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Bankrupt gold dealer Yaffe's Avila megamansion now half price

TAMPA — The most expensive mansion in Tampa Bay just got a little cheaper.

The price for disgraced gold dealer Mark Yaffe's opulent megamansion dropped last week to $12.9 million, half off from when it first hit the market in 2008.

Modeled after a 17th century British royal palace, the 29,000-square-foot home is one of Tampa Bay's largest, adorning 6 acres of Tampa's posh Avila country club.

But no buyer has jumped at the listing since Yaffe, the former head of liquidated coin wholesaler National Gold Exchange, declared bankruptcy and agreed to sell the home to pay off tens of millions in debt.

First listed at $25 million, the home's price has shrunk three times over five years of market lingering.

But its listing agent said the most recent drop, from $14.9 million, could be its last, having already drawn in three "serious inquiries," including from two unnamed international prospects.

"When something isn't selling, it's always price, price, price," Coldwell Banker agent Michelle Fitz-Randolph said. "They are very motivated to sell."

Taking seven years to build and design, the home at 706 Guisando de Avila was on the market only four years after its 2004 completion. Lawyers in Yaffe's bankruptcy case said in 2009 that the sale of the "Versailles-type" estate could take years.

Swaddled in custom-designed limestone and marble, the 10-bedroom, 10-bathroom manor boasts 14 fireplaces, a formal ballroom, a wood-paneled library, a wine cellar and a private basketball court.

Yaffe, who as a teen sold coins at a flea market, designed the Jacobean palace as a showcase for his antique music machines. His collection included a Hupfeld Phonolist Violina, a player piano for violins, valued at $1 million, and a rare Hupfeld Helios orchestrion, designed to mimic an orchestra, which he bought for $1.2 million.

But for all its grandeur, Yaffe's palace is only one of several treasures at Avila, the guarded Tampa enclave where lots are so wide and driveways so long that children have been known to trick-or-treat in golf carts.

Among those who have called the country club home: former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy and lineman Warren Sapp; former Tampa Bay Rays owner Vince Naimoli; and past-and-present New York Yankees Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

With its price drop, the Yaffe palace will play second fiddle to the priciest home on the market, a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Clearwater's Harbor Oaks. That home has been priced at a cool $14.9 million since it hit the market in 2010.

Bankrupt gold dealer Yaffe's Avila megamansion now half price 03/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 6:47am]

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