Up Front: UNREAL ESTATE
THE KENNEDYS GIVE UP A BEACHHEAD
THE KENNEDYS HAVE FINALLY unloaded their Palm Beach estate, a rundown old place that languished on the market for a year and a half. The buyer is financier John Castle, former CEO of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Castle says he will spend a full year renovating the 73-year-old beachfront mansion.
Part of the problem in selling the estate: The Kennedys were asking almost double the going rate for a comparable property, apparently because of its Camelot aura. Castle is evidently paying less than the asking price, but the final number is undisclosed. Castle, head of the New York buyout firm Castle Harlan, says he negotiated for months with family retainers. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the current patriarch, wasn't involved in the talks.
One last deal-breaking snag was cleared away Apr. 19 when the town backed off its plan to dub the home a historic landmark--which would have severely hindered any overhauls. Facing litigation from the Kennedys, the town settled for Castle's agreement merely to keep the house intact. Today, its historic value is a tarnished coin. It's best known as where William Kennedy Smith was accused of rape in 1991 (later acquitted), not as JFK's glamorous winter White House. EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Peter Valdes-Dapena