Home Brings $100 Million


Russian billionaire investor paid $100 million for a French chateau-style mansion in Silicon Valley, marking the highest known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S. The purchase of the 25,500-square-foot home in Los Altos Hills, Calif., underscores the strength of some luxury properties in an otherwise depressed housing market.

The buyer, Yuri Milner, 49, who heads Digital Sky Technologies and whose investments include Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc., had no immediate plans to move into the home, said a spokesman. Mr. Milner is the stocky founder of DST, a Moscow-based fund that's made a splash in Silicon Valley via its investments. Its first in the U.S. was a $200 million check for Facebook in 2009. His primary residence is in Moscow, where he lives with his wife and two children.The sky seemed to be the limit for Mr. Milner's new house, a symmetrical limestone mansion with San Francisco Bay views that was inspired by 18th-century French chateaux.

The home has indoor and outdoor pools, a ballroom and a wine cellar. The grounds include a tennis court and inside are chandeliers and a frieze around a skylight in the entryway, among other details. "There wasn't a real budget," said one of the architects, William Hablinski.Mr. Milner's deal for the home offers a stark contrast to the national real-estate market. Housing data show that prices continue to fall, and economists have forecast further declines between 5% and 10% for much of this year. While the high end has not been immune to deep discounting and distress sales, industry watchers say it has been relatively insulated, Luxury buyers often pay cash, allowing them to bypass tighter lending restrictions.

Sales of homes over the $1 million mark rose nearly 4% in February year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors. That compares to a nearly 8% decline in sales volume for homes priced between $100,000 and $250,000. "The crummy real estate market is not in the high end. It's only in the lower end and the middle," said Cristina Condon, a real-estate agent at Sotheby's International in Palm Beach, Fla., who was not connected to the Silicon Valley transaction.On Wednesday, Ms. Condon closed on the highest sale in Palm Beach County since 2008, a $26.4 million oceanfront home. The sale of the Los Altos Hills home was previously reported by the website TechCrunch. Design plans for the house began in 2001 and the home was completed around 2009, according to Mr. Hablinski, who worked on the project with his then-partner Richard Manion.Mr. Milner bought the home through a limited-liability company; the home wasn't on the market, according to people familiar with the deal.

Mr. Milner, who studied theoretical physics in Moscow and attended the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, began his career in Moscow in the 1990s. By 1999, he had focused on the Internet after dabbling in everything from private equity to a macaroni-and-cheese factory.The sellers are Fred Chan and his wife, Annie, who declined to comment through a representative. According to published reports, Mr. Chan founded Fremont-based ESS Technology, which designs and markets audio and video products for consumer markets, according to the company website.

They have been involved with condominium developments in Hawaii and have an educational foundation, according to published reports.The Chans are helping to finance the house, having accepted a $50 million note on the house, according to Loren Goldman of First American Title, who reviewed documents related to the deal. The Chans planned to use the estate as their primary home and traveled to Asia and Europe to acquire specific items for the house, Mr. Hablinski says.

In Hawaii, the Chans own a 5.4-acre oceanfront estate on Oahu for which they were recently asking $80 million; the property, first developed by industrialist Henry Kaiser, is not currently listed.Few deals are known to that rival this one in size. In 2007, investor Ron Baron paid $103 million in East Hampton, N.Y. for 40 acres of vacant land. In 2008, an investment company linked to Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev paid $95 million for an estate owned by Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla.; Mr. Trump had been asking $125 million. Former Global Crossing chairman Gary Winnick around 2000 acquired a Los Angeles estate in the Bel-Air neighborhood in a complex deal involving money and property for more than $90 million.



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Posted by: dlipira
Posted on: 3/31/2011 at 10:11 AM
Categories: Luxury Real Estate
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Kitchens Play Hide and Sleek: High-End Appliances Go Behind Closed Doors, Room for Real Art and Web-Surfing


After Lisa Gilmore, 50, and her husband, Merle, became empty-nesters, the North Barrington, Ill., couple decided to renovate their kitchen and tailor it for two.

 A growing number of homeowners and kitchen designers are transforming the kitchen into a living and entertaining space. Anjali Athavaley has details.

