…from high brow Connecticut real estate insider Phatlady Sings that the mysterious buyer(s) of Le Beau Château, the long-vacant New Canaan, CT, estate of deceased copper heiress Huguette Clark, are unapologetically urbane interior designer wife Delphine Krakoff and her veteran luxury goods executive and upmarket clothing and accessories designer husband Reed Krakoff.* (At the time of this February 11 (2014) report the property was still pending and as of today property records do not reflect a transfer of ownership therefore we could only—but won’t—guess at the agreed upon sale price. We can’t confirm or deny it but our informant, a gal with whom we’ve done business several times in the past, snitched to Your Mama that word on the New Canaan real estate street is that the contracts are signed but the deal won’t close for another couple months so for now it’s all just some juicy East Coast real estate rumor and gossip.)
The fascinating and fastidiously reclusive Miz Clark voluntarily and famously spent the last 22 years of her long life living under fake names in a guarded room at a New York City hospital. She purchased the thickly wooded 52 acre spread in New Canaan back in 1952, reportedly as a kind of bomb shelter in the event of some sort of Cold War cataclysm. She added an entire wing shortly after she purchased the property and around the turn of the century she reportedly spent almost two million bucks on updates and upgrades, not to mention dutifully paid the $160,000+ annual property taxes. Miz Clark, however, never spent a single night in the house or on the property. As per her quirky wishes, the mansion was none-the-less maintained in fully functioning (if outdated) order by caretakers who lived for decades in a pair of identical, two bedroom brick-built cottages set on opposite sides of the gated driveway entrance and who never once met their elusive and idiosyncratic employer.
As far as this property gossip knows, the Miz Clark’s long-vacant New Canaan estate first popped up on the open market in 2005, years Miz Clark passed in 2011 just shy of her 105th birthday. The original asking price was $34 million but by August of 2010 the price had plummeted to $24 million. Much to Your Mama’s freely admitted surprise and despite the deep and, in some cases, bottomless pockets of New Canaan’s financial elite nobody (serious) was willing to shell out twenty-some million clams for a thickly wooded 50+ acre estate that ensures an immaculate privacy and sylvan seclusion just over an hour’s drive from Midtown Manhattan and about a half hour to the exceedingly affluent hedge funder hot spot of Greenwich. Hence the price eventually sank to its last asking price of $15,900,000.
The sprawling and thickly wooded property has an already approved subdivision plan that allows for ten separate lots that range from just over four to almost eight acres. While it’s certainly true that by any standard a 52 acre private estate is beyond extravagant and wholly unnecessary but there were (and are) many people, both local and far flung, who would like to see the estate’s ground be preserved in its pristine entirety. All signs and allusions by the listing agent in previous reports suggest the new owners—who may or may not be Mister and Missus Krakoff—plan to keep the property fully or at least largely intact. Furthermore, according to the listing agent, who declined to identify the buyers in this report in the New Canaan News, the buyers—allegedly Mister and Missus Krakoff, according to our Miz Sings—are “creative” people who have a sincere appreciation for the property’s unusual provenance and plan to restore and renovate both the residence and grounds. And, “Hallelujah” went the preservationists.
Online marketing materials show the aristocratic 22-room French chateau-style abode was originally built in 1937 by a noted New York architecture firm and has nine bedrooms and six full and three half bathrooms in 14,266 square feet—or 12,766 square feet, depending on what online listing you look at. The house could certainly use some spit and polish—and we’re certain the new owners will spare no expense on an extensive spit and polish job—but it retains much if not all of its original and elegant architectural detailing both inside and out. In the right hands—say in the decoratively cunning hands of the Krakoffs—this house and it’s largely pristine grounds could be a show stopper, we tell ya, a got-damn show stopper.
