“Empire” mansion back on market with price cut in Barrington Hills

Home is now listed at just under $7.9 million after sellers backed out of an auction set to sell it last summer

Mansion From “Empire” TV Show Back on Market With Price Cut
Michael LaFido of LPT Realty and 45 Lakeview Lane (VHT Studios/Michael LaFido)

A Barrington Hills mansion featured on the TV show “Empire” is back on the market after another significant price cut and a failed auction last summer. 

In the decade since the home was listed in 2013 with an asking price of $15.3 million, the price has been cut nearly in half, with an ask just shy of $7.9 million, or $449 per square foot. 

The 17,600-square-foot estate at 45 Lakeview Lane has gone under contract with prospective buyers twice, in 2021 and 2022, before the deals fell through, listing agent Michael LaFido of LPT Realty said. 

It was once again set to sell at an optional auction held last July but the sellers, Sam and Geralyn Cecola, exercised their right to back out of the sale after the auction did not attract as many bidders as they were hoping for, LaFido said. 

Despite the promise of a “date-certain sale,” in which the highest bidder would win regardless of the price, the Cecolas backed out. 

“We were anticipating eight to 10 bidders, and we fell short of that number,” LaFido said. They received “pre-auction bids” from three bidders, offers that help set the minimum of what a seller can expect to get for their property, but the offers were not as high as anticipated.

“So, we decided not to roll the dice,” said LaFido, who has been working with the property for more than six years now. 

Auctions like the one held for the Barrington Hills home last summer, which was handled by Elite Auctions, give insight into the true market value of homes. 

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A Naperville mansion sold at auction last fall, for example, went for a record-setting $8.07 million, almost $868 per square foot, but that was a whopping $7 million less than its asking price when it first hit the market in 2021. 

In the case of the Barrington Hills home, the process has motivated the sellers to make some concessions: lowering the price and parting ways with their belongings, LaFido said. The Cecolas are now offering the home as a turnkey property, with almost all furniture included, barring some select art pieces and family heirlooms. 

They are hoping that will up the ante after previous buyers expressed an interest in acquiring the home fully furnished given its luxurious look, LaFido said. A prospective buyer who went under contract on the home a few years ago walked away after learning the furniture would not be included, he said. 

It’s tough to sell homes above $6 million in the Chicago suburbs “unless you’re on Lake Michigan or one of the North Shore properties,” he said. “It’s just a bit more challenging, with a smaller pool of buyers looking.”

Three of Chicago’s priciest residential sales last year were homes along the North Shore. 

The residential market is strong in other suburbs as well, but ultra-luxury properties are prone to prolonged sale processes and price reductions.

LaFido said he feels confident that the six-bed, 11-bath estate is now priced correctly, adding that he and his clients have been in conversation with a few prospective buyers.

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