Working with Chicago kitchen designer Mick De Giulio last spring, they knocked down the wall that separated the kitchen and dining room. Mr. De Giulio concealed the dishwashers with cabinetry and encased the refrigerator in a wooden armoire with art hanging from the back. And they added a "keeping room," an area adjacent to the kitchen with comfortable couches and a fireplace. (The name refers to a cozy parlor near the hearth in Colonial-era houses.)

That seating area is "where we have our meaningful conversations," Ms. Gilmore says. "We do pretty much everything in there."

For years, kitchen designers have been treating high-end appliances like trophies, making a stainless-steel-and-glass refrigerator, or a range in a shiny color finish, into the room's focal point. Now, more homeowners are veering in the opposite direction, hiding kitchen bling behind wood panels or underneath countertops.

 The resulting look—streamlined, uncluttered, often with LED lighting and a mix of stone and wood finishes—marks the next phase in the kitchen's evolution from cooking-and-eating hub to flexible multitasking space.

Many new kitchen designs feature adjacent seating areas with sofas or armchairs, instead of a kitchen table or high counter with chairs. The designs build in more storage and keep countertops empty, with sliding panels or doors hiding equipment.

Many incorporate fireplaces and TVs, emphasizing the kitchen's increasingly important role in entertaining, lounging, homework and media surfing. In June, Samsung Electronics Co. is launching a refrigerator, priced at $3,499, with an LCD touch screen with Wifi connectivity on the door, which the household chef can use to access applications like Pandora, Twitter and Epicurious.

According to the company's research, 59% of consumers consider the kitchen the hub of the home. "Refrigerators have been sort of the bulletin board," says James Politeski, senior vice president of home-appliance sales and marketing at Samsung.

Disguising appliances helps contribute to a clean, airy, sleek feel. Stoves, ovens and hoods can't be completely covered up, though, because wood panels wouldn't be able to withstand the heat. "Microwaves are one of the most aesthetically challenged of all the appliances," Mr. De Giulio adds. "We try to hide them."

Hidden or "integrated" appliances are becoming a hallmark of the luxury kitchen, says Mr. De Giulio, author of the book "Kitchen Centric" and principal of the Chicago firm de Giulio Kitchen Design.

"Every great kitchen has a hook," he says, a visual element that draws you in. The new hook in many high-end designs isn't an appliance, but a piece of antique furniture, a decorative hood or a special sink.

In Europe, kitchen designs were integrating appliances as far back as the 1970s. The look is becoming more common in the U.S. as remodeling starts to pick up. In a recent survey of 150 kitchen and bath dealers by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, 79% expect an increase in showroom visits in the first quarter of 2011 and 82% anticipate a boost in sales volume because of kitchen remodels. "There is a little bit of pent-up demand, where people have been holding off and now are saying, 'This is the time to do it,' " says David Alderman, association president and a kitchen and bath designer based in Chesapeake, Va. "What people are trying to do is make the kitchen a more-functional room."

Appliance makers have noticed. "People are gravitating toward a more simplistic or minimalist look," says Paul Leuthe, corporate marketing manager for Sub-Zero Inc. "I think a clean kitchen is more pleasing to the eye," he says. "It makes you feel calmer." Sub-Zero is developing its "panel-ready" refrigerators in new sizes to help them blend seamlessly with cabinetry. "We're hearing demand for more sizes and more flexibility," he says.

But wait—isn't it a little crazy to spend thousands of dollars on a refrigerator only to cover it up? "Some people feel, 'I have to shout it out that I have a $10,000 refrigerator,' " Mr. Leuthe says. "There are some people who probably take delight in the fact that people can't find their refrigerator in their home."

Whirlpool Corp. last year released a clear-glass-and-stainless-steel canopy for over the cooktop priced at $949; the company says it offers a lighter look than traditional stainless steel. And it launched new built-in refrigerators under the Jenn-Air brand that it says "virtually disappear into any kitchen décor." People who entertain at home a lot "might just feel like too many appliances distract from their decorating," says Deborah O'Connor, senior marketing manager for the KitchenAid and Jenn-Air lines.

