SELLER: Billy Joel
LOCATION: Miami Beach, FL
SIZE: 8,881 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Late last night, while settling in with The Dr. Cooter to watch The Big C on the DVR, Your Mama received a semi-covert communique from a fetching real estate purveyor down in Miami Beach who kindly let the cat out of the celebrity real estate bag about six-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Billy Joel hoisting his mansion on Miami Beach’s gated La Gorce Island on the market with an asking price of $14,750,000.
Mister Joel has owned the .67-acre, pie-shaped waterfront property since February 2006 when property records and other online sources we perused show the thrice-married, sometimes-troubled and occasionally cantankerous balladeer purchased the posh pile on La Gorce Island (through a limited liability) company for $13,500,000. Your Mama can’t say for certain but it looks to our boozy peepers like The Piano Man paid all cash. Cold hard cash, puppies, because that’s the way this real estate baller rolls.
Listing information indicates the Mediterranean Revival mansion—in the style, perhaps, of much lauded and deservedly applauded resort architect Addison Mizner—was only built in 2004, measures 8,881 square feet and contains a total of 7 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms, a count we are pretty sure (but not positive) includes the separate 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom guesthouse.
Palm trees dot the sides of a paver stone driveway that passes through an motorized wrought iron gate and arched porte-cochere to a palm tree-ringed interior motor court with two separate and semi-detached two-car garages. This is exactly the sort of pap-proof motor court a hard partying celeb who occasionally has trouble ambulating after a long night out on the town would appreciate and could benefit from. Anyhoo, a row of archways knitted with wrought iron grillwork define the (false) front facade that gives way not directly to the house but a lush courtyard with fountain and a single, towering palm tree anchored in each of the four corners.
The sheer amount of marble (and/or limestone and/or whatever), the intricately scrolled wrought banisters and the double-height ceiling the in the impress-the-guests-style foyer sets the opulent architectural stage for the ritzy residence that includes elevated and barrel vaulted ceilings, at least one fireplace with a massive carved stone chimney breast—that may or may not be antique—and a brigade of French doors with semi-circular transoms that frame sparkling views of the Biscayne Bay.
The mansion, according to listing details, has formal living and dining rooms and listing photographs show them done up in what Your Mama might describe with a scrunched up face as restrained, non-threatening and surprisingly like the day-core of a well-to-do but not-particularly-soigné grandmother. No doubt every stick of furniture in that house cost more than Your Mama’s big ol’ BMW but it’s all just a great big yawn. We’re not sure it was fair to do so but Your Mama expected more from decoratively a deep-pocked fella with a famously healthy appetite for high-end properties in exclusive locales. Or maybe it’s just been de-personalized for selling? Who knows?
Anyhoo, listing information and images for Mister Joel’s Miami Beach getaway go on to mention and/or show a cook’s kitchen, a home office, and a rather capacious waterside family room with groin-vaulted ceiling, built-in wet bar (with wine cellar) and direct access to one of the many loggias on the backside of the mansion through three sets of French doors with half-circle transoms. We are feeling very iffy about the drapery over the French doors in the family room but they are utterly harmless compared the hidjus and nonsensical gold brocade swaggery that festoons the dining room. Can someone explain to Your Mama why so many rich people (and their nice-gay and lady decorators) think an all-but-useless, pleated and swagged curtain is a good use of expensive fabric?
The essentially symmetrical rear facade is punctuated rhymically with two dozen or more arched windows and openings that liberally join the interior spaces on both floors of the mansion to shady loggias with palm tree sprinkled views across Biscayne Bay towards that bank of low- and high-rise apartment complexes that line the opposite shores. Less deep loggias flank a voluminous central space with grandiose, double-height ceiling held aloft by a couple of slender carved stone columns.
Identical paver stones that make up the driveway and motor court extend out from the lower level loggias, surround a swimming pool and spa, and run up to a precisely-clipped, knee-high boxwood hedge at the water’s edge. At the far end of the pool there appears to be an open air pool cabana where, we can imagine but not confirm, the outdoor summer kitchen mentioned in the listing is located. The property claims 150-plus feet of waterfront, as per listing information, and already has a well-equipped deep water dock for parking the boat.
