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Donald Trump’s $95M record-setter turns out to be a tear-down

Posted On: 03-27-2016

By Darrell Hofheinz

Daily News Staff Writer

The oceanfront mansion Donald Trump  sold to a Russian billionaire for a recorded $95 million in 2008 is going to be torn down.

The town has approved the demolition of the North End estate that was the largest single residential sale ever in Palm Beach.

Long before he became the 2016 Republican presidential front-runner, Trump snapped up the mansion at 515 N. County Road in 2004 at a foreclosure auction for $41.4 million. He then renovated the property before selling it to fertilizer mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev in July 2008, five months before the Great Recession hit Palm Beach.

> Donald Trump in Palm Beach: News, photos and features about the part-time Palm Beacher and GOP presidential candidate

The Architectural Commission this week green-lighted the demolition in a 4-3 vote.

Commissioners were not given specifics about what is being planned at the property, which measures 6 acres with 475 feet of oceanfront, about a mile north of Royal Poinciana Way.

But sources familiar with the estate told the Daily News it may be subdivided and redeveloped with two or three houses.

The main house encompasses about 62,000 square feet. Outbuildings bring the total square footage to 81,738, according to property records.

Landscape architect Lynn Bender told the board that once the demolition was complete, the lot would be resodded until plans for it were finalized. Only the perimeter walls, fences, access gates, columns and small portion of main entry driveway will be retained. A fountain at the main entrance also will be removed.

Known as Maison de L’Amitie, the estate was the longtime home of the late health-care magnate Abe Gosman, who lost it in foreclosure. He died in 2013.

Over the past several years, the estate was among the disputed assets in contentious divorce proceedings, stemming from 2009, between Rybolovlev and his ex-wife, Elena. Last June, a Swiss judge reduced her $4.8 billion payout to about $604 million, but the couple reportedly settled for an undisclosed amount said to be close to $1 billion. Details were also not disclosed about whether ownership of the North County Road house had changed.

Commissioners discussed the project for about 25 minutes on Wednesday. Newly elected chairman Richard Sammons recused himself from the agenda item because of conflict, although he did not provide specifics as to why.

Anthony Mauro of Mauro Brothers LLC spoke on behalf of the owner’s representatives at the meeting.

A carriage house built in the 1930s is the oldest building on property. The French provincial-style main house, finished by Gosman in 1988, has one story and a basement. “The house is in relatively good shape,” Mauro said.

Commissioner Michael Small said he was given a tour. “It truly is an exquisite property,” he said.

After Small called the entrance fountain beautiful, Mauro said there are a number of people interested in buying it.

According to the demolition plan, existing hedges and palms along North County Road as well as viable trees along the north and south perimeter would remain intact, but most other vegetation, including interior trees on the property, would be removed.

Vice Chairwoman Ann Vanneck voted against the demolition. After the vote she explained that in demolition cases, commissioners usually are given an itemized list of trees that will be affected by the demolition with corresponding photos. Applicants typically include a notation for each plant listed as to whether plans call for it will be left in place, relocated or removed.

Courthouse records show the estate is owned by County Road Property LLC, the same limited liability company that bought it from Trump. That entity has been managed since the sale by David A. Lifson, although the company’s New York City address changed several years ago, according to state business records. Today its address is in care of Crowe Horwath at 488 Madison Ave., property records show. When Trump sold the property, the company’s address was identified as being in care of Hays & Co., which had a different Madison Avenue address.

In the 2008 sale, real estate agent Carol Digges of Brown Harris Stevens acted on behalf of Rybolovlev opposite broker Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates, who represented Trump.

The property was once the site of Blythedunes, an estate designed by architect Hastings Mundy in 1917 for Robert Dun Douglas. The house was expanded after utility magnate Harrison and Mona Williams bought it in 1930 with additions by designed by Treanor & Fatio. One of Palm Beach’s elaborate showplaces, it was later home to Charles and Jayne Wrightsman and Les Wexner, who demolished it.

 

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, March 27, 2016, Palm Beach Daily News

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