Inside billionaire Ken Griffin’s massive Palm Beach holdings

The Daytona Beach native, who just paid $99M for an estate, bought his first land parcel on the island in 2012 for $130M

Sep.September 11, 2019 11:30 AM
Ken Griffin over the island of Palm Beach

Ken Griffin over his Blossom Way properties in Palm Beach

UPDATED, Sept. 12, 1:30 p.m.: Hedge funder Ken Griffin’s recent $99 million purchase of a Palm Beach estate highlighted his insatiable appetite for ultra-luxury homes, but it also added to his growing collection of properties in one of South Florida’s glitziest towns.

The deal brings the Citadel founder and CEO’s total investment in Palm Beach — an 18-mile long barrier island — to at least $350 million.

Rendering of the Griffin wing

Rendering of the Griffin wing

Citadel is headquartered in Chicago but Griffin has strong ties to South Florida. He is a Daytona Beach native, and has donated $20 million to the ongoing expansion and renovation of the Norton Museum of Art in nearby West Palm Beach. His gift, from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, easily made him the largest donor to the museum, which focuses on American, European and Chinese art.

In South Florida, Griffin also paid $60 million for two penthouse units at Faena House, the ultra-luxury condo building that developer Alan Faena, backed by Ukrainian-born American billionaire Len Blavatnik, built in Miami Beach. That’s besides his massive home purchases in Manhattan, Chicago and London.

Griffin’s first big play in Palm Beach was in 2012, when he spent $130 million to acquire the four residential properties at 20, 30, 40 and 50 Blossom Way. He now owns all the properties along that street — along with some of the surrounding homes. That total alone gives him 19 acres. Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates Inc. brokers most of his deals on the island. He could not be reached for comment.

Most of those properties have since been demolished. While his plans are unknown, Griffin could likely build a mega mansion on the land.

After that purchase seven years ago, he acquired another house on Blossom Way for $15.2 million, and got his plans approved for a single-story house on the 11.5 acres of land. But that was just an appetizer.

For the main course, he paid $85 million a few months later for another oceanfront mansion.

The price tag for his $99 million mansion purchase, which was reported last week, is not that unusual for Palm Beach. Over the summer, an unknown buyer paid $105 million for the former estate of Broadway producer Terry Allen Kramer, marking a new record for a single-family home sales on the island. That record is expected to be broken when beauty mogul Sydell Miller sells her estate at 1415 South Ocean Boulevard.

Here’s a look at Griffin’s timeline in Palm Beach:

Late 2012. Griffin made a splash when he spent $130 million on the first Blossom Way assemblage, acquiring the four properties using a Delaware LLC, which allow buyers and sellers to conceal the true buyers. The homes totaled about 6.5 acres of land.

July 2015. Tracy Kamenstein Markin sold the house at 70 Blossom Way for $15.2 million to CPPB Holdings, tied to Griffin. The property added 1.45 acres to Griffin’s holdings at the time.

July 2016. Blossom Way Holdings LLC, a company affiliated with Griffin and his hedge fund Citadel, scored two loans for the land from JPMorgan Chase Bank totaling $114 million. 

August 2016. A month later, Griffin secured approval for a long, 11.5-acre waterfront Palm Beach estate from the town’s architectural commission. The “family-oriented” beach house would have included 33,500 square feet of space on the ground floor and a 22,300-square-foot service basement, two swimming pools, a service building, guard house, and 875 feet of beachfront. The single-story house would have had floor-to-ceiling windows and have been set back nearly 290 feet from South Ocean Boulevard. Griffin would later scrap these plans.

January 2017. The financier ramped up his spending again, dropping $85 million for the oceanfront 4.18-acre estate at 1290 South Ocean Boulevard. At the time, it was the second-highest price in a single real estate transaction in Palm Beach history, a record that has since been broken multiple times. A month later, Griffin closed on a $51.3 million mortgage for the property, also from JP Morgan.

April 2018. The hedge fund honcho shut down construction after budget projections for the house came in “substantially higher than initial estimates,” according to a town official’s email, reported by the Palm Beach Daily News. In its place, Griffin is reportedly planning to build a new property, although no plans have been filed.

May 2018. Griffin pays $20.25 million for the estate at 10 Blossom Way, adding nearly 2 acres to his holdings.

April 2019. In April, the town of Palm Beach approved the demolition of the lakefront house at 1285 South Ocean Boulevard, according to Palm Beach records.

September 2019. McCourt sold his 18,452-square-foot oceanfront estate at 60 Blossom Way to Griffin’s Providencia Partners LLC. The mansion was built in 2008, and has eight bedrooms, pools, a separate dining pavilion, and hardwood and marble finishes. It sits on 3.6 acres of land.

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