(Bumped from yesterday)
The reported sale of Copper Beech for $120 million was baffling because the property was simply not worth anything like that amount; I’d guessed $35-$45 million, others thought a bit more, but $120 million? Not a chance. The two rumors floating around were that the buyer was either (a) a Russian, seeking to move assets out of Putin’s reach or (b) Greenwich’s Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater. I could understand, maybe, a Russian paying a huge premium over market value for property if his primary concern was getting his money over here, but why on earth would Dalio pay so much?
It turns out, he didn’t. Dalio’s been “confirmed” as the buyer (confirmed by impeccable sources, but remember: ten years ago, Dick Cheney was convinced by his impeccable sources that the Copper Beech mansion was stuffed with WMD), and the speculation is that he bought the $120 million debt owed on the property at a steep, steep discount.
Now that makes sense. Copper Beech’s lenders loaned their money based on timberland owned in the northwest and the Greenwich property. The timberland plummeted in value when the feds shut down lumbering to save the spotted owl and the Greenwich property by itself was never sufficient to cover the debt. (The full history of the property and Copper Beech’s owner, John Rudey, can be found here, in the NYT).
Some years ago, when a workout of the loan was being discussed, Fudrucker was approached by an out-of-town appraiser retained by the lender to come up with Copper Beech’s value. FF and I spent a fair amount of time looking at subdivision possibilities and the value of the mansion itself and came up with that $35-$45 million value.
Whether or not that was the final figure the appraiser gave his employer is unknown, but it’s unlikely they were under any illusion that their loan was secured in full. So enter Ray Dalio. Mystery solved as to the buyer but remaining unanswered, so far, is the fate of the property: a donation to the town for parkland, as wishful dreamers hope, or the new location of Chateau Dalio? Time will tell.