Friday, March 9, 2012

Old Money: Bunny Mellon Listing Cape Cod, Antigua Homes

The headline is not a comment on Mrs. Mellom's 101 years and no, we aren't going to do an old-fashioned Society page. Back in January the Cape Cod home was listed with Sotheby's: 
26 Acre Waterfront Compound 
Address Unpublished Osterville, MA 02655 United States

About This Property

On Cape Cod’s renowned private island, Oyster Harbors, this extraordinary estate encompasses more than 26 acres of private, secure peninsula and is one of the most significant parcels on the entire East Coast of the U.S. It offers nearly 1,000 ft. of shorefront as well as spectacular views of the Seapuit River, Sampson’s Island and beyond to Nantucket Sound. A rare, once-in-a-lifetime jewel, it is available in its entirety or in individual parcels. A nearly 7,000 sq. ft. superbly crafted main residence featuring substantial guest and staff quarters is nestled on over seven exquisitely landscaped acres. It also hosts a beach house, detached loft studio, classic greenhouses, a tennis court, seasonal dock, expansive lawns, gardens and orchards. An additional, very private building site of just over six acres features nearly 500 feet of Seapuit River frontage and gorgeous river, island and Sound views. Six additional 2+ acre building lots complete the property....MORE
From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
Mellon Estate in Antigua Goes on the Market for $14.5 Million 
Rachel "Bunny" Mellon has listed her family's longtime Caribbean vacation home in Antigua for $14.5 million.
Ms. Mellon, 101, and her late husband, philanthropist and banking heir Paul Mellon, began assembling the 27-acre property in the early 1950s and built the home there; this is its first time on the market. The home's two master suites overlook Half Moon Bay and flower gardens that Ms. Mellon, a noted horticulturist who designed the White House Rose Garden, created. The home has several terraces, a library and an orchid nursery. There's a guesthouse, pool and pool house, two greenhouses, vegetable gardens and an orchard....MORE
And from Forbes, June 2011:
...Her husband Paul Mellon, scion of the banking family, died in 1999. While she inherited some of his estate, worth $1.4 billion per the 1998 Forbes 400 rich list, he left much of it to charitable causes. But Bunny Mellon is rich in her own right, not just by marriage: her father Gerard Lambert was the one-time president of Gillette and made a fortune through his Warner-Lambert pharmaceutical company, inventors of the mouthwash Listerine. Pfizer bought out Warner-Lambert for $110 billion in 2000; it is unclear what, if any, stake Bunny Mellon had in the company at that point.

Forbes has been unable to put any sort of definitive number on Mellon’s net worth, although we’re trying ahead of this year’s Forbes 400 list (she’d be America’s oldest billionaire). It appears much of her fortune is tied up in trusts, and unsurprisingly no-one in her circle is keen to divulge much information. What is clear is that she is both extraordinarily wealthy and very private. According to a rare profile in Vanity Fair — her second interview in over 40 years — she maintains homes in Antigua, Paris, New York, Washington, Nantucket, and Cape Cod (they’re said to be fully staffed at all times). Her main residence is a 4,000-acre farm in Virginia with its own airstrip for her Falcon 2000. Mellon’s art collection includes Giacomettis and a Rothko worth $125 million, says VF.

Aside from her wealth and pedigree, Bunny Mellon has led a colorful life, which James Reginato does an excellent job detailing in VF. She was a close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy, taking the young president’s wife under her wing and helping design the White House rose garden. She was renowned as a horticulturalist, but also as a fashion plate. As Reginato writes, Givenchy designed her entire wardrobe, down to her underwear and her servants’ uniforms. She was a socialite and a trendsetter; she learned pilates from — who else — Joseph Pilates. And she took an interest in liberal politics. She wanted to help elect John Edwards because she thought a Democrat in the White House would “save the world.”