heads up: Eclipse enters Palm Beach Inlet

Michael Rafferty, IYC broker, wrote: “This 533-foot yacht came in the Palm Beach inlet today at 1220 hours. It is owned by Roman Abramovich. It is the second largest yacht in the world and largest to ever come to Palm Beach.”


According to SuperYachtFan:  “Eclipse is known as ‘the USD 1.5 billion yacht,’ although her real cost price was considerably less. Her original contract price was around EUR 400 million, or USD 500 million. Superyacht Eclipse was the largest yacht in the world, but this title is now reserved for superyacht Azzam.”

Exteriors and interiors were designed by Terence Disdale. Eclipse can sleep 36 guests in 18 rooms that include a master suite and 17 VIP staterooms. It  can accommodate a crew of 70.

YachtCharterFleet says it can be chartered and lists amenities: conference room, movie theater, children’s playroom, gym, Jacuzzi, elevator, swimming pool, dance floor, tender garage, swim platform, helicopter hanger, underwater lights, spa, sauna, helicopter landing pad, and beauty salon.

Other facts, according to SuperYachtFan: Gossip has it that Eclipse has an anti paparazzi system that employs a laser that can detect and target a digital camera’s electronic light sensor. It then emits a beam that  overexposes the photo.  Built in secrecy, Eclipse was delivered by Blohm and Voss in 2010.  Early 2013, Eclipse arrived in New York and docked in Manhattan.  Early 2015, Eclipse was seen in a drydock at the Blohm+Voss yard in Hamburg for a refit.

Roman Abramovich is the 12th richest Russian with an estimated net worth of $9.1 billion (May 2017). In 1988 he and his wife set up a company making dolls. Within a few years he also started investing in other businesses. From 1992 to 1995, Abramovich founded five companies that conducted resale, produced consumer goods, and acted as intermediaries, specializing in the trading of oil and oil products. Abramovich set up and liquidated at least 20 companies during the early 1990s, in sectors as diverse as tire re treading and bodyguard recruitment. In 1995, Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, an associate of Boris Yeltsin, acquired the controlling interest in the large oil company, Sibneft. Abramovich sold his stake in Russian Aluminum to billionaire Oleg Deripaska and his stake in Sibneft to Gazprom for $13 billion in 2005. Abramovich owns the U.K.’s Chelsea soccer team, which he acquired in 2003. Abramovich owns a private jet Boeing 767, and he owns a Gulfstream G650. Roman Abramovich also owns the gas turbine powered yacht Sussurro.

He was married to Dasha Zhukova, whose father is oligarch Alexander Zhukov; they separated in August 2017.

John Rivers Collection

Almost 30 years ago, John M. Rivers Jr. — a member of a Charleston, S.C., family that goes back to 1670 — began collecting significant examples of his city’s decorative and fine arts.

“I noticed that the earliest known signed piece of Charleston’s furniture was sold to an outfit in North Carolina, and I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s our history, not theirs, and it ought to be here in Charleston.’

“Some of the finest silver and furniture in the 18th and 19th century were made right here in Charleston — 100 cabinetmakers were active from early 1700-1820, and silver was made from 1700 to the 1920s. I thought it was important to keep them here or bring them back,” he said.

Rivers’ biggest find, however, was an embroidery that had been stored away in an attic of an apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It is being shown at the Society of Four Arts as part of “An Eye for Opulence: Charleston through the Lens of the Rivers Collection,” which opened Sunday. The exhibit includes more than 200 art and artifacts from Charleston’s Colonial through Antebellum periods.

“My focus was on furniture and silver,” Rivers said. “Why did I want embroidery? And yet after I bought it and it was taken out of the frame, we found it was one of the most valuable things we could have purchased. Objects like this tell stories about people.”

Brandy Culp, curator of Historic Charleston Foundation, describes the embroidery as “extremely rare.”

“ Most embroidery is allegorical or religious, but this is a painted- and silk-embroidered portrait of a young Charleston lady, Emma Louisa Lanneau, before her marriage to Benjamin Gildersleve in 1828,” said Culp, guest curator for the Four Arts exhibition.

“She’s wearing a pelisse, a particular type of overcoat. It’s a cosmopolitan setting, a lovely neoclassical interior and she’s sitting at a table with a map and globe, and she’s holding a cartographer’s compass and it’s pointed to Charleston.”

Upon removing the frame, they found that Lanneau had signed the linen stripping she had used to stretch the fabric. “It was an amazing discovery, a moment I’ll never forget,” Culp said.

Accompanying furniture and silver from the Rivers Collection, significant art and artifacts from the Gibbes Museum, Historic Charleston Foundation, Drayton Hall and Charleston Museum also are on exhibit.

“This is the largest showing of Charleston’s fine and decorative art, and for some of the objects, it’s the first time they’ve been out of the city,” Culp said. “For this exhibition, I chose objects that would give viewers a sense of Charleston’s past and tell its story, which is one of opulence and diversity.”

‘Object of excess’

A Federal Period secretary with linen press, attributed to cabinetmaker Jacob Sass from the Rivers Collection exemplifies the high skill level of artisans from Charleston’s workshops.

Made of mahogany and mahogany veneer with cedrela, red cedar, white pine and cypress, the upper case has small storage drawers, pigeonholes for letters and secret drawers. The pullout drawers beneath were for textiles and clothing.

Twenty years ago, Rivers found its sibling — a linen press also made by Sass.

“I bought it out of a Ford dealership in Kingston, North Carolina, and now it’s with its companion piece. … To have them together as they were at Sass’s shop 230 years ago, that’s neat.”

Another piece of note from the Rivers Collection is a Rococo-style mahogany kettle stand with piecrust top, the only known example of that form made in Charleston.

