Friday, January 30, 2009

UPDATE: Kenny Chesney

Country music crooner Kenny Chesney is flipping out in Key West.

Oh mercy children, this Kenny Chesney fella has Your Mama's booze soaked brain spinning faster than a merry go round at one of them Mac-Donalds restaurants.

Late last night, after Your Mama was well into our fourth gin and tonic (and thinking about a fifth), we received a covert communique from a Key Westian (Key Westite?) named Squiggy the Squealer who whispered in Your Mama's big greedy ear that it looks like the historic house in on Caroline Street that's rumored and reported to have been purchased by Mister Chesney is back on the market just ten days after records show it sold for $5,700,000.

Yes puppies, back on the market. How does our man Squiggy know this? There's a brand new "For Sale" sign hanging on the front gate that was not there two days ago.

At first we were all tied up in knots trying to figure out what was going on. Then Squiggy the Squealer sent Your Mama another covert communique with a link over to a story on some radio station's website and they have all the juice.

Turns out Mister Chesney did buy the W. Hunt Harris House but has decided to sell it before even moving in with this explanation in a recently issued statement, "I may've been naive to think I could just go down to the Keys and disappear, because that was the idea. I wanted to find a place where I could just be, and thought I'd found it. But with all the buzz since we signed the papers, the last thing I want to do to someplace I love as much as Key West is change the dynamics, especially for the locals who have been so good to me, so, I'm stopping the insanity before it begins. The 'For Sale' sign is back up, and I'm just not going to be able to take possession of the house."

I wonder if that's what happened last year when the singing superstar scooped up a lovely house on Carbon Mesa Road in the hills above Malee-boo and just two days later put it back up for sale with an asking price $550,000 more than he paid?

UPDATE: Robbie Williams

Back in October of 2008, we chit chatted with a gossipy gal we call Babbling Babette who whispered to Your Mama that British pop star Robbie Williams was gearing up to buy a big ol' mansion in Beverly Park. Although Babbling Babette seldom steers us wrong in the celebrity real estate game and swears on her well stuffed cross your heart bra that Mister Williams was negotiating to purchase the 7 bedroom and 7 bathroom property, in the end he did not buy the hulking house which was listed at $23,995,000 (now listed at $19,995,000).

Now we know why he didn't proceed with the purchase. Reports are starting to surface that Mister Williams is headed back to his native U.K. where in December of 2008 he bought an 18th century country mansion on 71 acres in north Wiltshire that includes 7 bedrooms, a swimming pool, gym, sauna and perhaps most interestingly, a helicopter hangar.

It was Mister Williams' sister who let Mister Williams' geographical cat out of the bag when she told an interviewer that her brother was returning to Britain to because he, "loves British culture and the British people." She went on to say that although Mister Williams has enjoyed living in Los Angeles where the suns shines all the time, it's also a "pretty soulless place." Oh. Ouch!

Might it also be, Your Mama wonders, his desire to return home is at least in part because his attempt of making it big in the U.S. of A. didn't go quite as swimmingly as planned?

Anyoo, Mister Williams, owns several pricey properties in Los Angeles including a couple of parcels on Mulholland Drive where he famously built a private soccer pitch as well as his primary L.A. residence, a 10,681 square foot house (pictured above) which happens to be sugar borrowing distance from the recently robbed Paris Hilton in the guard gated Mulhulland Estates community.

Mister Williams' sister stated that the former boy bander turned solo singer was planning to keep his house in Los Angeles. We heard something different. Your Mama recently heard through the gossip grapevine that Mister Williams' people are quietly negotiating to sell the house to kinky haired and real estate agent suing rock star Slash. We can't confirm that children, so remember, at this point it's just idle chit chat and party gossip. However, when and if you see it written about in a few weeks without credit being given, remember puppies, you heard it here first.

Mister Williams' British property holdings once included a flat in Notting Hill, a 15th floor apartment in the Chelsea Harbour development and a country place in east Sussex, but to be honest children, Your Mama has no idea if he still owns any of these properties.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Biggest Price Chop Ever?

SELLER: Amit Ben-Haim
LOCATION: 15 Central Park West, New York, NY
PRICE: $47,500,000
SIZE: 5,276 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Step into your private landing on the 40th floor of New York's most sought after new condominium residence. Enjoy completely unobstructed views over Central Park West and the Hudson River. All major rooms have 14 foot ceilings. Masterful layouts by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. 5,276 square feet. Four bedrooms, five and one-half baths. Ground floor suite: 1,222 square feet with private street access ideal for owner staff offices. An extraordinary offering.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: If the children will put on their thinking caps and dig deep into the recesses of their mind they might recall all the rumors and reports from October of '08 about Madonna's post-dee-vorce boy toy Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez looking to buy an $80,000,000 penthouse at the super swank Indiana limestone clad 15 Central Park West building in New York City.

Remember all that nonsense? Not only was there a lot of whispering and speculating about the recently unhitched Mister Rodriguez's interest in the 40th floor condominium, there was a lot of (justifiable) shock and awe regarding the hair raising $80,000,000 price tag.

What was most puzzling and perplexing to Your Mama about the whole thing was not whether Mister Rodriguez could actually afford an eighty million clam condo, but rather that the seller–who the New York Times identified as a London based investor named Amit Ben-Haim–listed the four bedroom spread at nearly 4 times the $21,500,000 they paid for the place in April of 2008, just two months earlier. Two months!

It will be no surprise that Mister Rodriguez did not buy the apartment.

Soon after all that brouhaha and gossip about Mister Rodriguez, the owner took the apartment off the market. Until now. Thanks to the fine sleuthing of Natalie Attired, Your Mama has learned that the apartment that was once one of the highest priced listings in New York City has returned to the market with a serious karate chop to the asking price. Listing information now shows a price of $47,500,000. That's right, $47,500,000.

A few gleeful flicks of the well worn beads on our bejeweled abacus and we see that the sellers have chopped a mind melting $32,500,000 off the price. Now that children, has to be the largest single price chop ever, right?

The apartment measures 5,276 square feet, offers a private elevator landing and large public rooms with expensive views over Central Park. The private quarters include a 30 foot long kitchen/family room, 4 bedrooms and 5.5 windowless bathrooms including a master suite with two entrances, two walk in closets, two giant windows looking over Central Park and, natch, two private poopers, one of which has a bee-day for the all the people who like to have their naughty bits be sparkling clean at all times.

Forty seven and some million big ones not only buys you the apartment but also a 1,222 square foot ground floor suite where the Richie Rich owners can park their live in staff and still maintain a modicum of privacy. Maintenance and taxes will run a sizable but not unheard of $7,506 per month.

