Biggest Sale in US History

The biggest sale ever in US History just closed on Friday at $190 Million! Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich, Connecticut, purchased by an undisclosed buyer through the “Conversation Institute, LLC”, is a 51-acre farm with a mansion. The acreage, the location, the price, and the history are all unparalleled!

Read the full article below for the history of the land and mansion – so fascinating

GREENWICH — When Copper Beech Farm hit the market last spring, asking $190 million, people across the nation noted that while the property was the most expensive single-family home ever to hit the American market, it wouldn’t necessarily close at a nine-figure sum.

But it did.

The 51-acre property and mansion on the Greenwich waterfront, once home to the Lauder-Greenway family, was purchased by the Conservation Institute LLC on Friday at a final price of $120 million.

That figure easily makes the sale the most expensive residential transaction in the town’s history, more than doubling the $45 million paid for the 80-acre mid-century horse farm at 25 Lower Cross Road in 2004. Like Copper Beech Farm, that property was also listed by Realtor David Ogilvy.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” Ogilvy said Friday afternoon. “This is also the most expensive property sold in America. The next-most-expensive sold for $117 million in California.”

Ogilvy said he’s excited to hold claim to such a superlative, but he added that what really “thrills” him is that the property is selling with all 50 acres intact.

“It’s two separate lots owned by the same people, and they were listed both together and separately,” he said. “If you had two siblings or two different people, that could have been done. But the fact is there is only one 50-acre waterfront estate in Greenwich, period, and the uniqueness is just amazing. When people say to you, `That’s expensive,’ I think when we look back in 20 years, it will be one of the great buys.”

While the real estate rumour mill in town has spit out theories that the property would be bought by Bridgewater Associates head honcho and Greenwich resident Ray Dalio or perhaps a wealthy Russian, all Ogilvy would say is that the buyer is not local. All paperwork filed with the Secretary of the State revealed about the purchasing LLC is that it is managed by Jonathan P. Whitcomb, a partner at the Stamford-based law firm Diserio Martin O’Connor & Castiglioni, LLP. A call placed to Whitcomb was not returned Friday.

While Ogilvy is keeping mum about the buyer’s identity, he did say that such a big sale is an exciting moment for Greenwich.

“I think it’s indicative of a bigger strength coming to Greenwich,” he said, pointing to a home at 2 Wooddale Road recently closing for $11.75 million after an uncharacteristically short time on the market and another property represented by his company that will close just below the $10 million mark in the very near future.

And the town benefits from more than just the added exclamation point to statements about the strength of Greenwich’s market; the conveyance taxes alone provided a $300,000 payday to the town of Greenwich, and an additional $1.5 million to the state, according to documents on file at Greenwich Town Hall.

The filing of Copper Beech’s paperwork on Friday cemented the property as the fifth sale commanding at least $10 million in 2014; the $10-million mark wasn’t passed until mid-May in 2013.

The home has been a landmark in Greenwich for generations. Originally built in 1896 by New York City native John Hamilton Gourlie, the property was purchased Andrew Carnegie’s niece Harriet Lauder Greenway in 1905. At the time of her purchase, the estate included 57 acres and was home to everything from fruit-bearing orchards to chickens and pigs, as well as the house, to which the Lauder-Greenway family added two wings in the early 1910s.

In the coming years, the sprawling stone-and-shingle mansion, built in the French Renaissance fashion, would crown an estate that grew to more than 100 acres at one time, before the Lauder-Greenway family began donating large parcels of land for various causes. In 1918, for example, Lauder Greenway and her husband James gifted one of the islands to the town of Greenwich; the property, located about two miles south of Greenwich Harbor, now serves as the popular Island Beach. The couple donated the first ferry providing transportation to the beach for town residents two years later.

“When you look out across the Long Island Sound and you see Island Beach and think that that was given by someone, that’s just a terrific thing,” said Ogilvy.

“You see the Lauder family, what they did was give to people,” he said.

After the death of Harriet and James’s son in 1981, the property was purchased by timber tycoon John Rudey in a private sale for a total price of $7.5 million. Under his ownership, 45 of its 50 acres were classified as forest, providing about $720,000 in tax savings annually. But if the property is subdivided by the new owner, that designation would go by the wayside. Of course, Ogilvy would not state what the buyer plans to do with the property in the future. Instead, he ended an interview with this parting thought:

“One of the things that’s interesting about the Greenwich market is that you see people buy houses and knock them down,” he said, adding that he congratulates anyone who chooses instead to preserve and conserve the properties.

Joyce Rey
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