“The kettle stand is an object of excess. Most objects had multifunctional uses, but the kettle stand, the mate to the tea table, had only one use,” Culp said. “It was meant to hold an expensive water kettle. This was part of Charleston’s tea ceremony, an important mode of entertaining here.”

Dark times to enlightenment

Charleston artisans produced many fine artifacts, but few survived. Some were lost due to fires, hurricanes and tornadoes. Some were lost through looting when the city was invaded by the British as well as federal occupation during the Civil War. And then poverty set in after the Civil War and heirlooms were sold.

“While Charleston was the wealthiest colony in the Colonial Period, the Antebellum Period was the end of opulence,” Culp said. “After the Civil War, the city was forever changed.”

After the 1876 Centennial, Charleston became a site for budding antique dealers and objects left private collections. Case in point, a neoclassical-style painting from the Historic Charleston Foundation, the portrait of Mary Rutledge Smith and her son, Edward, which was painted by George Romney in England.

Mary Rutledge Smith (1747-1837) sat 15 times for Romney between January and May of 1786. She was the wife of Colonel Roger Smith (1745-1805), and their son, Edward, was born in England in 1785. The portrait was painted during their stay in England while traveling abroad. When they returned to Charleston, they brought the painting back with them and it was passed down through their family.

This portrait was exhibited throughout the 19th century in Charleston and was well known in the city.

“Because of the family’s financial difficulties in 1888, to paraphrase from a letter a family member wrote to a New York antique dealer: ‘my family is sick; we have no money and we are starving,’ and she had to sell the portrait,” Culp said. “It was shipped to New York, then to England and was sold. For the next 87 years, it remained in the Swinton Collection at Masham, England. A hundred years later, it was purchased for Historic Charleston Foundation.”

A silver water pitcher, circa 1860, engraved with a gothic initial “B,” and marked by Hayden & Whilden pours out its tale, too.

The actual makers, Augustus Hayden and William Whilden, have a great story, Culp said.

“The two individuals operating Hayden & Whilden, both enlisted in the army in Civil War, and after the war, they established separate businesses across the street from each other and both businesses thrived from 18th century into the early 20th century.”

Today, Charleston thrives again, with a good economy and first-class cultural venues, Rivers said.

“So often people say that Charleston is like Paris, Prague, a city of light, but it’s a city of enlightenment,” he said.

Mary Rutledge   embroidery lo

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News

History for what its worth

Hard to believe that the site of Palm Beach’s posh Everglades Club was once a tourist attraction showcasing a pit full of alligators and crocodiles, but so it was.

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Visitors paid a quarter to ride a chauffeured three-wheeled whicker chair along the meandering Jungle Trail to watch Warren Frazee, known as Joe Frazier, wrestle large reptiles, said Palm Beach historian James Ponce.
“That area was very low and a virtual jungle, and someone had cut a path through it from County Road to Alligator Joe’s. When Palm Beach’s Royal Park addition was platted in 1913, Jungle Trail became Worth Avenue, named for General William Jenkins Worth.”

In 1918, Singer Sewing Machine heir, Paris Singer, bought the alligator farm, hiring his friend, architect Addison Mizner, to build a convalescent hospital for veterans on the site. But World War I ended before the facility opened, and the Touchstone Convalescent Club was repurposed as the Everglade’s Club, captivating the town’s affluent social set who quickly sought membership.

“Mizner’s unique version of Mediterranean architecture caused controversy,” Worth Avenue tour guide Rick Rose said. “People were used to British Colonial and Mizner’s designs included lots of styles, blending different heights and different angles, but people loved the hodgepodge.”

The club was an immediate success, and Singer asked Mizner to supervise the construction of 12 “Maisonettes” to the east of the club, with storefronts on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. Soon after, Via Mizner and Via Parigi were built just across the street. A shopping mecca incorporating romantic architecture, enchanting passageways and intimate courtyards, the vias were the perfect setting for charming boutiques.
Early shops included Jay Thorpe, a fancy ready-to-wear shop; Exotic Gardens landscape company; Catherine Mac Veady’s shop, which sold hats and gowns; William Beaumgarten interior decorators; John and Annie Clifton’s realty; Feigh’s barbershop; Maria van Hausen’s corsetry shop; Etta Menko’s antique shop; and Darrah & Darrah silversmiths.

Within the decade, Saks Fifth Avenue leased the building where Ralph Lauren is now, and The Cadillac Motor Company occupied the space that the haberdashery Maus & Hoffman now occupies.

As Worth Avenue became the heart of the island, houses along the street slowly converted to storefronts, and by 1940, several Fifth-Avenue stores with Palm Beach addresses – the Elizabeth Arden Salon, Bonwit-Teller, Hattie Carnegie and Cartier – relocated there from the town’s older shopping areas.

The restaurant Ta-boo arrived in 1941 and Aldo Gucci opened his first store on the avenue in the 1950s.

“At that time, both sides of the road were solidly built until the last block on the south side facing County Road,” Ponce recalled. “That was a parking lot, and cross from it was the Standard Oil gas station.
“The town folded up by mid-April,” he added. “They even took the streetlights down.”

In the 1960s Ta-boo was the first to stay open year ’round, followed by Saks Fifth Avenue and The Breakers hotel, “and that was due to the advent of air-conditioning,” Rose explained.

Over the years, old buildings were replaced with new at the east end of the avenue, making room for The Esplanade (now 150 Worth), a two-story open-air promenade, and the premiere upscale department store, Neiman Marcus.
Some aspects of the avenue never change. Elegant clientele with discriminating taste know exactly what they want, and Worth Avenue merchants understanding that, offer tony labels as well as especially designed custom lines.