Katherine Huge, a 46-year-old stay-home mother, hid her appliances as part of the $97,000 kitchen renovation in her Cumming, Ga., home. Attached dark-wood panels conceal two dishwashers and a refrigerator; the microwave, toaster and coffeemaker are kept on shelves in the "breakfast garage" with retractable doors. The designer, Matthew Quinn, created a custom range hood—he calls it a "slice" of stainless steel—which is also a shelf to hold Ms. Huge's vases. "No matter what you do, the kitchen always ends up being where everyone gathers," Ms. Huge says. "We wanted to make the kitchen the centerpiece of the house."

Penny Hecktman and her husband, Jeffrey, chairman and chief executive of Hilco Trading, a Chicago financial services firm, made a 17-foot-long painting by New York artist Alex Katz the center of the kitchen in their second home, in Miami. "The concept of this kitchen was that it didn't look like you were coming to a suburban home kitchen," Ms. Hecktman says.

There's ample storage for small appliances; big appliances are concealed. The stove is an induction model, so there are no gas or electric burners. "What looks like a backsplash is a deep storage system," she says. That's where she keeps her dishes and coffeemaker.

The Hecktmans opted for a sleeker look because they do a lot of entertaining at home, for both friends and business. "It always felt like we were having guests over," Ms. Hecktman says. The painting, which shows individuals moving around at a gathering, helped set the tone, she says. "It was like a party."

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/23/2011 at 3:37 PM
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High-end Housing Market Sold More and More Luxury Homes

Shared via PropertyMagazine.com

Luxury homes in the million-dollar housing market in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California is gaining more strength in the month of February compared to January, and last year, according to a provider of real estate listings in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Ventura, and other California cities and counties — Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

In line with the increasing sales of luxury homes, residential real estate market in Maui, Hawaii is also shows new signs of development as demand for luxury homes and other high end properties are increasing. Real estate professionals in Maui are said to record soaring sales for luxury homes with serious offers and quick escrows.

In Santa Clara County in Silicon Valley, about 100-plus luxury homes are sold above $1 million for the month of February. There were only 98 luxury homes sold in January 2011.

Median price are also up by about 4.5 percent for the luxury homes to $1,356,000. Sales for $2 million residential homes were also up from 10 sales in January to about 18 selling transactions in February.

But, the prices and sales of luxury homes were slightly lower compared to the same period a year ago, while the median price for February this year is about 1.2 percent than February 2010.

According to the president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Rick Turley, there are more luxury home buyer activity and interest since January this year in many housing markets, especially in Silicon Valley, but buyers of luxury homes are still cautious.

View duPont REGISTRY Homes in Santa Clara County.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/22/2011 at 9:44 AM
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Today's cutting-edge men's watchmakers are crafting timepieces with the bygone elegance of your grandfather's ticker.

By MARK ROZZO via wsj.com

Through family heirlooms, scouring shops or trolling online emporia. "Heritage," of course, has been the buzzword at just about every men's brand, with a renewed focus on craftsmanship and investment. It's the inevitable pushback against the highflying hedge-fund era, when the pursuit of luxury meant the quest for highly conspicuous quality and lots of it. A typical watch was the size of an Egg McMuffin and housed enough bells and whistles to make Henry Graves—the early 20th-century New York banker who commissioned the legendary "Supercomplication" pocket watch from Patek Philippe—blush. And although this bling-y backlash has been a welcome change to people with taste everywhere, when you go vintage, reliability and functionality can ultimately suffer.

I know from personal experience. Last summer I excavated from the clutter of my desk an old Omega Genève of uncertain vintage that had been buried there for, well, a decade. It had belonged to my wife's grandfather, a brilliant structural engineer who helped the architect Louis Kahn pull off some of his best buildings and lived to be 92. This beautiful, modestly sized watch, understated and perfect in its simplicity—with its satin silver face and elegant hash-marked dial, wrapped up in a matchless patina of history and meaning—didn't immediately make sense on my wrist. My everyday watch, after all, had been a digital Casio I picked up for 40 bucks on 42nd Street. But after staring fondly at the stately Omega, I decided to cough up the $500 repair fee (which is what it might cost to outright buy a vintage Genève), and waited six weeks. For the first time in my life, I had a real watch on my wrist—one that is probably at least as old as I am, outfitted with a new mainspring, new crystal, new crown, new gaskets and a new black crocodile strap. But, as is often the case, exquisite beauty has its drawbacks—after a time, my watch's tune-up faded and it was back in the shop again.

