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‘No corner was cut , nothing was too expensive’: the strange story of the most expensive private listing in America

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Robert Pereira had a vision to build a spectacular home for his family, but never moved in. With$ 3m dollars in gold foliage on the property, whats not to like?

Sometimes, the 11 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms in your home simply arent enough. Just ask building tycoon Robert Pereira, whose 60,500 -square feet Florida mega-mansion went back on the market this week because he apparently changed his intellect about wanting to live there.

The asking price of $159 m induces it the most expensive private listing in the country. The luck purchaser of the 4.4 acre Hillsboro Beach estate, if the working group ever is one, will become the proud owner of an on-site nightclub, ice-skating rink, bowling alley, go-kart circuit and private Imax cinema alongside the cavernous residence.

Yet behind the ornate gates, which are gilded of course in 22 -karat yellow gold leaf, and beyond the$ 2m marble staircase of the property dubbed Le Palais Royaleafter the Versailles palace it was modelled on, lies the story of a family whose extreme wealth and extravagance seems to constantly be leading them on to the next best thing.

Pereira, who founded the Massachusetts-based Middlesex Corporation in 1972 and amassed a fortune from asphalt paving, bridge build and the construction of railway stations, among other projects including a 13 -year tenure as strip club co-owner in Tyngsboro, has always had an eye for excess. He bought the waterfront mansion through a trust in 2001 with the intent of developing the site to provide a luxurious home for his family to enjoy, friends told the Guardian.

The owner had a vision and wanted to build something spectacular, told Mayi de la Vega, the Miami real-estate agent handling the sale.

No corner was cut , nothing was too expensive. They wanted the very best of everything and genuinely thought it through. You feel the quality when you walk through the property, the workmanship and attention, its all there.

They employed the finest materials, theres$ 3m worth of gold leafing. At one point they wanted to live there.

Le Palais Royal in Hillsboro Beach, Florida inspired by Pariss Chateau de Versailles. Photo: ONE Sothebys International Realty for the Guardian

For Pereira, such plenitude is nothing new. At his bridal, the bridegroom, wearing a white silk tuxedo inlaid with Swarovski pearls and designed by his bride Sion, hired a Cirque du Soleil trapeze artist to perform dangling from a helicopter as guests watched in awe from below.

Even along the stretching of Hillsboro Beach known as millionaires mile, where real-estate deals in excess of $10 m are not uncommon, the property was a standout, boasting more than 450 ft of Atlantic ocean beachfront and a further 500 ft on the Intracoastal Waterway, including a doubled barge dock that can accommodate a 200 -ft yacht.

No expense was spared during what became a seven-year project of refurbishment, upgrades and expansion. But at some stage Pereira decided that the cost, estimated at more than $100 m, and partly funded by a $30 m loan from Bank of America in 2013, was better expended preparing the property for sale instead of stimulating it a home for his wife and young daughter.

It first went on the market for $139 m, also then a record asking price, in September last year, then was de-listed earlier this year, according to project director Joseph Leone, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, to allow more day for construction. Le Palais Royale went back on sale this week, the additional $20 m justified by the inclusion of two smaller adjacent plenties and guesthouses that will continue to be worked on until completion early next year. Pereira did not respond to a request for commentary, but de la Vega, chief executive and founder One Sothebys International Realty of Miami, told the Guardian that the owner had begun the ambitious project with the clear intent of enjoying its fruit, rather than turning in an enormous profit.

So what changed his intellect? Why would a man who ploughed a fortune into creating what was intended to be one of the most luxurious family homes on the planet not want to live there and enjoy its 4,500 square feet swimming pool with swim-up bar and water slide, the outdoor pizza kitchen, putting green, 1,300 -gallon aquarium, six waterfalls and 1,300 -bottle wine cellar?

Theyre only travelling a lot, de la Vega said. And travelling in some style, as it turns out. Finish of the mansion arrives hard on the heels of a multimillion dollar rebuild of the familys super yacht Newvida, which lately emerged from 18 months in a West Palm Beach boatyard 21 ft longer than it used to be at 185 ft, and with a new name, My Seanna, after the Pereiras daughter. The rebuild, in the words of Yachtcharters.com columnist Kim Kavin, amounted to a total , no-holds-barred, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it rebuild.

As if to match the opulence of the upgrades at Le Palais Royale, the yacht features a giant stateroom decorated extensively with gold foliage and Italian marble, a large Jacuzzi and under-the-stars move theater. Back in Hillsboro Beach, meanwhile, town manager Robert Kellogg is keenly watching developments over the mansion described as an over-inflated dreaming house and architecturally grotesque by Variety.com.

Pereiras property taxes are currently about $140,000 a year, a figure set to soar if the estate sells. Lets say it assess for $150 m, he said. The taxes just for the town will be $380,000, and for the school district and county it will be in the millions. But Kellogg, who said he does not know whether to take his ice skates or bowling shoes when he finally inspects the property next month, remains sceptical of the asking price.

Last years most expensive real estate handled in Hillsboro Beach was the $17 m sale of a nearby manor. Its a very impressive property and if it sells it will obviously be to someone of enormous wealth, someone who loves entertaining, maybe even someone in the entertainment business, he said.He added that most of the wealthy mansion proprietors in the town are part-time residents, so-called snowbirds who spent wintertimes at their second homes in Florida when the weather is cold elsewhere, and who return to other mansions during the near-unbearable hot of summertime.

The townships population of about 2,000 doublings every winter. The empty-mansion syndrome contribute to problems in upmarket neighbouring cities in recent years, with a 23 -year-old Brazilian squatter and eight friends living rent free at a vacant $2.5 m waterside property in Boca Raton for two months in 2013 after breaking in. Before different groups was eventually removed by police, Andre Barbosa even tried to claim ownership under Floridas since-repealed adverse possession law that once let title of foreclosed, empty and abandoned property through occupation.

With staff preserving Le Palais Royale in Perieras absence, such a fate is unlikely to befall his manor, and de la Vega said she has already received a serious inquiry from a potential buyer in Dubai, creating the possibility of an early sale of what she calls a trophy property. According to Dan Conn, chief executive of Christies real-estate brokerage in New York, a surge in the number of global billionaires in the last two years has fuelled demand in the luxury mansion market and driven prices ever higher.

There is a new class of collectible, theyre trophies now, Conn said in an April report that recorded the sale of five super mansions for more than $100 m around the world in 2014.

Youve got this club of billionaires who just like to have unique assets. But its also, truthfully, that they like to entertain their friends and tell, This is mine.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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