Unique Homes Magazine The Ultimate Issue 2012 : Page 38

$125 million Fleur de Lys Holmby Hills, Calif. $95 million The Beverly House Beverly Hills, Calif. $90 million The Woolworth Mansion New York, N.Y. $78.8 million The Bradbury Estate Bradbury, Calif. $78 million The Shelter Island Estate Flathead Lake, Mont. The Price of Paradise What makes one home worth more than almost any other in the country? The passion that went into it has something to do with it. By Camilla McLaughlin Fabulous gems and great jewelry were back on the red carpet at the Oscars this year, and Joshua Saslove says that is just one of many small indi-cations that what he dubs the “ultra world” is starting to come alive again. “There are major players looking at major properties. They have final-ly come out and delved back into the ultra real estate market,” observes Saslove, founder and president of Joshua & Co. in Aspen. “There has been a tremendous increase in interest from potential buyers from overseas this year,” observes Bob Hurwitz, founder of Hurwitz James Company. “Just in the past month alone, I have closed escrow with buyers on a listing of mine in Brentwood (owned by Nicole Murphy and Michael Strahan), with cash buyers from Hong Kong who looked at the property for a half-hour one time; put another property in escrow in Bel-Air to a Russian buyer who did not actually even look at the property himself as he is in Moscow, but had his wife tour it once; had an all-cash offer by a Chinese buyer with a vineyard estate listing of mine for $14.5 million in Mal-ibu; and had over 5 showings on the $78.8 million Bradbury Estate, all to Chinese and Korean buyers, two of whose agents have contacted me to let me know they will likely be submitting offers on the property.” Foreign buyers continue to flock to prime markets in New York, California, Florida and even Aspen. Almost everywhere, interest from buy-ers is up, piqued by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a legacy property such as one of the spreads in the Rockies or the Sierras featured in Ultimate’s top 10 this year. A private island, a $74 million French Chateau in Palm Beach, the crème de la crème of estates in one of the world’s wealth-iest communities or a Manhattan penthouse are other legacies on this year’s list, which also includes two historic properties: one in Beverly Hills, anoth-er literally 45 steps from New York’s Central Park. And compared to even a year ago, there are few tire kickers among today’s buyers. “Those who are capable of acquiring an ultra property are investing more time and effort in looking and they are serious. They don’t have to steal anything; they need to make what I would consider to be a value purchase,” observes Saslove. Unlike other buyers, those in the ultra market don’t look within price ranges. Instead, they ask to see the best. Saslove explains: “They want to own something very special that they can share with their family and prob-ably hand down to their children, but it also has to be something they believe to be a reasonable value and a well-placed investment.” No. 3 The Woolworth Mansion New York, N.Y. 38 UniqueHomes.com

The Price of Paradise

Camilla McLaughlin


What makes one home worth more than almost any other in the country? The passion that went into it has something to do with it.

Fabulous gems and great jewelry were back on the red carpet at the Oscars this year, and Joshua Saslove says that is just one of many small indications that what he dubs the “ultra world” is starting to come alive again.

“There are major players looking at major properties. They have finally come out and delved back into the ultra real estate market,” observes Saslove, founder and president of Joshua & Co. in Aspen.

“There has been a tremendous increase in interest from potential buyers from overseas this year,” observes Bob Hurwitz, founder of Hurwitz James Company. “Just in the past month alone, I have closed escrow with buyers on a listing of mine in Brentwood (owned by Nicole Murphy and Michael Strahan), with cash buyers from Hong Kong who looked at the property for a half-hour one time; put another property in escrow in Bel-Air to a Russian buyer who did not actually even look at the property himself as he is in Moscow, but had his wife tour it once; had an all-cash offer by a Chinese buyer with a vineyard estate listing of mine for $14.5 million in Malibu; and had over 5 showings on the $78.8 million Bradbury Estate, all to Chinese and Korean buyers, two of whose agents have contacted me to let me know they will likely be submitting offers on the property.”

