Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sign of the Times: Manor Price Cut by $50 Million


Leona Helmsley's Dunnellen Hall in Greenwich, Conn., seen here in 1986, went on the market a year ago for $125 million. It's now listed at $75 million.

The Wall Street Journal - Talk about deep discounts. The property downturn has wiped $50 million off the asking price of a single home in what may be the biggest cut ever on a U.S. house.

Now, for a mere $75 million, a buyer can snare the Greenwich, Conn., manor house of the late Leona Helmsley, complete with two pools, more than 13 bedrooms (six for servants) and a walk-in silver closet.

The original asking price was $125 million, and industry veterans can't remember a bigger dollar discount. Last July, a Russian billionaire paid Donald Trump $95 million for a Palm Beach, Fla., mansion originally listed at $125 million.

Helmsley-estate representatives put the 40-acre property up for sale just over a year ago. Even then it was an aggressive price, local brokers said. In October, the estate slashed the price to $95 million.

Called Dunnellen Hall, the 20,000-square-foot Jacobean-style brick mansion is set on a park-like property in the Greenwich back country with views of the Long Island Sound. Brochure photos show a large marble reflecting pool and fountain in front and a back terrace leading to a rock- and plant-lined koi pond, flower beds, a large rectangular pool, many trees and a vast green lawn. The home has more than seven main bedrooms plus a staff wing with six bedrooms.

Mrs. Helmsley, one of the most famous names in New York real estate, and her husband, Harry, paid $11 million for the 1918 house in the early 1980s. They later bought more acreage. The ensuing renovation played a role in her undoing. Among the charges leveled at Mrs. Helmsley when she was convicted in 1989 of tax evasion was that she billed her company for millions of dollars in renovation costs. She served time in federal prison and died in 2007 at age 87.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124024652556335513.html

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