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At $130M, Nation's 'Priciest' Manse is No Longer the Priciest

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Copper Beech Farm, the 50-acre Greenwich estate that roared onto the market last May with a record-setting $190M price tag, has been mercilessly slashed, first down to $140M and now again down to $130M. At 68 percent of its original ask, the property is no longer home to the priciest mega-mansion in the country, having ceded the throne to Dallas' Crespi-Hicks estate, which is still holding strong at $135M. (Jackson Land and Cattle, a 1,750-acre estate in Jackson Hole, Wyo., has been asking $175M for a while, but there several homes on that ranch and most people would consider it a working farm with investment potential instead of, say, a single-family home.)

But, please, back to the blockbuster home at hand. Owned by timber mogul John Rudey, the property is stocked with a 12-bedroom mansion, a whopping 4,000—yes, four thousand—feet of water frontage, and not one, but two offshore islands. Rudey originally told the Journal that he was selling the spread, which he bought 31 years ago, because his kids had grown, but that may have been only half of the truth. According to a followup piece in the Times, Rudey's timber holdings have been decimated by transportation issues, endangered species conservation, water limitations, and the spruce budworm, a tree-burrowing insect. These setbacks might not have impacted the Copper Beech Farm property at all had Rudey not used the sprawling waterfront estate as collateral on a series of huge loans. At one time, according to the Times, the debt attached to the property totaled a whopping $203M. (After the 2006 collapse of one of Rudey's timber holding companies, the banks came calling. In 2011, Bank of America began foreclosure proceedings on a portion of Copper Beech Farm. The bank later backed off, but Rudey may have been forced to sell off much of his remaining timber holdings, and his $16.5M Fifth Avenue apartment, to keep creditors at bay.)

Copper Beech Farm dates back to the 1890s and was once owned by the Lauder Greenway family, which made its fortune helping Andrew Carnegie start up his steel business. Other stats: the living space measures 15,000 square feet and includes a dining room with a tracery ceiling, as well as a "huge solarium with a coffered ceiling with plaster detailing and three exposures," according to the brokerbabble. Also on the property: formal gardens, a grass tennis court, two greenhouses, an apple orchard, a 75-foot-long heated pool, and a 1,800-foot-long driveway.

From the onset, listing agent David Ogilvy admitted to the Journal that pricing is a bit of a guessing game with properties this valuable—and it's true, there's ample evidence that many nine-figure places endure harsh PriceChops. (Some, meanwhile, just push peas around the plate waiting for a buyer to match their absurd demands.) Take the old Versace in Miami, which first hit the market for $125M, fell to $100M, then $75M, and finally sold at auction in September for—ouch—$41M. Though Copper Beech Farm has the lack of 24-karat gold-encrusted mosaics and six-person gilded showers going for it, no publicly listed Greenwich property has ever achieved more than $45M. And, though its current asking price will likely plummet even further, if, by some stroke of miracle, Copper Beach Farm sells at $135M, it will top America's biggest-ever residential sale, a Silicon Valley spread that sold in January 2012 for $117.5M.

· All Copper Beach Farm coverage [Curbed National]
· A Greenwich House Aims to Sell for $190 Million [WSJ]
· Copper Beach Farm [Christie's Real Estate]
· 499 Indian Field Road, Greenwich, Conn. [Zillow]
· All Blockbusters coverage [Curbed National]