Not my cup of tea, but a novel marketing approach

Last night I dreamt I dined at Manderlay

Last night I dreamt I dined at Manderley

The listing agent for Leona Helmsley’s old pile up on Round Hill Road has teamed with the Bruce Museum to host a “Downton Abbey” evening, where guests – for a price, Ugarte, for a price – can dress up, eat canapés and be fawned over by servants. Steerage passage costs $650, but …

If you’re looking for a more genteel experience, you can opt for the “Lady Mary Crawley,” priced at $1,200 or the “Lord and Lady Grantham” package for $10,000. Those second two options both come with a tour of the estate.

For $25,000 you can go full Maggie Smith in the “Dowager Countess of Grantham” package, which “includes your name listed on the event program, a behind-the scenes tour and history of the estate immediately preceding the event for you and your guests, a chef’s table at the event for 16-20 guests with a dedicated butler, and round-trip chauffeured transportation in a Rolls Royce.”

Again, not how I’d choose to spend my money, but the place has been redone from its mausoleum days under Leona’s occupancy and has been sitting empty and unwanted for a couple of years now, probably because it’s still looking for $65 million (chortle). This event will bring in “qualified” (rich) people to see the changes, and who knows? Maybe one of them will decide that she’d like to play dress-up for the rest of her life.

57 Comments

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57 responses to “Not my cup of tea, but a novel marketing approach

  1. I can’t believe this offer is going to find many takers.

    • I think it will – the town’s a bit different than it once was.

      • AJ

        Let me guess: because the Bruce Museum is involved, people will be provided with the excuse of doing it for a good cause. The perfect excuse for the ladies to show off their new shoes? Will Cognac Whatshername be doing interviews there? And more importantly will you be invited to attend as a real estate reporter, or will that be left to the Greenwich Time? But the big question is will a Lana Turner séance be part of the festivities? A Queen of Mean exorcism? A calling and a driving away of the spirits or just the consumption thereof? Savorous fare for the savoir faire? Enquiring minds want to know. Don’t forget to bring back a doggie bag.

  2. How insulting a Rolls Royce!
    Neaveau Gauche just don’t get it….only Bentley rule should apply…

  3. Cos Cobber

    Seems like a 20M place to me. Nice job with the interior renovation, but the outside still says institution.

  4. ShedLessToolMan

    Split it into 50 lots of 1 acre each and call Mr. Sabag. Call it New Greenwich or Riverside North and sell each home for $1000 sq foot.

    That is out of the box thinking that will work.

    • Anonymous

      Might need to slip Tesei a few envelopes of cash

    • Accolay

      I think if this were split into 1 acre lots with some open space and built by Sabag-quality builders, this would sell at a premium and FAST, even without some catchy “riverside north” name ; )

      • Toonces

        I couldn’t find a street address (trying to keep riffraff like me out), but I imagine this is in Back country and 4 acre zoning. So, 1 acre lots would only give Sabag 1/4 of 10,890 sq feet to work with. Still, it’s a great idea to split it.

        • AJ

          It’s at 521 Round Hill. It used to be 300 acres, but got reduced to 30 acres around the time that or before Leona owned it. I don’t know if the property has been reduced since then.

          • In fact, she and Harry enlarged it, buying back some of the land. I think it’s around 72, 74 acres now.

          • Toonces

            72 acres – divide by 4 acres is 18 lots – give back 2 lots(??) for driveways or whatever else the town requires when subdividing. 16 lots with beautiful Sabag or DeRosa mansions on them priced at 10-12 million each. 160m potential gross. Subtract 60 for purchase and 50 to build the homes and you have 50M profit. What am I missing here? Is it just that the builder needs a huge amount of money upfront?

        • Anonymous

          Somebody must have looked into sub division before. I doubt you can do many lots.

          • Even if, say, you could get 15 lots, @$3.5 per, that won’t justify the asking price. That’s ignoring the question of whether there’s a market for 15 $10 million homes way up there.

        • Anonymous

          Once passed it by accident after missing the turn to Burying Hill from Round Hill. It’s a beautiful piece of property, with or without the house. Since it’s owned by a charitable foundation, maybe it will find a charitable purpose, like the back country Bruce museum.

    • When The Donald bought Seven Springs here back in 1996, the old Meyer mansion and 230 acres, his first plan was to build a golf course and a few houses. A dozen years or more later, the golf course plan got nixed (too close to the reservoir), so he says he plans to build homes. That was three years ago. I m not sure people spending millions of dollars for a house, whether on Leona’s property or anywhere, want to actually SEE other people’s mansions. I don’t see any re-purposing of the Leona’s land for new homes. But that’s just me and my Bedford sensibilities. Your Greenwich results may vary.

  5. AJ

    What, no farmboy, cowhand, stack o’ cakes and sausage package for five dollars?

  6. Anonymous

    This is the Bruce Museum’s regular winter benefit with regular Greenwich benefit prices. Good idea by the listing broker to get some free advertising. Very Gatsby.

  7. Greenwich Gal

    The whole thing reeks of desperation. No, thank you.

    • AJ

      Too late, GG: they’re all sold out. Your I’m not interested negotiating tactic is for naught. I thought you were a big Downton Abbey fan? I lost interest after they killed of the only hot babe on the show, you know, the one who was married to that Irish agitator or whatever he was?

  8. maybe the re-make could be called “Leona”?

  9. anonymous

    What does PBS have to say about the Downton Abbey theme? My sense is they would frown on it. Don’t they own the US rights?

  10. Funny How?

    With the highest elevation or pretty close to it.. A few names for a sub development for the Nouveau riche:

    Summit Park Drive
    Hilltop Farms Road
    Crowning Point Park

    Someone else chime in, goodfellas on tv..gtg!

  11. Anonymous

    Fake It Till You Make It Farms

  12. Anonymous

    At this price, the target market seems to be the oligarch set. I just can’t picture that crowd as big “Downtown Abbey” fans. Fun idea, just not sure it has any relevance to the average billionaire.

  13. Anonymous

    Many are drawn to charity events at clubs that won’t otherwise accept them and at homes they can’t afford. A winning idea for the Bruce, though the property will likely be bought by some billionaire not attending the benefit.

    • Anonymous

      Some like going to a party with their friends and supporting a half decent cause.

      • Anonymous

        True, but some like being seen with those who are members of the exclusive clubs, like the one just down the road from Leona’s old place, and who can afford to buy it. They pray it rubs off.

  14. Anonymous

    To CF—Virtually all of the Helmsley billions are in a private foundation, called the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The annual charitable contributions are in the hundreds of millions, a lot going to medical research. Federal tax law requires at least 5% of the Trust’s total assets to be donated annually.

  15. Chimney

    Nice party last night, Chris- David was asking for you.

  16. AJ

    Will dinner be served on Lady Leona, Dunnellen Hall collectable plates, and if so, will you be able to take one home with you?