Friday, March 29, 2013

UPDATE: Teddy Forstmann

SELLER: Estate of Teddy Forstmann
LOCATION: Southampton, NY
PRICE: $28,500,000
SIZE: 8,600 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just six short months after being diagnosed (and treated at the Mayo Clinic) for brain cancer, jet setting private equity pioneer and fearsome corporate raider Teddy Forstmann went to meet the great financier in the sky in mid-November 2011 at 71 years old. He left a fulsome fortune frequently reported to be well in excess of $1.5 billion.

The dashing, demanding and quixotic Mister Forstmann, who maintained a rakish mane of gray hair to the very end, never married but he did adopt two sons from an orphanage in South Africa in 1990 and was well known in upper crust social circles as a suave fella who dated gorgeous, high profile women. He squired Princess Diana in the mid 1990s and some reports suggest that at the time she perished in a Paris tunnel in 1997 the Princess of Wales considered Mister Forstmann a suitable (and suitably rich) potential second husband. Mister Forstmann later stepped out and about with British bombshell Elizabeth Hurley and for several years before he died was romantically entangled with the tall, caramel skinned, effortlessly cosmopolitan and brutally alluring model turned cookbook authoress turned Emmy nominated Top Chef hostess Padma Lakshmi.*

In addition to pretty ladies with high profiles Mister Forstmann also cultivated a small but significant portfolio of super swank private homes. At the time he died Mister Forstmann maintained at least three exceedingly luxurious residences: a 4,000 square foot duplex penthouse atop one of Fifth Avenue's finer co-ops; a supremely located ocean front estate in the Hamptons; a privately situated estate near the top of Coldwater Canyon in the Beverly Hills Post Office area.

Mister Forstmann's fabled Manhattan duplex penthouse, perched 13 and 14 floors above the uppity corner of Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street in a boutique-sized building designed in 1928 by high society architect Rosario Candela, has a wrap around terrace with unobstructed views over the Frick Museum and pretty much the entirety of Central Park. The three bedroom aerie was never on the open market but in early March (2012) all the New York City property gossips went bonkers when it was revealed to be quietly shopped around off market by a couple of New York's most discreet and successful lady real estate brokers with a $36,000,000 price tag.

Showings were said to be "back and back" and it wasn't long before a multiple offer feeding frenzy erupted. Nearly blind casino kingpin Steve Wynn was rumored to have some interest in the Fifth Avenue penthouse but it's not clear if he ever made and offer. Mister Wynn opted, instead, for Central Park South where he dropped a heart squeezing $70,000,000 for an almost 11,000 square floot duplex atop the Ritz-Carlton. Anyhoo,

The building's choosy co-op board quickly settled on a sufficiently qualified and socially acceptable buyer for Mister Forstmann's penthouse: an obviously sick-rich Westport, CT-based woman named Laure Sudreau-Rippe, described here as "an attorney and a minority owner of the [family owned] agricultural commodities conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Holding BV." Miz Sudreau-Rippe paid, according to property records, $40,000,000 for the penthouse, $4,000,000 over the reported asking price.

Like all good bi-coastal billionaires, in addition to his Manhattan penthouse Mister Forstmann also owned a substantial ocean front spread out in the Hamptons, specifically on the far western end of much coveted Meadow Lane in the still pretty waspy, old East Coast money seaside enclave of Southampton.

Driving to the Hamptons during the summertime season can be murderously slow and those with the means and stomach to do so commute from Manhattan (and Greenwich and Westchester and etc.) via helicopter. The very active Southampton helipad happens to be just a couple hundred yards down the road from Mister Forstmann's estate, a scenario that some Hamptonites (and wannabe Hamptonites) will find downright convenient and others will poo-poo with every ounce of real estate bitterness they can muster.

But children, forget the house (and the damn heliport). Luxuriously appointed as the luxuriously appointed house may be it's really the land and location that amp up the property's desirability and prop up a high price tag. The estate encompasses almost five ocean front acres. There are no homes directly across the street—only some dunes and the glinting Shinnicock Bay—and the neighboring, six acre undeveloped parcel to the west is owned by a local land trust, probably the Peconic Land Trust which means there will never be anything built there let alone a steroidal mansion used by its super rich owner, at most, a few months of the year.