Foreign buyers continue to flock to prime markets in New York, California, Florida and even Aspen. Almost everywhere, interest from buyers is up, piqued by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a legacy property such as one of the spreads in the Rockies or the Sierras featured in Ultimate’s top 10 this year. A private island, a $74 million French Chateau in Palm Beach, the crème de la crème of estates in one of the world’s wealthiest communities or a Manhattan penthouse are other legacies on this year’s list, which also includes two historic properties: one in Beverly Hills, another literally 45 steps from New York’s Central Park.

And compared to even a year ago, there are few tire kickers among today’s buyers. “Those who are capable of acquiring an ultra property are investing more time and effort in looking and they are serious. They don’t have to steal anything; they need to make what I would consider to be a value purchase,” observes Saslove.

Unlike other buyers, those in the ultra market don’t look within price ranges. Instead, they ask to see the best. Saslove explains: “They want to own something very special that they can share with their family and probably hand down to their children, but it also has to be something they believe to be a reasonable value and a well-placed investment.”

Creating Value
What creates value in an ultimate property hasn’t changed—land, lifestyle, location and excellence. The value equation isn’t “just about bricks and mortar,” observes Shari Chase, CEO of Chase International Realty.

“The one thing that people of substantial wealth find that they cannot buy, no matter how much wealth they have, is time. In all these luxury properties we’re selling time, we’re selling quality time, we’re selling family time and we’re selling experience time,” says Saslove.

“You can’t just build 50,000 square feet and say this is nirvana,” says Jeff Hyland, co-founder of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills. Even in Beverly Hills, few, if any, homes can match the quality of the space, the livability and the overall feeling of Beverly House, which at $90 million ranks second on Ultimate’s top 10. “You don’t feel like you’re dwarfed in a cavernous environment. All the rooms are in the right place and it lends itself to small-scale entertaining and large-scale entertaining,” he says. “It can’t be replaced for any amount of money, because it is so iconic and classic.”

Also irreplaceable is the cachet of a storied past studded with names such as Hearst and Kennedy as well as legendary architects such as Gordon Kaufman and Paul Thiene.

An Ultimate History
Big-ticket sales, particularly to Russian buyers, grabbed headlines throughout 2011, but it could be argued that the revival of the ultra high end began with a trickle of sales in 2010. First, Bootjack Ranch and then La Belvédère for a reported $50 million. Both were Ultimate Homes. Substantially discounted, the sale prices still set records. Other significant sales followed, including Dunellen Hall, the former Helmsley estate in Greenwich, Conn., and Porcupine Creek, a golf estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

A year ago, buoyed by the ongoing recovery in wealth, the ultra high end was invigorated by the sale of a Los Altos, Calif., property to Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. The $100 million sale price finally broke the $95 million benchmark set by Donald Trump’s Palm Beach property in 2006. Soon after, the Spelling Manor, which had reigned as most expensive in the U.S. at $150 million, sold for $85 million to the Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone.

Further setting the stage for 2012 was the sale of a penthouse at 15 Central Park South in Manhattan for full asking price, $88 million, just three weeks after it went on the market, setting a record for the highest transaction ever in New York. The buyer was the 22-year old daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who was also the purchaser of Trump’s Palm Beach property.

Price Reductions
Nothing garners more attention than prices. Admittedly they are astonishing, but agents say price is rarely a catalyst for a sale. Even price reductions are more about the desire of the owners rather than dollars.

“People have their heart and soul in these properties,” says Chase. Life changes might dictate a sale, but it takes time to align heart and mind. “They want to make a lifestyle change, but it’s a gentle path; they gently move into the new lifestyle and out of the old one,” she explains.

A good example is Three Ponds Farm in Bridgehampton, N.Y., which at $75 million topped the very first Ultimate list.When the home first came on the market, the owner, a recent widow, still had a huge emotional attachment. Today, ready to part with it, she lowered the price to $68 million.

“It’s such a unique and special property; she wants to find the right buyer,” says Susan Breitenbach, a senior vice president with The Corcoran Group, who is listing the home.

Reductions often reflect broader changes in the market. Last year, Tranquility, a 210-acre estate overlooking Lake Tahoe was reduced from $100 million to $75 million. Even at $100 million it was undervalued, but, Chase says, “The price point was changed to encourage buyers to take advantage of a phenomenal opportunity.”

