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Former Clark estate reverts to one lot

Updated 10:31 am, Monday, August 4, 2014

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  • FILE - Above, an August 2010 file photo, provided by Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, shows the New Caanan estate of Huguette Clark, a copper magnate from Montana. The property, which had been subdivided into 10 parcels in 2008, was merged back into one lot this week, following approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission. (AP Photo/Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild, File) Photo: Uncredited, Associated Press / Associated Press
    FILE - Above, an August 2010 file photo, provided by Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, shows the New Caanan estate of Huguette Clark, a copper magnate from Montana. The property, which had been subdivided into 10 parcels in 2008, was merged back into one lot this week, following approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission. (AP Photo/Barbara Cleary's Realty Guild, File) Photo: Uncredited, Associated Press

 

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The former estate of reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark in New Canaan is again one lot, following approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night.

The legendary 52-acre property had been subdivided into 10 parcels in 2008, but the new owners wanted to go back to the original plan, according to David Rucci, an attorney who represents them.

"The commission did a good job in dividing this property in 10 lots," Rucci said. "But the person who ended up buying it has decided to merge all lots back to one lot."

The property, also known as Le Beau Chateau and located at 104 Dan's Highway, was owned by the estate of Clark, who purchased the mansion in 1951, but never spent a night there.

Nine years after the mansion was put on the market, it was sold in April to De Lom Partners LLC for $14.3 million. The original requested price was $34 million.

Though Rucci declined to identify the buyers by name, NBC News investigative reporter Bill Dedman, who wrote the 2013 book "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune," has reported that the buyers are fashion designer Reed Krakoff, former Coach executive, and his wife.

"What I can say is that this particular purchaser has purchased other properties, historic properties, and has renovated these properties in the past," Rucci said. "When they first came here, I was like, `Are you sure you want to do this? Don't you want to keep a couple lots?' ... But the buyers said no, `absolutely not. We want to go exactly back to the way it was.'

"They just happen to be very preservation-minded people," Rucci continued. "They're out of the city. They have properties in other parts of the world that they've done the exact same thing with. And they hold them. They don't go around and sell them."

The attorney said the new owners actually are moving to the house. "They wanted me to be sure that the commission knew that they were coming to live here," he said.

The property was divided into 10 buildable lots, ranging from 4.1 to 7.9 acres, on April 18, 2008, after a potential buyer made an offer on the estate. The buyer reportedly intended to build different buildings on the property, but the economy began to crumble and the buyer pulled out of the agreement.

The subdivision would require the owners to build a road, according to Town Planner Steve Kleppin.

New Canaan architect Keith Simpson, who has been working with the new owners on renovating the house, said they have a building permit application in place for "a major renovation of the building."

The mansion, built in 1937, hasn't had any active use for several decades and needs air-conditioning and heating systems, and other improvements, according to Simpson.

"It's a fine, historic property and the house is a very handsome house," he said. "I think it's going to look terrific."

The commission was strongly in favor of the merging the parcels and, according to Rucci, the neighbors were as well.

"I think it's just a great thing for the town," he said.

Clark, the daughter of turn-of-the-century copper tycoon and U.S. Sen. William Clark, died in 2011 at the age of 104, leaving behind a massive fortune, which fell into a battle between her distant relatives and her legal team. The feud was settled in the fall.

Clark had few friends and rarely left her palatial Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan.

Described as one of the "area's crown jewels," Le Beau Chateau is described as "one of Fairfield County's last great estate properties."

The residence features 11 fireplaces, a service courtyard for parking cars, a full basement, a walk-up attic and a terrace.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson