Evermay sold for $22 million last year. Photograph by Stu Estler.
Washington’s housing market may have been sluggish in 2012, but for the first time two houses sold for more than $20 million in the same year.
The most expensive deal was Evermay, a 200-year-old brick mansion on 3½ acres in the heart of Georgetown. The Belin family had owned the walled property for nearly nine decades when Harry Belin—a retired horticulturist and Navy officer who was unable to afford the taxes and upkeep—put it on the market in September 2008 for $49 million. Despite rumors that Oprah Winfrey was interested in the house, Evermay languished, its list price dropping dramatically before finally selling for $22 million in May. The buyers were Japanese biotech entrepreneurs Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno, who own Bethesda-based Sucampo Pharmaceuticals.
Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis came in a close second. In January, he paid $20 million for Marwood, an 85-year-old estate on 13 acres in Potomac along the Potomac River. The chateau-like mansion was rented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as John F. Kennedy’s parents, Joseph and Rose Kennedy, in the 1930s. The former owners, telecom exec Chris Rogers and his wife, Nalini, had recently done an extensive renovation. The ten-bedroom, 13-bath estate includes a guesthouse, an apartment, a pool house, a tennis court, and parking for ten cars.
“The ultra-luxe market is a very confident market,” says Thomas B. Anderson, president of Washington Fine Properties. “Those buyers aren’t necessarily selling to buy. If you can afford that level, you can afford it.” Anderson says that to command top dollar, a home has to be in excellent condition: “Buyers are trying to stay away from properties that require a lot of work.”
Water views and proximity to downtown DC are also draws. In DC, Georgetown has the most cachet, followed closely by Kalorama and Massachusetts Avenue Heights. In the suburbs, McLean, Great Falls, Potomac, Chevy Chase, and Bethesda command the highest prices. Here’s a look at the rest of the year’s biggest deals.
Telecom exec Chris Rogers and Ted Leonsis swapped mansions. In addition to selling Leonsis Marwood for $20 million, Rogers paid him $9 million for a house in McLean with eight bedrooms, 13 baths, and eight fireplaces. But that wasn’t the only home Rogers—a founder of Fleet Call, which became Nextel Communications—bought this year. He also spent $10 million on a six-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial on a double lot near downtown Bethesda. The house has a 40-foot-high grand salon.
In DC, philanthropist and businesswoman Adrienne Arsht sold a six-bedroom, ten-bath Georgian-style home in Spring Valley for $7.5 million. The house has six sets of French doors that overlook gardens and a pool. There’s also a 12-seat theater, two reflecting ponds, and a circular drive with space for 14 cars.
Former Hewlett-Packard head and California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and her husband, Frank, bought a six-bedroom, ten-bath Colonial on Gunston Road in Lorton for $6.1 million. On five acres, the waterfront house has a pool, wet and dry steam rooms, a theater, an exercise room, and a hot tub. It listed for $7.8 million.
Rosslyn’s Turnberry Tower claimed lots of VIPs this year. The 26-story condo building has all the hallmarks of a super-luxury development: elevators that open into most units, a 24-hour concierge, valet parking, an indoor pool. And if you hang out in the lobby, you may spot some famous-for-Washington names.
Buyers this year included Marvin Bush—the youngest son of former President George H.W. Bush—who spent $2.5 million on a 3,000-square-foot unit; senior-living moguls Paul and Terry Klaassen, who paid $2.4 million; and philanthropist Barbara Allbritton—wife of longtime Washington businessman Joe Allbritton—whose 2,650-square-foot condo set her back $2.4 million.
Although many of the sales in the building are hidden behind limited-liability corporations, tax records show that these residents have plenty of well-off neighbors, including Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning and Arent Fox partner Robert Falb.
Next: Homes that sold for $3 million and up
Former Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs sold a six-bedroom, nine-bath home in McLean for $5 million. The 11,300-square-foot house has a wine cellar, bar, and theater.
Billionaire Michael Heisley, who owns professional basketball’s Memphis Grizzlies, collected $4.5 million for a house in Spring Valley.
John W. Warner IV, son of the former Virginia senator, traded up in Georgetown. He bought a six-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style house on 30th Street for $4.1 million and sold a four-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style house on Olive Street for $2 million.