Other notable buyers in the Robert A.M. Stern designed complex include Sting and Trudy Styler, Denzel Washington, Norman Lear, writer John Ridley, NASCAR honcho Jeff Gordon, sportscaster Bob Costas and a slew of Wall Street types and big bizness barons including Goldman Sach's Lloyd Blankfein and Abigail Wexner, wife of billionaire Les Wexner who recently and quietly heaved their gigantic Fifth Avenue pied a terre on to the market with a $60,000,000 asking price.

Tidbits and Whispers

Have the children seen the myriad of reports about how former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, who reportedly earned close to $40,000,000 in both 2006 and 2007, sold his Jupiter Island, FL hideaway to his wife Kathy in November of 2007 for just $100? That's right chickens, one hundred clams.

Well, we've read all those reports too and the whole thing just makes Your Mama want to puke.

Speculation by many is that the property ownership transfer was an effort by Mister Fuld to protect his ass-ets should irate shareholders and creditors who lost billions in the collapse of Lehman Brothers go after his considerable personal wealth with a furious flurry of lawsuits.

Their Jupiter Island hideaway, for which Mister and Missus Fuld jointly forked over $13,750,000 in March of 2004, isn't the only ass-et the Fuld family is apparently looking to protect and/or liquidate. Just days (Days children! Days!) after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the modern art collecting Missus Fuld was rumored to have put approximately $20,000,000 worth of artwork up for sale at Christies that included works by big shit abstract expressionists like Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Agnes Martin and Barnett Newman. Was the timing just coincidence? Could be. You decide.

Although the demise of Lehman Brothers sucked tens of billions of dollars out of the economy, property records show he and his wife Kathy still own several excruciatingly lavish and expensive to maintain properties including an 11+ acre spread in the hedge fund heaven that is Greenwich, CT (pictured above), a 6,200 square foot fixer upper on Manhattan's posh Park Avenue for which they paid a knee buckling $21,000,000 in March of 2007, at least one property in Ketchum, Idaho near the Sun Valley ski resort, and another just outside of a small town called Cornwall in Vermont. And that's just what Your Mama came up with after poking around property records for less than five minutes.

Your Mama is all kinds of indignant and spitting mad now and we see a fat nerve pill in our early morning future.

All sorts rumors and reports are starting to surface and swirl about that Lauren Conrad gurl from The Hills moving out of her house on N. Orange Grove Avenue in Los Angeles and into a high rise condo along the Wilshire Corridor in Westwood. Your Mama has heard the rumor (rumor children, RUMOR!) that Miss Conrad and roommate–whose name we don't know or care to know–are moving out because they were having a lot of conflict with the neighbors who were hissy fitting about all the unwanted activity on the block that resulted from filming at the house.

Holy Mary Mother of God! Who cares?

Isn't this gurl's Warholian 15 minutes up yet?

You're gonna love this one children. We sure did. Your Mama hears from Nelly Knowsitall that whistle stop wonder Mariah Carey is not the only high maintenance showbiz dee-vah considering shacking up in the San Fernando Valley. Can y'all guess who it is?

Are you ready? Get ready to whoop, holler and gasp for air...

It's Jennifer Lopez.

Can. You. Stand. It?

Miss Knowsitall whispered in Your Mama's big ear that the La Lopez and entourage recently toured several large and lavish homes in the 10,000 square foot range. Well of course she did. Beehawtcha cain't be living up with that wild eyed huzband and two kids in any kind of house smaller than a damn boo-teek hotel.

Miz Lopez and her huzband are making all sorts of real estate news lately as they've recently bought the neighboring property to their Brookville, NY estate and, as everyone surely knows by now, Mister and Missus Lopez also have their Bel Air mini-compound on the market with an $8,500,000 asking price.

It was also recently whispered in Your Mama's big ear by someone who would know that a couple of big name famous folks (1 male and 1 Oscar nominated female, who are not a couple) have been seen peeping properties in the $3-5,000,000 range in the star studded Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. More details to come when we know more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Does Kenny Chesney Have Island Fever?

BUYER: Kenny Chesney
LOCATION: Caroline Street, Key West, FL
PRICE: $5,700,000
SIZE: 6,888 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 7 full and 1 half bathroom
DESCRIPTION: ...Stately and elegant, the 5 bedroom, seven and one-half bath house has high peaked Gothic style roof over classical Revival portico and four graciously arched bays. The beautiful arched front door is distinctive and rare in Key West...Large rooms, 13' ceilings, elegant moldings and hardware, formal living and dining rooms, custom designed 1500 bottle wine room, an outstanding kitchen equipped with all gourmet appliances, Carrara marble counter tops and in-kitchen dining.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Okay babies, Your Mama is going to pass along some unsubstantiated celebrity real estate gossip here. We don't normally do this sort of thing, but besides the not so surprising news that security conscious stay at home mommy Jennifer Lopez and her frighteningly skinny salsa singer huzband Marc Anthony bought the house next door to their Brookville, NY estate, the pickins are somewhat slim this morning. So we're going with what we got and we ask that the children keep in mind this information is not yet verified with property records and suggest that if you're going to go around trying to impress your friends with all your celebrity real estate knowledge you best qualify this one as rumor. You got that children? Rue-mer. At least for now. Now then...

Although Kenny Chesney, the diminutive country music crooning superstar, has yet to unload the seven and some million dollar property he bought last year in Malee-boo, CA and just two days later flipped back on the market with a stunning $550,000 increase over what he paid, Your Mama hears from Fanny the Floridian (among others) that the award winning singer/songwriter recently closed on an historic house in Key West, Florida. Your Mama's tipsters all swear on their little sisters' navel rings that Mister Chesney purchased a lavishly renovated property on Caroline Street that is generally referred to as the W. Hunt Harris House. We aren't the only folks who think this neither.

However, before we get to discussing the big ol' house down in Margaritaville, Your Mama has a bone to pick with Mister Chesney regarding his incessant hat wearing. Listen buddy, we all know yer bald under that thing. And despite your (and your handlers) misgivings about it, there ain't nuthin' wrong with bald. In fact, bald can be hot. It's the pretending yer not bald that's not so hot. (Just so y'all know, we are not being defensive due to any follicular issues on our part. Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter both have full heads of hair.)

Anyhoo, property records Your Mama accessed do show that the house in question did indeed transfer ownership in mid-January, 2008. Records show the previous owners received $5,700,000 from the new owner. That's a lot of money for an island hideaway but it's not nearly the $6,495,000 listing information shows the sellers were asking for the property.

Listing information shows the fully renovated and restored W. Hunt Harris House measures 6,888 square feet and includes five bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. For those not schooled on the historical who's who of Key West (and why would you be?), back in the late 1800s Mister Hunt Harris married into one of the first and most prominent families to settle in Key West and proceeded to build himself house which was completed in 1898. At least that's the 411 on Mister Hunt that appears in the property's listing.

The front façade somehow manages to remain dignified even though it is a thorough melange of Southern Antebellum, Greek Revival and Gothic architectural styles mixed with classic Key West features like the arched front door that leads to a narrow buttercup yellow entrance hall.

The main floor, with stately 13 foot ceilings, includes a formal living room that due to its current shockingly bright coral colored paint job screams, "Look at me! NO! ME! Not the dining room, ME!" Other punishable decorative offenses in the living room include upsetting gold colored swagged curtains, a couple of floral printed swooping settees and a cheap-ass looking ceiling fan. Don't nobody misunderstand Your Mama here because we think this house is a gorgeous example of modern day Key West living–if you're a couple of middle aged, empty nesting, heterosexual multi-millionaires–and we totally respect the sellers sensitive and comprehensive restoration of the historic house, but that retina burning coral colored living room set up has got to go.

The dining room, painted the palest shade of baby blue Your Mama has ever seen, features a glittery crystal chandelier and an unfortunately off-center fireplace. Listing information reveals the adjacent wine room holds 1,500 bottles of booze and has its own generator ensuring that when a hurricane takes the power out (and you know it will), the vino stays at a perfect temperature.

The kitchen is large enough for two cookers to maneuver comfortably, has a mix of Carrara marble and wood counter tops which may or may not be teak. Naturally it's nearly impossible for Your Mama look past the monolithic and menacing pot rack without cringing but when we do we spy something for more upsetting than a pot rack. That would be, of course, that stoopid stuffed parrot hanging in the window. Have mercy.

Beyond the kitchen is a breakfast area as well as a window wrapped family room with shiny wood floors, a truckload of white furniture and few more of the same cheap looking ceiling fans we found in the living room. Okay, what's with the cheap looking ceiling fans? We recognize that fans are fantastic for moving the hoo-mid Key West air around and it's obvious this place was not done over on a dime, so can someone please explain these uglee ass fans that look like someone bought them in bulk at a Home Despot clearance sale?

Located on the second floor of the main house, the master bedroom features a large bedroom with a coal burning fireplace (coal?) and some kinda crazy fabric treatment behind the bed, a separate dressing room, a mini-kitchen for late night ice cream snacks, a private balcony that runs the width of the house and is only accessible through the master bedroom and a Carrara marble clad bathroom that successfully manages to merge Old World with new fangled and, perhaps best of all, has a shower built for two.

A guest suite completes the second floor and offers a sitting room, steam shower, walk in closet and private balcony. All that sounds perfectly lovely, but Your Mama fears that with a dee-luxe guest room like guests will never pack up their toiletries and leave. The third floor provides an office area and two more bedrooms with en suite terlits.

The back yard, lush with verdant and steroidal tropical greenery, includes a 42 foot long swimming pool with brick terracing and a commodious wood floored pavilion with a high peaked ceiling that is set up for outdoor entertaining and late afternoon tabloid reading. The guest house/pool cabana, located at the far end of the swimming pool, has been built to withstand a category 5 hurricane, so you know where Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would be holed up with our menagerie when the wind starts a-blowing. The lower floor of the cabana thing is comprised of a gym space with retractable glass walls where Mister Chesney can do his Bikram yoga in the shaded but open air, an attached full bathroom and an outdoor shower (love that!), custom cabinetry with built in desk and a washer and dryer which means, of course, that no stinky work out wear ever need enter the main house. Upstairs, the fifth bedroom suite offers over night guests (or staff) a morning kitchen, entertainment area (whatever that means) and a private balcony.

As far as we know, Mister Chesney continues to make his primary home in a big Cape Cod style mansion that sits on a 48 and some acre farm in Franklin, TN and which records show he picked up in September of 2003 for $2,500,000. And, of course, there's also that house on Carbon Mesa Road in Malee-boo which he was unable to sell last year and which records show he still owns and appears to have been taken off the open market.

Belgian Design – Hot, Hot, Hot!


Belgian design is hot, hot, hot – swiftly taking the place of Swedish design in the trendiest style.  Why Belgium, as opposed to say, The Netherlands?  According to my friend, Ron Empel, owner of Empel Collections – a custom lighting company, and a native of Holland, the sleepy county of Belgium is home to two extreme classes, the ultra rich and the ultra poor – with very few in the middle.  The Netherlands, by contrast, is a country of the middle – with few wealthy citizens and few poor.  Where there is extreme wealth, there is usually good design to support the upper class’ desires and Belgium has been producing some very good design lately.  It all started a few decades ago when the interior designer, antiquarian Axel Vervoordt, moved into a castle, made it his home and shop and invited the world to see his wares.  Riding on Vervoodt’s coat tails, a group of architects and designers are now cashing in on the sudden wealth of publicity and now Belgian Design is THE look to have.  The traditional Belgian style – not its contemporary style (which is plentiful) – is quiet and monotone.  Few printed fabrics are used;  instead plain linens and deep-hued velvets are favored.  Houses in the country are renovated using antique elements – ancient stone floors, beams, marble staircases, and acres of limed wood - everywhere.   The accessories are overscaled and very few – books are usually plentiful.  Sofas are austere - large, long, and slipped – the opposite of our soft, down-filled cushions.  Lighting fixtures play a big part in the design – oversized always, either lanterns or crystal chandeliers are used.   Textures are a very large part of this style – rough, rustic woods and stone surfaces are played against smooth, shiny crystals and glass.   To truly understand the Belgian look, the publishing house Beta-Plus is a great place to start. 

Today, we’ll look at two houses in the Belgium countryside that typify the trendy Belgian look.


House #1


The first house – pictured above and here:

The living room – with an oversized arm chair, slipped in a neutral Belgian linen. The floors are large flags, antique - no doubt.  The accessories are a lone tortoise shell.  A basket of wood, much used, – becomes the objet d’art.  The walls are fauxed in a light khaki tone, which picks up the linen color and the color of the freshly chopped wood.




The dining table is surrounded by a mass of arm chairs, slipped in persimmon linen.  The iron framed windows open to the terrace, but can be covered against the cold wind by a lined, linen shade with curtains.  The floors are antique tiles.  The oversized chandelier becomes the focal point.



A close up of the chandelier.  Notice the accessories on the table, so typical of Belgian design, plain concrete vases and balls, with an old, antique book. 



The powder room continues the austere Belgian design – a concrete sink with a single aged faucet.  An antique window is made into a mirror.  Everything is a neutral putty color, even the stacks of towels.  As usual, the useful towels becomes a design element. 




The stair hall.  The floors are typically Belgian – unstained and unfinished planks, the color of the wood becomes the design element.  The stairs are also unadorned.  A trio of deep archways line the hall.  The console is an ancient piece – rustic like the floors.  The lamp, made out of a simple plain vase, continues the rough textured feel found throughout. 



