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The Billionaire Estate Sale

Before the pandemic, I enjoyed the hobby of tracking interesting stories. I’d visit abandoned structures and historic places. I’d investigate unsolved mysteries tied to my area. Then, I’d photograph and write about them, and publish them here. I never realized how much I enjoyed doing this until I was forced to stop. 

Then suddenly, an opportunity presented itself. My alarm on Saturday woke me up at 6 a.m., so I could drive out to the affluent part of the Cities and secure an entry ticket to an estate sale.

Only, this was no ordinary estate sale. This one was held at the colossal estate of a billionaire, and the story behind it is fascinating.

He made his fortune in business, buying the struggling companies and turning them profitable again. He didn’t have the best reputation regarding his character, but his business sense was obviously unrivaled. In April 2019, the billionaire murdered his wife and killed himself inside the home. A basic Google search will easily pull up the news articles.

Some facts about the property:

-Listed on market in June for $12 million

-6 bedroom, 10 bathroom

-30,000+ square feet

-Built in 1939, has 8 fireplaces

-Pool, and a 3,500 square- foot guest house

-Has 750 feet of shoreline on Lake Minnetonka and another 200 feet on Lake Tanager 

-$85, 590 in property taxes (2019)

-Initially sold off a portion of his 32 acres intended for development

When I heard this sale was scheduled, I decided to follow my curiosity. I think I was expecting the interiors to rival that of the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, because I’ll admit to feeling a bit disappointed when I ventured inside. Looking past the sale set-up, I noticed I wasn’t wowed or charmed by the architecture or foundation or the decorating. It felt ... tacky. At the same time, it seemed to humanize this wealthy family who felt so far removed from my own experiences. It made me sad. To think of what happened within these walls, and then there I was browsing the material possessions that represent their lives, their family, their memories to haggle down in price. The dishware that meals were consumed from, the statues sculpted by the wife, the trinkets on display, books shelved throughout, and the sitting rooms - what conservations were had? What moments shared? Was there laughter? Were presents unwrapped Christmas morning after the sounds of excited children ran in? The estate and its neglected grounds were now merely a silent shell of itself.

The saddest thing I encountered was a heart-shaped crystal paperweight that was engraved with the phrase, “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” I felt chilled to the bone knowing what had taken place a little over a year ago.

In the end, I did purchase a painting by the murdered wife for my own house, and with it, comes an interesting story to tell about it. The jury’s still out on whether or not the painting is haunted or not.

Update October 28, 2022: the home, which went unsold, has since been demolished.