Journalist Tucker Carlson and his wife, Susan, traded down, selling a six-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial in Kent for $4 million. The house has a heated pool, six fireplaces, and an in-law suite. Less than a mile away, also in Kent, they bought a seven-bedroom, six-bath Colonial for $2 million. The new house has a two-car garage and an au pair suite.
Restaurant exec Rob Wilder and wife Robin sold a seven-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial in Wesley Heights for $3.6 million. Robert Wilder is CEO of Think Food Group, the restaurant-management company that oversees Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, and more.
Saudi Arabian prince Mohammed bin Abdullah bought a seven-bedroom, nine-bath Colonial on Wolfe Hill Lane in Great Falls for $3.4 million. The house has a marble ballroom, eight fireplaces, and a movie room.
Longtime local banker Robert Pincus and his wife, Roxanne Little, sold a three-bedroom, five-bath condominium on the Georgetown waterfront for $3.3 million. The condo—which carries a monthly fee of more than $4,000—has 2,700 square feet of outdoor terraces with views of the Potomac River and the Kennedy Center.
Restaurateurs Jeff and Barbara Black bought a five-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial in Chevy Chase for $3.2 million. The couple own Black Restaurant Group, whose local properties include Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Black’s Bar & Kitchen, Black Market Bistro, and BlackSalt.
Hani Masri and wife Cheryl bought a five-bedroom, six-bath home in DC’s Berkley neighborhood for $2.7 million. The house has a wine cellar, pool, and pool house. A top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential campaign, Hani Masri is an advocate for Palestinian causes in Washington.
Michael Kinsley and Patricia Stonesifer, along with Stonesifer’s daughter, Sandra, bought a four-bedroom, six-bath Victorian near Dupont Circle for $2.5 million. The seller was interior designer Lori Graham. The house has a top-floor master suite with a “midnight kitchen” and a roof deck with an outdoor shower. Kinsley is an editor and columnist for Bloomberg View, a new opinion section of Bloomberg News, and is founding editor of the online magazine Slate. Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s board of regents.
Symphony conductor Leonard Slatkin sold a six-bedroom, nine-bath Colonial on Alloway Drive in Potomac for $2.4 million. On more than two acres, the house has a floating curved stairway in its two-story foyer, a pool, and a tennis court. Former director of the National Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin is now music director of France’s Orchestre National de Lyon.
Oil executive Ray Dempsey paid $2.2 million for a six-bedroom, nine-bath house in Vienna. Three bedrooms have terraces; an attached guest suite has two bedrooms. Dempsey is vice president of government and public affairs at BP America.
Former United States CEO of Volkswagen Stefan Jacoby and his wife, Roberta Bantel, collected $2.2 million for a four-bedroom, five-bath Federal-style house on Q Street in Georgetown. Jacoby is now CEO of Volvo.
Josh Bolten, former White House chief of staff, sold a home in Bethesda’s Brookmont neighborhood for $1.4 million. He bought the house in 2006 for $1.5 million. Bolten was chief of staff to President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009; before that, he was director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Coach Jim Larranaga and wife Elisebeth sold a five-bedroom, five-bath Colonial in Oakton for $1.3 million. The house has a two-story stone fireplace in the family room. Jim Larranaga led the George Mason men’s basketball team to the final four in 2006. He’s now head coach at the University of Miami.
Northern Virginia is the area of choice for Redskins past and present. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe bought a five-bedroom, seven-bath house in Leesburg for $1.1 million. Built in 2006, it has a media room and multiple terraces. Atogwe signed a five-year, $26-million deal with the team in March.
Defensive end Stephen Bowen and his wife, Tiffany, also bought in Leesburg. On three acres, their new home has an exercise room, wine cellar, theater, and five-car garage. Price: $1.8 million. A former Dallas Cowboy, Bowen signed a $27.5-million deal with the Redskins in July.
Former running back Clinton Portis sold a home on Georgetown Pike in McLean for $1.7 million. At the end of a private drive, the five-bedroom, six-bath house has a master suite with a balcony.
Former center Casey Rabach also sold this year, collecting $1.2 million for a five-bedroom, five-bath Colonial on Winning Colors Place in Leesburg. The house has a bar, exercise room, pool, and hot tub.
This article appears in the January 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.