I had worked for Warner Brothers most of my adult life, and I was totally enthralled by the world that this guy had created. So I bought the house. And I sold Warner Brothers all the scripts, the Oscars, the mementoes for $3 million, which they’re going to use for a museum. I sold some of the rest of the stuff for $7 million. And I kept millions of dollars of furniture and silver. So I was really paying about $34 million for prime Beverly Hills property.
Put it up for sale at an asking price of $25 million. I first looked at Mar-a-Lago while vacationing in Palm Beach in 1982. Almost immediately I put in a bid of $15 million, and it was promptly rejected. Over the next few years, the foundation signed contracts with several other buyers at higher prices than I’d offered, only to have them fall through before closing. Each time that happened, I put in another bid, but always at a lower sum than before. Finally, in late 1985, I put in a cash offer of $5 million, plus another $3 million for the furnishings in the house. Apparently, the foundation was tired of broken deals. They accepted my offer, and we closed one month later. The day the deal was announced, the Palm Beach Daily News ran a huge front-page story with the headline MAR-A-LAGO’S BARGAIN PRICE ROCKS COMMUNITY. Soon, several far more modest estates on property a fraction of Mar-a-Lago’s size sold for prices in excess of $18 million. I’ve been told that the furnishings in Mar-a-Lago alone are worth more than I paid for the house. It just goes to show that it pays to move quickly and decisively when the time is right.