Mister Forstmann's Southampton spread first popped up for sale in March (2012) with asking price of $34,000,000. The price tag first dropped to $31,000,000 and then to $28,500,000. According to various online reports, the property was recently put into contract by "a New York-based couple in 'private investment.'"

The floor plan included with online marketing materials reveals Mister Forstmann's approximately 8,600 square foot "cottage" style beach house was built "upside-down" with the main living and entertaining spaces and master suite on the upper level in order to maximize the beach and ocean views. The rest of the bedrooms are on the lower, ground floor—there are four bedrooms with private bathrooms plus the possibility of two more bedrooms. Also on the ground floor are the fully paneled primary entrance foyer with sweeping floating staircase, a small gym, large laundry and storage rooms, a spacious den/library with wet bar and fireplace and an attached two car side entry garage.

The upper level living has two traffic conducting foyers, a 31-foot long charity function friendly "formal" living room with barrel vaulted double height tray ceiling, carved stone fireplace and commercial-sized wet bar capable of servicing multiple liquor lovers at the same time. The adjacent, middle school cafeteria-sized formal dining room has a another fireplace, an exposed wood beam ceiling, an ever-so-humble (but unquestionably shockingly expensive) grass cloth wall covering above the chair rail paneling and a glossy, antique dining table that easily accommodates eight or more and probably cost twice as much as Your Mama's BMW. A fully equipped, kitchen-sized butler's pantry connects through to an roomy and expensively finished center island eat in kitchen with wide bay window that sucks up long, seaside-y views over the sunken tennis court and beyond the rolling dunes to the blue expanse of the Shinnicock Bay.

The master suite consumes an entire wing of the upper level and includes an entry vestibule larger than most prison cells, a dressing room larger than most master bedrooms, a bathroom bigger than most kitchens and a bedroom more graciously proportioned that most living rooms. An adjoining semi-private, fully paneled den/office—also accessible through double doors from the living room—is cozily equipped with a fireplace, entire walls of floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases and direct access to the expansive deck that that surrounds the ocean side swimming pool.

Although the house is impeccably done and lavishly but comfortably outfitted with paneled rooms, world class artwork and multiple wet bars there are a couple of awfully awkward moments that Your Mama just can't get past: The L-shaped bedroom corridor on the lower level looks dark and, at one end, claustrophobically slender; the two-car attached garage is nice but it opens directly into the den/library that itself seems to have been forcefully wedged into a remote corner of the residence; access to one of the bedrooms, perhaps a bedroom best designated at a staff suite, is by way of a secondary hallway shared with the laundry room.

Listing details show the property benefits from more than 200 feet of dune protected beach frontage on the back side and long views over the sunken tennis court and beyond the rolling dunes to the Shinnicock Bay on the front side of the house. A long boardwalk shoots off the expansive deck that extends off the rear of the mansion's upper level and makes what might otherwise be a long, bothersome slog over the dunes from the swimming pool deck into a much more elegant and facile endeavor that can be done without breaking a sweat and without spilling from a tumbler full of ice cold gin & tonic.

Whether it needs it or not, Your Mama fully expects the new private investment industry owners will hire an accomplished team of smart architects, landscaping experts and lady/nice-gay decorators to give the entire property a full face lift. In fact, would anyone even be the least bit surprised if they tear down the existing residence and replace it with something larger and even more grand? Because—let's be honest, kids—that's just the sort of thing filthy rich people do, isn't it? They spend an absolute fortune on a painstakingly updated and meticulously maintained mansion only to raze and replace it with something probably larger and eerily similar yet more to their liking.

Last March, before Mister Forstmann was barely even cold in the ground—may he rest in peace—Your Mama heard word on the Platinum Triangle gossip grapevine that his wonderfully secluded 3.59 acre estate near the top of Coldwater Canyon in the Bev Hills Post Office area was soon going to be made available with an asking price around $17 million. The Tax Man's records show the 1937 Colonial has six bedrooms and six bathrooms in 7,136 square feet but those figures may or may not be accurate.

