Billionaire William Lauder is tearing down a pristine $110 million mansion. The residents are not happy.

Even in palm beach, the Billionaires’ Haven in Southeast Florida, 1071 North Ocean Blvd. imposes itself as a monument of excess. At over 35,000 square feet, the mansion was designed to characteristic 16 bathrooms, a gym, a hair salon, a theater and a library. Last year, the property would have sold to an entity linked to William Lauder, a billionaire heir to the Estée Lauder makeup fortune, for the astonishing sum of $110 million. But the palatial estate is apparently not up to his family’s standards. On Wednesday, the city approved a plan to demolish the home, built just six years ago, to the dirt.

The decision agitated some residents. “I just have a really weird feeling in my stomach about it. I think it’s total waste,” a prominent resident told The Daily Beast, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to not upsetting an ultra-rich neighbor.” I mean normal people don’t do that. It’s kind of disgusting.”

Fellow resident, third-generation Palm Beacher KT Catlin described herself as “pro-development and redevelopment.” But even in her mind, she says, the tendency to “constantly tear down to build bigger, I question that”.

Known to some locals as “The Castle”, the estate was completed in 2016 and enraged community members from the start. Of particular concern, the Palm Beach Daily News previously noted was the immense size and the way he ate up a huge percentage of his 2 acre land.

Original owners, lawyer-turned-charter-school consultants Danielle and Vahan Gureghian narrowly won approval to build their “dream home” in 2011, the outlet said. They never actually lived there, instead putting the property on the market for over $80 million. in 2015, before the end of construction. The Gureghians sold him to another party in 2019 for $40.9 million.

Now that Lauder appears to have assumed ownership, there is anxious speculation within the community as to whether he could build an even larger colossus on the site, since he would have also has an adjacent vacant lot.

Victoria “Cooky” Donaldson, who lives in downtown Palm Beach and has described herself as neutral about the demolition, said opinions on the project are mixed: “Some think what’s happening will be better , others are furious.”

Google Maps screenshot from May 2015

Google Maps

When the plans were first announced, she said, detractors reacted with “shock” to the extravagance of a nine-figure takedown. “The escalation of grandiosity, that takes it to a whole other plane.”

A Palm Beach official told The Daily Beast that the new owners have yet to submit a proposal for what they want to build after the demolition. One of Lauder’s attorneys, meanwhile, declined to comment.

Even before the recent controversy, tensions in Palm Beach had been simmering for many months: between well-to-do snowbirds and year-round residents, and between property owners (whose identities are often hidden behind corporate entities) and landlords. more modest.

Newly built homes are built higher than many existing properties due to federal regulations. As a result, during intense storms, water from modern mansions spills directly onto neighbors’ lots, several residents said.

According to Catlin, construction trucks have also repeatedly damaged cars and property, and crews have been known to work earlier or later than regulations allow and to sneak in on weekends.

In addition, there are fears that the Lauder project could exacerbate traffic problems, which can already stretch for miles. “There are only two roads,” Donaldson said. During Donald Trump’s presidency – when tours of his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort brought traffic to a standstill – three homes were being built near it. “I couldn’t get out of my driveway for four years,” she says.

Adding to the frustration: The house that will soon be demolished had been at least partially under construction for years. “They keep renovating and renovating it,” Catlin said. Now, with a rebuild, some people are upset that they have “X number more years to review and deal with this”.

Donaldson remembers growing up in Palm Beach decades ago when the biggest houses were “big, but God, I mean, nothing like what we see now. And nothing was really torn down to make way for another huge, huge house.

Perhaps the most striking illustration of this change is underway six miles south, where billionaire Ken Griffin is building his own version of Versailles: a multi-lot estate that spans 1,400 feet of coastline. This project has also aggravated community members, some of whom are billionaires themselves.

Despite the recent outbreak, the Lauder family has a positive reputation in the community, several residents said. William Lauder, who is based in New York, according to his LinkedIn page, is president of the family cosmetics company. Forbes reports that he also owns property in Aspen and Westchester, New York; the outlet pegs his net worth at $3.1 billion.

Earlier this year, Lauder made headlines when he would have moved in with a former “mistress” who had chased him in 2018, alleging that he had reneged on an agreement to pay for his $7 million mansion in Los Angeles. According to a 2010 Forbes story, the couple had a child together in 2007, while Lauder was married and served as CEO of Estée Lauder. They entered into a private agreement in which the woman agreed “to move to California, to abstain from all contact with the Lauder family, and to conceal the identity of the father, even of the child.” (After being sued in 2018, Lauder would have filed her own complaint saying the woman had violated their agreement “multiple times”.)

Tabloid intrigue is apparently not a factor in the Palm Beach controversy. One resident said the frustration over the demolition was less about this single property and more about the stratum of wealth that is engulfing the island and irreparably changing its character. “It’s a symptom of a much bigger problem,” the person said, invoking adjectives — “gaudy” and “gaudy” — that one might apply to a sequined maxi dress. “I think we are losing our city.”

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