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New Canaan's mystery mansion may have mystery buyer

Published 10:56 am, Thursday, April 25, 2013

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  • No trespassing allowed at 104 Dans Highway, New Canaan. April 24, 2013. Photo: Tyler Woods
    No trespassing allowed at 104 Dans Highway, New Canaan. April 24, 2013. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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The unusual 22-room estate at 104 Dans Highway finally might have an occupant, after sitting vacant for more than 60 years.

Called Le Beau Chateau and owned by the estate of the late reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark, the mansion lies buried behind a small forest of trees on 52 acres in northern New Canaan.

According to Hannelore Kaplan, a Realtor with William Raveis Real Estate, a deal for the estate, which in recent years was rezoned to include a 10-lot subdivision, is in the works, though the potential buyer remains undisclosed. Kaplan has a co-listing agreement on the land parcels of the subdivision.

"He's definitely keeping the house," Kaplan said of the potential buyer. "He's hired an architect and is renovating and his preference is to keep the back four lots."

Kaplan said the lots range from 4 to 7 acres and will be priced between $2 million and $2.5 million apiece.

She said she cannot list the lots until the sale of the house closes, but that she has received interest in buying however many of the lots the buyer chooses to sell.

But the Realtor for the estate, Barbara Cleary, of the Barbara Cleary Realty Guild, was a bit more circumspect, saying that nothing has been signed yet.

"The property is still available for sale," she said. "The property is in negotiation. I expect a resolution in the near future."

The nine-bedroom estate, described in the listing as "one of Fairfield County's last great estate properties," is priced at $15.9 million. The property has been on the market since 2005. Its original list price was

$34 million.

Clark, the daughter of turn-of-the-century copper tycoon and U.S. Sen. William Clark, purchased the property in 1951, but never spent a night in the mansion.

She died in 2011 at the age of 104, leaving behind a massive fortune. With no close family or friends, Clark's conservatively estimated estate of more than $300 million fell into a legal battle between her distant relatives and her legal team.

Clark was a decidedly anti-social heiress. She had few friends and rarely left her palatial Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan. She spoke only in French so that her conversations could not be understood.

Over the years, the grounds of the estate have become populated with animals, which are cared for by Anthony Rugierri, one of two caretakers. A trip to the estate last fall found a dozen deer, many turkeys and several flocks of birds quietly co-habitating on the lawns by the street.

There had been interest by the nonprofit Wildlife in Crisis in maintaining the property as a nature preserve. The Weston-based organization rescues injured or orphaned animals.

Dara Reid, the organization's director, said she was disheartened to hear that the land will be developed.

"This was our greatest fear," she said in an email. "There are so many wild animals that call this estate home and once it is torn up and subdivided where will they go?

"What a shame and how shortsighted that the town of New Canaan did not see the value of nature over the greed of yet another subdivision."

On a recent trip to the estate, Rugierri appeared to be moving out, packing belongings into a van. He would not confirm, though, saying he was under a "100 percent gag order."

Cleary and Kaplan both said the name of the buyer would be revealed upon the signing of a contract.

"It's not Harry Connick Jr. I can tell you that," Kaplan said.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; https://twitter.com/Woods_NCNews