Billionaire Ken Griffin seeks to move historic Miami villa

Citadel founder recently bought waterfront estate for record $106 million

Ken Griffin (Credit: Wikipedia)
Ken Griffin (Credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes the government is your enemy, sometimes it’s your friend.

Such is the case with billionaire Ken Griffin, who earlier this week sued the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department, and is looking for Miami officials to move a historic waterfront home he recently purchased, the Miami Herald reported.

Griffin, who owns the investment firm Citadel, in September bought the 4-acre estate from Miami businesswoman and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht for $106 million. The estate has two homes, including the historic, 109-year-old Villa Serena, which was once home to William Jennings Bryan, former U.S. secretary of state.

According to the Herald, a Griffin representative approached the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to explore taking the home, built in 1913, as a donation and moving it elsewhere.

The hope, according to Citadel spokesperson Zia Ahmed, is to open the home to the public. Griffin would keep the mansion that Arsht had constructed on the estate.

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“This is just an idea in the very early stages right now,” Ahmed told the Herald. “Ken’s team is exploring potential options wherein the general public would for the first time be able to visit and see this historic home at a different location.”

The proposed move has been met with opposition from several local preservationists, who said moving the home would strip it of its historic significance, not to mention the potential for damage or collapse.

“This is unbelievable,” Paul George, resident historian at the HistoryMiami museum, told the outlet. “It’s just so ludicrous. Everything is up for grabs here. William Jennings Bryan was a larger-than-life figure in U.S. history. It’s a very significant house. It’s very entrenched in that location. If you take it away from its original location, you take a lot of its historic context away. It’s just crazy.”

Griffin, who recently moved Citadel headquarters to Miami, has been extremely active on the real estate front, from the Magic City to New York.

Last Friday, after months of discussions, Vornado Realty Trust and Rudin Management announced they had reached a deal with Citadel for the developers to construct a 1.7-million-square-foot tower on a site at 350 Park Avenue and East 52nd Street.

Ted Glanzer