Today, the glamorous resort attracts a host of national and international visitors as well as winter residents who continue to establish multi-million-dollar seasonal homes on the island, and, as such, Worth Avenue carries a singular cachet that’s recognized the world over.

Considered one of the most famous retail destinations, famed purveyors of fine merchandise vie for the opportunity to display their pricey and precious wares along the thoroughfare. Among them are fabulous fine jewelry firms: Graff, noted for diamonds of extraordinary rarity and beauty; Cartier, crown jeweler to 19 royal houses; and Van Cleef & Arpel, a signature brand that bedazzles and beguiles with the choicest diamonds and gemstones in exquisite settings. Internationally renowned design houses proffer luxury wares that are the epitome of elegance and refinement, including Louis Vuitton, with its unparalleled hand-wrought luggage and iconic handbags, and Chanel, widely recognized for its exquisite haute couture and fashion accessories.

Currently, with more than 200 shops with a 60/40 mix of boutiques and corporate stores, “Worth Avenue is certainly not a concrete mall destination,” said Worth Avenue Association president, Gregg Beletsky, who is also general manager of Ralph Lauren’s Palm Beach shop. “It’s about 100 years of service, so to speak. You don’t get hand deliveries and personal note cards at big-box malls.

“We know our customers by name,” he said. “We offer an experience of community that’s been cultivated over the years, and that’s what makes us special and unique.”

In 2010 and 2011, the avenue’s $15.8 million renovation made shopping even more engaging, he said. “The mature trees, new sidewalks and benches along the street invite customers to sit down and take a moment to enjoy the beautiful landscape and architecture around them.”

Lisa Erdmann at Red Cross Designers Show House

As she embarks on her third decade in business, interior designer Lisa E. Erdmann follows an every-other-year schedule to decide when she will decorate a room in the American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, an annual fundraiser that benefits the charity’s Palm Beach Treasure Coast chapter. On alternate years, she focuses on a different organization, from creating a table setting for a benefit at the Norton Museum to helping the Center for Family Services renovate its West Palm Beach offices.

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But this year, she’s returning her time and design talents to the 39th annual Red Cross Show House at a historic lakefront home in Lake Worth, which hosts a preview party Wednesday before opening to the public the next day for a month of tours.

“My parents raised me to always know it was our responsibility to give back if we had the means to do so,” Erdmann says. “So picking a charity is important in my makeup, and working with the Red Cross is a pleasure. It’s so well received that it helps expose our design talent, and it benefits them, too.”

Giving back is not the only way of thinking Erdmann learned from her family.

Her livelihood centers around homes and design, and she comes from a land-development family with a name certainly familiar to Palm Beachers. Her grandfather, E. Llwyd Ecclestone Sr. — an early proponent of building luxury homes clustered around golf courses — developed the South Florida luxury communities Lost Tree Village and John’s Island. Her father, Palm Beacher E. Llwyd Ecclestone, developed PGA National and Old Port Cove. Her brother, E. Llwyd Ecclestone III, meanwhile, has just finished work on a pair of houses he developed on speculation on the North End.

Erdmann graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont and attended Parsons School of Design while working in the design industry in New York City. Having also studied at Florida Institute of Technology, she founded Lisa Erdmann & Associates in 1994. It’s based at her family’s development offices in West Palm Beach but has also long maintained a Palm Beach address.

For this year’s show house, Erdmann is cooking up something special for the living room of the 1925 Mediterranean-style house known locally as the “Birthday Cake Castle,” although its formal name is La Florentia.

The 7,000 square foot house, recently bought by Scott Levine, was originally built by Sherman Childs. It received its Birthday Cake Castle nickname when former owner Upton Close gave the home to his wife, Margaret Fretter Nye, as a birthday present in 1954. With slender candle-like pillars, plaster swirls that resemble icing and graceful curves, it even has a birthday-cake stained-glass window in the stairwell.

Its grandly scaled rooms, casual spaces, and nooks and crannies of various shapes and sizes will be the basic ingredients for 20 designers, who will adorn them to create their own slices of decorating magic.

The living room’s existing architectural features were the starting points for Erdmann and her design team, Rhonda Grammer and Eden Tepper.

“It’s a gorgeous room, very big, with an original Adam fireplace, trefoil windows and original hardwood floor. It was a blank slate,” Erdmann says. “Since it’s an old house and has such wonderful character, we treated it like it was on the island of Palm Beach with a more formal living room.”

Erdmann often uses antiques as part as part of their design strategy, but in the Birthday Cake Castle they played an even more important role.

“This is the correct way the room should be presented. The home is Mediterranean, and the interior needs to be consistent with the exterior,” she explains.

Furniture pieces in the main seating area are grouped around the fireplace, a logical place to gather with family and friends. A second seating vignette, placed near an adjoining wall, consists of two wing chairs and a table, where the home’s residents might settle in for tea, or to play chess or backgammon.

Erdmann chose comfortable upholstered furniture, adding English antiques for a more formal feel. For balance, on the wall opposite the fireplace, she placed a Regency mahogany sideboard. Many of the antiques were supplied by The Elephant’s Foot on Antique Row in West Palm Beach.

Lamps and chandeliers are from Niermann Weeks. “The chandelier that swags either side of the fireplace are crystal and metal with a beautiful Venetian silver type of finish,” she says.

The color scheme is neutral with touches of icy blue. “A room this large needs color, but it has to be soft, which is more consistent with the formal style,” she says. “The room does not get lots of sunlight, and the icy blue brightens the room up.”

Fabrics are by Cowtan and Tout, and all the patterns are subtle, she says.

