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.