Will notorious Bernie Madoff brand help or hinder sale of Palm Beach home?
I think we're on to something here, folks. In one of the worst real estate markets in modern times, the notoriety of Madoff may just be the thing to move property fast -- at above-market prices!
Can the Montauk success be duplicated in Florida with Madoff's Palm Beach House (see photos) at 410 North Lake Way? The 8,753-square-foot home on the Intracoastal Waterway boasts 10 rooms with 5 bedrooms (and 7 baths). It's priced almost exactly as the Montauk property: $8.49 million with annual taxes of $140,759. If this place sells like the Montauk property -- who knows -- maybe we'll see a spike of Bernie Ripped Me Off, Too! signs cropping up at all sorts of for-sale real estate.
Truth is, a lot of property is on the market now because Madoff stole whatever other funds his investors may have had.
And there's the rub for the Corcoran Group, the real estate folks in charge of selling the Florida Madoff manse. They may have to contend with a different market than the one in Montauk. Madoff swindled so many neighbors and locals in Palm Beach that the anger factor there is super-concentrated.
In December, a (supposedly priced at) $10,000 piece of bronze yard art was stolen from the property and then returned it with a note: "Bernie the Swindler, Lesson: Return Stolen Property to rightful owners. Signed by — The Educators." And a month later, a tree in the front yard was adorned with toilet paper.
So far, Corcoran's taking a low-key path to marketing Bernie's bungalow in Palm Beach. The real estate listing, alas, makes no reference that this property belonged to the notorious Bernie and Ruth Madoff. It glosses over that part and says (I'll hit the highlights), instead:
"A return to classic Florida island living. Think back to the 50’s and 60’s when Palm Beach was a less manicured tropical paradise. . . From the moment you enter this amazing light-filled Caribbean home you are looking past your dock across the Intracoastal waterway. Purchased and renovated by developer Michael Burrows in the early 90’sthis home features many of his signature classic features - a 22’ soaring Cypress beamed ceiling constructed with stainless steel hardware in the great room and dining room, Honduran Mahogany front door, large voluminous rooms with high ceilings and tremendous closet space. . . Throughout the main floor lushly landscaped atriums bring light to each of the 4 first-floor en-suite bedrooms and the hallways transversing the house. Each suite is isolated from the others offering ultimate privacy. The upstairs master suite features 17’ ceilings, separate dressing rooms, closets and baths, with a balcony running the width of the house overlooking the great Banyan tree. Off the living room and dining room is the grand outdoor loggia which faces the pool, dock and Intracoastal."
Here's my favorite line from the real estate listing. "The biggest challenge living in this unique home will be deciding where to entertain your guests. This is real Palm Beach living ~ tropical, & casual, yet elegant."
Now if Bernie (in AP photo) still lived here, I'd fine tune that line. The biggest challenge living in this unique home will be deciding which of my guests to take to the cleaners.
(House potos courtesy of Corcoran Group.)
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist