Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Penthouse That Enron Bought

SELLER: Linda Lay
PRICE: $11,900,000
SIZE: 12,827 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 5 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: They say everything is bigger down in the the great state of Texas and when it comes to Linda Lay's sprawling penthouse in a Houston high-rise, that adage certainly holds true.

Miz Lay–whose name, Your Mama has to confess, sounds to us like something out of a 2-dollar porno movie–is the widow of Ken Lay, one of the poster boys of corporate malfeasance and greed. Remember him puppies? Before there were Ponzi putzes like Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford there were men like Jeff Skilling, Andy Fastow and, that's right, Ken Lay.

As the CEO and chairman of the erstwhile energy juggernaut that was Enron, Mister Lay was one of the highest paid executives on the planet pulling down many millions every year. In addition to his fat salary that alone was enough to make him wealthy beyond most people's wildest dreams, it has been widely reported that he also liquidated well over a hundred million dollars worth of Enron stock, making he and Miz Linda Lay filthy, stinking, pigs in 24-carat gold rich. Quietly and as the Enron ship began to sink in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mister Lay dumped vast amounts of his Enron stock while encouraging employees to keep on buying up shares because the company was going to rebound. It did not. The fraudulent monetary maneuvering of Mister Lay and some of his cohorts left more than 20,000 Enron employees holding a big bag of shit while he and the wife were left with the spoils of his misdeeds that included a handful of luxury residences including a titanic penthouse at The Huntingdon, a hoity toity high-rise building in the ritzy River Oaks area of Houston.

Some say that most of the Lay's riches were spent defending Mister Lay as a result of the 11 counts of securities and wire fraud he was indicted with in 2004 and his subsequent trial in 2006. Maybe that's true and maybe that's not true. We certainly don't know nuthin' about Miz Lay's personal finances or whether she's been left with so little of her huzband's earnings that she's had to downgrade from a dee-luxe Mercedes to a Nissan Sentra. What we do know is that Mister Lay never did a single day in the pokey because he died in July of 2006 while vacationing in swanky Snowmass, CO. This was not long before he was scheduled to be sentenced.

Mister Lay was buried at a secret location in Colorado and his memorial service in Houston was attended by more than 1,000 people including former president George H.W. Bush. In an effort not to sound politically partisan–which we are–we should say that Mister Lay played golf with Bill Clinton who (allegedly) helped Enron secure a multi-billion dollar power plant project in India. Big bizness butters whatever slice of bread needs the fat. Mister Clinton did not, as far as we know, attend Mister Lay's memorial service and Your Mama seriously doubts many if any of the Enron employees who lost their life savings due to the financial shenanigans of Mister Lay and his cohorts attended either.

Anyhoo, in the fall of 2009 word began slipping and sliding down the real estate grapevine that Miz Lay–who by all accounts leads a quiet and almost reclusive life–was looking to unload her brobdingnagian penthouse which she's owned since January of 1995 when she and the Mister bought it for an undisclosed amount of money. (Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?) An asking price was set at $12,800,000 and the gate keeper was none other than Beau Herrold, one of Miz Lay's two sons from her first marriage. With no off-market buyers willing to cough up the big bucks for the unapologetically opulent full-floor spread, Miz Lay and her son switched to Plan B and recently floated the mansion in the sky that listing information charitably calls "Italian Renaissance-inspired" on to the open market with a reduced asking price of $11,900,000.

According to listing information and public property records provided by Witnee Houston, Miz Lay's penthouse measures a whopping 12,827 square feet and includes four bedrooms and 4 full and 5 powder poopers. The master suite, according to lisiting information has dual poopers Other numbers related to the 33rd floor penthouse that the children might find inneresting are its 3 fireplaces, 4 balconies located at the four corners of the residence, 6 elevators–2 of them are service–and the 10 privately owned underground parking spaces in what listing information calls "premier locations." Your Mama assumes that means they are situated close to the elevator bank so that the Lays and their guests need never bear the indignity of walking more than a few feet in a dreary parking garage.

Other amenities according to listing information are a wine cellar, a 616 square foot home office, a 22-foot long dining room, a chilled water system, wet bar, an interior storage closet, and a multi-zoned cooling systems. The Huntingdon offers residents doormen, concierge services, valet parking, a swimming pool and spa, an exercise room and a "party room."

Although Miz Lay may (or may not) be a coupon clipper now, we're quite sure that back when she and the Mister were flying high on all that Enron money they were not the sort of folks who cut corners on anything. Even though Your Mama does not understand nor cotton the sort of fussy, faux-Old-World day-core in Miz Lay's penthouse, we're quite sure everything is of the highest or at least the most expensive quality.

A wee peep and poke around property records shows that Kenny and Linda Lay began their great real estate sell of in 2000 when they sold a number of properties in Houston to family members. In February of 2002, the couple sold a vacant lot in Aspen, CO for $2,150,000 and, also in February of 2002, they sold a 7 bedroom and 8.5 pooper property on Aspen's Shady Lane for an even-steven $10,000,000. The following year, in March of 2003, they sold another Aspen property, this time a 4 bedroom and 5.5 pooper property on Spring Street that fetched $4,529,000. At about the same time, mostly in 2002 and 2003, the couple also sold a whole mess of investment properties in and around Houston and Galveston.

According to an earlier report, Miz Lay is looking for a smaller home. Since court records related to Mister Lay's conviction are sealed, it's unknown whether Miz Lay will pocket any of the proceeds from the sale of her palatial penthouse or if she'll be required to turn it over to the authorities who in turn will use the money to pay back all those thousands of retirement age folks who used to work at Enron who now have to bag groceries and work security at the damn mall in order to make ends meet.

Here's a rude little thought bubble that popped in to Your Mama's pea brain: Maybe Miz Lay can team up with Ruthie Madoff and start up some sort of support group at The Learning Annex for all the wives and widows of biznessmen who are punished and imprisoned for their corrupt and criminal ways. They can teach all the other women living with reduced circumstances due to the errors of their huzbands money grubbing ways how to clip coupons, find their local Sears or Wal-Mart, and to open a can of tuna fish without the assistance of a woman named Inez. There's a way to make lemons out of lemonade, right?

source: realtor.com

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