YOUR MAMAS NOTES: While it may debatable whether the real estate markets have picked up some steam or continue to languish in a serious state of stagnation, the fact is, butter beans, there are still heaps and hordes of filthy rich individuals with the financial fortitude and strong desire to acquire trophy properties at mind boggling prices.
Case in point, reviled former chairman and CEO of Citigroup turned philanthropist Sanford “Sandy” Weill and his missus Joan who recently splashed out a record breaking and bone chilling $31,000,000 for the so-called Shanel estate, a dee–luxe 392-acre wine country spread in in Sonoma, CA.
Mister Weill, for those who don’t recognize his name, is the person primarily responsible for building Citigroup into the ‘too-big-to-fail’ financial services juggernaut that it is today. Although Mister Weill stepped down as the CEO of Citigroup in the fall of 2003–with a stock buyout of nearly three hundred million clams–and left his post as chairman in April of 2006, his lasting–and perhaps most dubious–legacy is that in 1999 he successfully agitated for the repeal of The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which created the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Act) and erected legal barriers between commercial, consumer, and Wall Street investment banks. Although Mister Weill staunchly disagrees, and Your Mama can’t be bothered to go into the details and fine points, there are many who think the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall paved the way for the shocking and ruinous financial market meltdown of 2007 that resulted in an extremely controversial three hundred six billion buck bailout of Citigroup, funded by the American taxpayer.
Mister Weill, who was at one time worth well over a billion bucks, didn’t do his already tarnished reputation any favors with the general taxpaying public when it was revealed that just after the 2009 Christmas holidays, in the gruesome wake the Citigroup bailout by American taxpayers, he and his family jetted off for a fancy vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in a Citigroup owned jet. While Mister Weill’s exceedingly–and arguably excessively–generous retirement package allowed him use of the Citigroup fleet of planes and jets until sometime in 2016, many saw the Mister Weill’s personal use of an expensive corporate jet owned by a company who had just been bailed out by the U.S. government to be more than a mite insensitive. It wasn’t wrong in the legal sense it was just, plain and simple, bad form by someone who remained irrationally wealthy even though his net worth dropped a few hundred million in the Great Financial Fracas of 2007.
Mister and Missus Weill are well known in real estate gossip circles. Not only do the couple maintain a major 14+ acre spread on a ritzy road in a particularly posh part of staid but super swank Greenwich, CT, they also, according to prop records and previous reports, own a 120+ acre getaway on scenic Saranac Lake in the rugged and drop dead gorgeous Adirondack region of Upstate New York.
In the fall of 2007, just at the very moment when all hell was breaking loose on both Wall Street and the proverbial Main Street, the unapologetically large livin‘ Weills famously laid out a knee-knocking $43,687,751 for a 6,744 square foot penthouse pad in New York City with 2,000 square feet of terraces at the top of the lower tower of the newly built, heinously expensive and much ballyhooed building at 15 Central Park West, designed by Robert A.M. Stern and clad in acres of magnificent Indiana limestone. According to our sources–and one of the children–the posh pad, with elegant, sophisticated and heinously expensive day-core all did up by the legendary decorator Mica Ertegun–was photographed for and featured in the April 2010 issue of Architectural Digest.
Records also show that in October of 2007 Mister Weill spent another $978,737 for a second, 1,084 square foot apartment on a much lower floor in the building, presumably used as staff quarters or perhaps for guests not important enough to spend the night in their penthouse apartment.
With their property portfolio already bulging with a number of prime properties, the East Coast rooted Mister and Missus Weill have somewhat surprisingly shelled out big, big, big money for a spectacular and spectacularly high maintenance 362-acre estate on the Left Coast.
The Weill’s new West Coast outpost was designed by Sandy Walker (of Walker & Moody Architects of San Francisco), completed in 1995, and photographed for the August 1997 issue of Architectural Digest by the sellers, invester Gary Shansby and his wife Jane, better known as O.J. The sprawling estate got its name–Shanel–at least in part because Missus Shansby, a clothes horse of the highest order, is well known on the fashion and society circuits for wearing Chanel, Chanel and more Chanel. Your Mama can’t decide if naming this rambling and genteel country estate Shanel is a cute real estate conceit or if it’s just plain ballsy and tacky.