Enter modern watchmakers, who are solving this conundrum with models that evoke bygone good taste and key moments in brand history, minus the repair costs. Often, these watches are just plain gorgeous—worthy alternatives to heirlooms.

Asprey's Vintage Regulator—from the 300-something-year-old British luxury brand favored by royals and rock stars—takes inspiration from the company's 1930s regulator clocks. With a white gold face, blue hands and an alligator strap, it is masculine elegance personified. IWC Schaffhausen's Portuguese Hand-wound 5454 dips into the company archives to revive an old line—super-precision pocket watch-style wristwatches originally launched 70 years ago. The sapphire crystal front refracts light in such a way that the black face can take on a bluish cast, a nice effect for a watch that's all about gentlemanly restraint without an overtly retro look. Meanwhile, Montblanc, IWC's cousin in the Richemont luxury group, has rolled out its TimeWalker Large Automatic, a handsome stainless-steel watch with a pleasing hybrid design: old-school, no-nonsense simplicity with vaguely futuristic numerals that suggest "Battlestar Galactica."

You can't get too far into the realm of new-old timepieces without encountering militaria. Vintage aviation has always made Bell & Ross tick, along with a flair for instant history. (The company was founded in 1992.) The BR Original 126—part of the so-called Vintage Collection—hearkens back to the days of B-17s over Midway, thanks to an intrepid design team that conducted extensive reconnaissance missions, researching watches worn by WWII-era aviators. Legibility is always an imperative at Bell & Ross, and large-type numerals at the "12" and "6" positions give these watches the feeling of cockpit instruments.

The Timex for J. Crew 1600 watch is named not from the Elizabethan era but after a famous address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It's a tribute to some of the "style stewards" who have resided in the White House, including JFK. The 35th president was an Omega man, but this attractive watch has a masculine, no-fuss aura about it, seemingly ideal for touch football at Hyannis Port—or steak and martinis at Manhattan's Minetta Tavern. "We wanted to make an old-school watch, the kind that gets passed down from your grandfather," Frank Muytjens, J. Crew's head men's designer, told me. "And when you think of Timex, it puts a smile on your face because everyone had one growing up." It's another example of J. Crew's felicitous partnerships with brands that celebrate their heritage, evoking those vintage Timex commercials with pitchman John Cameron Swayze, who famously said: "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

Which is more than I can say for my beloved old Omega. The other day, it again stopped dead in its tracks. Although my repair shop offers a generous warranty, it's high time I went shopping for priceless history—in a nicely priced, brand-new package.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/18/2011 at 11:43 AM
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Retailer Finds Luxury in its Independence


There may be no store like Kuhl-Linscomb in the world. The high-end Houston retailer is the size of some supermarkets, filling 70,000 square feet of space in five buildings with everything from greeting cards to modern chandeliers that sell for thousands of dollars.

Asked if they will add more buildings to their campus, owners Pam Kuhl-Linscomb and her husband, Dan Linscomb, give the impression they might.  "I would love to have a restaurant and tea room," said Kuhl-Linscomb, her face lighting up.  "Don't start that," her husband replied.  They work together 12 hours a day, seven days. They have no children, they noted, and the store is like their child.  "When we go home, we're still looking at magazines and arguing about the store," he said.

What they agree on is a stylish, playful, eclectic collection of things for the home. Categories at the store on West Alabama in the Upper Kirby District include gifts, apothecary, fragrances, bedding, bath, kitchen, baby and children, home accessories, jewelry, music, pets, cards, books, furniture, garden, lighting, and antiques. Much is high-end.

The ambitious concept makes a profit, the owners say.  Among the thousands of items there: A modern take on the antler chandelier, made of ceramic and costing $5,900; a stylish cardboard longhorn trophy, starting at $28; and a chalkboard table cloth that kids can color on for $57.

Pam Kuhl-Linscomb runs the store day to day. It can be overwhelming, staying on top of all the categories, going on buying trips around the world, and keeping up with every employee and customer issue, she said.  Asked why there aren't more independently operated stores on this scale, she said: "Nobody's crazy enough to do it. It's too hard. You have to have a passion and put your heart and soul in it."