La Gorce Island has long been a favored enclave by celebs and big bizness types with the dough and inclination to maintain a mansion in Miami. Cher once owned a big house just down the street from Mister Joel as did Latin pop/crossover star Shakira. Bee Gee Maurice Gibb bought a La Gorce Island mansion only the year before he died in 2003 and tatted up, dope-smoking rapper Lil’ Wayne is well known to have leased a colossal, 20,000-plus waterfront contemporary on La Gorce Island once listed for sale at $13,900,000 and that he may or may not have purchased last year.
In addition to the mansion in Miami Beach bought a few years after they were married for $13,500,000 and now up for grabs for $14,750,000, Mister Joel and his much younger third ex-wife Katie Lee bought a slew of high-priced East Coast properties, some of which have been unsuccessfully up for sale and others that have been sold off.
In 2002 Mister Joel dropped a considerable and impressive $22,000,000 on an historic, 14,000-or-so square foot mansion (above) in haughty and high-nosed Centre Island, NY on the gilded North Shore of Long Island. He and Katie Lee got hitched on the property in 2004. Sometime in 2006 the Gatsby-esque estate was heaved on to the open market with a whip-cracking asking price of $37,500,000. Alas, and at least as far as Your Mama knows, the swank spread never sold and Mister Joel continues to own the estate that claims more than 1,500 feet of waterfront, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a tennis court and a bowling alley, plus a 3 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom guesthouse and a 3 bedroom and 3 bathroom beach house. The taxes, maintenance and staffing costs for this property aren’t known to Your Mama but we can only imagine they total an amount so high we’d need a God damn nerve pill and a nap after learning it.
Just before they were married, property records indicate Mister Joel paid an unknown amount of money to acquire a very modest and not particularly privately-situated residence in downtown Sag Harbor, NY just across the road from the marina where he often parks the boat he named after his only daughter Alexa. As far as Your Mama knows—which ain’t much—Mister Joel still owns this property.
In late 2005, the then-happy and fairly newly-wedded Joels paid $5,900,000 for a townhouse in New York City’s gentrified West Village they had worked over from head to toe with a sophisticated sheen by nice-gay decorator turned tee-vee host Nate Berkus (living room shown above). In fall 2009, their marriage done swirled down the terlit of love, then-still-Missus Joel paid Mister Joel $3,000,000 for full ownership of the renovated townhouse that she subsequently sold to a mysterious buyer in March 2011 for $11,650,000. We’re not sure to where third ex-Missus Joel decamped in Manhattan but, as noted by the kids at Curbed, in August 2011 she coughed up around $3,500,000 for a new crib in the Hamptons, an approximately 6,700 square foot, cedar-shingled pile with 6 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms in Water Mill.
In two separate transactions in the summer and fall of 2007, generous Mister Joel bought his tee-vee presenter and cook book writing bride a pair of funky but charming side-by-side ocean front love nests on gorgeous Gibson Beach in the supremely pricey Hamptons community of Sagaponack. The combined purchase price for the pair of humble but haute-ly priced beach front abodes rang up to $28,385,000. He paid, according to public records and previous reports, cash for both homes. Like we said at the outset, that’s how B.J. rolls when it comes to real estate.
By the summer of 2009 their marriage had swirled down the dirty terlit of love and both houses were back on the market, one at $22,500,000 and the other at $12,500,000. The smaller house, a simple if prodigiously pricey beach shack, really, was sold in February 2010 for $10,000,000 to an unknown buyer. That’s a very-serious $1,625,000 less than he paid for the place a few years earlier. The larger of the two homes, which he bought from the estate of late actor Roy Scheider, remained available for more than two years but was taken off the market in early January (2012) as noted by the property gossip gals at Newsday.
listing photos, Miami Beach (top): One Sotheby’s International Real Estate