“There’s a soft pattern on the drapes, a small herringbone on one chair and a larger pattern on the wing chairs, but the room is not defined by pattern; it’s more defined by the mix of the pieces together.”

The goal, she adds, “was to be elegant. In a past showroom, I chose bold colors in the drapery fabric, to draw the eye to the view and away from the adjacent kitchen; that’s a little trick,” she says. “But this is an interior room, with no views. Even the stained glass keeps the eye inside, so the drapes are softer.”

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 27, 2015


a really haute ride

For a chic two-wheel ride that celebrates Italian Week Palm Beach in style, hop on the bella Benelli Classica eBike, which importer Larry Ferracci calls “an haute item.”

Benelli Classica eBike

It’s being shown from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Friday at MacKenzie-Childs Palm Beach, 238 Worth Ave.

Benelli, a century-old luxury Italian brand known for its motorcycles, launched the Classica in December. For Italian Week, it’s available for test rides and for sale with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Il Circolo Palm Beach.

The Classica, which is perfect for urban streets, has a top speed of 20 mph and a range up to 40 miles. It comes in white, cream and black with natural saddle-color leather handlebar grips and seat. Its features include a lightweight lithium battery pack, with Samsung cell technology, that is concealed in the front frame. Recharging is as easy as charging a laptop.

It can be ridden as a bike without pedal-assist, or its rider can twist the shift on the grip to engage the motor and change speeds. Its LCD display shows battery capacity, speed and total distance.

“It’s a classic Milan bicycle and that’s what appeals to me,” Ferracci said. “And I like to think of riding a bike as fun.

“The last time I was in Palm Beach at the Four Seasons, I rode one of their bikes south to Manalapan. It was a nice leisurely ride and I was cruising looking around, but it took longer coming back because of 10 to 15 mile-an-hour headwinds.”

That’s when he wished he was riding a Classica electric bike with pedal assist, he said.

How does the bike work? Just like a bike. With its step-through design, you just get on and pedal. Engaging the motor is intuitive, with the dash integrated into the handlebar. From the grip, twist it on, choose the speed level, pedal and the system activates. It also has a throttle for a burst of energy.

Benelli Classica eBikes, priced at $2,100, can be drop-shipped anywhere in the United States within three or four days. For information, visit www.benellibikesusa.com. They also are available at specialty bicycle dealers, including Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop.

Easily maintained and serviced, “it is 98 percent a standard bicycle, with most of its components available at any bike shop,” Ferracci said. “There are only three special components: the front motor, display and battery pack; and a bike shop can call us for those parts, and we’ll send them.

“Keep air in the tires and the batteries charged, and you’ll have an enjoyable time.”

Written for Palm Beach Daily News, February 26, 2015

Building Rybovich boats a family affair

Just up the waterway from Wayne Huizenga Jr.’s marina, Rybovich, is the Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens at 2175 Idlewild Road, where Michael and Dusty Rybovich build sportfishing boats in their family’s tradition.

Lizzie Bee

At 64 feet long overall with 18 feet of beam, Lizzie Bee’s walkaround design allows for fishing all the way around the boat. It has a 360-degree center-console fishing platform with a large raised helm deck, well-appointed cabin and four staterooms. “My wife, Pat, likes it as much as I do. She did all the interior design, and is just as enthusiastic,” Larry Wilson said. At its final sea trial, Wilson said: “We went from Palm Beach to Miami and back this morning. Ran perfectly: smooth, dry, fast, fuel efficient, quiet and a great ride.”[/caption]

After Huizenga Jr. bought the Rybovich Spencer boatyard in 2004, he hired Michael to head the new-construction end of the business, Michael explained.

“But when economy tanked, so did interest in new construction, and rather than fund a speculative new-construction venture, they decided to disband the company that was responsible for new construction.”

After he left Huizenga’s Rybovich, in 2011 he, with Palm Beacher Larry Wilson, acquired land owned by E&H Boat Works. Then, Michael sunk money into the rundown property, cleaning it up and rebuilding to create his new boat building, maintenance, modification and repairs company.

Family affair

Building Rybovich boats has been a family affair from its first boat, the 34-foot Miss Chevy II built for Charles Johnson in 1947, and it still is.

Dusty and Michael Rybovich wp
Dusty and Michael Rybovich, photo courtesy of Robert Holland

“In 1975 when I was 19, I was officially placed on the payroll,” Michael said. “I worked on a bottom crew. They haul, launch the boats, clean the bottoms, pull propellers, anything to do with work below the waterline.”

His son, Dusty, was born to the business. Dusty’s favorite Rybovich boat is hull No. 110, a 33-footer built at Ryco Marine in 1987. Dusty helped put new engines in it when he was in high school, he said. “Dad told me he was doing that boat’s sea trial, when mom went into labor with me.”

Like his father, he worked in the boat yard when he was in high school. “I’d come in after school and take care of all the messy jobs: painting in small areas, cleaning up, (doing) basic carpentry, digging through rotten wood, scraping barnacles.”

Undaunted, after high school, he went to Webb Institute in New York state and is now a naval architect and marine engineer. He joined his father in January 2013. “I guess being in the family business was what I’ve always wanted,” Dusty said.

Now with renovations complete, Michael Rybovich & Sons is up and running in all areas.

“We’ve done several major refits in addition to routine service and maintenance,” Michael said. “We worked a lot on our own boats and we’ll work on boats built by others, but most of our customers own one or more of our boats. I’d say we’ve worked on 20 to 25 of them.”

Custom boat builder

The boat building part of the company got underway in May 2012 with a 64-foot walkaround for Larry Wilson. It was finished summer 2014.

