BET co-founder sells Wellington equestrian estate for $22M
Grand Prix Village estate spans 14.2 acres, with 20-stall horse barn and jumping field
BET co-founder and America’s first Black woman billionaire, Sheila Johnson, sold her longtime Wellington equestrian estate for $21.7 million, more than a year after first listing it for $35 million.
Records show Johnson’s 3531 Olde Hampton Drive LLC sold the 14.2-acre estate to Shady Grove Road Commercial Properties LLC, a Delaware entity with Michael Hall as manager. The true buyer is unknown.
Hall is founder and CEO of Nashville-based Shady Grove Road Investments. A spokesperson for the firm declined to comment on the purchase.
Maria Mendelsohn of Douglas Elliman represented both the buyer and seller in the deal.
Johnson co-founded the cable network BET in 1979 with her then-husband Robert Johnson. The Johnsons sold the network to Viacom for $3 billion in 2001, minting them both billionaire status, and making Sheila Johnson the first Black woman billionaire. The pair split in 2002, and so did their wealth. Johnson sold her shares in BET and launched her hospitality company, Salamander Hotels and Resorts. Salamander’s portfolio now includes seven hotels in Palm Harbor, Florida; Middleburg, Virginia; Charleston; Aspen; Washington, D.C.; Jamaica and Anguilla, the company’s website shows. Forbes estimates her current net worth at $780 million.
Johnson’s daughter, Paige Johnson, is an accomplished equestrian and showjumper. She has competed in Wellington for years, and trained at her mother’s estate, which is known as Salamander Farm.
Salamander Farm’s 14.2 acres span three parcels, the first of which Sheila and Robert Johnson bought in 2000 for $940,500, according to property records. Sheila Johnson took sole ownership of the property following their 2002 split, and promptly bought the adjacent two parcels for $3 million, bringing her total amount spent on Wellington land to $3.9 million, records show.
The main house on the property spans 7,000 square feet, with 13 bedrooms, seven bathrooms and one half-bathroom, according to the listing. The property also includes equestrian amenities like a 20-stall barn, a covered horse walker, a grass-covered jumping field and a sand arena, the listing shows.
Johnson first listed the property for $35 million in December 2021, Redfin shows. She dropped the asking price to $29.9 million in November, ultimately selling at an $8.2 million discount off the last listing price.
The estate is in Wellington’s Grand Prix Village, a neighborhood coveted for its proximity to Wellington International, the showgrounds that host the Wellington Equestrian Festival every winter.
During festival season, Wellington is the heart of the equestrian world. Many riders relocate to Wellington to train full-time during competition season, fueling the market for equestrian estates in the area.
JM Family executive Daniel Chait and his wife, rider Amy Chait, bought an equestrian estate for $12.3 million in December. In October, billionaire Netscape co-founder Jim Clark bought an equestrian estate for $12 million. His wife, Kristy Hinze-Clark, competes in Wellington. Bill Gates sold his equestrian estate for $26 million in March of last year. His daughter, Jennifer Gates, and her husband Nayel Nassar, are both accomplished equestrians.