The Real Deal Miami

Celebs keep buying, selling homes in SoFla

Bill Gates, Rosie O’Donnell highlight notable 2013 transactions

December 23, 2013 02:15PM
By Eric Kalis

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Clockwise from top left: Jennifer, Bill and Melinda Gates; the Gates family's Wellington home; Christian Slater; Billy Joel and Rosie O'Donnell

Clockwise from top left: Jennifer, Bill and Melinda Gates; the Gates family’s Wellington home; Christian Slater; Billy Joel and Rosie O’Donnell

High-end homes fronting the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and Intracoastal Waterway continued to draw celebrities to the region in 2013.

And with the prices on the rise, many other boldfaced names opted to cash out, though not all turned a profit as handsome as the homes they sold.

Among the sellers was embattled New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. The Real Deal included A-Rod’s $30 million sale of his Miami Beach mansion in our breakdown of the year’s most expensive deals. Below are some additional notable South Florida residential transactions involving celebrities.

Bill Gates buys home in Palm Beach horse country

Not only did Bill Gates reclaim his position as the world’s richest man, the Microsoft founder acquired a Wellington home for $8.7 million in June.

Gates and his wife Melinda purchased a four-bedroom, 7,230-square-foot home in the horse-centered village in Palm Beach County. The family had paid exorbitant monthly rents for the home before wisely deciding to buy it outright. The property includes show jumping training grounds and two barns with room for 20 horses.

The Gates family is known for spending winters in Wellington, where daughter Jennifer participates in the annual Winter Equestrian Festival.

Rory McIlroy invests heavily in Palm Beach County

Rory McIlroy, one of the world’s best golfers, decided to join his many peers who own high-end homes in Palm Beach County.

The two-time major winner paid $12 million in two separate Palm Beach Gardens transactions in the past year. First, McIlroy spent $9.5 million on an Old Gate Lane home bordering the Intracoastal Waterway at the end of December 2012. Then, the Northern Ireland native paid $2.3 million for a vacant property next door in September.

McIlroy followed the lead of golfing buddies Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood, who also live in the area.

Miami Heat’s Shane Battier gets Coral Gables residence

Miami Heat forward Shane Battier, a title winner in college and professional hoops, made his commitment to South Florida clear by purchasing a Coral Gables home for $3.2 million in July.

Before Battier’s acquisition of the 4320 Santa Maria Street house near the 15th hole of the Riviera Country Club, nervous Heat fans wondered if he might suit up for another NBA team this season. Battier put a smaller home in Coconut Grove on the market in June. That news got the rumor mill churning about a potential trade from the Heat.

Battier’s new home was built in 1926. The colonial-style residence has five bedrooms and wraparound balconies.

Christian Slater pays $2.2M for Coconut Grove estate

Veteran actor Christian Slater, known for his role in the 1980s dark comedy “Heathers,” plunked down $2.2 million for a Coconut Grove home known as Villa Dolce Far Niente in May.

Slater and then fiancée Brittany Lopez (the couple married earlier this month) purchase the three-bedroom estate at 3618 Saint Gaudens Road. Built during the 1920s, the home was first put on the market in January with a $2.6 million asking price. It last sold for $1.8 million in August 2011.

The property includes a guesthouse, misted pool and patio area.

“Piano Man” Billy Joel unloads Miami Beach home

One of the most recognizable individuals to sell a South Florida home in 2013 was singer Billy Joel.

The “Piano Man” sold a Mediterranean-style house at 82 La Gorce Circle for $13.75 million in an all-cash deal that closed in June. The home was built in 2004 and has nearly 9,000 square feet of living space. It includes seven bedrooms and eight-and-a-half bathrooms.

Joel owned the home for six years and essentially broke even on the sale. He initially put the property on the market in May 2012 for $14.75 million.

The reported buyer of Joel’s home is also a prominent name: Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod’s and a majority stakeholder in Saks Fifth Avenue.

Rosie O’Donnell sells Star Island mansion

Actress and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell also had to reduce her asking price to complete the sale of a high-end Miami Beach home.

O’Donnell sold her Star Island mansion for $16.5 million, $3 million below the original list price, in June. She bought the 43 Star Island Drive property for $6.8 million in 199 from the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. The 12-bedroom home was put on the market in April, just days after O’Donnell’s “The Rosie Show” on Oprah Winfrey’s television network was cancelled.

A few months after the Star Island sale, O’Donnell was rumored to be buying a Palm Beach home from “Grease” star Olivia Newton-John. But a contractor committed suicide on the property in August, and O’Donnell reportedly walked away from the deal in September.

O.J. Simpson loses Kendall home to foreclosure

This falls below the high-end housing arena, but any list of South Florida residential transactions involving celebrities would be incomplete without including O.J. Simpson losing his Kendall home to foreclosure.

While Simpson serves a federal prison sentence in Nevada, his home was seized by JPMorgan Chase through an October foreclosure auction. The football legend and former actor lived at the 9450 Southwest 112th Street residence after being acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1995.

Simpson stopped paying the mortgage on the house three years ago, setting the stage for the eventual foreclosure filing and sale.

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