Kuhl-Linscomb has to be as big as it is to be viable, she said.  "Originally, we had only one building, but we soon realized that to get people truly serious about buying here, you have to expand each category significantly," she said. "Otherwise you're just a gift store."

The recession killed many luxury retail shops, but Kuhl-Linscomb survived with simple adjustments. For example, they added more sterling and costume jewelry at the expense of gold. Pam Kuhl-Linscomb also credits her "artistic, talented and devoted" staff.  Kuhl-Linscomb is in a perfect position, said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm in New York. The luxury sector has made a strong comeback, and specialty luxury is doing particularly well, he said.  Independently owned luxury retail is not unusual, he said. What is extraordinary about the Houston store is its scale.  "Dan and Pam are retail visionaries," said renowned New York-based home furnishings designer Jonathan Adler, whose products are sold in the store. "The experience of going there is fun and luxurious."

Robert Munzer, co-owner of Cornell & Munzer, a San Francisco-based trade agency representing modern European furniture collections, some of which are at the store, said he has seen only a few independent stores on the level of Kuhl-Linscomb: Andreas Murkudis in Berlin, 10 Corso Como in Milan and Colette in Paris.  Those European stores focus more on smaller items and have more of a fashion focus, he said, while Kuhl-Linscomb's strength lies in products for the home.  Customer Annsley Popov described the store as "a nugget of heaven right out my back door. I never expected to find such fabulous and unique items in one store."

Pam Kuhl-Linscomb studied fashion and design at the University of Texas and then did management and buying for department stores. A few years after she started a design firm with Richard Holley in 1984, House & Garden Magazine included them among "the best American designers working today."

In 1971, Dan Linscomb founded what would become Linscomb & Williams, a Houston-based wealth management firm with more than $3 billion in assets. He is still fully involved with the firm, he said.  They met a gas station. She couldn't locate the gas cap of her rental car, and he found it. They married in 1991.  They first took some retail space at Decorative Center Houston in 1994 and moved to the current location seven years later. They had to sink personal funds into the concept, because most banks considered it too risky, Linscomb said.

On top of everything else, Pam Kuhl-Linscomb looks after her dog and four cats that hang out at the store during the day. They are all rescues. She has also saved baby opossums and a number of birds that fell out of trees.  "I should have been a vet," she said.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/17/2011 at 11:23 AM
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duPont REGISTRY Homes Cover - Joan Pletcher - Upcoming May Issue

A spectacular estate where craftsmanship and attention to detail are unsurpassed in this Mediterranean/Tuscan-inspired home.  The interior finishes are elegant and include: a family room with hand scraped Hickory floors, Cypress beamed ceiling, stone walls, fireplace and built-in entertainment cabinetry. Designer kitchen sports a walnut work island, Knotty Alder cabinets; granite counter tops dining room with cove ceilings and wrought iron chandelier; and a gourmet kitchen with Viking and Sub-Zero appliances, built-in Miele coffee/ cappuccino machine, breakfast bar plus banquette breakfast nook.

Outdoors is an entertainer’s dream with Tuscan patio entertainment area with oversized swimming pool, raised spa sundeck, full outdoor kitchen, and a fireplace.  The professionally designed landscaped includes authentic English garden, Zoysia turf, Italian Cypress and Olive trees with a complete lighting package.

View more of Joan Pletcher's Properties, on duPont REGISTRY Homes.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/16/2011 at 3:51 PM
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Avery Homes, building prestigious homes in Chester County, PA since 1976

Avery Homes paints your home with the broadest strokes of your imagination and dreams. 

Finding or building the right home starts with choosing the right builder.  Avery Homes is a small, family operated company, linked with Avery Builders Inc., recipient of the prestigious pyramid award of the Pennsylvania Home Builders Association.  They have built primarily in Chester County, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas since 1976.

