Who Really Bought Dunnellen Hall?
Rumors have been spreading that Billy Joel bought the former Leona Helmsley Estate on 521 Round Hill Rd. but his publicist has denied it.
Public records simply state 521 Corporation, 230 Park Ave, #659 - bought it for $35M, and according to tax records, only 9.16 acres were sold for this price. For the last list price of $55M it included over 40 acres...the original list price was $125 in 2007 after the last owner's death.
This property has not exactly enjoyed the best of luck:
- Built in 1918 as a gift to his daughter, Daniel Grey Reid built it for $1M - 28 rooms, 21,000 SF
- In 1950 it was sold to Loring Washburn whose financial empire subsequently quickly fell apart. By 1963, the property was in complete ruin and was taken from him. For a few years the property sat vacant
- In 1966 it was sold to former showgirl Gregg Sherwood Dodge Moran (whose former husband shot himself in the head) who sold it 2 years later to financier Jack R.Dick. DIck was indicted for financial misdoings and died before his case went to trial in 1974
- The next owner was Ravi Tikkoo - who had made fortunes in supertankers, but 10 years later also was bankrupt forcing him to sell the property to Leona and Harry Helmsley in 1983 for $11M, which they intended to use as a summer home. As we know about the Helmsleys, their tax evasion criminal trials led to 18 months in jail for Leona and Harry's death. After serving her sentnece, Leona made Dunnellen Hall her full time home, and lived there until her death in August 2007.
When I toured the house, it had recently been reduced to the last list price. Aside from the expected, obvious taste in decor/furnishings, the absolutely breathtaking view and property and the enormity of the house itself, my less published observations were the dramatic disparity between the servant portion of the house and the Queen's living quarters. I also found it curious that they hadn't removed a huge stain that was by her highness's bed in very dense ivory carpeting. Preserving memory? A marked spot? I thought that it was just plain weird.