“Larry has been a fisherman and boat owner long enough to know exactly what he wants, and every time we’ve done work for Larry he wants something different,” Michael said. “He likes being involved in projects that push the envelope.

“This one was the largest walkaround that we’d ever built, and it had a unique propulsion system using a Volvo IPS Pod drive (a system that has forward-facing counter rotating propellers).”

How does Michael build boats compared to his father, grandfather and uncles? “I don’t want to get stuck with a particular method because we are constantly experimenting with methods of construction, combining Old World craftsmanship with the latest in weight-saving technology,” he said.

Currently, an 86-foot and a 68-foot conventional sportfishing boats are in the works.

“For our new construction business, we are a total custom-builder,” Michael said. “We can build anybody anything they want from 40 to 100 feet as long as it looks and performs like one of our boats.”

Since Dusty joined his father, designing is now digital. “We see how the boat is going to fit before we built it. It’s a great timesaver,” Dusty said.

“While each boat is completely custom, including the way it looks, we try to keep with our signature theme, but make each boat unique unto itself.”

Wilson, who has owned six Rybovich boats, has this to say: “Since 1947, the Rybovich family has been very innovative, with the tuna tower, transom door, fighting chair, and other items that are now standard for sportfishing boats.

“Rybovich boats were always the highest quality, and they were always made out of wood, which is lighter than fiberglass, and has a more elegant look. Of all the Rybovich boats built, 124 are still in use. That’s eight decades. They are works of art.

“Mike is a perfectionist, wants it right and keeps to a high standard,” he said. “He continues to build boats that ride better and perform better than other boats. They are more efficient and elegant. He builds a boat that I believe is the best.”

Currently, in addition to owning the 64-foot walkaround recently launched, Michael Rybovich & Sons’ hull No. 1, Lizzie Bee, Wilson also owns the 32-foot, Charmer, hull No. 108, built at Ryco Marine in 1985, and launched at that same time as Ruthie.

published: Palm Beach Daily News

Palm Beach classic marion sims wyeth home for sale

The vintage house at 4 Golfview Road, landmarked in May 1997, is better than it was when it was new.  A Mediterranean-style with all the accoutrements – stucco façade, barrel-tile roof, touches of wrought iron and Cuban tile – it even has a polygonal tower. The parcel, Lot #4, was bought in 1922 by the Golf View Development Company, a partnership between architect Marion Sims Wyeth and builder Harry Raymond Corwin. Their endeavor to build single-family homes on the street is said to have been financed by Edward F. Hutton. In 1921, Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post built their estate, Holgarcito, on the south side of the road.

Currently, another “Marion” has added touches to 4 Golfview.  Marion Hugh Antonini with his wife, Penelope, bought the home seven years ago. Now completely renovated, surely Wyeth would be impressed.

Click on image above to see more photos

But since the Antoninis have begun restoring the Maurice Fatio-designed Casa Eleda, they’ve listed their furnished home with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two half-baths, and 4,480 square feet inside and out with Jim McCann and Alison Newton, realtors with the Corcoran Group, for $12.995 million.

“When we first saw the house, it was unloved,” Penelope notes. But, they saw right through to the heart of the matter, with the help of a great team: architect Jeff Smith, landscape designer Mario Nievera, and builder Jeff Wildes.

“We used the same objectives as Wyeth,” explains Marion, “We wanted to bring the house back and to utilize every space available from a living and entertainment standpoint. The structure was very solid and we knew we could build on it.

“The way Mario designed the gardens encourages you to sit and dine outside. With many outdoor seating areas, the eye is guided out to the gardens. That’s Mario’s genius,” Marion says.

Adds Penelope: “We loved all the vegetation around the house. We knew we wanted to open the home up and let the outside in.

“Mario is very talented. In his new book, Forever Green, our garden is featured as the secluded garden,” Penelope says.

The entry of the front wall, designed by Smith, welcomes one into the courtyard, and it’s easy to see why Nievera would use the word “secluded” to describe the gardens. Incorporated into the wall are two little windows complete with shutters, which offer visitors a secret peak.  The front yard is embraced by the main wing, which runs north and south, and a second wing that runs east and west, which together form an inverted L. Sheltered in this space is the Nievera-designed lap pool that also serves as a reflecting pool with fountains emitting the soft soothing sounds of gurgling water. Coquina-stone frames the pool as well as areas of grass. Amidst tropical landscaping to the west of the house are seating areas with outdoor furniture by Janus et Cie. At the back of the house is a patio with a fireplace, an area for grilling, and an outdoor shower conveniently located by the back gate, perfect for rinsing off after coming back from the beach, which is just a block away.

At the crux of the L on the east side of the house is the front door and foyer, a circular space featuring an alcove for sculpture. Going south is the living room and library, a large space with French doors that open to the outdoor areas. The floor is reclaimed antique oak and the color scheme is soft sea-foam, the color palette used throughout. Other architectural features include Venetian plaster finishes on the walls, crown molding, casement windows and a fireplace with an antique stone mantel.

The dining room, just east of the foyer, has stenciled walls, with the reverse pattern used on the tailored drapery. Floors are octagonal Cuban tile, and French doors open onto the pool as well as a dining pavilion.

The doors have side panels of glass. One set of panels was hidden under plaster, Penelope says.  “I was going to add them, but when we began to open up the wall, we were surprised to find that they were already there.”

Off of the living room behind the foyer is a stair hall with a powder room. The railing is wrought iron, and the treads are tile framed in wood. The kitchen with a breakfast area and butler’s pantry are off the hallway, as well as a commercial elevator. The island kitchen features custom cabinetry, marble countertops and backsplash, and professional-grade appliances integrated into the cabinetry.

