TopTenRealEstateDeals.com offers fresh real estate news for luxury and celebrity listings across the United States. Check out a taste of their Top Ten list below:
King Edward’s Love Nest (above)
On the shores of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago, is a mansion so grand that it once hosted the former King of England. Edward VIII was the English King who gave up the British throne in 1936 to be with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the woman he loved. Edward and Wallis were guests here in 1939 and slept in a bedroom on the western end of this home’s second floor. Their bedroom looked out over a fountain court enclosed by ivy-covered brick and limestone walls.
In 1917, as war raged in Europe, Chicago’s wealthy elite were still enjoying the bounty of the Golden Age. These families produced landmark American companies and many of the goods that we still buy one hundred years later. They also built fabulous mansions with a level of craftsmanship that is almost impossible to duplicate today.
Such was the case of two important families, John G. Shedd, chairman of Marshall Field & Co. and donator of the Shedd Aquarium to Chicago, and the Schweppe family, heir to the carbonated beverage company. Since families of great fortune usually married into other families of great wealth, the marriage of Laura Shedd and Charles H. Schweppe seemed made in high society heaven. John Shedd gave his daughter this magnificent estate as a wedding present. Today, it is still considered to be one of Chicago’s most important homes.
Laura Schweppe died at age 58 of a heart attack, leaving Charles only $200,000 of her $10 million estate. Charles became despondent from the financial slight as well as loneliness and committed suicide at the mansion in 1941. From that time the house stood empty, but maintained, for almost 50 years. It was purchased in the late 1980s and underwent a total two-year restoration by 70 craftsmen, including Italian artisans and Bavarian stonecrafters. However the couple who did the restoration divorced, and the home went to foreclosure in 2009, leaving the estate to the bank.
The grand 24,500 square foot English Renaissance mansion sits on 5.3 lushly landscaped private acres overlooking Lake Michigan with approximately 400 feet of beachfront. The 10 bedroom, 16 bath interior has 11 fireplaces, library, family-game room, elevator, sauna, leaded glass windows, and hand-carved limestone stairs, fountains and ballustrades. The exterior is graced with balconies, terraces and gardens with lake views.
Chicago's Schweppe Estate on Lake Michigan that hosted Edward, Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, priced at $12 million.
The Romance of Remembrance
“When a man loves a woman . . ." so the song goes. But how often do we see the evidence of just how far a man will go to prove his love? The Taj Mahal or a European castle built by a knight to lure his love? All great feats for sure and definitely fodder for romantic tales, but rarely do we see a couple so in love that in their later years he honors that love by reconstructing the buildings and soda shop where they first dated and fell in love. There is no telling how many times the couple have sat on these very counter stools reminiscing about their courtship over an ice cream soda. Across the way, past his sparkling antique cars of the period, they can see the storefront replicas of the shops in the town where they strolled holding hands and newly in love.
These very romantic endearing first love memories are housed on almost 80 acres with 63 acres of vineyards in the wine country of Suisun Valley, California near Napa. Villa de Madre consists of the 22,882 square foot main house, a 2,896 square foot caretaker’s house and three magnificent car barns that can house up to 100 collectible cars. The vineyard produces 150,000 bottles of Cabernet wine annually. A favorite of media that spotlights exceptional homes, the estate and vineyard have been featured on both HGTV’s "Million Dollar Rooms" series and the "Behind the Gates" TV show. The vineyard is managed by Regusci Winery and the olive trees lining the long drive produce fine olive oil.
The large main house is fashioned in Tuscan style with a grand entrance of divided stairwell and inset round hand-painted ceiling mural. From there, one enters a large great room with a massive walk-in fireplace of intricate design that towers up to the more than double-height ceiling. Large arched doors lead from either side of the fireplace out to yet another large room, a combination indoor pool-spa room with living area surrounding another fireplace, a childrens’ play area on the opposite side and large grilling station with its own chimney. Large glass walls and ceiling skylights bring the outdoors in with views of weeping willows and vineyards. The house has six bedrooms and eleven bathrooms.
The pièce de résistance is the full service 1950’s Nana’s Diner built to honor the memory of the diner where the owner took his girlfriend on dates and who eventually became his wife. Decked out with neon signs and an antique Pepsi sign with grill and soda machine, counter stools seat ten. Also charming are the old Downtown America storefronts including a grocery store, Rexall Drugs, Harley Davidson, tackle shop and more - also reminiscent of the shops in town where the couple dated. The three unique car palaces can accommodate about 100 cars.
Villa de Madre estate, essential for serious car collectors and those who still have a soft spot for true love. Originally priced at $22 million, now priced at $18 million.
Mel Gibson’s Romantic Island Retreat
There’s no denying Mel Gibson’s passion. Masculine and sexy, he exudes passion in everything he touches be it acting, producing, arguing or picking sublime real estate. Just looking at the properties he has collected over the years, each is more beautiful, earthy and romantic than the one before it, clearly portraying his deep, if most times hidden, sensitivity. Mel’s 500-acre oceanfront jungle retreat has you expecting the sounds of native drumbeats at any moment and is a perfect lover’s hideaway.