The bedroom on the top floor opens to the large bath and dressing area.  The floor is smooth concrete.  The walls are plaster and wood planks.  Ancient beams hold up the roof. 



The dressing room, open to the bedroom, seen on the right behind the mirror.  A large chandelier lights the area.  The closets are behind the wooden plank doors.  The center island dresser is topped with concrete, and a few baskets.  Not sure who is standing there in a bathrobe!!!




The dressing room – the curtains are simple white Belgian linen.  The drawers are rough, unstained wood – the same as the closet doors.



The master bath room with more concrete and wood cabinetry.  A fancy antique mirror is juxtaposed against all the rough surfaces.  The walls are a fauxed putty color, perhaps a plaster finish.  The shower is through the arch.



In the master bath, a fancy, highly carved wood chair, sits next to an unexpected contemporary canvas.    Belgian design is all about the mood, the quiet colors, the sparseness of the interiors against the vastness of the architecture, and the textures – the rough, rustic touches mixed with smooth, shiny crystals and glass.




The dining room is seen through the open iron windows. 




The landscaping in early spring is as spare as the interiors are.  The three blossoming trees in zinc pots are the main attraction.   In the United States, we would put pots of blooming plants all around the pool!   



On the terrace, wicker chairs surround a wood table.  A lone sign on the wall adds the only decoration, besides a wicker basket with a flowering plant.



House #2:


The second house is owned by a couple who are both antique dealers and interior designers, Alain and Brigitte Garnier.  Their estate has several buildings that were renovated on the property, which at one time was a working farm.  One building, is a low, thatched roof house.




Connecting to the thatched roof smaller building is this three story white house.   The kitchen and breakfast room are located in the smaller house, while the fancier living areas and bedrooms are in the white house.




Inside, is a two story entry hall with a winding stone and wood staircase.  A large lantern hangs over the typically Belgian sparse space.  The walls are a cool putty color. 



Under a row of carved wood animal heads, sits this antique settee.  The floors are antique marble.



The powder room uses an antique marble bowl for a sink, with a single faucet in the shape of a swan’s head.



The family room has the typical Belgian sofa, slipped in linen – long and plain.  The coffee table has the industrial look that Belgian design is famous for: wood and iron.  The Garniers designed this table and currently sell it, along with other versions and sizes.   The walls are plain limed wood.   As always, the lighting fixture plays an important role in the design.    Through the opening is the living and dining room.



The antique dealer owners have many collections – here they display a large collection oxblood vases.



The family room, from the other side, with it’s long, slipped Belgian sofa and crystal chandelier.




Connecting to the family room is the combination living room and dining room – which runs the length of the white house.  The two areas are separated by a large statue of dogs on a pedestal.  Since the owners are antique dealers, this home has a more cluttered look than typical.  The floors are aged wood planks in a herringbone pattern.  



The living room, facing the sofa.  Through the doorway is the connection to the thatched roof house, where the kitchen and breakfast rooms are. 





The dining room has a large, round skirted table surrounded by tall Os De Mouton chairs, slipped in Belgian linen.  An antique chandelier hangs low over the table.  A large French armoire runs the width of the wall.    In the foreground is the dog sculpture, dividing the living and dining areas.



A close up of the armoire which holds a collection of antique Celadon pottery.



Standing between the living and dining areas is this gorgeous marble topped console with two crystal candelabras.   Always the texture, the juxtapositions of smooth and rough, fancy and rustic.



Upstairs, a bedroom with simple limed wood planks and wood doors.  Modern art plays against all the antiques and the age of architecture, itself.



Antique marble floor and tub in a large bathroom.   Unadorned and sparse – Belgian style!



Another bedroom, a rare dark room, with white linen that pops against the walls. 



The kitchen and breakfast room are located in the small thatched roof house.  Notice the beautiful wooden door and attached shutter.  The kitchen is accessorized as a living area with fine art work and lamps.



The black range with it’s black tiled backsplash.  Next to the range, the sink and countertops are marble. 



Across from the island, a large green armoire holds more celadon pottery.  Notice the charming door next to the wicker chair.



In the kitchen, an old spiral staircase leads to the upstairs loft area.  The breakfast room is through the opening.




The breakfast room, here with a wooden table surrounded by new wicker chairs with toile cushions.  The Garniers sell this chair.  In fact, they manufacture all the upholstery pieces, lamps, and new tables seen in the house.  I suspect everything is actually for sale!



Another view of the breakfast room, styled differently with a round table.  The large, original fireplace is elevated, the wood is stored below.





The two houses.  Outside the French doors across the front is the large living room – dining room combination.   The wicker lounge chairs are sold by the Garniers.  Be sure to visit their web site to see all their fabulous merchandise!


And in the United States, visit Brown, located in Houston Texas and on 1st Dibs for a collection of unique items, antique and new from Belgium.  Brown specializes in lighting fixtures and industrial design, along with Belgian design. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sidney Ponson Lists Fort Lauderdale Mansion

SELLER: Sidney Ponson
LOCATION: Delmar Place, Fort Lauderdale, FL
PRICE: $4,950,000
SIZE: 6,467 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 3 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Incredible 3-story 6br/7ba+3 half bath estate located 1 house from Point w/ great views of Intracoastal & Las Olas Bridge...Media room. Elevator. Fully furnished. 100' water dock.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: When we recently heard from Our Man in Florida who whispered in our big ear that some person named Sidney Ponson listed his Fort Lauderdale mansion with an asking price of $4,950,000, Your Mama had no idea who he is. None. Not one.

A few clicks on our long suffering keyboard and a quick scan across the internets revealed that the Aruban born Mister Ponson is a professional pitcher of baseballs, which pretty much explains why Your Mama did not recognize his name because, he truth is, Your Mama barely knows the difference between a baseball and a football. And you know what? We like it that way, we do not want to hear about our proud ignorance regarding these things.

Anyhoo, according to the information we pulled up on the interweb, Mister Ponson has migrated from team to team to team over the last 10 or so years and most recently signed on with the New York Yankees, a team for which he previously bandied the baseball. By all accounts Mister Ponson can really hurl a baseball but he's apparently also got a bit of a reputation as a hard living troublemaker who earned himself a couple of DUIs back in 2005 and dropped charges for assaulting an Aruban judge who was presiding over a complaint about Mister Ponson's alleged (mis)handling of a powerboat.

Property records show that Mister Ponson picked up his water front property on Delmar Place in Fort Lauderdale, FL in July of 2004 when he forked over $3,750,000 for the 6,467 square foot residence. Listing information indicates the three story house has six bedrooms and 7 full and 3 half bathrooms which means the unmarried Mister Ponson has got 10 damn terlits. Your Mama would bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that his minimum wage house gurl hates him.

