A Palm Beach spec house that was once part of a lot belonging to former President Donald Trump is, according to an updated multiple listings service, under contract to sell for around $140 million.
The 21,000-square-foot mansion was the most expensive listing in a town already known for over-the-top estates and was, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, quietly placed on the market for $140 million a few weeks ago.
If the property closes for that price, as a source indicated it will, it would be the second expensive single-family home sold in the U.S. to date, just behind the Warner estate that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought for $165 million last year.
The nine-bedroom waterfront mansion was recently completed, but the lot has quite the history: It was once part of an estate owned by Trump known as Maison de L’Amitié, which he bought for $41.35 million in 2004.
That property held a 61,744-square-foot residence that Trump went on to sell to Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million in 2008. While Trump tried to over inflate and promote it as his first $100 million sale, it was still the most expensive sale in the country when it sold. (“I love breaking records,” Trump said at the time, when he was still appearing on The Apprentice. “And this is a record.”)
After the sale, Rybolovlev demolished the mansion on 515 North County Road and divided into three separate parcels; the current one sold to Florida homebuilder Mark Pulte for $37 million in 2017.
The seller was a limited-liability company controlled by Pulte while the anonymous buyer, according to the WSJ, is a New Yorker relocating to Florida in the pandemic. Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates represented the seller while Serhant.’s Ryan Serhant and Christopher Leavitt of Douglas Elliman worked with the the buyer.
Despite the division into three lots, the property has been mired in controversy due to its connection to Trump. When he was being investigated for possible Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden called on the Treasury Department to release financial records around the deal and investigate how it could have nearly doubled in value over four years.
In 2005, Apprentice winner Kendra Todd was hired to oversee a $25 million renovation of the property that a 2016 application for demolition obtained by The New York Times revealed was limited to a new kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and “minor interior alterations of doors, frames and windows.”
“I don’t care about the house,” Trump reportedly told Miami gossip blogger José Lambiet in 2013, according to a report in Gossip Extra. “I bought it for $41 million, put in $3 worth of paint and gave it a good cleaning — and I sold it for the highest price ever for a single-family home.”
While the reasons for the high costs of the renovation were never revealed (Todd once told Inman that allegations that not all of the $25 million was put into the property are false), real estate professionals who worked in Florida during the 2004-2008 housing bubble said that that type of jump in prices was characteristic for the area at the time — home values were rising at rates unseen in decades before the now-historic housing crash.
“In my opinion, Trump was in the right place — Florida — at the right time, 2004 to 2008,” South Florida Realtor Jim Weix told Inman in 2018. “Although his numbers were larger, he was simply doing what everyone else was doing, [which was] taking advantage of crazy appreciation rates.”
But given the riot at the Capitol on January 6 and his tumultuous presidency, Trump’s name has become a scarlet letter and something that many Palm Beach residents don’t want to be associated with.
Last month, the residents of Trump Plaza Palm Beach voted to formally erase his name from the building while others have tried to disassociate from Mar-A-Lago and the Trump family’s overwhelming presence in the city.
“There’s been a lot of protests over the past four years that start there and walk down to Mar-a-Lago,” real estate agent Tim Frater told Inman. “I don’t know how the sales are affected by that.”