Trump's former $130m Palm Beach mansion now being demolished
In 2008, Donald Trump sold a Palm Beach, Florida, estate for US$95 million (NZ131m), making it the most expensive single residential property ever sold in town. Now the property is about to set another record – as Palm Beach's most expensive tear-down.
Backhoe loaders and dump trucks have started crushing and carting away the 5736 square-metre French provincial home on the 2.4ha beachfront estate known as Mason de l'Amitie.
Also coming down is 7618 square-metre tennis house, a pool house and a carriage house. While such tear-downs have become common in Palm Beach and other high-end resort towns, the demolition of this famous estate represents a new level of disposable wealth.
Bought by Trump in 2004 for $41 million, the residence has featured as one of the top ten most expensive homes in the world. It has sat empty since the sale to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev – a monument to the housing bubble and to Trump's salesmanship.
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Locals are asking what will come next for one of Palm Beach's biggest white elephants, and whether its value can ever reach its 2008 record price?
According to town planning documents, the owner plans to split the property into three parcels that will be sold. Last week, the Palm Beach Town Council approved a proposal to subdivide the property. It's unclear when the properties will be listed. Brokers say each parcel, at around 2 acres, would have to sell for $35 million to $40 million for the owner to make a profit.
"It's an aggressive price," says Gary Pohrer, a real estate agent in Palm Beach. "It's possible. But it could take a long time."
When Trump bought the property at auction following a bankruptcy sale, he topped at least two other bidders with his offer of $41.35 million. After the sale, he told The Palm Beach Daily News that he would turn the estate into the "second-greatest house in America," after his Mar-a-Lago home down the road. He would then sell it to "create terrific value".
Trump put the home on the market in 2006 for $125 million, making it the most expensive listing in America at the time. When no buyers emerged and Trump replaced several brokers, he trimmed the price to $120 million, eventually selling to the current owner.