Up market: Kluge lists Albemarle House for $100 mm
Undaunted by a slow housing market, winemaker Patricia Kluge has listed her Albemarle House for $100 million, outstripping not only any price tag around Charlottesville, but pretty much the United States as well, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Listed by Sotheby's International Realty, the estate in the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello boasts eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a theater, a spa and sauna, and an Islamic gallery–- nearly 24,000 square feet in all.
The chapel where Kluge's mother is buried is not included in the offering.
Does listing the built-in-1985 Georgian, just weeks after celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard, mean that Kluge and husband Bill Moses plan to move from stomping grapes to stomping out of the area?
Not at all, says winery spokeswoman Kristen Moses Murray. The sale of the house and 300 acres still leaves an ample 2,000 acres of vineyard, forest, and pasture, plenty of room for Kluge and Moses to build a new abode.
"They have other homes and want to take some time to travel," says Murray, offering–- in response to a question of where–- that one of their getaways lies in Morocco.
But why sell this showcase David Easton-designed home now, when high-end real estate has seen a retreat? Does the 2007 shuttering of Kluge's gas-bistro Fuel Co. and the recent sale of her Regency silver at Christie's auction house mean that the former wife of billionaire John Kluge is having financial difficulties?
Murray deflects the Hook's indelicate questions by noting that her own mother is an art and antiques dealer.
"People buy and sell all the time," says Murray.
As for the eye-popping $100 mill price tag, edged by Candy Spelling's $150-million asking price for her L.A. mansion and $125 million for the copy-of-Versailles Fleur de Lys, also in Los Angeles, Murray points out that those properties are on one and four acres, respectively. "Albemarle House is one of the best-known homes," she adds.
Unfortunately for highest-end homeowners, in June, Forbes declared, "No one is buying $100 million homes. Few are buying $30 million homes."
"That's optimistic in the current economic climate," observes Tim Michel, a broker at McLean Faulconer.
Certainly, if Kluge closed a $100-million deal, it would more than double any other residential sale in the county's history. The largest was Hunter Craig's 2005 purchase of "Biscuit Run," 1,365 developable acres off Old Lynchburg Road for $46 million. (Within months, two other biggies included Castle Hill's 1,203 acres going for $24 million, and Fred Scott reportedly made $30.8 million for selling Bundoran.)
Albemarle County assesses Albemarle House for $17.3 million–- but that number includes just 98 acres.
Sotheby's agent Michael Rankin says it's hard to predict how much time selling Albemarle House will require, but he manifests no qualms about asking for a nine-figure sum.
"It's certainly one off the great houses in the U.S. and one of the best houses built in the past two decades," he enthuses. "It has superb and rich craftsmanship and detailing. It's an extremely rare offering."