Monday, November 25, 2013

Did Angie Jolie Buy Fiancée Brad P. A Private Island?

International property gossips have gone hog wild over the rumors and reports (and reports of rumors) that Oscar-nominated actress Angelina Jolie bought her über-famous fiancée, Brad Pitt, a private island on small and scenic Lake Mahopac (NY) with a Frank Lloyd Wright pedigree. So the stories go, the hands on super mommy of six and globe-trotting do-gooder shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of £12.2 million for the 11-ish acre island, an amount that Your Mama's handy-dandy currently conversion contraption indicates amounts to 19,790,600 U.S. dollars, at today's rates.*

However, the daughter of the current owner says all the hullabaloo just ain't true. In fact, the daughter told a local reporter that, as far as she knows, neither Angelina Jolie nor Brad Pitt have ever visited the island. And—let's get real, children—if Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt and/or any of their representatives visited your parents' $20 million private island, don't you think they might have mentioned it?

Petra Island—sometimes Petre Island, is about 50 miles or 15 minutes by helicopter from Midtown Manhattan and is currently owned by retired local sheet metal contract Joseph Massaro who acquired the heart-shaped islet in 1996 for $700,000. At the time of Mister Massaro's purchase the island had only a (rather intriguing) 1,200 square foot cottage (above) designed and built in 1950 by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the island's previous owner, an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi. Mister Lloyd Wright had also designed a much larger, approximately 5,000 square foot main residence for Mister Chahroudi but the plans went unfinished and was the residence realized as Mister Chahroudi wasn't prepared to spend the $50,000 Mister Lloyd Wright estimated for construction.

As part of his 1996 purchase of the island Mister Massarro received Mister Lloyd Wright's renderings and floor plans for the unrealized main residence and subsequently hired architect and Frank Lloyd Wright historian Thomas A. Heinz to complete and execute the unfinished design.

The resulting residence, an angled and muscular mix of concrete, wood, stone and glass was completed in 2008. The result—at least to those not attuned to the nuances of FLW's signature architectural contrivances and conventions—appears much in line with a FLW-designed house: There are wrap-around and cantilevered decks galore; half a dozen monolithic fireplaces, both indoors and out; large if awkwardly shaped public space, not always seamlessly incorporated topography (i.e. boulders); and a ceiling of interlocking triangular skylights; long rows of mahogany-framed glass doors that allow for a smooth integration between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The existing house is not without its critics who scream and stomp their feet that the design is not pure and does not hew closely enough to Frank Lloyd Wright's original intentions and/or architectural conventions. Indeed, to date the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has not certified the house as a Frank Lloyd Wright design, a snub that has long infuriated the current owner who is, technically, only supposed to refer or market the main residence as "inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright."

Whether Miz Jolie and Mister Pitt bought Petra Island—and it appears they did not—they still maintain an international collection of residences that include (but may not be limited to) a multi-residence compound in Los Angeles's Los Feliz area, an oceanfront compound near Santa Barbara (CA), an historic mansion in New Orleans (LA), a rustic spread in Cambodia, and Chateau Miraval, their 1,200-ish acre spread in the Provence region of France.

*Current digital listings for Petra Island don't reveal the asking price but in late 2012 it was widely reported to have a $20,000,000 price tag.

listing photos: Private Islands Online

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