Well, dontcha know butter beans, not two months later Mister Forstmann's West Coast abode was very quietly sold, according to property records, for $18,000,000 to multi-lingual financier Christoph Tribull. It was Mister Tribull's wife Cynthia, some of the children may recall, who once upon a time sued Larry Flynt after, she alleged, the pornographer's pet schnauzer '"viciously attacked"' her in front of his house and caused '"severe shock, fright, humiliation and emotional distress." We don't know how that all turned out, do you?

*Although it turned out venture capitalist Adam Dell—the brother of tech tycoon Michael Dell—is the father of Miz Lakshmi's toddler daughter Krishna, scads and scores of reports in the gossip and financial pages say Mister Forstmann had a strong bond with and provided a trust fund (of an unspecified amount) for baby Krishna. 

exterior photo (New York City): Kate Leonova for Property Shark

listing photos and floor plan (Southampton): Corcoran
aerial photo (Beverly Hills): Google


lil' gay boy said...

"In fact, would anyone even be the least bit surprised if they tear down the existing residence and replace it with something larger and even more grand?"

Sad but true; would that they would do that to the Norman Jaffe house next door (Jaffe, whose son refers to that house as the "Mausoleum", disappeared off a nearby Bridgehampton beach); even the architect himself loathed the design.

Forstmann's is a charming home filled with green-with-envy artwork, but hardly spectacular enough for the site; it wouldn't be the most expensive teardown in the area & I fear its days are numbered.

Be interesting to see which of the current crop of starchitects edges to the front of the pack should the new owners raze the current dwelling.

Anonymous said...

Who was the architect of the Norman Jaffe house?

lil' gay boy said...

Umm, Norman Jaffe?


Anonymous said...

For a house that may play host to scads of social and charity functions, in an area of rapidly aging(wheelchair and walker), deep pocketed folks: no elevator.
How can Mildred the Millionairess or Baldwin the Billionaire get a crab claw and donate some cash? For that unimaginable inconvenience to a guest alone, it is sad to say, but it looks short lived after purchase.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful place on a beautiful piece of land. I liked this guy, he really seemed to enjoy life to the fullest.

Anonymous said...

The best thing in this piece from Mama is the link to the Vanity Fair thing on Forstmann. A wonderful read.

Anonymous said...

FORSTMANN'S NYC duplex penthouse was once owned by JOAN CRAWFORD and her husband Alfred Steele (CEO Pepsi)

Anonymous said...

2:28 Bette Davis once said "we are told never to say anything bad about someone who has died. So I won't. I'll say 'Joan Crawford is dead. Good.'" Could this also be applied to Forstmann?

Anonymous said...

I can only ponder what that 1.5 billion fortune would have been, had he married any of the women in life or procreated. Smart man.

Anonymous said...

Lucky adopted kids...

Sandpiper said...

Lovely beach house. Wow.

Great choice to pickle finish the raised paneled walls, floors, ceilings. Wonder why the effect was skipped on dining area ceiling.

Area rug in the foyer is a trip hazard, as though we wouldn't notice-lol.

I'm with Mama on garage leading into den. Can only guess that sometimes big guys need to keep certain meetings on the down low, ergo get those vehicles away from main entrance.

buy and sell properties said...
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Anonymous said...

Great post, Mama. I used to work at the Southampton house, I know it well, every room. You're right, that 1st floor halway is a bit dark but lit by a beautiful chandelier. And the bedroom/sitting room near the laundry was actually staff quarters- generously sized, considering how you note itty-bitty staff rooms!

It's a very nice house; this will sound odd, but it's both baronial yet unpretentious. That lower-level "den" next to the garage, is a tv room, it is not fancy, it feels like someone's basement rec room.

Upstairs is a different story, it was lovely, and as said, great art- I loved the Botero drawings. Pics of Teddy with every famous person on Earth were interesting too! As you see, upstairs was all for himself. He hosted his Huggy Bears charity tournament every summer, but didn't have "house parties" as such, just a few guests at a time, nearly always famous. Martina Natrilova, VJay Singh, Liz Hurley, Padma etc. He dated a lot in the 20+ years I worked at the house. (He would also have his secretary break up with a lady for him when he decided it was over!). Anyway, thanks for the memories. Hope the new owner doesn't tear it down- this house only dates to 1996 or so, his earlier house on the site was a very modest beachy shack of no architectural sig, but I liked it as well. Anway! Ta.

Anonymous said...

Lauren Santo Domingo's new pad?