Dean's Gardens Sold
Pictures and Description from the Former Owner's Site
The mansion itself is approximately 32 thousand square feet. The carriage house, with another 10,000 square feet, has twin two-bedroom apartments, an office and laundry plus parking for a dozen cars.
Other structures on the property include the estate manager's cottage, the greens keeper's cottage, a conservatory, an amphitheater, a wedding chapel on the man-made lake, and several outbuildings including an Italian pavilion at the west end of the Italian Gardens. Extensive formal gardens and an 18-hole par 72 golf course complete the estate.
The Grande Salon
The Silver Suite
The Master Suite
The Formal Dining Room
The Malachite Bath
The Peacock Room
The Game Room
The Moroccan Rooms/Media Rooms
The Egyptian Suite
The Oriental Suite
The Ultra-Contemporary Bedroom
The Old English Bedroom
The French Bedroom
Hawaiian Art Gallery
The Golf Course
The Par 3 Golf Course Scorecard
By Dana Rosenblatt, CNN
August 23, 2010 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Johns Creek, Georgia (CNN) -- Some came for the bargains. Others arrived just to capture a glimpse of a lifestyle from a largely bygone era of decadence and conspicuous consumption.
Technology entrepreneur Larry Dean priced and tagged almost every possession at his former residence, a 32,000-square-foot megamansion appropriately called Dean Gardens.
Parts of the home's architecture, such as the rotunda in the foyer inspired by the dome of the Brunelleschi Cathedral in Florence, Italy, also were up for bids at the weekend estate sale.
The megamansion was recently sold after sitting on the market for more than a decade. Dean decided to liquidate most all of the home's contents after learning of the new owner's plans to level the palatial estate.
He teamed up with Atlanta-based organization Luminocity, which earned a portion of the proceeds to organize the estate sale. Luminocity plans to debut a 360 degree Performance Art Light Parade Experience late November, and representatives say some of its proceeds go to various local charities.
The estate sale kicked off Friday evening with a semiformal cocktail party, culminating late Saturday afternoon with plenty of merchandise still available.
The event drew more curious onlookers than serious buyers.
"We've been driving by this house for years and have always wondered what's inside," said Marlisa Grady, who brought her kids Madison and Ryan to the estate sale on Saturday.
"I promised the kids I'd get them something here, as long as it was under $100," Grady said.
The family walked out with an old-fashioned gumball machine for $75, taken from the game room.
The self-made baron of Dean Gardens made his fortune in the early 1970s after starting a financial services software company.
After the company went public, he and his first wife, Lynda, spent four years and $25 million to create the home of their dreams -- a neoclassical mansion for the nouveau-riche featuring 10 bathrooms and eight bedrooms. It is situated on 58 acres of landscaped Italian and French gardens that rival that of Versailles. The grounds feature an 18-hole golf course, grass tennis courts, an amphitheater and a conservatory.
Soon after the home was complete, the couple split, and Dean was faced with operating costs ranging from $750,000 to $1 million a year.
It's the hefty maintenance, says Dean, that prompted him to sell what he calls his legacy.
Dean had received several offers during the 15 years his home was off and on the market -- including one rumored to be from Michael Jackson.
Dean wouldn't comment on who had expressed interest, saying only that all the offers had been "flaky" until the one he accepted several weeks ago.
Though he could not disclose the details of neither the selling price nor the buyer, Georgia real estate records show the property sold for $7.6 million.
But the rumors that actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry is the new owner are true, said one estate sale organizer, adding that Perry plans to level the property to build a more energy efficient and sustainable residence.
Attendees took pictures of the mansion's extravagantly appointed rooms that were aptly named the Moroccan room, the Egyptian suite, the French Bedroom, the Contemporary room, the Asian suite and gardens and the 1950s game room.
Some attendees said the opulence of Dean Gardens is over the top given the current economic climate.
"Big mansions are a thing of the past. People want something more economic," said Marcia Foltz, who came to the estate sale with her daughter, Katy Foltz.
Throughout the event, an upbeat Dean mingled with shoppers and oglers in his former home, accepting offers on everything from $10 demitasse espresso cups to a 24-karat gold sink for which he paid $88,000.
The gold sink resembled "Flavor Flav's mouth," joked Joan Rivers during an episode of the TV program "How'd You Get So Rich?" featuring Dean.
Until its doors were open to the paying public (ticket prices ranged from $50 for one day to $100 for two-day event), Dean Gardens had been an enigma of opulence and kitsch.
"I've known about the legacy of Dean Gardens for 15 years," said Paul Mallchok, who drove from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"I remember there was a promotional video [that described it] as the most amazing home recently built in America, and it's a living up to every single expectation I ever had -- wretched excess," Mallchok said wryly.
Dean, a thrice-divorced grandfather of eight, says he's not sentimental about saying goodbye to anything, including the estate itself, and feels a sense of relief that he'll be living there for only one more month.
"I grew up in a house with four rooms the happiest kid you've ever seen," Dean said. "And now I want to go back to a four-room house."
$40 Million Mansion Sells for $7.6 Million
By Robert Frank
I’ll never forget my first megamansion.
It was 1994, and I was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau. I was sent to do an article about an estate outside of town known as Dean Gardens that had just been put up for sale.
I had never seen anything quite like it–-and haven’t since. My article began:
When Larry Dean built the largest, splashiest estate in town, he said he wanted to “glorify the gifts of God.”
What God makes of a Moroccan theater, 24-karat-gold sinks, 15 bedrooms and an 18-hole golf course remains unclear. What is apparent is that Mr. Dean’s $40 million project has become less of a divine dream house than his own high-priced purgatory. He can’t seem to get rid of it.
“I’m sort of a prisoner here,” says Mr. Dean, standing in the Peacock Room of his giant pink mansion, overlooking his outdoor amphitheater, tennis courts and gardens.
The 32,000-square-foot, tropical neoclassic mansion, as Mr. Dean describes it, has bathrooms built like Egyptian tombs, a Hawaiian-art gallery, a 1950s-style dance hall, French Empire furniture, 13 fireplaces, an “Alice in Wonderland” master bedroom and a 24-seat dining room complete with a wall-sized aquarium called the Predator Tank.
How Mr. Dean got stuck with a $40 million white elephant is fairly predictable. He earned a fortune in software, plowed much of it into his house, got a divorce and ran out of cash. He spent nearly $30 million to build it and $1.5 million a year on upkeep. He put it on the market in 1994 for $40 million.
There were no takers. I figured the house would get sold during the 1996 Olympics or at least during the housing boom of the 2000s. No takers.
According to The New York Times, the house just sold this month–after more than 16 years on the market–to entertainment tycoon Tyler Perry. The sale price was $7.6 million. Mr. Perry plans to tear it down and build a new new house on the land. Mr. Dean says he won’t get a penny, since it will go to pay off debts. Mr. Dean also sold off some of his personal items. (Click here to see the mansion’s website.)
“The buyer basically stole the house,” he told the Times.
The lack of buyers and steep discount is owed in large part to the home’s Liberace-meets-Napoleon design. My favorite was the master bed, carved in the shape of an iris and painted iridescent pink and aqua with 14 layers of the automotive paint used on Corvettes.
But the Dean house also shows how the lessons from real-estate excesses of the past are never learned. In 1994, I thought Dean Gardens represented the final blow-out of America’s new-money, over-leveraged megamansions. Now, it seems like a quaint anteroom.
There are even more Dean Gardens out there today. And cleaning them up and selling them off could take longer than 16 years.
How long–and at what price–do you think it will take to clear out today’s real-estate white elephants?