The Madeleine Model Home

Intimately elegant french country home on 2 acres in Chester County, PA featuring panoramic views of the countryside with GEOTHERMAL heating/cooling, public water, & lawn irrigation one mile from most shopping needs. His/Her 2-car garages. Custom stone, granite, hardwood, crown molding, wainscoting, over-sized baseboards, special ceilings, upscale lighting fixtures and custom built-ins throughout. Gourmet kitchen & Butler Pantry. Central music in & out. French, gas FP in great room. Elegant foyer with Swarovski crystal chandelier. Exquisite walkout with exercise room, sauna, stone wood-burning FP in social space, billiards & gaming area, full service bar & climate controlled wine room. Home is graced by custom iron gates and natural stone walkways at entry, front courtyard & rear deck over an enclosed 800' storage with garage door to the outside. Two complete laundry rooms, over-sized formal DR, security system, central vac, elevator for all floors, & 3rd floor apartment.
Find out more about Avery Homes, LLC, on duPont REGISTRY Homes.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/16/2011 at 10:06 AM
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Vidal Sassoon and wife, Ronnie, reinvigorate an iconic Richard Neutra house in the hills of Bel Air, California

Wriiten by James Reginato/Photographed and Produced by Todd Eberle Via ArchitecturalDigest.com

The relationship between hair and architecture has perhaps not been properly appreciated. But a visit with legendary stylist Vidal Sassoon and his wife, Ronnie, rectifies that.

“My whole work, beginning in the late 1950s, came from the Bauhaus,” explains Vidal, whose geometric, easy-maintenance cuts sparked a revolution in hair. “It was all about studying the bone structure of the face, to bring out the character. I hated the prettiness that was in fashion at that time.  “My whole work, beginning in the late 1950s, came from the Bauhaus,” says Sassoon.  “Architects have always been my heroes,” he adds. “I could not have been more honored than when I met Marcel Breuer and he told me he knew my work. And Rem Koolhaas said he had one of my original cutting books in his library.”

Fittingly, this conversation is taking place inside the couple’s Los Angeles home, a seminal work by modernist master Richard Neutra, which they recently restored. Known as the Singleton House, it was commissioned in the mid-’50s by industrialist Henry Singleton for a site on a spectacular peak atop Mulholland Drive. Views from the property take in the Pacific and the shiny skyscrapers of downtown, as well as the desert and San Gabriel Mountains.

When Ronnie, like her husband a passionate architecture buff, first saw the house it was in dire shape, though the Singleton family had done their best to maintain it. After relocating in 1969, they had rented it to a series of tenants, then put it on the market in 2002, three years after Henry’s death. The 4,700-square-foot house languished unoccupied—its systems too rudimentary (there was no air-conditioning, just Neutra’s ingeniously designed cross-ventilating windows) and its bedrooms too small and dark for contemporary families—until the Sassoons purchased the sleeping beauty. They were living between London and Beverly Hills at the time and bought the home as an adventure, one they weren’t completely sure would be positive. Indeed, just two weeks after the closing, in 2004, part of the roof collapsed, and a few months later a huge chunk of the property slid into a neighbor’s yard. But Cincinnati-born Ronnie, who had worked as a fashion designer and an advertising executive before she married Vidal almost 20 years ago, was committed to the project and immersed herself in a study of Neutra’s work. She pored over images of the Singleton House taken by Julius Shulman (1910–2009), the preeminent architectural photographer of Los Angeles. “They were my bible,” she says.

Little did she know how much she’d need the visual documentation. The Sassoons discovered that, due to dry rot and modern code requirements, they would have to do extensive rebuilding. Working with contractor Scott Werker of GW Associates of L.A., they replaced damaged ceilings and poured new terrazzo floors, and they removed a number of walls in order to create larger, brighter interior spaces. They also added a master bedroom suite, which Ronnie designed with Werker and building planner Tim Campbell.

Read full article here.

‘Woolworth’ Opulence for $90 Million

By Sarah Kershaw via NYTimes.com/blog

The market for multimillion-dollar residences has picked up lately, but you don’t see this very often: a mansion built in the early 1900s for a daughter of the dime store magnate Frank Winfield Woolworth is being put up for sale for $90 million. It can also be rented, for $210,000 per month.

The mansion is one of three homes Mr. Woolworth had built for his daughters at 2, 4 and 6 East 80th Street. The middle one, a 35-foot-wide French Gothic town house with a limestone facade and more than 18,000 square feet of space, is being sold by the family of Lucille Roberts, the fitness entrepreneur, who was living there when she died in 2003.

A French Gothic mansion with seven floors and more than 18,000 square feet of space.  According to the listing, being handled by Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens, the interior spaces, which the owners renovated in a prewar style, create the “sensation of immense scale.”

