Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More tales from the Gilded Age

I for one will be completely bummed when The Great Recession runs out of stories on the super rich, if not super famous, and the hard times they're facing. So far, however, the wretched excess chronicles seem to be holding steady. (Phewww.) The most recent episode I caught was in The New York Times the other day. In this one, we follow the perils of Edra Blixseth, the doyenne of the Yellowstone Club, an exclusive ski resort (think Bill Gates as member, and think ski-run called EBITDA - ho, ho!), who is having to downsize drastically following a divorce from her husband Tim.

Alas, Ms. Blixseth, who clawed her way up from night waitress to restaurant manager to hotel owner before she truly struck it rich with Mr. B., is having to work her way out from under a whole pile of debt. She has recently declared bankruptcy.

This means that the moated Château de Farcheville  - which I originally read as "Farceville" - is one the market. Unfortunately it's outside of Paris, and I would only be interested if it were inside of Paris.

She's also unloading Porcupine Creek, a 30,000 square foot "home" that comes with a private golf course, not to mention:

....the prayer room, the gym, the beauty parlor, the wet room, the cozy massage alcoves and the private theater adorned with murals; then there’s the 18th-century French furniture, the Italian stained glass, the bedroom suite from the Vatican, the ancient Tibetan Tankas.*

Bedroom suite from the Vatican? Whose, pray tell? (If only these four-posters and brocade swags could talk. Even if that talk were in Latin, I'm sure that I could dredge up enough from my four years of high school Latin to get the gist.)

Her boyfriend - the under-noted ballplayer, underwear model and soap opera actor, Jack Scalia - has had to sell his Bentley. (Is it too much to hope that Mr. Scalia is somehow related to the Supreme Court Justice? I think not.)

It would take a forensic accountant to sort through the entire Blixseth mess, but luxury property - and some piss-poor decision making - is at its heart.  (How's this for bad timing/ill-luck: just last year CrossHarbor Capital Partners offered $400M to take the Yellowstone Club off of her hands. They just snapped it up for $115M.)

All this downsizing will likely bring an end to oh so fun soirees, like the:

... $90,000 party that Ms. Blixseth had at Porcupine Creek for more than 100 guests. Guests were invited to whack piñatas shaped like Mr. Blixseth and which contained chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Voodoo dolls resembling Mr. Blixseth — complete with stickpins — were also on display.

This was, I'm assuming, post-separation.

Despite the bespoke Voodoo dolls, there is a rumor that the Blixseths are getting back together, that the divorce was nothing more than a ploy to confuse their creditors over who owed what to whom.

Ms. Blixseth more than denies this rumor:

“I would rather feel the cold steel of a revolver in the roof of my mouth and pull the trigger than to ever think about living a day with that man again,”

That seems pretty clear to me. (And, by the way, despite all that enmity, the "brown, gourdlike object" that Ms. B took out of a curio cabinet to show the reporter had nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. B. It was a camel scrotum. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a little something to hold water.)

Before the glow of the Gilded Age began to dim, and before the bloom was fully off the rose of the Blixseth marriage, the Blixseth's had planned to build, at Yellowstone Club:

... the most expensive home in the world. Priced at $155 million, the 53,000-square-foot home, called the Pinnacle, would have a heliport, an ice skating rink and underground parking for 20 S.U.V.’s.

Alas, this spec house to beat all spec houses never got built - although one of the houses at Yellowstone does have a heated river running through it.

At least, until it gets sold from under her, there's the Porcupine Creek house, with the prayer room where Ms. Blixseth can go and chill out.

Hers is full of Buddhas, a photo of herself and the Dalai Lama, and a bobblehead doll of her former husband. (Wonder if she got a bargain by ordering Tim Blixseth piñatas, Voodoo dolls, and bobbleheads at the same time.) She uses the bobblehead as part of her prayer ritual, then "uses sage to rid the room."

Ms. Blixseth admits that, when it comes to all this real-estate bankruptcy hoo-hah, "people are tired of the game.”

Tired of this game?

What, is she crazy?

He or she who is tired of tales of the Gilded Age is, no doubt about it, tired of life.


*I didn't know, either: they're paintings.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Tibetan Tankas are paintings?

Wow - not only do I get a great laugh every morning, but I get to learn something, too!

Tankas to you, Maureen.