Builder's gamble pays off with $9 million house sale Fla. home was built for speculation


PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The housing market may be in a slump, but that hasn't prevented a Palm Beach resident from paying $9 million for a new oceanfront home.

Dick Allison of Martha Gottfried Inc., which handled the sale recently, believes it is the highest-priced home built for speculation ever sold in the United States. The 27,000-square-foot house at 1425 S. Ocean Blvd. also may be the largest private home ever built anywhere without a particular buyer in mind, Mr. Allison said.

The Mediterranean-revival home was built in 1988 by Robert Gottfried, a local builder. It has three bedrooms, two staff bedrooms, a wine-tasting room, gleaming white Italian marble floors, a 14-car garage and "one of the best tennis courts in town because it goes north-south," Mr. Allison said.

The property also has a three-bedroom guest house and a 50-by-30-foot, all-marble pool, the only remnant from a grand estate that once stood on the oceanfront lot.

The buyers are Michaell and Peny North. The couple, who also have homes in California and Maine, own several companies. Their Isis Rising Art Gallery, a high-end gift gallery featuring contemporary American artists, is in the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale. They also own Visionary Publishing Co., which produces arty note cards and calendars, and Concept Synergy, a self-help educational company.

The Norths have lived in Palm Beach since July 1988, when they bought a 13,000-square-foot home that now will go on the market for $6.8 million.

Their new house, just south of Casa Apava, ties for the fifth-most-expensive home sold in Palm Beach. The biggest Palm Beach sale was Nelson Peltz's $18 million purchase of Montsorrel in 1987.

Although the Gottfried house has been on the market since 1988, the sale went quickly once the buyer grew interested.

"It was a three-week closing," Mr. Allison said. "They wanted to be in by Christmas."

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