Listing information shows the house was all did up by some well known ladee decorator Your Mama has never heard of who filled the place with a lot of beige and brown things. Notable amenities that appear in the listing include a soaring entrance hall that looks more like some damn hotel in Moscow than a private home and a marble floored living room with a "majestic fireplace," whatever that is, and a "detailed ceiling," whatever that is. A library/study offers floor to ceiling custom bookshelves that currently hold more tchotchkes and wine bottles than books, and the gore-may kitchen features the sort of carved cabinetry and granite counter tops that well to do people who drop big bucks on over-sized faux Tuscan style mcmansions seem to favor.

In addition to the family room, which listing information reveals has a custom entertainment system where Your Mama imagines a tee-vee the size of a damn Hummer has been installed, the Ponson pad also offers a private home theater with wall to wall brown leather chairs, vaguely Art Deco-ish torchère style sconces and a screen that appears to drop down out of the ceiling.

The not particularly masculine looking master bedroom has an acre of light beige carpeting, a sitting area with a fireplace and a brocade and fringe settee, dual closets, a big ol' soaking tub, steam shower, a vanity counter and 2 water closets so the owners can do their morning dirty bizness concurrently.

Some of the more interesting features of the house, according to listing information, would be the hidden wine closet tucked under the staircase, the two laundry rooms≠1 up and 1 down–which would surely make our dictatorial house gurl Svetlana crack a rare smile, and last but not least, a panic room, a high-cost feature of increasing numbers of paranoid rich people.

Listing information also indicates the house has been outfitted with satellite tee-vee, a surround sound system, internet connections, and a private security system which can all be manipulated with the Smart House control.

Outdoor recreation facilities include a large tiled terrace on the roof above the second floor where one can stare across the Intracoastal to the Las Olas Bridge, a heated swimming pool and spa with adjacent cabana (with bathroom), an outdoor kitchen and a 100 foot long dock for parking the boat.

Your Mama certainly does not know why Mister Ponson would choose to sell his brown and beige designer done digs. Maybe he's tired of all the vacationing gays that flock to Fort Lauderdale to over tan themselves in very, very small bathing suits that leave little or nothing to the imagination. We tease. Your Mama knows Fort Lauderdale has more to offer residents and visitors than countless gay friendly and clothing optional resorts. We just don't know what those things are.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cheryl Ladd and Brian Russell List Santa Ynez Property

SELLERS: Cheryl Ladd and Brian Russell
LOCATION: Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez, CA
PRICE: $5,795,000
SIZE: approx. 7,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 1 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...Exquisite yet comfortable European inspired country estate on 22 acres with panoramic views of the entire Santa Ynez Valley. This thoughtfully designed and appointed manor features soaring ceilings, grand spaciousness and an open floor plan ideal for formal or casual living.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Before Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu were taking orders on the big screen from a mysterious man named Charlie there was a ladee named Cheryl Ladd who worked her stuff as the high kicking, gun toting and criminal chasing Kris Monroe on the original and iconic boob-toob program Charlie's Angels.

Since her salad days on Charlie's Angels back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Miz Ladd has (among other endeavors) made some records, written a couple of books, hoofed it on Broadway, acted as the spokesperson for some menopause public service thing, advocated for the protection of children, and spent 5 years working her stuff on the recently axed tee-vee drama Las Vegas.

She also left the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and moved to the hoity toity hinterlands of the Santa Ynez, CA where she and her music producer huzband Brian Russell have spent the last 15+ years hunkered down in a vaguely neo-classical Italian country house like mansion that thanks to a source we'll call Vlad the Revealer Your Mama has learned they recently put on the market with an asking price of $5,795,000.

Property records show the couple picked up their 22.5 acre parcel way back in 1989 for just $459,000. Lawhd have mercy children, remember back when half a million clams really bought some real estate and not some crappy studio apartment in Queens or a tract house out in a newly created suburb of Los Angeles that's 102 miles from the office?

Anyhoo, presumably the couple spent the next several years designing and building their 7,000+ square foot house which is accessed up a long Oak tree lined private road that leads to a large gravel motor court with a fountain and a slew of potted Olive trees. Four narrow Cyprus trees flank the front door which opens to a large sky-lit entrance hall. On one side sits a grand piano and on the other a small table and chairs–who would actually sit there, we don't know–and a large and deeply upsetting painting of pears on the other. It has been quite a some time since Your Mama has run across the sorts of pear paintings that seem to pop up in celebrity owned homes in alarming numbers and we really wish it had been longer because while clearly rich and famous people love them, we just do not get the appeal of pear paintings as art regardless of how realistically they are painted.

Listing information shows the single floor residence includes four bedrooms, each with a private pooper, and another half bathroom for guests. The hilltop property offers panoramic views of the Santa Ynez Valley, which is, of course, the same neck of comely California scrub land north of Santa Barbara where notorious property princess Ellen Degeneres has owned several large ranch properties and where, all the children surely recall, Michael Jackson shacked up in an amusement park masquerading as a house called Neverland before he fled the area in the aftermath of an embarrassing child molestation trial.

Other amenities according to listing information and photos is a formal living room with very high ceilings, a wood burning fireplace and a lot of dignified but very ordinary looking beige furniture sitting on spotless beige wall to wall carpeting. The large wood floored dining features high wood beamed ceiling and stone walls which Your Mama hopes are real stone and not some nutty paint treatment meant to look like stacked stones.

Listing information reveals the gore-may kitchen is open to a large family room and dining area that despite the lack of a tee-vee looks like a well conceived and comfortably decorated room with plush velvet sofas, deliciously worn leather chairs and ottomans, a fireplace for warming the tootsies and if the children look really close, you'll note the mesmerizing views out the many large paned windows.

At the rear of the house is a covered veranda anchored by four fat and gorgeously groomed ivy covered pillars. For the most part, the design and day-core of the Ladd-Russell residence is not how Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would choose to spend five and some million clams, but we are luh-ving those ivy wrapped pillars and can easily imagine being happily splayed out on those chaise lounges wrapped in a cashmere throw from Hermes sipping gin and tonics and watching the sun go down over the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley. That, as one of Your Mama's friends we no longer talk to used to incessantly say, would not suck.

While the house is surrounded by lawns large enough to have several booze fueled and concurrent croquet tournaments, apparently Miz Ladd and Mister Russell don't care for tennis, swimming or the horsies because, oddly and despite it's 22 acres, the property does not have a swimming pool, tennis court or stabling facilities. Pity.

Coupla Quick Items To Start the Week Off Right

Listen babies, Your Mama has a list of properties to discuss this week but before we get rolling on that we're going to cut in to our scheduled programming in order to get a couple of joo-see celebrity real estate tidbits off our desk...

