Source: Virginia Business

How the mighty have fallen. From a $100 million listing in 2009, to a foreclosure sale of $15.3 million, the gracious Albemarle House is no longer owned by billionaire winemaker Patricia Kluge after the Bank of America placed the winning bid last month for the grand, 45-room Charlottesville, VA mansion, even beating out Donald Trump.

How could a billionaire lose her beloved home for a fraction of its list price? As Kluge’s third husband, William Moses (pictured with Kluge), tells The Daily Progress,

“We got caught in the perfect financial storm,” Moses said. “The economy crashed, the real estate market collapsed, unemployment rose, money was tight, the market for wine fell and we happened to be standing in the middle of the storm.”

Albemarle House was built in 1985 by Patricia and her then-husband, John Kluge (pronounced KLOO-gee), and was designed to resemble an 18th-century English country estate. Spanning 300 acres, Albemarle’s notable neighbors include Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland. Albemarle House contains 23,500-sq ft and has 8 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, a library, art gallery, home theater, helipad, tiered gardens, pool, staff quarters, wine cellar, and horse stables. It is considered one of the most significant residences in the United States.

High-end social events were the norm at Albemarle where the Kluges entertained royalty, celebrities, politicians, business leaders, and literary figures. When the Kluges divorced in 1990, Patricia was reportedly awarded $1 billion, plus Albemarle House and several other homes. John Kluge, who made his billions when he founded, then sold his Metromedia television stations to News Corp and 20th Century Fox Film Corp (which formed the basis for Rupert Murdoch’s powerful Fox network) died last September at age 95.

The 900-acre Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard was started by Patricia Kluge and Moses in 1999. Kluge wine received critical acclaim (it was even served at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding last summer) and they were eager to increase their wine production from 30,000 cases a year to 75,000 cases. However, with the economic collapse and the grow-too-fast strategy, the business faltered and slowly, the banks started calling. Trying to stave off lenders, Kluge listed Albemarle House for $100 million in 2009, then it was reduced to $48 million in early 2010, and then to $24 million. Kluge even tried selling her jewelry, Albemarle furnishings and other personal possessions, but that only collected $15 million. The foreclosure auction took place in February where Bank of America repossessed the property.

Kluge and Moses are now reportedly living on an adjacent estate.

  • Evan

    I’m baffled beyond belief; I’m dumbfounded.

    How does a lady who received $1 billion in a divorce settlement — that’s right BILLION — have a house foreclosed for mathematically comparatively pocket change of $15 million?

    You see, this is the problem, we’re living in another “Tulip Mania” era. Like over a century ago, people are no longered financially tethered to reality. It’s like giving a kid a $20 dollar bill to buy himself a stick of bubble gum. He returns to you chewing and making big pink bubbles, and barely manages to say, “Dad, I still owe the man at the counter $40… can I have two more twenties?” Now you gave the boy a $20 bill, the cashier is kind enough to give him the gum provided he immediately returns with the $40 the boy owes him!

    Reality is missing from that last example. Let’s look at the percentage that $15 million is to $1 billion. Using a Microsoft calculator that comes FREE with Windows 7, that comes to 0.015, or 1.5%, or 1.5 pennies for every dollar.

    Put another way: If my net worth as a middle-class Joe who received $10 million in a divorce settlement, and I told you Bank of America was foreclosing on my $150,000 middle-class house in the burbs, you (and maybe the bank) would ask, “Where is the other $9,850,000 you received in the settlement?”

    $1 billion –> $15 million house.
    $10 million –> $150,000 house.

    Same ratio… this is not rocket science. This is grade school math.

    Part of the problem is that most people are not believing this article; there is no rhyme or reason. I mean, the laws of physics have broken down; where is even grade school math in this nonsense?

    Patricia Kluge, with her $1 billion settlement (if the article is correct) could have bought 66 estates IDENTICAL to the $15M estate in this article! If she bulldozed southern California, those 66 estates and the property described in this article could have covered over 20,000 acres (including roads).

    If this article is true, the U.S. and too-big-to-fail banks like B of A are in deeper doodoo economically than I could have imagined in my worse nightmares. There is no recovery. Can anyone still spell s-c-r-e-w-e-d or is literacy as yesterday as math?

  • Jim

    I would have to question one item here though really – is she really a billionaire now then? The article seems to say that she is – “..owned by billionaire winemaker Patricia Kluge…”

    But that is from “…When the Kluges divorced in 1990, Patricia was reportedly awarded $1 billion, plus…”

    However, think about this – if she really still was a billionaire (now), why not just write the $100 million $ check and keep the home? In other words, it should probably say “…former billionaire…” or whatever.

    Also, IMO the article is misleading in that at first it seems to portray her as a person who made that money in wine-making, but in reality she just got it from the divorce settlement. How tough it must be to go through your ex’s money like that! Geez.

    Update – just read the article again and I found their downfall – “(it was even served at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding last summer)”.


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  • SossySpeaks

    This woman has been driven by greed all her life. Aside from her foray into posing nude (some reports say she was into soft porn), she broke up a marriage when she married Kluge. Yes, he had a role in it, but she threw the bait. Then she gets more money than the average person can fathom as a settlement, when she divorces him (amid rumors of an affair with a politician). A billion dollars would fund numerous major highway projects. It would buy a thousand homes priced at $1 million each.

    What does she try to do? Make yet more money. Somebody appealed to her greed, and the sexy idea of owning a winery and getting even richer sucked her in. Too bad she can’t learn about life in a Section 8 apartment, or spend a few years on her feet in a fast-food restaurant. She was a laughingstock in Great Britain (direct quote from other sources). What a waste of broadband & the Internet – telling us her tragic story.

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  • R.T.

    So BOA purchase for 15M, she owed them 23M
    they have to sell it for 38 plus Million to make a profit! BOA owe the taxpayers any money from the stimulus package???????????

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