Above the stairway, as well as the second floor hallway, the ceiling is pecky cypress.

Within the footprint over the main wing is a guest bedroom suite with carpeted floors, windows that offer views of Palm Beach’s rooftops and a large Waterworks bathroom. The master suite, over the east-west wing, has French doors that open to a Juliet balcony and casement windows that offer gorgeous views of the pool, patios and gardens. Part of the suite are a large dressing area and Waterworks bathroom, as well as a gym and sitting room, a new area that the Antoninis built over the garage. These new rooms can be used separately from the suite, since they can be closed off and accessed by elevator. The gym, by the way, has wainscoting paneling repurposed from the home’s original wood floors.

Both of these bedrooms have distinctive pecky cypress beamed pitched ceilings.

From the landing and up another set of stairs is a lovely guest suite, which also has a Waterworks bathroom.

Furnishings throughout the house include 18th and 19th century antiques with custom pieces upholstered in fabrics by Kravet, Nancy Corzine, Holly Hunt/Rose Tarlow, and Quadrille’s China Seas collection. Curtains were custom made by Paul S. Maybaum and floor coverings are by Stark.

In the back yard is a guest cottage with French-tile floor and open beamed pitch roof.

Historic Palm Beach home: whimsical and fun

This mid-1920s Mediterranean-style home at 322 Clarke Avenue has a colorful history. Named Villa Filipponi, it was built for Count Carlo Filipponi and Countess Laurietta Ford von Stresenreuter Filipponi, the grandmother of Palm Beacher, Frank Butler (who died August 22, 2014).

Click on the photo above to see flickr photo album.

While the Landmarks Preservation Commission states that the architect of the Mediterranean style home is unknown, it certainly is lovely, featuring handsome architectural details that include a clay-barrel-tile roof, stucco finishes, applied ornamentation, asymmetrical fenestration, wrought-iron balconies, decorative tiles and Corinthian columns. The home received landmark status in 2001.

And the color continues. Marilyn and Emmet Tracy bought the home in 1997 from artist Thomas McKnight and his wife, Renate.

“They lived here for a number of years before they moved to Litchfield, Conn. because he wanted a studio that would give him the room to paint large works,” Emmet Tracy says.

“They made changes to the house as did Patricia Morris and George Gillett when they lived here.”

According to the designation report, extensive work was completed in 1990 by Jeffrey Smith of the Smith Architectural Group: “Smith added a loggia and pool pavilion and a 1,200-square-foot addition to the southwest corner of the building.”

“Renate was so resistant to selling, that the only way he got her to agree was to promise her a plane. She flies down here occasionally, and comes over to see the gardens,” Emmet says, adding she established the gardens, which were designed by Victoria Barton.

“The McKnights knocked down the house next door, which gave them the space for the garden,” Emmet says.

Then the Tracys bought the home, and worked their magic on it. In 2004, they expanded a sitting room, built a pergola, expanded the guest apartment and garage and commissioned Mario Nievera to install brick curved walkways throughout the garden.  Marilyn, with New York designer, Charlie Moon, decorated the interiors, and she made design changes and additions to the garden “to the point where it was named to the Smithsonian honor roll of gardens in Spring 2013,” Emmet says.

“It’s a real attraction and it’s been a very satisfying effort for my wife, to bring the transition from what it was when Renate had it.”

“I really love the potting shed and the orchid house,” Marilyn says. “I enjoy orchids, and the way that Mario designed the wind-y paths, there are five places that open up to the center of the garden. I think it’s a wonderful garden.”

Now though, they plan to downsize, and their seven-bedroom, seven-bath, and two-half-bath home with 7,682 square feet inside and out, is offered through Thor Brown, a realtor with Fite Shavell & Associates for $10.895 million.

The covered entry, an addition designed by Smith, leads to the stately foyer and stair hall. To the east is the sitting room and pergola that the Tracys expanded. Features in the sitting room include windows and French doors with fans above that offer views of the garden and a pecky-cypress ceiling with applied molding.

To the west is a two-storied living room with the first-floor hallway and second-floor arcade running along the south side. The first-floor arcade has French doors that opened to a covered loggia, and offer views of the patio and pool.

Features in the living room include a fireplace with stone mantel and slanted cypress ceiling with stenciling.  West of the hallway are the dining room, butler’s pantry and island kitchen, with stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, tile backsplash and breakfast area with banquette seating.

The dining room has an art niche, small fireplace, walls painted terra cotta, yellow ceiling, antiqued gold woodwork around the casement windows and French doors that lead to a dining patio.

The main foyer opens to a stair hall, with a stone stairway, wrought-iron balustrades and arched glass windows.

Floors throughout most of the downstairs area are Cuban tile.

Upstairs and north of the landing is a guest-bedroom suite, with French doors that lead to balconies. Two charming rooms to the south, which the Tracys use as offices, were McKnight’s office and studio. Features include high-gloss white floors, built-in stucco shelving, skylight, Juliet balcony, stairway to the rooftop, a window seat and touches of pecky cypress.

The second-floor arcade, with one wall lined in bookshelves beneath the windows, leads to the master suite, with a sitting room, bedroom, large bathroom, balconies and arbor. The bathroom has a soaking tub, walk-in shower, marble and coral key stone floor.

Off of the pool courtyard is a dining pavilion as well as garage with second-floor guest apartment.

To the east of the house are Marilyn’s spectacular gardens with specimen trees, the out-buildings she loves, as well as a little hut with a thatched roof for the grandchildren. “Some Washingtonians have grown many feet since we’ve lived here,” Marilyn says.