Hold on to your britches children because Oscar nominated power pair Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are back in the celebrity real estate gossip columns. Just last week the world learned that the unmarried parents of 40 or 50 multicultural children, who have spent the last year or so traipsing around Europe like a band of very rich gypsies, are getting ready to wing their way back to the U-nited States of America and settle down in a water front monster mansion on the Gold Coast of Long Island in quietly swank Lloyd Neck, NY.

Naturally, these dedicated nomads won't be staying in Lloyd Neck long enough to enroll their 72 children in the local schools. They'll reportedly only be in residence long enough for Miss Jolie to film her next cinematic endeavor, Edwin A. Salt, a film which Your Mama will not likely pay thirteen bucks to see in a movie theater.

When the couple's coterie of personal assistants pack up their well traveled Louis Vuitton cases and load up their multi-culti clan into the family bus and pull out of Lloyd Neck, they reportedly won't be headed back to the shores of Malee-boo where Mister Pitt has owned a spectacular oceanfront estate since about the time he traded in his former wifey Jennifer Aniston to live in sin, make babies with and adopt a small army of foreign children with notorious man (and woman) eater Angelina Jolie.

According to a gal named Courtney Nazlett, who pens The Scoop column for folks at MSNBC, Mister Pitt is planning on putting the modern cliff hanger of a house on the market.

Can the children hear the gasps of shock and awe heard around the world? Your Mama sho can.

Bookies are taking bets on which of the family's many properties they'll settle in next, but word on the celebrity real estate street is that the Jolie-Pitt clan are heading back to Chateau Miraval, the secluded estate in the French countryside where they shacked up after Miss Jolie pushed out those cute twins last year.

Pop star Mariah Carey and her man mate Nick Cannon are rumored and reported to be peeping around at high priced properties in some of the better (and not so better) zip codes of Los Angeles including a 7,000+ square foot house in Studio City that happens to be just around the corner from Alex Trebek's historic spread and walking distance to George Clooney's super private pad.

Although we know there are many swank and expensive areas in the San Fernando Valley where all kinds of rich and famous folks bed down, Your Mama would not have imagined Mariah shacking up in The Valley. If we we're Miss Mariah's real estate agent, and of course we are not, I'd haul her skin tight jean wearing boo-tay immediately over to Jennifer's Lopez's $8,500,000 crib in Bel Air because not only is it celebrity worthy, she could probably save a few pennies on installing security systems because you know that place is already locked down like Fort damn Knox.

Although Your Mama is not a big fan of the whistle stop wonder's ear piercing warbling and we certainly don't care for her trademark belly baring outfits only a streetwalker could love, the high end real estate market in Los Angeles could really use an exuberantly rich gal like Miss Moneybags Mariah running around in a chauffeured Yukon flinging money around like there was no damn recession affecting all the less financially fortunate.

Miss Mariah's current real estate holdings include a giant triplex apartment in the TriBeCa area of New York City which was done up and decorated by Prince of Chintz Mario Buatta and where she reportedly keeps Marilyn Monroe's old piano and has a Hello Kitty themed bathroom, a decorative situation which Your Mama knows deep in our soul is a very, very bad idea. Miss Mariah recently added to her property portfolio when she purchased a compound down on a slim sliver of land in the Bahamas called Windermere Island. In the past, the scale sliding songstress has spent vast amounts of moolah leasing posh properties in Aspen and The Hamptons, but as of today Your Mama is not aware of Miss Moneybags Mariah fishing out her diamond encrusted checkbook to purchase any properties in those locations.

3. Oh dear. Here we go again. Beat up and beleagured Los Angeles real estate agent Josh Flagg, whom the children will recall is the unkempt boozy looking dude from the most recent season of Million Dollar Listing, is back in the news.

Last year, Mister Flagg was arrested for allegedly stealing pricey paintings out of a posh property or two in which he represented the sellers. After heaps and hordes of bad press, the L.A. District Attorney dropped the charges leaving Mister Flagg free to return to pushing properties in the Platinum Triangle with his held held high.

His relief over the dropped charges was short lived, however, because according to a new report on gossip juggernaut TMZwho seems to be gunning halaciously hard for the guy—Mister Flagg is being sued by the estate of a dead ladee named Marcia Israel for the alleged "wrongful taking of personal property." Oh my.

The estate of Miz Israel is alleging the young Mister Flagg obtained several high value paintings and Jade sculptures that mysteriously disappeared from Miz Israel's Sunset Boulevard mansion after her death and during a period of time Miz Israel's huzband was staying on the property. Miz Israel, a noted L.A. philanthropist who went to meet the big garmento in the sky back in the summer of 2004, was the founder of a successful chain of west coast retail stores Your Mama has never heard of called Judy's.

According to TMZ, a ballsy and unnamed private investigator claims to have taken a few snaps of the missing artworks through the window of Mister Flagg's Beverly Hills home. That's right children, through the damn window!

Mister Flagg's attorneys have reportedly answered back by saying that the estate of Miz Israel has no case against Mister Flagg because the statute of limitations has run out. Huh? Your Mama ain't no kind of lawyer and we are certainly in no position to act as a judge, but that sounds sort of, uhm, odd, don't it?

Now children, we are not defending Mister Flagg because we find him to have a less that lovely and sorta smarmy disposition (at least he did on the tee-vee), but before anyone jumps to conclusions or convicts Mister Flagg in the court of their own mind, let's remember that previous charges against him for similar allegations were dropped. Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire, and sometimes there is just smoke.

Interestingly, Your Mama was contacted last week by a person we'll call Peeping Tom who claimed to have "a hot one" on Mister Flagg but never revealed the details or even the nature of his gossip.

Now that she's finally managed to sell off her house in Malee-boo's Serra Retreat, Your Mama gets an unusually high number of requests regarding the real estate whereabouts of Aussie icon Olivia Newton John. Your Mama freely confesses that although we agree she looked marvelous in shiny leotard back in the 1980s, we are not nearly as interested in Miss Newton John's current location as many of the children seem to be. However, we do like to keep the children pacified, so....

Thanks to several convert communiques by several interested parties including one this morning from a gal we'll call Mary K. Mart, it's our understanding that Miz Newton John recently decamped to the Jupiter, FL area where she's shacking up with her herb pusher huzband John Easterling who owns a 3 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom house in the gated community surrounding the Turtle Creek (golf) Club which, as it turns out, is currently listed for sale at $850,000.

That's all we know folks. And for the record, we do not know–so don't bother to ask–if Missus Easterling is living in the above mentioned house or some other place.

Now then, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Michael Smith and a Trashcan Makes The News


The White House:  The Queen’s Bedroom under the Bush  Administration.  I’ll wager this bedroom is where Michelle’s mother will live.

