September was omitted, albeit it was recorded as two separate deeds but the sale was clearly reported as being to one buyer. It should have been #5 on the “Top Ten” list. And while I turn a deaf ear to rumor, several agents had mentioned to me several months ago the mystery buyer was none other than Maison d’Amitie’s owner. Last week I happened onto Maddock Way where planted curbside was the same nowhere-else-to-be-found $2.98 No Trespassing sign that is plastered in front of the North County Road dacha. Alas, I still don’t know who bought the lot, suitable for mega-yacht dockage, but could the rumor have been true?
Also, in the “market report,” six of the top ten “sales” were never listed on the island’s exclusive MLS market. Thus, I could not equate the rationale as to how these sales reflect an actual market. The message would seem to be, the best way to sell your Palm Beach property for top dollar is to possibly not list it on the island’s MLS. Then again, by this time everyone knows the same ten agents who make for most of the island’s considerable sales. The market report also made no adjustment for the Malcolm Glazer factor? Glazer’s $24 million sale of 1200 South Ocean was the top sale of 2009; Darcie Glazer Kassewitz’s $20M buy at 850 South County was the 2010 high. Surprisingly, two of the top ten “sales” mentioned were Conrad and Barbara Black’s deed transfers to apparent lenders for their South End enclave where Black awaits re-sentencing.

Although still too early to say if Palm Beach real estate market prices have stabilized and are back on an upward trend, the last week of 2010 was active. While none of the trophy properties translate big-ticket items, were snapped up, here are more than $100 million in closings, a respectable amount.

801 South County sells for $16.8 million

In November Richard & Leslie Schlesinger transferred the deed for their South County Road house to 801 SoCo LLLP, a limited liability limited partnership, for $4 million. Two weeks later, Pilgrim Mortgage filed a $48.8 million certified judgment against Leslie, Jason and Adam Schlesinger. During the past year, the Schlesinger’s various companies based at 1801 S. Australian Avenue, West Palm Beach, have been the subject of numerable credit crunch court filings.
The Corcoran Group’s Paulette Koch & Dana Koch had listed the landmarked Maurice Fatio-designed oceanfront estate in the Estates Section for $24.9 million before Engel & Volkers agents Bunny Hiatt and Jack Elkins sold it last week to an undisclosed buyer for $16.8 million. Photo Corcoran Group.
Last week, 801 SoCo LLLP, Mark Stavin, as general partner, sold the Schlesinger’s Fatio-designed 2.75-acre oceanfront estate for $16.8 million, about $8 million less than its $24.9 million listed price, to the Palmeiral Trust, attorney Maura A. Ziska, as trustee. The house, known as Palmeiral, was designed for the daughter of General Motors founder William Durant. With 23,188 square feet of living area, the house has had several illustrious owners. For many years, Palmeiral was associated with Leon Mandel, the Chicago department store heir, and his wife Carola, who always enjoyed having the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s place cards at their dinner table. Another owner, German publishing tycoon Siegfried Otto later bought 1930 South Ocean, the present on-hold locale for Conrad and Barbara Black. You may recall when Mr. Otto was the primary financier for his step son-in-law Thomas Kramer’s takeover of most of the available property located south of South Beach’s Fifth Avenue. This resulted in an intra-family $145 million lawsuit against Kramer by Otto’s heirs.

In a possible related sale, FLP Investments LLC, Jeffrey Parker, principal, has sold a vacant ocean-to-lake parcel at 1780 South Ocean Boulevard in Manalapan for $4.33 million to Ocean Owl Retreat, 1801 S. Australian Avenue, West Palm Beach. Ocean Owl’s address is the Schlesinger’s corporate headquarters and the Manalapan lot is a bit closer to their Omphoy Hotel.