Note: I don’t know why, but I love this house. Some say Marion Sims Wyeth was the architect, but he is not named in the story because Landmark report states that paperwork cannot be found on this house… If Dr. Curl was still alive, he’d probably know...

I had the pleasure of writing about the gardens a few years ago. Click here to see it.



Gifting Palm Beach style

Tis the season to gift shop, and oh what to buy? To get the creative juices flowing, maybe take inspiration from some former Palm Beachers.

How about a new home for your Beloved? In 1902, Henry Flagler built Whitehall for Mary Lily Kenan as a wedding present. With 75-rooms, 100,000-square-feet-plus, electricity, central heat, indoor plumbing, and telephones, the New York Herald noted that Whitehall was “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world.”

Other gifts Flagler showered upon Mary Lily included Standard Oil stock, a diamond bracelet, a Burmese pigeon’s blood ruby-and-diamond ring and a 60-inch, opera-length strand of perfectly matched natural pearls with a 12-carat diamond clasp that cost $2 million. “According to Tiffany & Co., the necklace is the most expensive piece of jewelry it has ever sold, when corrected for inflation,” says Tracy Kamerer, chief curator at Whitehall.

Flagler frequently purchased wedding gifts, party favors for guests and personal gifts for family members from Tiffany’s. A holiday list from a personal letter details the purchase of “a locket and chain, powder box with puff, two fans, two silver vases, brushes, and an umbrella,” Kamerer says.

A display (at Whitehall) of the Flagler’s affections is a breakfast set of Limoges porcelain decorated with oranges, orange branches and leaves, made by Tressemann & Vogt between 1883 and 1908. “The Flaglers gave the set as a wedding present to Mr. and Mrs. Warren Smith around 1902.  Smith was Mr. Flagler’s personal secretary before and while he lived at Whitehall. The set was imported by Greenleaf & Crosby, a jeweler that operated stores in Hotel Ponce de Leon and Hotel Royal Poinciana,” Kamerer says.

When it came to gift-giving, Marjorie Merriweather Post had a generous spirit, says Estella Chung, Hillwood historian and its curator of American Material Culture. But she was surprised about what she uncovered while researching for her book, Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post.

“I was anticipating extravagance, but, rather, I found tokens of holiday affections: Christmas wreaths, flowers, napkins, even turkeys,” Chung says.

Lists of gifts given and received are part of the museum’s research archives, she explains. “The lists were very much like accounting ledgers. She managed her homes so beautifully and she was a natural with numbers; the ledgers were an easy way to keep organized.”

Post, like Santa, made her lists, checking them twice. “She kept lists of gifts she received, checking off when she sent a proper thank-you note, and in reverse, checked off if she received a thank-you note.

“Here’s what she received as a holiday gift from Harry Winton. It just reads ‘Harry Winston, box of cheese.’

“And here’s an interesting exchange; she received flowers. She kept floral arrangements in all her homes. She had a green house at Hillwood, and she’d fly the orchids down to Mar-a-Lago in her plane, so flowers were a thoughtful gift.”

Chung notes a gift exchange with Ladybird Johnson: “Marjorie gave a donation to Ladybird’s pet project, a Society for a More Beautiful Capital, and then for Christmas, the First Lady sent Marjorie a basket of baked bread from the White House with peach and pear preserves from the LBJ ranch.”

Post gave subscriptions to the National Symphony, she was one of the main benefactors at that time, and  she was generous with her lady friends and staff, says Chung. “She gave them luxurious hosiery after World War II when it was hard to come by and I remember seeing gifts of perfume back and forth.”

Upon interviewing Post’s Mar-a-Lago superintendant, Jimmy Griffin, Chung learned that Post gave a good friend, a socialite who had fallen on hard times, a job as her personal Christmas shopper. “Wherever the woman traveled, she bought gifts that she sent back to Mar-a-Lago. “

These were token-type present: scarves, picture frames, cocktail napkins, fancy paper party hats.

“Closer to the holidays, Marjorie’s friend was given a room to work from at Mar-a- Lago, and she would write up a list of what would go to whom. Then the presents were wrapped and sent.”

Life might have been hard, but Palm Beach’s settlers found time to celebrate the holidays, too.  A 1979 Palm Beach Life “PB Dateline” article lists Christmas gifts given in 1891, recorded in an old ledger from Palm Beach’s first store, Edward Brelsford’s general store.

Mrs. F. E. Brown bought herself a pair of shoes for $2.25, and a collar for her husband at $1.25. E.N. Dimick bought currants, candy, shirts, two toilet brushes, one looking glass, one rattle, one violin, a picture frame, three handkerchiefs and a tiny copper kettle. He came back Christmas morning for a belt and a pair of drawers. George Lainhard bought olives, a picture frame, five pounds of flour and a rubber ball. Also that morning, R.R. McKormick bought six cigars and L.D. Hillhouse picked up a box of candy (for his wife?) for 30 cents and a rifle for himself, $16. John Climmson was the last Christmas Day shopper. He purchased candy, drawers, a shirt, coat and vest, socks, shoes, pants, suspenders, buttons, and then, from the look of his bill, went straight to Christmas service, the best-dressed man in church.

So Gift Givers, if you don’t have a personal shopper, don’t fret. Whether it’s a mansion or jewels, a thoughtful trinket, a pair of suspenders, an umbrella, or whatever the heart-of-your-heart desires, a shop on the Island (has always had and) will most likely have it, except for maybe the drawers…

This year’s trends:

Taking the temperature of gift giving in general, people are in high spirits for the holidays, according to a report by the American Affluence Research Center. 89% of the women and 72% of men surveyed expect  to receive a holiday gift this year. Popular items on their gift lists include some form of currency (gift card, cash or check – 46%). Clothing (36%) comes in second.  Books, CDs and DVDs (16%), jewelry (14%), iPad or similar tablet (13%), and sports equipment (13%) also made the wish list.

