RECAP: Patricia Kluge
Your Mama recognizes that we may be a little tardy to the party in regards to the already much-yakked about real estate and financial travails of nekkid model turned lavish living philanthropist and wine maker Patricia Kluge. However, the lady's pecuniary plight is quickly becoming legendary and having discussed Miz Kluge and her property pickle on several previous occasions we could not let her chapter in our book come to a close without touching on the the spectacle. Miz Kluge may not be a household name of Justin Beiber devotees and/or most hard-working middle-Americans–whatever that means–but she's a well-known entity on the social circuit among the Eastern Seaboard's horsey elite.
Miz Kluge–that's pronounced CLUE-gee, puppies–was the third wife of a grocery mogul and television industry tycoon named John Kluge, a man who was once reported to be the wealthiest person in America. In 1989, when he topped the Forbes 400 list of America's richest individuals, Mister Kluge's fortune was estimated to be around 5.2 billion bucks. In an era when the world's wealthiest man Bill Gates claims a net worth of more than fifty billion bucks, Mister Kluge's five and some billion seems almost quaint, doesn't it?
Anyhoo, in 1990, after just nine years of marriage, Mister Kluge and his much younger third wife Patricia took a trip to the Court of Dee-vorce. Reports from the time suggested that the new ex-Missus Kluge was granted alimony in the ear-splitting amount of $1,600,000...per week. More recent reports suggest she actually received less than one million clams per year. Either way it's an ass-load of money and ought to have been more than enough not only to sustain any person in exceptionally comfortable style for the rest of their life but also provide an enviable amount of financial security to their heirs.
In addition to her generous alimony–whatever the exact amount–Third ex-Missus Kluge also (reportedly) received a 204-foot boat called the Virginian, a 77,000 acre spread in the Scottish Highlands called the Mar Lodge Estate, and a much-heralded mansion near Charlottesville, VA known by the English-y name of Albemarle House.
Thanks to Our Man in Glasgow Your Mama has learned that Third ex-Missus Kluge sold Mar Lodge Estate in 1995 for around £5,700,000. The pastoral property, next door to the Queen of England's Scottish getaway Balmoral, is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland and several of the property's guest cottages/apartments can be rented by holiday makers. Third ex-Missus Kluge sold her floating mansion, the 6-cabin Virginian, to British construction tycoon Sir Anthony Bamford and his wife Lady Carole Bamford who–as it turns out–have had the big blue-hulled ocean going vessel on the market for an undisclosed price since at least 2007.
Unlike with Mar Lodge Estate and the Virginian, Third ex-Missus Kluge opted to hang on to Albemarle House...at least for as long as her pocketbook allowed.
Eventually Third ex-Missus Kluge re-hitched her wagon to a man named William Moses. She did not take, at least publicly and not as far as Your Mama knows, her new husband's last name. She opted instead to cleave to the much more recognizable Kluge, a surname that screams money among a certain set and likely provided a more prime position among the upper crust's social pecking order. Together Mister Moses and Third ex-Missus Kluge had big visions to transform 960 rolling acres in their rural neck of the Virginia woods near Albemarle House into a great wine making operation that would put the state of Virginia on the wine making map. To some degree, they succeeded. Alas, their money-making eyes soon became too big for their big spending britches. Mister Moses and Third ex-Missus Kluge reportedly took an astonishing $66,000,000 in loans to expand their nascent wine making dog and pony show and to develop an exclusive subdivision of two dozen multi-million dollar wine-country fantasy mansions.
Unfortunately for Mister Moses and Third ex-Missus Kluge, their real estate timing could not have been worse. The mortgage meltdown and subsequent recession–yes, children, it was a recession despite what some people would like us to believe–snatched the stable ground from beneath the couple's well-shod feet. Caught between a raging river-rapid and a snarling mongoose, Third ex Missus Kluge pushed her vast estate and its architecturally accurate 23,538 square foot David Easton-designed Georgian-style pile on the market with a publicity ensuring $100,000,000 asking price.
The historically correct property near Thomas Jefferson's Monticello includes a 45-room main house with 8 bedrooms, 13 full and 2 half crappers, a state-of-the-art home theater, library, in-home fitness center with spa and sauna, card room and an Islamic gallery complete with an antique Syrian fountain. The floor plan of the mansion's first floor (above), kindly forwarded to us a little birdie, shows the mathematical precision and architectural rhythm of the interior spaces that include a spine-like enfilade that connects the mansion's more public rooms with the service areas and more casual areas.
The extensive grounds include a pool, pool house, greenhouse, several staff cottages, three stocked ponds, a croquet lawn, an authentic log cabin guest house, helipad, equestrian facilities, private chapel and a front yard large enough to play polo or accommodate the 18-hole Arnold Palmer designed golf course that was drawn up but never built. That's right, a private chapel.
With no potentate or mogul with a near-bottomless bank account stepping up to the real estate plate, the price tag for Albemarle House was slashed in early 2010 to a still immoderately expensive but far less seizure-inducing $48,000,000. Neither the real estate gods nor the hand of economic good fortune turned a benevolent eye toward poor Patty K. and she once again was forced to take a hard swing with her price chopping axe that plummeted the posh property's price tag to $24,000,000. Even still, no serious buyers turned up with the desire or cash to purchase the bucolic country estate. It wasn't long before the cold breath of Mister Moses and Third ex-Missus Kluge's creditors came a callin' and the couple's financial feet were burning up in fiscal fire.