Anyhoo, whatever it is, the multi-winged Tuscan style mansion, which sits on a rolling hillsides and wraps gracefully around a motor court, was built without any 90-degree angles but with instant architectural patina and authenticity thanks to the centuries old lichen covered roof tiles, hand-smoothed pale ochre plaster walls, and 200-year old rough hewn ceiling beams harvested from a Nevada barn formerly owned by Pony Express rider Snowshoe Thompson.
Listing information, property records, and previous reports on Shanel indicate the main mansion measures 11,605 square feet and includes just 2 bedrooms and 2 full and 3 half poopers a count that includes the master suite with its its soaring beamed ceiling, carved stone fireplace, fitness room, office, and adjacent library.
A total of seven fireplaces and a combination of travertine and oak floors with radiant heat warm the mansion’s vast yet intimately scaled interior spaces that include a sunken formal living room with a towering carved stone fireplace and French doors that open to wide and lavishly planted stone terraces and panoramic views over the valley, a formal dining room with exposed wood and beamed ceiling, and a library with built-in book shelves, vaulted exposed wood ceiling, and Parquet de Versaille patterned hardwood floor. The cook-friendly kitchen, open to a family room and breakfast area, has rustic antique wood floors, limestone counter tops, high grade appliances–white faced rather than the customary and expected stainless steel–a butler’s pantry, and a freight car sized work island with butcher block counter top over which hangs a dreaded and dastardly Mercedes-sized pot rack crafted from what appears to be brain-bonking wrought iron.
Adjacent to an informal sitting room just off the kitchen–called the ‘owner’s room’ by Mister Shansby–a temperature controlled wine cellar has marble floors, an arched ceiling and room for 140 cases of the vino. Can y’all hear the Dr. Cooter whimpering with envy?
Since the main house has only one guest bedroom, overnight visitors are better accommodated in the 1,655 square foot guest house that includes 2 bedrooms, a living room, laundry facilities and a terrace with stunning and wonderfully broad views.
The expansive, meticulously planned and expensive to maintain grounds were done up by Berkeley, CA based landscape architect Mai Arbegast who worked the planted areas and planted 2,000 new trees so they would blend seamlessly in the existing natural landscape of rolling hills, moss covered oak groves, a couple of seasonal creeks, and wildflower meadows. Also on the property are a fruit orchard, gourd patch, and herb, vegetable and cutting gardens ensuring only the freshest of salads and flower arrangements. Hiking and horseback riding trails criss-cross the the thickly wooded estate and a private 35-foot deep bass and trout stocked lake was named Lake Miwok after the Native American tribe that once occupied the valley but was, presumably, tossed out to make way for the white man.
A spa made of river rock and a simple 60-foot long rectangular swimming pool sits well below the house surrounded by trees and sunk into a deep green lawn with only a simple stone coping. A nearby vine covered pergola provides shade and shelter from the skin scorching summer sunshine. A tennis court sits even further from the home and 5,000+ square feet of equestrian facilities include four paddocks, a 5-stall stable, tack room, office, two locker rooms with full poopers, a wet bar, and a 6,400+ square foot covered riding arena.
Seven acres have been planted with high-quality Syrah grapes although, as might be expected, neither of the Shansbys is a vintner. The actual grape growing and harvesting is contracted out to a local farmer and the revenue from the sale of the fruit just about pays the bills for the maintenance of the small vineyard.
The property, accessed via one of two electronically controlled gates, is equipped with an extensive security system, a reverse osmosis water treatment system, 3 water wells, 10 water storage tanks and a private fire truck in the event disaster strikes in the form of a conflagration. Other amenities and outbuildings include a 6-car garage, a greenhouse, lathe house, hay barn, workshop, a couple of storage buildings, an 11,50 square foot cabana with deck, and an 845 square foot caretakers cottage.
Previous reports indicate that the Shansbys employed a staff of 7 to run Shanel year round and maintenance costs run a heart stopping million clams annually. It’s enough to make Your Mama need a damn nerve pill until we consider than some billionaires spend well upwards of a million bucks a freaking month just to maintain their mega-yachts, not to mention the half a million or more it costs to fill up the gas tank. Even still, between the Greenwich estate, the Adirondack camp, the penthouse in Manhattan which easily has monthly carrying costs of seven grand, and now the upkeep costs of Shanel, Mister Weill is looking at a considerable monthly nut that would choke a camel, give an average multi-millionaire a heart attact or, thinking about it in a different way, turn a gold diggers knees to jelly.
listing photos: Alan Pinel Realtors