Spending is “up,” too, according to the Harrison Group and American Express Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Forecast.

Specific holiday spending trends include:

  • Total U.S. consumer spending on gifts this holiday season is estimated at $71.3 billion: 7.7% higher than last year’s forecast of $66.3 billion.
  • The 90% are expected to spend $50.6 billion, up 7.4% from last year’s forecast ($47.1 billion)
  • The Top 10% (affluent and wealthy consumers) are expected to spend $20.7 billion, up 8% from 2012’s forecast ($19.1 billion)

Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group and the study’s director observed, “While holiday shopping will be conservative among the Top 10%, it appears that the 90% are opening their wallets as they return to more traditional holiday spending patterns after a dismal end to last year’s holiday season. The group to really watch is the Core Affluent.  They are growing in size, boosting their spend and getting more and more comfortable with luxury brands as they do so.”

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News “Holiday Gift Guide”


$35.9M ‘spec’ home commands lakefront lot

It’s all about distinctive architecture – and how it relates to the site, according to the Frisbie family, which, over the years, has built a number of residential properties in Palm Beach, developed on “spec” without specific buyers in mind.

Corcoran Group photo by C.J. Walker

Take their previous residential project, an Italianate house facing the lagoon on the west end of Worth Avenue. With its three stories and narrow façade, it resembles nothing so much as a Venetian canal home.

This time around, their just-completed, $35.9 million house facing the lake in Midtown recalls the look of a stately Island Colonial-style governor’s mansion.

“My husband, Dave (Frisbie), and his brothers, Robert and Rick, have always loved that style, and this is their interpretation of that: mahogany, coquina and white walls,” said Corcoran Group real estate agent Suzanne Frisbie, who has listed the house at 445 Antigua Lane for sale at a price that includes the furnishings.

More specifically, historic Rose Hall Plantation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, served as an inspiration for the house’s design, adds architect Roger Janssen of Dailey Janssen Architects.

“It wasn’t intended to be a copied, but we were inspired by its relationship to the landscape – its main axis, the entrance and its orientation to the primary views – and, secondarily, its material vocabulary of stone, wood, tile,” Janssen said.

The roughly T-shaped house has two main axis: One runs east to west, leading the eye straight from the front door through the house to the Intracoastal Waterway, where there is 173 feet of frontage. The other axis, from north to south, bisects the first and ends south of the house at a massive kapok tree.

In all, the house and its separate guest house have 16,350 square feet of living space, inside and out, along with eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and three half-baths. The house stands on a cul-de-sac, four streets north of Royal Palm Way.

‘Center gallery’

“The house is very traditional in its layout,” Suzanne Frisbie said. “You come into a center gallery. You know where you are the minute you walk in. You know how this house is going to unfurl. We love symmetry.”

And repetition, she might easily have added. There are three arched front doors that face three archways leading into the living room, three arched doorways from the living room to the loggia and three arched openings from the loggia to the back yard.

And then, at the end of a vista through the living room south to the library, a bay window frames the kapok tree and the surrounding gardens designed by Chuck Yannette of Parker-Yannette Design Group in Jupiter. The kapok is protected under the town’s historic and specimen tree ordinance.

“This is one of three kapok trees on the island, and, in siting this house on this lot, honoring that tree was very important to us,” Frisbie said.

And for materials, she noted, the white color is contrasted with mahogany crown moldings, wainscoting with raised panels, beams, coffered ceilings and trim, which give the rooms a bright look while emphasizing the fine woodwork.

Also on the south side of the house is the VIP bedroom suite, which has views of the kapok tree and the waterway. The dining room, off the main galley and north of the entry, shares a fireplace with the living room.

Wall of glass doors

The great room, family kitchen, breakfast area, staff kitchen and media room are in the north wing. In the family area, the entire west wall is made up of glass doors that fold back, accordion style, to access the covered loggia and its outdoor fireplace. The space lives like an indoor/outdoor room, with both areas decorated in shades of blue by Sara McCann of McCann Design Group.

“There are ‘hidden’ screens, so that you can be outside and enjoy a gorgeous day,” Frisbie said.

Both kitchens feature custom cabinetry, professional-grade appliances and sumptuous materials: Thassos subway tile, mahogany butcher block and blue Macuaba granite.

Upstairs, the master suite occupies the northwest corner of the home and includes a bedroom, sitting room, terrace and onyx-appointed bathrooms.

A suite of rooms in the northeast section can be used as exercise facilities or to house staff. Also on the second floor are three guest-bedroom suites.

The poolside guesthouse has a game room on the first floor and two bedroom suites above.

Scarce and rare

Frisbie noted that the property is among only 21 lakefront lots with more than 150 feet of frontage between the Royal Park Bridge and the Palm Beach Country Club.

“From the standpoint of scarcity and rarity, what this house has is pretty scarce and pretty rare,” she says.

Each of the Frisbie brothers brings skills to the development team.

“Dave worked for Gerald D. Hines Interests and has built skyscrapers,” his wife said. “He knows work-flow, budgeting, scheduling, sourcing. Robert has a degree in visual studies from Harvard. He’s a student of art and antiquities. Rick is a venture capitalist. The three have been investing in real estate since their days in college.”

Soon, the Frisbie team will be joined by younger family members, whom the family fondly refer to as “the Frislings.” They would be Robert’s daughters, Katie and Franny Frisbie, who have master’s degrees in real estate from Georgetown University.

And together, they’ll work on the family’s next residential projects, which are under development on Brazilian Avenue and facing the inlet on Indian Road.