Costa Rica was the original getaway outpost for semi-expat Americans when having an off-shore home became a practical alternative to Florida and California. Still rated by the Happy Planet Index for the third year in a row as the happiest country in the world with safe streets, nice weather, good medical care, a thriving economy and only a 2.5 hour flight to the United States. Mel Gibson originally put his tropical acreage on the market in 2010 for $35 million, but has recently re-listed it at $29.75 million. There are three homes in the compound with each of the smaller single-story homes having two bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, kitchens, verandas and their own swimming pools. The main two-story hacienda-style residence overlooks the long, wide beach and has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a large courtyard and pool. All homes are separated from each other affording ultimate privacy for Valentines Day. Have a romantic breakfast on the beach of fresh-picked papaya, a squeeze of lemon from your tree and hot Colombian coffee, . . just before a dip in your own private ocean.
Actor Mel Gibson has re-listed his magnificent Costa Rican jungle hideaway at $29.75 million.
Mary Hart’s Romantic Elkhorn Ranch
Warm brandy by the crackling fire in the log cabin, all snuggled up and exhausted from a day on the slopes. What could be more romantic? Well, maybe having that brandy in the warm bubbles of the hot tub surrounded by snow and views over your 160 acres to the twinkling lights in the valley below. Mary Hart and Burt Sugarman’s Elkhorn Ranch in Big Sky, Montana is for sale this Valentines Day asking $26.5 million.
Mary Hart made television history by breaking a Guinness World Record for the "longest serving entertainment news host" with her 29-year run as host of the ever popular celebrity gossip show, Entertainment Tonight. Even viewers with no interest in the celebrity world probably were compelled to pause while flipping channels to watch this beautiful woman with the charismatic personality. It is not surprising that the producers called her “the face of ET.”
Mary married the love of her life, film-producer husband, Burt Sugarman, in 1989. Sugarman is well-known for the production of The Richard Pryor Show, Celebrity Sweepstakes, as well as films Children of a Lesser God, Kiss Me Goodbye and Crimes of the Heart, among many others.
Ensconced inside the exclusive Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana, the resort provides the ultimate in personalized service, private skiing and lift system with a Tom Weiskopf designed 18-hole golf course. Lodges offer fine dining and casual, yet elegant lunches, pool and gym facilities. The resident population is low which ensures exceptional service quality and uncrowded amenities.
The Hart ranch consists of three buildings on 160 acres, including the 7,000 square foot six bedroom, seven bath main residence and guest quarters above a four-stall horse barn and a hand-hewn, one room “wrangler’s cabin” with kitchenette and bath. Built of log and stone, the buildings within the compound blend rustic elegance into the dramatic mountain landscape. A unique feature for this property is that the ranch has a trail that courses through the ranch connecting to the Gallatin National Forest and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness areas, allowing direct access to summer horseback exploration and hiking.
Mary Hart, record-breaking ET host and husband TV and film producer, Burt Sugarman, have put their 160-acre Elkhorn Ranch in Big Sky, Montana on the market for $26.5 million.
Brandon Plantation Circa 1607
One of history’s most interesting romances was between William Shakespeare’s youngest daughter, Judith, and her husband, Thomas Quiney. Thomas’ brother, Richard, was an original part owner of Brandon Plantation on the James River in Virginia where Judith and Thomas stayed while visiting in America.
Brandon Plantation in Virginia has been in agricultural operation continuously with the earliest record of land tended traced to 1607 with uninterrupted operation until today, according to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1720, the plantation was sold to Nathaniel Harrison, in which family it remained until 1926. The Harrison family produced multiple governors and two U.S. Presidents. In 1926, the farm was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Daniel who undertook a total restoration of the plantation. The estate of their son, former Virginia Congressman Robert W. Daniel, Jr. who died in 2012, is the current owner of the property. Of the main house, it is said that the wings were constructed originally in 1765, and that later Thomas Jefferson designed the central section and wing connections as a gift to his dear friends, the Harrisons.
Located on 3.5 miles of the banks of the James River in Prince George County, Virginia, the expansive estate contains more than 4,500 acres, of which 1,600 acres are cultivated with soybeans, wheat, barley and corn producing high yields. The farm operation has 14 farm structures, including a horse stable, two-story brick mule barns, a dairy barn, wood and metal frame buildings for storage of farm equipment and three grain elevators. There are also 11 tenant homes on the property for staff or guests. The main house consists of 7,700 square feet with seven bedrooms and seven baths and is in the Palladian architectural style of a Roman country house, positioned 750 feet back from the river. Having weathered the Indian Massacre of 1622 and both the Revolutionary War and Civil War, cannonball pockmarks in the rear wall of the center section have been retained for posterity. The interior has been exquisitely maintained with much original millwork. English and American furnishings date to the period. Outdoor activity areas include a pool, tennis court and water sports or fishing on the river, in addition to game hunting. Although it is a private residence, Brandon Plantation has been designated a National Historical Landmark and the house and gardens have been open for tours.
For those who favor the romance of historic buildings with connections to William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and America’s earliest settlers, the 4,500 acres of the original Brandon Plantation is now offered for sale. Priced at $20 million.
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