To wit: The seven-floor house with elevator includes a paneled library the width of the structure; a formal dining room that can seat 50; a parlor floor with 14-foot-high ceilings; 10 bedrooms, 11 and a half bathrooms; and 3 kitchens.

Ms. Del Nunzio, who has brokered some of the most expensive residential deals in the city, said it was unusual for a turn-of-the-last-century mansion to come on the market having already been renovated. Records show that the property sold for $6 million in 1995, when it was being used as a men’s gym, according to Ms. Del Nunzio.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/11/2011 at 3:00 PM
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Categories: duPont REGISTRY Celebrity Properties | Luxury Real Estate
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Inspirational 'Gatsby' mansion faces demolition

By Emily C. Dooley via LATimes.com

The once-grand white house watches over Long Island Sound from the tip of Sands Point, its days numbered.  Lands End, the 25-room Colonial Revival mansion that local lore says was F. Scott Fitzgerald's inspiration for Daisy Buchanan's home in "The Great Gatsby" faces demolition this month.

In the 1920s and '30s, Winston Churchill, the Marx Brothers and Ethel Barrymore attended parties there. Fitzgerald was perched on the back deck, drinking in the view. Rooms featured marble, parquet and wide wood-planked floors, Palladian windows and hand-painted wallpaper.  Now, the front door is off its hinges, wood floors have been torn up for salvage, windows are missing and the two-story Doric columns are unsteady.

Sands Point Village in January approved plans to raze the house and divide the site into lots for five custom homes starting at $10 million each.  Lands End is the latest Gold Coast estate to fall. With each demolition, the North Shore loses more of its gilded past, when sea breezes and social events attracted the rich and famous. Historians say hundreds of the mansions have been lost in the past 50 years as owners faced increasing taxes and high maintenance costs.  "The cost to renovate these things is just so overwhelming that people aren't interested in it," said Clifford Fetner, president of Jaco Builders in Hauppauge, N.Y., and Lands End project construction manager. "The value of the property is the land."

Taxes, insurance and maintenance of the 24,000-square-foot house and 13-acre grounds total as much as $4,500 a day, said David Brodsky of 4B's Realty, which is redeveloping the site. His father, health care entrepreneur Bert Brodsky, bought Lands End for $17.5 million in 2004 from Virginia Kraft Payson, the late wife of former Mets owner Charles Shipman Payson.

"You can't save everything," Ullman said, adding that some historic homes "are being restored. Maybe that's the best we can do."  Some of the grand houses became part of parks or were used by religious groups, schools, hotels or nonprofits, said William Conklin, 49, who grew up on the Peacock Point estate in Locust Valley, where his father was caretaker.

The 40-room Ormston House in Lattingtown is now a monastery, Sefton Manor in Mill Neck is a school for the deaf and the Chrysler estate in Kings Point is part of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.  But about 500 historic North Shore homes were knocked down in the 1950s and '60s, Randall said. More have fallen in the past 30 years.

"It's becoming more and more of an epidemic," said Alexandra Wolfe, director of preservation services at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.  The senior Brodsky has said he bought Lands End with plans to live there, but his family objected. He put it up for sale in 2006 for $30 million.  The subdivision plan wasn't the Gold Coast's first. After serving for decades as a home to steel magnate Henry Phipps' family, the Knole estate in Old Westbury was divided and developed several years ago.

La Selva, a 40-room Italian Renaissance villa in Upper Brookville, also was targeted for subdivision. Sylvia Kumar, wife of imprisoned former Computer Associates chief Sanjay Kumar, bought the 24-acre estate in 2001. It has been for sale for more than three years, now at $9.9 million. Kumar filed subdivision plans last year, but withdrew them, village Building Department clerk Linda Giani said.

Also for sale are a $15 million estate in Mill Neck and a $39.5-million estate in Kings Point called The Point.  "There are many of these in all degrees of condition and all degrees of pricing," said Barbara Candee, vice president of Daniel Gale Sotheby's. "The stories are wonderful and it's very sad if these are taken down."

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/10/2011 at 2:25 PM
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Record-breaking Picasso goes on show in Britain

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LONDON (Reuters) – The most expensive painting to be sold at auction, Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," goes on public display in Britain for the first time on Monday at the Tate Modern gallery in London.

