Bay Area real estate watchers are all well-acquainted with the years-long but now-settled legal wrangle and tangle between Oracle bajillionaire Larry Ellison and his down slope San Francisco, CA neighbors the von Bothmers. In summary, the tops of a quartet of old-growth trees on the von Bothmers property grew to obstruct the otherwise panoramic view from the back of Mister Ellison’s modern mansion in the posh Pacific Heights neighborhood. Bickering led to a lawsuit that was settled earlier this year out of court. We have no inside intel on the full scope of the resulting terms but it was widely reported the von Bothmers agreed to “cut three redwoods and an [80-year old] acacia to open views from Mr. Ellison’s four-level house.
In the summer of 2011, at the tail end of the neighborly dispute, a real estate rumor slipped down the gossip grapevine that Mister Ellison was prepared to spend somewhere around $40,000,000 to purchase the massive historic mansion immediately next door to his very contemporary 10,742 square foot mansion.
The primary theory behind the scuttlebutt at that time was that house next door (above) to Mister Ellison’s concrete, stainless steel and glass mansion does not have any bothersome 80-year old trees that obstruct the magnificent, head-on view of the great San Francisco Bay. After news of the alleged purchase hit the tabs and real estate gossip blogs Mister Ellison released a statement that claimed he had not and did not plan to purchase the mansion next door for $40,000,000 or any other amount of money.
The 17,000 square foot mansion next door had been owned since 1979 by Dodie and John Rosekrans Jr. a filthy rich, internationally social and admirably philanthropic couple. He was a toy tycoon (and heir to the substantial Spreckels sugar fortune) and she an iconoclast fashionista born in to a privileged San Francisco family, her father owned a theater chain that later became United Artists. She died in San Francisco last year, her mister went in 2001 in Paris where they also maintained a home.
Certainly some were suspicious Mister Ellison was obfuscating about the alleged purchase of the Rosekrans residence next door. After all, Mister Ellison is well-known for buying contiguous properties. But he wasn’t and he didn’t. The latest real estate reports out of San Francisco reveal the Rosekrans mansion was indeed recently sold for $33,00,000 but not to Mister Ellison but to Roger Barnett and his wife Sloan Barnett (née Lindemann). They ain’t Tinseltown types–at all–but Your Mama has none-the-less on a number of occasions previously discussed and dressed down the real estate activities of both the well-heeled Barnetts and the even more well-heeled Lindemanns.
Mister Barnett, a former investment banker who founded and ran Beauty.com (until he sold it for $42,000,000), has long toiled as the Chaiman and CEO of Bay Area-based Shaklee Corporation, a multi-level marketing juggernaut that purveys nutritional supplements, weight management and beauty products, and environmentally friendly household cleaners.
She’s the environmentally-conscious former New York City assistant district attorney turned best selling author (Green Goes With Everyything) and financially fortunate daughter of billionaire businessman George Lindemann who made his first millions with his invention of the soft contact lens and his first billion from a cell phone company he sold in the early 1990s for around $2.5 billion.
The Barnett’s big new 4-story house in San Fransisco, according to property records and previous reports, was designed by noted architect William Polk, built in 1916, encompasses 22 rooms and 17,286 square feet with an unknown number of bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. The relatively somber facade belies the grand and decidedly decadent interior spaces that fan out around an airy, tree- and plant-filled atrium wrapped in towering walls and columns covered with elaborate carved friezes and stonework said to be copied from the Casa de Zaporta, a Rennaissance palace in Saragossa, Spain.
The suave and savvy Rosekrans hired San Francisco-based interior designer lion Michael Taylor to do over the vast interior spaces (above). The result was playful, multi-layered, deeply cultured, and impossibly chic in that snooty, globally-minded California casual sort of way that Mister Taylor essentially invented. Miz Rosekrans apparently told somebody that Mister Taylor’s original work was so sublime she never touched a thing in all the years she lived there.
In addition to the atrium the primary entertainment spaces include a ballroom-sized living room with arched windows that open to a stone-balustraded terrace with open view of the Golden Gate Bridge and a wood-paneled formal dining room with fluted pilasters, marble fireplace, and a 90-inch travertine-topped table lit by a crystal chandelier that once hung in the Paris apartment of Maria Callas.