218 & 231 Royal Palm Way sell for $14.3 million
In two separate transactions, Patrick K. Fox, vice-president of RP SR RPW LLC, a Delaware company based in Dallas, Texas, has sold 231 Royal Palm Way for $8.925 million to 231 Royal Palm Way LLC, 2601 S. Bayshore Drive, Miami and 218 Royal Palm Way (pictured above) for $5.4 million to 218 Royal Palm Way LLC, located at the same Miami Coconut Grove address. The buildings are across the street from one another.
1090 North Lake Way settles for $12.375 million in private sale
In a private unlisted sale, Marvin H. and Edith A. Schur have sold 1090 N. Lake Way for $12.375 million to 1090 N. Lake Way LLC, a Florida limited liability company, 1209 N. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. According to published reports, Palm Beach’s leading broker, Lawrence A. Moens, principal of Lawrence A. Moens Associates Inc. represented both seller and buyer. Designed in 1999 by the Greenvale, New York architectural firm Mojo-Stumer Associates, the Schur’s house is one of Palm Beach’s most visually interesting Modernist houses. The architect’s design team, led by Tom Mojo and Mark Stumer, has described the lakefront house as “pristine white planes and volumes ...” composed of “... sandy-hued limestone, light metallic grays of the window system, bright white walls and a selection of dark granite slabs providing a sharp color contrast to the walls.”
Manalapan oceanfront nets $6.9 million
VBA Enterprise LLC, a Kentucky-based company, Andy B Anderson, principal, has sold 1400 South Ocean Boulevard for $6.8 million to 1400 South Ocean Blvd. LLC, 477 South Rosemary Avenue, Suite 316, West Palm Beach. Located next door to the one-time Pope estate, Manalapan’s most-often sold property is currently on the market again for $17 million. The 1955 Bermuda-style house is situated on an ocean-to-lake expanse with 200-feet of direct oceanfront north of Chillingworth’s Curve.
Manalapan oceanfront lots sell for $5.85 million & $7.149 million

Mansion developer and daredevil entrepreneur Frank McKinney, who has his own action figure available for sale on his website, as principal of Venture Concepts International, sold a vacant 150-ft. ocean-to-lake parcel (Lots 4 & 5 + part of Lot 3) for $5.85 million to Stephen & Bernadette Oliviera, residents of New City, NY. The building lot is south of Aqua Liana, the certified-green oceanfront eco-mansion McKinney sold earlier this year for $17 million.

Ten days earlier, Aqua Liana’s buyer, Bali 620 Realty Trust, Ronald Kochman, Trustee, bought the adjacent vacant 150-foot lot (Lots 2 & 3) from Harold T. Pontius, principal of C I Manalapan, an Ohio-based company, for $7.149 million, according to recent court filings.

Vecellios sell 210 Via del Mar for $9.6 million
Leo and Kathryn Vecellio have sold their waterfront Tudor-style estate designed by Maurice Fatio at 210 Via del Mar for $9.63 million to the Atrium Revocable Trust, with Ted Tarone, a local attorney, as trustee. Paulette Koch and Dana Koch, agents with The Corcoran Group represented the seller, having last listed the property for $11M. K. C. Pickett, associate with the Barrett Welles Property group had the buyer. The Vecellios had already moved to their North County Road oceanfront house last year where they have been otherwise engaged in litigation with the various builders and craftsmen of their reportedly $45 million “dream house.” Since filing in December 2009, the Vecellios suit has involved more than 800 court filings by 17 attorneys representing 23 defendants. According to Mr. Vecellio, in a published report, they have already spent more than $11 million curing the mansion’s various structural defects. The suit has most recently reached the deposition stage. Photos The Corcoran Group.
Fite Shavell agents sell North End house for $3.5 million
Trustees for the Nancy Walsh Revocable Trust sold 202 Indian Road for $3.5 million to Jerry and Barbara Pearlman. Scott Gordon represented the seller, listing the property for $4.95 million; Paula Wittman and Dorita Barrett had the buyers. The five-bedroom Neoclassical-style house comes with deeded beach access.
The Society of the Four Arts pays $5.4M for school building
The Mediterranean-style school building was designed by architect William Manly King in 1929.