Note:  Picture updated.


News of Michael S. Smith is everywhere these days.  And rightly so, being named by the Obamas to decorate the  private living quarters of the White House, is big, big news.  The appointment was first leaked by blogger The Peak of Chic, causing much excitement throughout the design blogosphere.  The official news came via domino magazine’s web site - how fitting for what is called the first high-tech presidency.   Who knows, maybe Obama downloads domino’s web site on his famous blackberry?  I can’t remember another White House designer creating such a stir.   Truthfully, I still don’t know which interior designer the Bushes used.  The choice of Smith was a surprise to me, a total surprise – though in hindsight he is a perfect fit.  His love and knowledge of antiques is legendary as is the way he puts together his interiors, warm, cozy and inviting despite the high price tag of the furnishings.  I had thought the Obamas would choose Sheila Bridges, an Afro-American designer from NYC.     I couldn’t have been more off-base.  As the days go by, the anticipation grows, and those first glimpses of Smith’s work for the Obamas will be highly sought after.  Unfortunately, the news this week concerning Smith was actually not all that great - in fact, it was terrible.  Read on.




This decor by Smith would make a wonderful guest room in the White House.   Smith’s style – mixing grand and not so grand antiques in warm and cozy interiors is exactly why the Obama’s hired him.


Californian interior designer to the stars, Michael S. Smith, couldn’t afford the huge amount of press he’s received in the past few days.  Too bad it’s all been bad press.  After a career unblemished by any hint of misconduct, this week has been a public relations disaster for the genial designer.  Smith, riding high after being named the Obama’s interior decorator is now embroiled in the Wall Street scandal and the story couldn’t come at a worse time for him, the Obama’s and for The White House.


Michael Smith and Wall Street?  What?  It goes something like this:   The disgraced CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, was fired this week (or resigned as he puts it) by the new owners of the once reputable stock firm.  Apparently, Thain was unceremoniously dumped because he hoodwinked Bank of America, the company that bailed out Merrill Lynch:  the merger was finalized after just two days of due diligence.  Bank of America execs have been less than pleased with Thain ever since the magnitude of Merrill Lynch’s losses became apparent – something Thain apparently tried to hide.   Hired just a few years ago to bring Merrill Lynch back to profitability, Thain tried to salvage the firm, firing thousands and cutting expenses for everyone except himself.  While his firm was suffering  unprecedented losses, he hired Michael Smith to decorate his office at a total cost of $1,220,000.   The Manhattan office includes Thain’s conference room and private dining room.  Smith’s invoice was splashed all over the news this week – in detail, leaked no doubt by a disgusted Bank of America official.  I can only imagine the sheer horror Smith must have felt having his exorbitant tab laid bare for everyone to leer at.  Business blogs have had a field day with Smith’s bill – and Thain will forever be remembered for his parchment covered trash can, for which Merrill Lynch paid Smith a princely $1,405!   The maligned trash can is surely destined to become the symbol of Wall Street greed, 21st century style.  


What is especially galling about the story is that while Thain was spending millions on redecorating his office, he insisted his employees curtail their own expenses on travel, entertainment and cars.  At the same time, he paid his private driver an $85,000 salary with a bonus of $18,000 and  $128,000 in over-time pay.  It’s interesting to compare budgets:  the Obamas hired Smith to design their White House living quarters for a paltry $100,000.  While everyone realized this sum was probably not realistic – contrast this with Thain’s $1,220,000 budget.  Even more telling, Thain paid over $100,000 for just three chairs!   How in the world is Smith going to work with the Obamas’ $100,000 limit?   In Elle Decor’s Margaret Russell’s interview with Matt Lauer about the White House commission, she brags that Smith is known for shopping at bargain places, like Target and Anthropologie.  Really?  The only thing I’ve ever seen Smith do that was budget friendly was to purchase these bedspreads, below, at Urban Outfitters, which he used for wall coverings, curtains and upholstery.  The cost of labor to install all the Indian bedspreads surely catapulted this budget into the stratosphere.  So much for cost cutting.



Smith decorated this guest room using bedspreads from Urban Outfitters.


Smith’s public relations fiasco puts a damper on the jubilation that greeted the news of his White House commission.  It will be hard for the Obamas to justify hiring Smith while he is playing such a public role in the current excesses of Wall Street.   The leaked statement highlights the greed that these top CEO’s have and the cash it takes to fuel their lifestyles.    Thain’s personal life takes lots and lots of money to run and we have all paid for it.   While untold millions of people are facing financial doom, the ones responsible for the financial disaster  live lives that Kings would envy.   As Merrill Lynch faced collapse, the United States government, using tax payers money stepped in to stop the bleeding – averting their inevitable bankruptcy.  Using those tax payer funds, Thain made sure his buddies got their share – an estimated 3 to 4 billion dollars in bonuses.  Thain himself, perhaps in a rare moment of guilt, declined to take his promised $100 million bonus.  Nice of him, huh?

Thain and his wife Carmen live in a Park Avenue duplex worth $27.5 million.  Additionally, they own a country home that straddles two different towns – Harrison and Rye, New York.   His property taxes are over $150,000 a year to those two towns.  Purchased in 1995 for $3.7 million, the country home is now worth over $10 million and is on 10 acres of pricey real estate.  Included in the estate are beehives, a river, a stocked lake, a clay tennis court, several horse paddocks, and two swimming pools - along with a barn larger than neighboring houses.  The house is 97 years old and has 14 bedrooms and an underground heated garage.   Smith decorated both Thain houses, natch.

Though now out of a job, Thain will be busy in the coming months preparing a defense.  New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo is investigating the bonuses that Thain paid his cronies last December – just before the deal with Bank of America closed.  Bonuses at Merrill Lynch are normally paid in either January or February.  The timing of those ill-gotten bonuses, along with his decorating bills have made Thain public enemy #1.

Smith’s invoices, obtained first by CNBC news, show that Smith was hired for $837,000.  I have found two different lists of items ordered for the office, with some pieces appearing to either overlap or are misnamed.   Most prices are eye-popping.    The area rug for Thain’s conference room came in at $87,784.   Compare this with the $61,000 rug Laura Bush designed for her hubby’s Oval Office.  Obama is said to love that rug and will continue to use it – at least until he orders his own!



The Oval Office rug that Laura Bush designed – Obama is said to be keeping it, for now.

Other items ordered by Smith for Thain’s office are listed below.   I went to 1st Dibs to see how Smith’s prices compared to those on 1st Dibs and what the furniture might look like.  Most prices on Thain’s invoice are at the top of heap, unbelievably high, some items I had to really search to find a comparably priced item.  It makes one wonder if all of Smith’s clients pay such prices.   Thain’s list is below.   Enjoy!


