Soon after Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, the up-and-coming junior senator from Illinois, purchased his Georgian revival mansion on the South Side of Chicago, it set off alarms and suspicion of a shady deal. Why? In a real estate deal that is now called a “boneheaded move” by Obama, here is a timeline of what happened, leaning heavily on this thorough Q&A Obama did with the Chicago Sun-Times,
- In June 2005, Obama and now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko purchased adjoining parcels in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago. The parcels — one containing a house and the other undeveloped land — were owned by University of Chicago doctors Fredric Wondisford and Sally Radovick (husband and wife).
- Obama paid $1.65 million for his home ($300K less than the asking price of $1.95 million, but it was the Obama’s third and “best offer“) while Rezko paid $625,000 for the adjacent, undeveloped lot.
- Both closed on their properties on the same day.
- Obama wanted to increase the size of his side yard and in January 2006, Obama paid Rezko $104,500 for a strip of his land – about one-sixth of the parcel and costs one-sixth of the Rezko’s original purchase price of $625,000. (Here is an excellent bird’s-eye view of the Obama and Rezko properties and how they were divided).
- In 2006, Tony Rezko was indicted for fraud and was convicted in 2008.
- In 2007, Tony’s wife, Rita, sold the remaining lot for $575,000.
So, how did the Obama’s originally learn about this home?
According to My DD: Direct Democracy, in 2004, Barack’s wife, Michelle, was on the board of the Commission of Chicago Landmarks and in this capacity, learned of a designated historical home in Kenwood that was for sale — the home and the adjacent land at 5046 South Greenwood.
…a Historical Georgian revival home built in 1910 with four fireplaces, glass-door bookcases fashioned from Honduran mahogany, and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar…
At the time, the Obamas were living in a Hyde Park condo and wanted to upgrade to a bigger space. While the doctors wanted to sell the home and the lot together, the Obamas could not afford it. Barack then allegedly contacted Tony Rezko for advice on how to buy it since Rezko was also a real estate developer.
Another headache over this home for Obama is whether he received a discount on a home loan. And, Obama’s home has become a big headache for neighbors, too, with each day looking “… like there’s going to be a parade, but there isn’t one.”
Want to read more about the presidential and vice presidential nominee homes?