Mister Taylor, a decorative genius to be sure, filled the mansion with an quirky but oh-so-elegant mix and match of pedigreed things that included (as per The Style Saloniste) a twelve-panel 17th-century Chinese Coromandel screen, at least one twig wall sculpture, 18th century William Kent chairs covered in chartreuse silk-velvet, at least one leopard print sofa with fringed skirting, gilded Neoclassical chairs from Russia, contemporary blue chip artworks, Old World Greek antiquities, and New Age-y Brazilian amethyst crystals.
The Barnetts undoubtedly have great style, discerning decorative tastes and, lucky for them, pockets deep enough to indulge such things. Your Mama imagines the Barnetts will re-fashion their new house in a manner that both befits a mansion of such magnitude and provenance and suits their own decorative proclivities. Such is their privilege and right as the new stewards of the old house. However, even though we were never inside the Rosekrans residence to actually see shit with our own eyeballs, we can’t help but mourn the loss of this well-preserved master work of Michael Taylor that will be lost down the swirling terlit of decorating history. As Doris Day famously sang, “Que sera, sera.”
The Barnetts won’t have far to schlep their furniture and art collection that includes pieces by modern masters such as Sol LeWitt, Damien Hirst, and Gilbert and George. In fact, they could save a few pennies if instead of hiring a high-cost moving company they went on down to the Home Despot and hired a handful of minimum wage workers to load and haul their belongings in a parade of shopping carts. See children, the Barnetts live just one block away from their new house in an 11,455 square foot English Tudor cottage-style mansion built in 1931 (above). The Blockshopper website shows the Barnetts acquired the 9 bedroom and 9 bathroom residence in March of 2005 for $23,000,000 from a scion of the Hills Bros. Coffee fortune.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Barnett’s sold their old house “in a private deal for $23,500,000.” Public property records show the sale price more specifically as $23,473,000 and, strangely, according to the deeds and docs Your Mama peeped online this morning the house was sold from one corporate entity controlled by Mister and Missus Barnett to another corporate entity with the exact same name. Could be a mistake in the records. Could be the Barnetts sold the house to themselves. Could be something else entirely. Make of that what you will.
It was only a few months ago that Mister and Missus Barnett made all the real estate gossip head lines when they quietly sold a top-tier New York City townhouse in a private deal that went down without any real estate agents. In the late 1990s and into the early Noughts the then newly-wedded thirty-something year old Barnetts lived in a 12-room Park Avenue spread. In 2000 they got ants in their real estate pants and splashed out $11,050,000 for a monumental 33-foot wide red-brick Georgian style townhouse mansion half a block from Central Park on New York City’s impeccably swank East 69th Street.
The townhouse was originally built in 1881 and in the early decades of the 20th century was home to lice Gwynne Vanderbilt, widow of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and maternal great-grandmother of grey-maned CNN stud Anderson Cooper. It later became the headquarters for The Union, an organization that teaches English as a second language and connects immigrants with English speaking residents to help smooth their geographic transition.
The Barnetts had the 5-floor and 12,111 square foot townhouse worked over by much lauded and applauded architect Peter Marino. Various previous reports on the property and/or the Barnetts reveal the mansion includes an impress-the-guests-style marble foyer, a formal living room that spans the full width of the house, a baronial dining room with 14 foot ceiling and at least 5 bedrooms including a full-floor master suite plus additional staff quarters. At the time the purchased the house there were two elevators, one for residents and the other for domestic staff and less-favored guests.
The Barnetts quietly shopped the behemoth townhouse in 2007 with a rumored and reported price tag of $62,000,000. That figure might seem to some a bit optimistic if not ludicrous even for 2007 when upper-end New York estate was still relatively brisk but the Barnetts finally sold the house in a private deal in July 2011 to Band-Aid heiress Libet Johnson for, according to reports and records, a much lower but still staggering $48,000,000.
For many years the Lindemann family seat has been a 9-plus acre waterfront spread in supah-swank Greenwich, CT (above) that includes a stately 12,639 square foot Tudor-style main mansion with 12 bedrooms, a detached guest house, acres of broad, tree-dappled lawns that stretch from the house to the water’s edge, boat dock, tennis court, waterside swimming pool and pond, and a private beach.
The property is now in Miz Lindemann-Barnett’s name but we’ve heard rumor through the real estate grapevine that the property is still used by the entire Lindemann family. But then again, what do we really know about anything?