The 1932 work, which sold for $106.5 million at Christie's in New York last year, has been lent to the Tate galleries from a private collection and will be on display in a new Pablo Picasso room in the Poetry and Dream section.

"Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one of the sequence of paintings of Picasso's muse, Marie-Therese Walter, made by the artist at Boisgeloup, Normandy, in the early months of 1932," said Nicholas Serota, the Tate's director.

"They are widely regarded as amongst his greatest achievements of the inter-war period."  

Picasso first encountered Walter in 1927, but their relationship had to remain secret from his wife, Olga.  According to the Tate, it was only in 1931-2 that he began to make sculptures and paintings in which the manipulation of Walter's body was explicit and eroticised.  Although Picasso had long disguised his affair with Walter, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was among the works which openly charted the lovers' obsession with each other.

Before it was sold in May, the work had been in the collection of L.A.-based collectors Sidney and Frances Brody for almost six decades.  They acquired the work in 1951 from Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris and New York who in turn had acquired it from the artist in 1936. During that period it was exhibited publicly only once, in 1961, to commemorate Picasso's 80th birthday.

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/8/2011 at 10:13 AM
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An Intermingling of History and Luxury in Italy


POSITANO, ITALY — The Mediterranean cliff side town of Positano has long called to artists and writers. John Steinbeck, Andy Warhol and Coco Chanel all spent time here, enjoying its beautiful sunsets and lazy afternoons.  The Palazzo Santa Croce, recently restored with a focus on authenticity, is on the market with an asking price of €8.5 million, or $11.2 million.

Higher still, in the mountains above the town, is the Palazzo Santa Croce. The house, built between 1700 and 1716 as a bishop’s residence, has been host to its own series of celebrity visitors, including Picasso, the Italian novelist Dino Buzzati and, more recently, the Hollywood actors Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.

The stately property, recently restored with a focus on authenticity, is on the market with an asking price of €8.5 million, or $11.2 million.  Trekking up to this four-bedroom, three-terrace villa, which is painted Pompeii red and overlooks the Bay of Naples, takes considerable commitment. Step 1: Arrive in Positano by car, boat or bus. Step 2: Take a taxi or a local bus up the hill and get off at the bar. Step 3: Walk up dozens of steps, wondering where they will ever end.

But the moment visitors set foot inside the palazzo, they forget that effort, said Raphael T. Harris Jr., owner of World Real Estate Immobiliare, an agency in Messina, Italy, representing the current owners in the sale. (There is vehicle access on a small side road, but there is still a short walk to the house.)

Mr. Harris noted that the luxury market along the Amalfi Coast has been stable in recent years, partly because of the region’s time-tested appeal and the enduring value of properties like this one.

The 557-square-meter, or 6,000-square-foot, house has two master bedroom suites, both with coffered ceilings, on the main level; two additional bedrooms upstairs, and a rustic, roomy kitchen with a pair of pizza and bread ovens. The furnishings are included in the sale.

There also are three large terraces, totaling 325 square meters, as well as an indoor swimming pool, a steam room and a Jacuzzi.  Several details recall the house’s origin as a bishop’s home, including the small wall altar in one of the master bedrooms.

The house’s renovation was as grueling as it was exhilarating, said Giacomo Cinque, a fashion designer here who is a co-owner. It took four years, he said in an e-mail, to work on everything from the basement floors to the ceiling frescoes, using seven mules to haul building materials up the steep hillside.

“The hardest part of the restoration was the phase in which we restored all the paintings from the 18th century that were present in the villa, paintings on the ceiling, where skilled artisans worked for years to uncover them,” he said.

Along with the restoration, the owners decorated parts of the house, including the indoor pool, with antique tiles made in the Pompeii area.  The pool “is where one can relive the days of beauty and luxury of ancient Rome, when the rich summered in Pompeii,” Mr. Cinque said. “It wasn’t hard to make the home luxurious by today’s standards. All that was necessary was to follow its architectonic roots.”  Over all, the designer said, he felt the result was well worth the effort: “You can relive history here, with all the advantages of modern life. It’s like living two lives at once.”

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Posted by: sserrano
Posted on: 3/2/2011 at 10:20 AM
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