Patricia Kluge spent a couple of decades and tens of millions of dollars building a mini-kingdom for herself near Charlottesville, Va.
A year after the mogul bought the socialite/entrepreneur’s struggling vineyard and winery at a bargain price, he closed a deal Wednesday for the stupendous neo-Georgian manor house she lost to the bank, reports our colleague Kathy Orton.
Her original asking price three years ago: $100 million. He got it for $6.5 million.
“We are thrilled,” Kluge said late Wednesday. “Albemarle now enters a new phase in it history, as does the winery.”
The purchase closes more than a year of negotiations. When buying the winery, Trump originally made a bid for the home as well early last year at its foreclosure auction — but balked at Bank of America’s $16 million price.
But they ultimately reached a deal. “The banks had [the entire estate] on the books for hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son, told Orton. “We were able to reassemble it for a small fraction of that.”
The 45-room mansion, known as “Albemarle House,” was built in the 1980s by the late media billionaire John Kluge and Patricia, his third wife. Its 23,000 square feet included eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a private chapel, a grotto, a 3,500-bottle wine cellar and a helicopter landing pad. Thomas Jefferson’s old place, Monticello, is just up the road.
But bad business bets coupled with the economic downturn doomed Kluge. She defaulted on loans and the banks seized the property. Trump, who had known the Kluges for years, swooped in and scooped up the wine estate last year for $6.2 million.
“Now we’ve got to figure out what’s next,” said Eric Trump, who has been running the vineyard for the past year.
Among the options the Trumps are considering: developing the land around the estate into a PGA Tour-worthy golf course, turning the house into an inn, or flipping the house and selling it along with 400 or 500 acres while keeping an operational vineyard. Eric Trump said several top golf course architects already have looked over the property, although he refused to say which ones. Arnold Palmer once designed a nine-hole golf course on the grounds.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can do with it,” Eric Trump said. “There’s a lot of possibilities, but we’re not rushing into anything right now. It’s just great to have done this.”
Read earlier: Donald Trump buys Kluge winery, 4/7/11
Also: How the Trumps landed the Old Post Office Pavilion, 8/17/12
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