On the face of it, the white house with the imposing portico on South Ocean Drive is not very different from most of the others in Fort Lauderdale’s upscale Harbor Beach neighborhood, where residents belong to the Surf Club and private docks are common.
Inside the five-bedroom waterfront house, however, pianos, electric guitars and musical memorabilia hint at the identity of its owner — the singer and actor David Cassidy, who became famous in the 1970s as a cast member of the television sitcom “The Partridge Family.”
Hanging on a wall of his office near the kitchen is a LIFE magazine cover from Oct. 29, 1971, showing a smiling, 21-year-old version of himself, guitar in hand, with the headline, “David Cassidy: Teenland’s Heartthrob.”
Cassidy and his third wife, Susan Shifrin, bought the 6,500-square-foot house in 2001 and renovated it, but are putting the property and most of its contents up for auction on Sept. 9 as part of their divorce.
Cassidy, 65, has voluntarily submitted his assets to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding as a way of settling the couple’s affairs, according to Francis D. Santos, executive vice president of the Fisher Auction Company, which is handling the sale.
“He’s ready to downsize and doesn’t have the need for such a large home,” Santos told The Real Deal on Wednesday during a tour of the house, which Cassidy and his wife fixed up so extensively that it required a new certificate of occupancy in 2002. Last year, property taxes on the site amounted to $32,283.
The assessed value of the almost half-acre site at 1600 South Ocean Drive is $1.8 million, said Santos, who noted that Cassidy placed the property on the market about a year ago for $4.5 million. The asking price was later lowered to $3.2 million.
“They went through a couple of contracts, but wanted to accelerate the process — hence the bankruptcy and the auction,” said Santos, whose firm does not plan to insist on a minimum opening bid. To qualify, bidders must prove that they have access to at least $3 million.
Santos noted that, despite the negative connotations often attached to bankruptcies, Cassidy is not broke. “There is a mortgage on the property,” he said. “In lieu of dealing with the bank, he chose to deal with the court. Even billionaires file for bankruptcy — you get rid of your bad debt and you keep the good debt.”
And yet in February, when Cassidy filed for protection from his creditors, the magazine US Weekly obtained documents that showed him owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to, among others, Wells Fargo ($292,598), American Express ($21,952) and Citi ($17,150).
The last few years have also been difficult for Cassidy on a personal level, with three arrests for drunk driving since 2010.
At his house, in which Cassidy still lives, no such turmoil is in evidence. The luxurious touches include polished heart-of-pine floors, recessed lighting, wrought-iron chandeliers, ornate fireplaces, and a large oil painting — executed in evidently happier times — of Cassidy on a horse, serenading his wife and son, who are listening from a balcony.
An original Peter Max painting, encased in bubble wrap, is propped against a wall. There are six bathrooms, a marble chess table, several decorative metal birdcages, an exercise room filled with equipment, and a number of sculptures, photographs and paintings of horses, apparently a passion of Cassidy’s.
The property has a dock with a boat lift and more than 130 feet of waterfront on the Stranahan River, as well as a swimming pool and a gazebo.