Early in 2011 it became publicly known that Albemarle House was falling into the merciless maw of foreclosure. However, this particular battle with the bank over Albemarle House was hardly the first of Third ex-Missus Kluge and Mister Moses's possessions liquidated to pay institutions from whom they borrowed large amounts of money. Already she'd auctioned many of her antiques and much of her jewelry in order to raise capital to pay debts (or line coffers). The winery–the seed that grew this real estate weed–had already been foreclosed on and its assets sold off at auction; A few parcels of the Kluge-Moses's Vineyard Estates development–the tail that wagged the dog–also slithered into foreclosure.
The one mansion that was actually built in the Vineyard Estates–Glen Love Cottage–was also taken by foreclosure but, interestingly, purchased at auction by none other than Third ex-Missus Kluge and Mister Moses. It seems to Your Mama's pea brain that sort of thing should not be legal but, apparently, it is and the beleaguered couple currently live in the 6,500 square foot residence that they previously told their creditor(s) they could not afford to keep.
Late last week it came to be known that cotton candy-haired billionaire Donald Trump–a possible 2012 presidential candidate who will run, it seems, on a birther platform–acquired the foreclosed Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard–about 800 acres altogether–for the reported sum of $6,200,000, just a fraction of the $28,000,000 mortgage that the ballsy and brassy Mister Trump has claimed was secured by the property. That's right, peanut butter cups, by Mister Trump's recounting–which may or may not be entirely accurate–the deal for the property meant a bewildering and troublesome $21,800,000 loss was incurred by Bank of America who, it might be noted, earned mind-numbing profits in 2010 despite a billion-plus dollar loss in the fourth quarter.
The children may find it fascinating to learn–iffin you don't already know–that the oddly oopa-loompa-colored Mister Trump had already, reportedly, purchased 200 acres of land adjacent to Albemarle House and, at the same time, in some weird-sounding quirk of the transaction, acquired a first right of refusal on Albemarle House and the surrounding grounds.
Say what you will about Mister Trump and his bull-in-a-china-shop manners and sometimes embarrassing publicity-seeking ways, but the man is a ruthless, savvy and successful business man who has earned–and lost and earned again–a significant fortune in real estate and reality tee-vee. In February (2011) Mister Trump unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the house out of foreclosure. He reportedly made an unacceptably low offer of $3,600,000 and was outbid in his attempt to scoop up Third ex-Missus Kluge's real estate carrion at a bargain basement price. Though at least one report indicates there were three mortgages on the Albemarle House that totaled $23,000,000, Bank of America bought the pastoral faux-English country house folly for just $15,260,000.
As of today, Bank of America has Albemarle House back on the market with an asking price of $16,000,000. As far as we can tell, Mister Trump still possesses a first right of refusal on the property, meaning that if someone happens to come along willing to pay full price for the foreclosed estate, Mister Trump may very well be able to step in and snatch it up for something like $16,500,000 or some other number not far above sixteen million. Iffin Your Mama were the wagering type–and we most certainly are not–we'd bet that Albemarle House will go unsold for some until Mister Trump somehow finagles his way into ownership of Albemarle House for a sum more than $3.6 million but well below the current price tag of sixteen million.
As of today, as best as Your Mama can tell from our research, Mister Trump now owns around 1,000 acres of property that includes about 200 acres of land directly adjacent to Albemarle House and another 800 acres of property that includes the vineyard and winery. Your Mama expects the ego maniacal Mister Trump will–natch–soon add his heavily branded and instantly recognized name to the property. That is to be expected of Mister Trump who Your Mama imagines has is toe nail clippings stamped with his name before they're tossed in the incinerator.
In a vexing twist to this tale, Mister Trump will reportedly retain Third ex-Missus Kluge as an employee to oversee the operation of the winery, an unexpected turn of events that caused a shiver to run up and down our booze-bloated spine. We know Third ex-Missus Kluge said that Mister Trump put an end to her "worst nightmare and personal Armageddon," but the cynic and suspicious in Your Mama makes us wonder if Third ex-Missus Kluge really thinks Mister Trump was her angel of financial mercy or does he seem a heartless insult to her monetary misery?
Whatever the case, Third ex-Missus Kluge now lives in a multi-million dollar mansion nearly three times the size of the average-sized American and while it's clearly a step down from Albemarle House in scale and prestige, it's probably far more in line with the sort and size of abode she probably should have moved into years ago in order to help preserve the fortune she was provided in her 1990 divorce. There's an important–and unpopular–life lesson in Third ex-Missus Kluge's tangled yarn of real estate woe and fiscal misfortune and Your Mama suggests the children might want to think about Third ex-Missus Kluge next time y'alls Honda Accord budget wants a Mercedes Benz and you feel a credit card with a villainous and vile 19.6% interest rate burning a hole in your pocket.
listing photos: Roy Wheeler Realty Company
floorplan: Cote de Texas