Baking powder heiress sells Palm Beach house for $16M

Helen Ziegler bought home for $14.9M in 2022, after splitting from Olympic sailor husband

Baking Powder Heiress Sells Palm Beach House for $16M
449 Australian Avenue in Palm Beach and Shelly Newman of the Corcoran Group (Google Maps, Corcoran Group)

Helen M. Ziegler, an heiress to a century-old fortune, sold her fully furnished Palm Beach house for $15.9 million.

Records show Ziegler, formerly Helen Ziegler Benjamin, sold the house at 449 Australian Avenue to Southern Mark LLC, a Delaware entity. Wisconsin-based attorney D. Clarke Sugar signed on behalf of the buyer. 

Shelly Newman of the Corcoran Group represented both the buyer and seller in the deal. Newman confirmed the buyer is from California, but declined to comment on their identity.

Ziegler’s family made its money from baking powder, corn and cigars. Her great-grandfather, William Ziegler, co-founded Royal Baking Powder Company in 1866, and it became one of the largest baking powder producers in the country, according to published reports. He then bought American Maize-Products Company, a corn producer. Helen M. Ziegler’s grandfather, William Ziegler Jr., was its longtime chairman, and her father, William Ziegler III, led the company after him. 

During Ziegler III’s tenure, American Maize acquired the tobacco company Swisher. In 1995, the family sold American Maize, but retained control of Swisher and took it public in 1996. It remains one of the biggest cigar producers in the world, according to Cigar Aficionado. Forbes reported the family’s fortune totaled $2.8 billion in 2015. That was the same year Helen Ziegler’s brother, Peter, suffered an accident that paralyzed him below the neck. He died two years later, and left his shares in one of the family’s companies to a charity supporting paralyzed individuals and their caregivers –– about $184 million, the Stamford Advocate reported. Helen Ziegler sued unsuccessfully to block the donation.

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She bought the Palm Beach house for $14.9 million in 2022, records show, after splitting with her husband, Olympic sailor Stephen Benjamin. He sold the couple’s former Gulf Stream home for $16.5 million a few months later. 

The Australian Avenue house was built in 2017 on 0.2 acres, property records show. The home includes four bedrooms, five bathrooms, one half-bathroom and a pool. She listed it for $17 million in November, Redfin shows. 

Newman said she “knew it was going to sell this season.”

“Good inventory is going to sell, it’s not going to sit there,” she said.

The deal follows some major Ziegler family sales in their home state of Connecticut. In 2016, the Zieglers listed their 63-acre private island for $120 million. Known as Great Island, just off the coast of Darien, they had owned it for more than a century. They sold part of the island to the town of Darien for $85 million in 2023, and earlier this month it opened to the public as a park, the Darien Times reported. In December, the family sold their adjacent 52-acre Ziegler Farm to an unknown buyer for $57.5 million, according to the outlet.