The School Board of Palm Beach County has sold its historic school buildings at 240 Cocoanut Row at Seaview Avenue to The Society of the Four Arts for $5.4 million, according to the recorded warranty deed. The Four Arts plans on expanding its children’s activities and Campus on the Lake cultural programs once it completes a $7-$10 million renovation of the property.
The two-story corner building contains approx. 19,000 square feet of space.
125 Seminole sells, again
Being sold for an apparent 40% discount, 125 Seminole LLC, a Ft. Lauderdale-based corporation managed by Frank Mileto, sold 125 Seminole Avenue for $3.3 million to Martin G. Silver, as trustee for the Martin Silver Revocable Trust. According to court records, the seller bought the four bedroom, Smith and Moore-designed, 3,900-square-foot house located in the ocean block from the Taja Realty Trust for $4.67M in March 2008.
Fite Shavell sells Point Manalapan waterfront house for $4 million
Howard and Nancy Greenwood have sold their five bedroom more than 7,000-square-foot Intracoastal-front house to Whitson Investments LP, a Georgia-based LP, for $4,000,000. Bill Quigley, a Fite Shavell associate, had the property listed for $4.995 million. Photo Fite Shavell & Associates.
Maddock buys Midtown house
Palm Beach resident Cythlen C. Maddock paid George E. Marucci Jr. $2.35 million for a two-story single-family house in Midtown one block north of Worth Avenue. The seller paid $1.9M in 2004.
The Breakers takes down century-old golf clubhouse
The Breakers recently demolished one of Palm Beach’s last shingle-style Flagler-era cottages. Situated on Florida’s first 18-hole regulation-size golf course, the charming more than century-old clubhouse building was never landmarked. Last week The Breakers notified the town that it would be “illegal” for the town to try and historically designate the three last remaining ocean cottages. During the 1970s, The Breakers demolished all of the cottages north of the hotel to accommodate the North Breakers Row condominiums. The cottages had already been catalogued for the Historic American Building Survey and, at the time, according to news articles, preservation officials believed they were the first HABS buildings to be destroyed.
Former NH senate candidate pays $6 million for Gulf Stream waterfront compound
William H. Binnie, a 2010 New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate, has paid $6 million to Mark D. Spillane, for 1314 North Ocean Boulevard, Gulf Stream, according to court documents. As trustee for the William H. Binnie Revocable Trust, Mr. Binnie, a Portsmouth, NH resident, paid $2 million less than the 2008 purchase price and also more than $2 million less than the existing mortgage. In 2008 Bank of America provided Mr. Spillane an $8.2 million mortgage on the property.

The double-lot walled and gated estate features 322-feet of deepwater frontage, a tennis court, bocce court, deeded beach rights and a nine-bedroom main house with generators. President and owner of the Wentworth By The Sea Country Club, Mr. Binnie, who had previously sold his plastics company to Tyco, had bought another nearby waterfront property in Delray Beach last year for $2.2 million, in care of his Carlisle Capital Corporation, a real estate investment firm in Portsmouth.

Premier Properties had listed 1314 North Ocean for $7.95 million at the time of the sale, according to their website. The property sold in 2003 for $7.395 million before Mr. Spillane paid $8 million in 2005. Mr. Spillane heads up the Boca Raton-based Eire C.C., a real estate investment group that includes Spillane & Co.
A shady Chicago-brick motor court leads to a classic portico entrance.
A bocce court was installed on the south side of the pool.
An entertainment loggia with brick floor, fireplace, retractable awnings, and summer kitchen opens to a pool and to the east, a tennis court.
DC Realtors sell 240 Dunbar for $4.9 million
DC brokers, Dana Landry and William F.X. Moody, associates with Washington Fine Properties, have once again sold another Palm Beach property. Although this time, it appears to be considerably less than the $6.4 million they paid Frederick and Virginia Melhado in June 2008. According to the warranty deed filed last week, Benjamin and Elizabeth Gordon paid $4.9 million for the stately North End house.
Cielito Lindo nabs $6.8 million
“Dulce est desipere in loco,” translates as, “Good to play the fool sometimes.” It was etched into the monumental garden wall at Cielito Lindo, believed to be 16th-century Venetian.
Jody Weissman and her husband Morris Weissman sold 122 Kings Road, known as Cielito Lindo, a part of the onetime Woolworth Donahue estate, to Stephen C. Smith and his wife, Austin Smith, for $6.8 million. The Weissmans bought the landmarked South End estate for $2.43 million in 1998.

