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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Hunts Point mansion sells for record $37.5 million

The Hunts Point mansion that once housed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art has sold for $37.5 million, the most in recorded history for a house in Western Washington. (Michael Walmsley)
The Hunts Point mansion that once housed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art has sold for $37.5 million, the most in recorded history for a house in Western Washington. (Michael Walmsley)
By Mike Rosenberg Seattle Times real estate reporter

A sprawling waterfront estate that served as an art collector’s paradise has sold in Hunts Point for $37.5 million, smashing the record for the most expensive home sale in the Seattle area.

The sale of the mansion and grounds that span 3.27 acres at 4053 Hunts Point Road surpasses a $26.75 million estate that sold in Medina last year, which had been the priciest home sold and recorded by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service across Western Washington.

The 9,400-square foot Hunts Point home was put on the market for $45 million in August, and the sale closed Friday. The home was designed in 2003 by prominent local architect Jim Olson, of the Seattle firm Olson Kundig.

It was owned by art collector and cruise-line magnate Barney Ebsworth, who died a year ago. His estate, which sold the house, is controlled by his lone child, Christiane Ebsworth Ladd, of Chicago.

The identity of the buyer is a secret, as often happens in big-money real estate deals. It was listed in property records only as the Hunts Point Properties Trust, a new entity created to keep the buyer undisclosed. A Seattle-based lawyer is listed as trustee (attorneys are often the listed agent of LLCs and trusts for legal reasons — not because they are the actual homebuyer). Tere Foster, the listing agent, declined to comment.

The same thing happened with both the prior record-setting Medina home sale (whose buyer was listed only as Steel Geer LLC) and the priciest condo deal in the region’s history, a Belltown penthouse that sold last month for $12 million to a new entity called Belltown Skyline LLC.

The Ebsworth property is unusually large for the tiny, exclusive enclave that juts into Lake Washington, where homes are already hard to come by — only two other homes in town are publicly up for sale, and they’re listed for about $2 million and $3.4 million, respectively. Neighbors in Hunts Point include Steve Ballmer, Bruce McCaw, members of the Nordstrom family, Scott Oki and many others hidden behind trusts and LLCs.

Among the features of the three-bedroom, four-bath home: 300 feet of west-facing coast line to soak in glimmering sunsets. A rooftop deck with a fireplace. Walls finished with Venetian plaster. A catering kitchen separate from the main kitchen. There’s an elevator. And a glass bridge that connects to a two-story guesthouse. And a glass-enclosed shower that juts into a walled Japanese garden.

It’s surrounded by trees; parts of the grounds look like a forest.

“The house was designed to both accommodate this amazing art collection but also to fit seamlessly into a natural setting,” Olson said. “The house is both about nature and about art, and it’s a backdrop for both nature and art.”

Barney Ebsworth had amassed an epic art collection in the home. The works became the subject of much inquiry after Ebsworth in 2007 promised 65 of them to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), including Edward Hopper’s famous “Chop Suey” painting and works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Georgia O’Keeffe. But SAM never got the art, and after Ebsworth died in April 2018, most of his collection was auctioned off at Christie’s in November for $317.8 million, without any explanation for what happened to the planned donation.

Ebsworth had built his fortune in the travel industry (he founded Royal Cruise Lines in 1972 and Clipper Cruise Lines in 1981) and was a significant early investor in Build-a-Bear Workshop. He called his home “An American Place.”

The excise tax alone on the house sale was $667,505, about the same as the actual cost of the median single-family home in King County.

Staff writers Brendan Kiley and David Gutman contributed to this report.

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