Donald Trump has done it again, snapping up a spectacular property for an absurdly low price.
Three years ago, Patricia Kluge put her Charlottesville estate on the market for $100 million. On Wednesday, Trump acquired the final piece of it, the mansion, for a mere $6.5 million.
Trump already owned the vineyard, winery and much of the land surrounding the house, which he also purchased for a fraction of their value about a year ago. He paid $6.2 million plus an additional $1.7 million for equipment and inventory, far less than the $60 million the business and property had been valued by the banks.
He initially tried to purchase the house at a foreclosure auction last year. But Bank of America, which held a $22.8 million mortgage on the home, bought the property back for $16 million. Trump had been negotiating with the bank since then and finally reached a deal on Wednesday.
“The banks had [the estate] on the books for hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son. “We were able to reassemble it for a small fraction of that.”
The 45-room, 19th-century inspired manor house called Albemarle was built in the 1980s by the late media billionaire John Kluge and his third wife, Patricia. The 23,000-square foot home has eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a private chapel, a grotto, a 3,500 bottle wine cellar and a helicopter landing pad. It is located just down the road from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate.
When the Kluges divorced in 1990, Patricia Kluge received a $100 million settlement and the property. She turned the estate into a vineyard and winery. Kluge wines won awards and were served at four-star restaurants as well as Chelsea Clinton’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
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 property at an amazingly discounted price.
“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 are developing the land around the estate into a PGA Tour-worthy golf course, turning the house into an elegant inn or flipping the house and selling it along with 400 or 500 acres while keeping an operational vineyard. Eric Trump said several world-class 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.”