The buyer, Mr. Smith, co-founded The Seaport Group, an investment bank with offices in New York City, West Palm Beach and several other cities. Allyson Chambers, a Fite Shavell & Associates agent, had it listed for $7.99 million; the buyers were represented by Heather Woolems Rogers of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Designed by Marion Sims Wyeth in an eclectic Moorish style, the house is one of several residences that during the 1940s was subdivided from the main 1927 mansion that the Donahues had built on the 16 acres next door to Mar-a-Lago. While the house features captivating features, pickled-paneling in the library attributed to the 18th-century estate of English artist William Hogarth, pecky-cypress walls and ceilings in the bar room and marble mantelpieces, Mr. Weissman’s predicament may hold more interest.

Reportedly, the Weissmans are in the midst of a divorce, as Mr. Weissman was convicted of fraud in 2003 and has remained out on bail for the past seven years as he awaits sentencing. Mr. Weissman, the former CEO and chairman of American Bank Note Holographics, now appears to claim he is much too physically infirm to serve jail time. As you may recall, this approach worked for their Via del Lago neighbors, Bea and Stanley Tollman, who eluded extradition to the US while claiming Mrs. Tollman was not physically able to step out of their Knightsbridge pile. The Tollmans settled with the Feds, $60+ million to be paid over five years and not a day in the slammer. With Cielito Lindo now freeing up some cash flow, perhaps the Weissmans can retain the Tollmans' London attorney.

Brazilian Avenue new build closes at $7.45M
As principal of 416 Brazilian Avenue LLC, developer David Frisbie has sold a new two-story Dutch Colonial-style house for $7.45 million to Howard Veltman, trustee of the Lisa M. Saur Gift Trust. The lot was most recently appraised for $2.58 million. Mr. Frisbie bought the lot at 416 Brazilian Avenue from longtime island resident Jimmy Barker for $1.5 million, following a tragic house fire where Mr. Barker lost a longtime friend and then was unable to rebuild.
Midtown oceanfront condo estate sale goes for $4.7 million
Elaine Miller, as trustee for the Estelle Gelman Irrevocable Trust, sold a third-floor Kirkland House condominium, Unit 3D, 101 Worth Avenue, for $4.7 million to Delphine Helen Daft, according to the warranty deed. Barclays International Realty’s Jane Scarpa represented the seller, having listed the four bedroom 4,630-square-foot apartment with ocean views for $6.29 million. Linda R. Olsson, principal of Linda R. Olsson Inc. Realtor, had the buyer.

“It was actually a $5 million sale,” said Olsson, who added that the buyer paid commission and closing costs for the transaction.
JPMorgan Chase sells 112 Caribbean for $2 million
It has been more than two years since furniture purveyor James Brandon reportedly fled the country, was it Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore ... leaving a wake of unpaid bills and abandoning his North End house. After settling the sizable code enforcement liens levied by the Town of Palm Beach and creditors, JPM Chase obtained a warranty deed for slightly more than $1 million a few months ago. This past week, Mardel PB LLC, 241 Bradley Place, Ann-Britt Angle & Mullabrack PB LLC, principals, bought the two-story corner property for $2 million, according to the recorded warranty deed.
Via del Lago sells for $3.36 million
Nancy W. Mendel has sold 100 Via del Lago to Palm Beach residents Thorne and Patricia Donnelley for $3.36 million. The two-story house is located on the corner of South Ocean and Via del Lago, and features beach access. Mr. Donnelley is of the Donnelley publishing family, Chicago.
Publix pays $6 million for adjacent parking lots

Publix Super Markets Inc., based in Lakeland, Florida, closed on four separate adjacent vacant parcels totaling approx. 1.53 acres for $6 million from one owner, the Sunset Avenue Corporation, a Delaware-company based in West Palm Beach, Brad Bleefeld, vice president, according to the warranty deed filed late Friday afternoon. The four commercially-zoned parcels, 231-235-255 Sunset Avenue and 240 Sunrise Avenue, surround the existing market and are expected to be a part of the forthcoming super-sized Publix expansion. The asphalt lots have a market value of approx. $5.8 million, according to the property appraiser’s website.

Palm Beach Style
A 1958 Thunderbird convertible basks in the afternoon sun on Royal Poinciana Way.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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