There are spectacular, over-sized chevron pattern wood floors throughout much of the grandly proportioned main floor living spaces that include a ballroom sized 36-foot long formal living room, a 600+ square foot formal dining room, a 33-foot long library, and a voluminous family room with double-height peaked ceiling, secondary staircase, a puny-looking and oddly located fireplace, and a towering arched window. Adjacent to the entry vestibule there’s a soaring stair hall with a wrought-iron railed floating staircase so sensually curved and gorgeous it’ll make the hairs on the arms of even the most modern minded amongst the children stand straight up on end. The roomy kitchen appears preserved in architectural amber and appears to favor utility over charm with plain white cabinets and unadorned white walls, a sarcophagi-sized center work island, utilitarian stainless steel counter tops, and a Smart Car-sized (and probably still working) range.
Other notable features, according to listing details Your Mama perused, 11 fireplaces, an elevator, a walk-up attic, a convenient second floor laundry room, a wine cellar, a trunk room, a walk-in vault, and garaging for five cars. A motor court at the front and a broad lawn at the back quickly give way to a dense pine forest with seasonal stream and waterfall. What the property does not currently have is air conditioning, a swimming pool or a tennis court. Your Mama thinks it’s pretty safe to assume the new owners will install all three.
Much in the news Miz Clark left an estate valued at more than $300 million. The estate’s considerable assets were hotly contested by distant family members, Miz Clark’s own rather shady seeming attorney and accountant, and a small army of private nurses and assistants who tended to the aging heiress’s needs in the later decades of her long life.
Before she took to hospital living Miz Clark lived in one (or more) of a trio of apartments in a distinguished pre-war cooperative building at 907 Fifth Avenue. Two were contiguous (but essentially uncombined) on the 8th floor and another was on the 12th floor. The 12th floor unit sold for $25.5 million, the larger of the 8th floor units (plus one of the bedrooms of the adjacent apartment) was sold for $22.5 million and the third unit—on the 8th floor—sold in April 2013 for $6.8 million after first being listed for $12 million. Bellosguardo, Miz Clark’s epic 23+ acre ocean-front estate in Santa Barbara which she had not visited since the 1950s but paid 40 forty grand a month to staff and maintain, will—if everything goes as planned—be preserved and opened to the public as an arts foundation as was specified in Miz Clark’s will.
Mister and Missus Krakoff, the children surely have heard by now, recently sold their high cultured and painstakingly curated six story brick and limestone neo-Georgian townhouse on New York City’s swanky East 70th Street in an off-market deal for a mouth drying $51,000,000. (As far as we know, the recently published 15 or 18 thousand square foot townhouse’s new owner has yet to be unearthed, leaked or otherwise made public.)
With a remarkable flair for and ease with grand-scale living plus a penchant for properties with notable pedigrees, back in 2006 Mister and Missus Krakoff paid $24 million for Lasata, a spectacular and fully landscaped 11-acre spread in East Hampton, NY with a dignified 8,500 square foot residence the contains six principal bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. The casually genteel Further Lane estate is perhaps most famous as the former summer home of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s paternal grandparents where the former first First Lady spent many of her childhood summers. The luxuriously stylish and rigorously astute art collectors also maintain a land-locked contemporary with five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms in the less fashionable (and more affordable) north end of Palm Beach (FL) that property records show they scooped up in April 2010 for $3,590,000.
UPDATE, LATER SAME DAY: It’s come to our attention that in addition to their stateside residences Mister Krakoff and the Paris-bred Delphine are known in upper crust international circles to have acquired the spacious Paris apartment of famously fat-living Americans John and Susan Gutfreund. The Krakoff’s share their aristocratic 18th-century hôtel particular in the 7th arrondissement, known as the Hôtel d’Orrouer, with fashion world mandarin Hubert de Givenchy. Your Mama discussed the recherché Rive Gauche residence back in the spring of 2010 with it was listed on the open market for an undisclosed amount that a Parisian informant whispered to Your Mama was somewhere in the neighborhood of €15,000,000. Your Mama consulted a high brow social butterfly with whom we are acquainted and were told that the Krakoff’s gutted the entire apartment—including the magnificent double wide staircase—and refashioned the apartment into a “minimal modern showroom.” C’est la vie, children, c’est la vie, right?
*A color blocked silk cashmere shift dress with leather detailing retails online for $1,190 and a clunky, lime green pair of platform sling backs with 4.5 inch heels goes for $750.
listing photos: Christie’s International Real Estate