Passion
Every top-10 property is in a location and on acreage almost impossible to assemble today. But, if you look at their history, passion is what sets them apart. Great estates such as Tranquility, Bradbury, 4 Peaks or any of the top 10 result from the desire to bring a vision to life and a commitment to excellence that far exceeds anything else in the market. Sometimes the home is the result of the passion of several generations. When the current owner doubled the original square footage of Beverly House, he only enhanced the aesthetic. Consider the Woolworth Estate, which Paula Del Nunzio, senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens, says is like no other estate in New York. Built by Frank Woolworth for one of his three daughters, the 35-foot-wide neo-French Renaissance townhouse is one of the great mansions in the city, but what makes it so rare is the passion the owners poured into the reconstruction and renovation. Not only has it been brought to current day standards, but all of the beautiful prewar details have been beautifully restored. “Someone has to have a great deal of commitment to the Beaux Arts style to accomplish this,” she observes. Other great mansions in Manhattan have sold, but Del Nunzio says they have been shells requiring total renovation.

New This Year
Three properties are new to the list this year. Like all of our top 10, each is worth exploring because each is so singular. The Bradbury Estate featured on the cover of this issue for $78.8 million and Shelter Island, a $78 million private island on Montana’s Flathead Lake, are owned by the same individual, something of a first for Ultimate. Both properties were 10 years in the making. Shelter Island, reminiscent of a European lodge, offers water and mountain views from every angle in the main house. Especially charming is the conservatory. All the construction materials were brought over by barge or helicopter.

4 Peaks Ranch is a $75 million Rocky Mountain paradise situated on 870 acres, 15 minutes from downtown Aspen. Few Ultimate Homes have been as captivating. Huge expanses of glass capture spectacular views of the Roaring Fork Valley. Over the years, few other Ultimate Homes have offered quite as many ways to play or such an array of indulgent features. Designed as a family getaway, the property was also featured on MTV’s Teen Cribs.

Private Paradise
“Like a five-star resort” is the one phrase used to describe almost every home in the ultra high end. When applied to Ultimate Homes, the claim is accurate. Golf, tennis, ponds, lakes and pools are all part of the equation. Tranquility, the largest privately owned piece of land in Lake Tahoe, includes its own lake, an art studio, a boat house, guesthouse and two over-the-water golf holes. Inside, each room offers its own magical setting, but the real amenity is the sense of peace one immediately feels stepping onto the property.

Several of this year’s top 10 include putting greens or golf holes, but Three Ponds Farm has a USGArated course (and pro shop) designed by Rees Jones, not to mention one of the top private gardens in the country. Stocked trout ponds are not uncommon, but one that is temperature-controlled and constructed at a cost in excess of $8 million is a first, as are the Bradbury Estate’s other amenities — a hermetically sealed, leather-bound poker cigar room with a separate air filtration system, an indoor shooting range and a 3-D professional-caliber theater. Shelter Island has seven docks and a unique boat ramp that transports the boat and its occupants directly from the water to a heated boat house, according to Hurwitz.

Literally a private paradise, 4 Peaks has more amenities than any other Ultimate home and certainly one of the most unique indoor/outdoor pools, topped with a lighted starscape. Beverly House has an art deco nightclub, while 4 Peaks has a stage and setup for performing.

Under Construction
Records for Manhattan real estate might be shattered again when the $110 million penthouse under construction at the One 57 tower is completed. Occupying the top two floors of the 90-story building, which is located across from Carnegie Hall, the home will feature a 57-foot-wide grand salon overlooking Central Park. Also under construction is a modern-day Versailles in Orlando, Fla. Offering 90,000 square feet and situated on a 10-plus-acre peninsula with 1,250 feet of shoreline, this property is priced from $90 million if finished to buyer specifications, or as-is for $65 million for the buyer to complete the existing structure. Either way, it will be a stunning addition to the roster of great homes in America.

Read the full article at http://mydigitalpublication.com/article/The+Price+of+Paradise/1076686/112285/article.html.

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