Photography: Dennis Rodkin
List Price: $2.95 million
Sale Price: $2.2 million
The Property: In Highland Park, the 11,000-square-foot blufftop mansion of a Russian tycoon, who left a reported $27 million in debt when he died a few years ago, sold August 15 after three years on the market. The $2.2 million sale price was less than one-fourth of the original 2009 asking price of $8.93 million.
After Mikhail Katamanin died in 2009, the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Hinkel reported that although he had had homes in Switzerland, Moscow, and Highland Park, “an eye-popping fleet of foreign cars” and a 40-foot yacht, he had also “whipped up a hurricane of debt, including nearly $7 million owed to Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.” The planned sale of the extravagant pink home that stands above 120 feet of private beach may have been part of what Hinkel described as a “multinational legal brawl over [Katamanin’s] assets.”
It took a series of steep price cuts—and a succession of real estate agents—to finally get the place sold. The fourth and final listing agent, Linda Levin of Jameson Sotheby’s, declined to comment on the sale, other than to say, “it’s good for the community.”
Photos that accompany the listing show an ostentatious interior, including palatial expanses of flooring, extensively detailed ceilings, and a national forest’s worth of wood in a mammoth glass-roofed study.
According to the listing, the property has “a spectacular terraced walkway on over 1 acre of landscaped property, spacious rooms, luxurious finishes, superb craftsmanship, [a] magnificent indoor pool, [and a] 6 car elevator garage.” A colleague of mine who had been in the house described it a little differently: “The excess was enough to make you mad,” says Rochelle Adkinson, who hosted the CLTV show HomesPlus from 2007 to 2011. She toured the property for an episode of the show (video from which is no longer accessible), and recalls that “the whole house was kind of like a maze. To get from one bedroom to another, you had to go halfway down a flight of stairs and back up [the other side]. You went through a bedroom to an office to a secret room. It was ridiculous.”
In 2010, when LeBron James was considering which NBA team he would relocate to, rumors were rampant that he had toured this mansion. Katamanin’s widow, Lena Katamanin, laughed and hung up when I reached her by phone trying to nail those rumors down; the point was moot when James picked the Miami Heat. (I was not able to reach Lena Katamanin for this article.)
Last year, the effort to sell the house was at the center of a lawsuit, when Lena Katamanin claimed that the agents then listing the property had been “careless and negligent” about an open house event, leading to the theft of $162,000 worth of jewelry.
Because Levin would not comment, I don’t know the state of the house when it sold. The listing photos may or may not have been current. From the street, the only hint about the home’s condition was the weatherbeaten look of the wood front doors and garage doors.
Price Points: Still on the market is the 9,800-square-foot mansion one door south, which was the other half of Katamanin’s compound. That one has 100 feet of beach. It started out in 2009 with an asking price of $5.57 million; that’s come down by 47 percent, to a current asking price of $2.95 million. Hinkel once reported that a Kataminin relative living in that home said he was required to stay on the property at all times because there were “too many expensive stuffs inside.” On Thursday, the gate to that house was held shut with a bike lock.