1.    Mahogany Pedestal Table -  $25,713


On 1st Dibs, I found this Regency table from 1820 for $18,900.


2.   19th Century Credenza in Thain’s office -  $68,179, this must be a very nice credenza!


1st Dibs had nothing in this price range for credenzas, the closest I could find is a 16th century credenza for $23,800.


3.  Pair of Guest Chairs $87,784 – seems quite extravagant for an office.


Coming in higher on 1st Dibs are these George III Library Chairs, 1770, pair for $110,000.


4.  George IV Chair, this has also been reported as a desk - $18,468


1st Dibs has this wonderful George IV chair, although it still needs fabric!   $4350.


5.    Commode on Legs at $35,115 – this item has caused much  amusement as people think it’s a toilet!


On 1st Dibs I found this beautiful Louis XV Period Walnut Commode Raised on Cabriole Legs, c. 1760, France for $42,000. 



6.   Sofa for $15,000


At George Smith, I found this sofa for just $10,000.   Thain’s sofa probably came from Smith’s own company.


7.   Six Chairs for his private dining room - $37,000 – rather pricey


1st Dibs had this set of six, Chippendale Style chairs, from 1770 for $16,500 – a steal!


8.   Mirror for the dining room - $5,000 – this is actually reasonable for an antique.


I found this on 1st Dibs, French 19th century Bird’s eye maple mirror, $5,000.


9.   Chandelier for the dining room - $13,000 – again, somewhat reasonable for an antique.


1st Dibs had this beautiful chandelier, just slightly higher priced than Thain’s.


10.  Custom Coffee Table for $16,000 – seems pricey.   Probably came from Smith’s own company.


1st Dibs has this antique coffee table with slate top, late 19th  century for just $9,750.’


11.  Regency Chairs - $24,000.


1st Dibs has this almost perfect match, a pair of parcel gilt Regency period armchairs from England, Circa 1810 for $28,500.


Other items for Thain’s office includes:

6 Wall Sconces $2,741 – reasonable – again, wonder if these are from Smith’s line for Visual Comfort?

Rewiring of sconces $3,000 – reasonable.

Parchment Waste Can $1,405  – I can’t even comment on this.

Roman Shade Fabric $10,967.

Roman Shades $7,315 – reasonable for high end design.

Pendant Light Furniture $19,751 – not sure what this is???? Anyone know?

4 Pairs of Curtains  - $28,091.

40 yards of fabric for wall panels, $5,000 – actually not totally outrageous, but this is retail pricing.  Wonder if he used his own line of fabric?

Thain personally signed off on $30,000 in expenses that Smith incurred doing the job, in addition to the $800,000, presumably room and board while in NYC, I suppose.

I’ve added up all the items, plus Smith’s fee and I come out over the $1,220.00.  I’m not sure if Smith’s $800,000 fee includes these purchases or not.  Also – it’s possible these prices are retail and Thain was offered a discount.  It’s possible!!!!   These figures were originally made public on both CNBC and The Huffington Post.



A Manhattan high-rise designed by Smith – this could possibly be what the Thain’s apartment looks like.


Wait, the news blitz on Smith is not over.  As if the coverage of Smith’s unfortunate association with Merrill Lynch wasn’t enough – there was even more press for the beleaguered  Smith.     An antique bed he purchased for the Obama White House showed up in the newspaper, leaked by the owner of the shop from where it was purchased.   The Providence Journal broke the story of the now sure-to-be famous bed.   “The bed is an antique tall post adapted to king size from bedposts fashioned from tiger maple in the early 19th century” reads the press release, but exactly who released the press release was not released.  Oy!  The bed was purchased at Leonards New England.  Leonards, a 75 year old landmark,  has two locations, one in Seekonk, Massachusetts and another in Westport.   Leonards’ stock is pure Michael Smith and I can surely see why he shops there.  The manager confirmed that Smith is a customer, as is Steven Spielberg (a Smith client), Julia Roberts and Bill Cosby.  I’m surprised Oprah is not a client, she loves Americana. 

Concerning THE bed, the owners, the Jenkins, father and son, AND the store manager all had different tales to tell.  One says they delivered the bed to a warehouse in Maryland that Smith is using to store Obama goodies.  The delivery men couldn’t see what else was in the warehouse that is headed for the White House because it was all tightly covered up.  Another story says Leonards delivered the bed directly to the back door of the White House.  And still another story confirms the bed is tagged for the master bedroom.  The elder Jenkins said the phone call from Smith confirming the White House sale was the call of a lifetime.  I’ll bet!  But still, it leaves me wondering what the privacy-loving Smith thinks about all this publicity surrounding the bed.  After all, Margaret Russell told Matt Lauer that Smith hasn’t yet given any interviews about the White House commission and “he won’t.”    Maybe someone should tell that to the Jenkins, but who can blame them for their excitement?



Leonards, only in New England are shops this picturesque!  I wouldn’t mind moving in here!


Is this photo shopped?  Apparently the bed was delivered the night before the Inauguration, but I didn’t think there was snow on the ground then.  



The actual tiger maple bed the Obama’s bought from Leonards.  No surprise here – how many times have we seen Smith use beds similar to this?   I think the girls would love that carousal horse for their rooms!



Classic English Tall Post bed in Mahogany found on Leonards’ web site – I can see Smith buying this bed for another White House bedroom– it’s gorgeous.



On Leonards web site - 1880 English Oak – dog kennel Dresser – this would be a great piece for the playroom or private dining room, especially with the cubby for the new Obama puppy!



How American does it get?  This Federal New York sideboard from the 1840’s from Leonards would be a nice piece in the White House private quarters.



This estate in upstate New York, designed by Michael Smith and featured in November’s Elle Decor, reminds me of the type of furniture that Leonards carries.  I wonder if some of this was purchased there?   I hope Smith incorporates elements from this room in the White House, such as print curtains, cane furniture, tufted ottomans, and comfortable seating.



More from the New York house.  Wouldn’t this be a wonderful look for the Obamas’ private dining room? 


I am so curious as to whether the Obama’s will have a canopy over their new tiger maple bed.  Canopies are wonderful in large rooms, they become a room within a room and cozy up an oversized space.  I wonder if the First Lady perused this particular layout and felt a connection with this house and The White House?



After all, the house IS white and three stories!!


Hopefully, the press on Michael Smith will die down this coming week.  Along with most of the design blogosphere, I can’t wait to see what Smith does to America’s house.  I can’t remember another White House makeover – since Jackie Kennedy’s -  which sparked so much interest.  Most likely, Smith isn’t too bothered by all the negative press as he is frantically finishing up his work for the Obamas.   And hopefully, there won’t be any more bad news, as long as he isn’t the interior designer for the Taliban!