Trouble in paradise: Palm Beach mansion owner sues oceanfront neighbor, alleging barking dogs, rude behavior

The mansion at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd. in Palm Beach.

A dispute between neighbors who own oceanfront palaces in Palm Beach has spilled into court again.

In the latest round, former oil trader Lamia Jacobs says former Goldman Sachs partner John Thornton has engaged in a “campaign of harassment and bullying” that includes barking dogs and calls to police and code enforcement.

Jacobs, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2002 paid $17.5 million for the mansion at 100 Emerald Beach Way in Palm Beach. Thornton, a Wall Street titan, paid $77.5 million in 2008 for the mansion at 1236 S. Ocean Blvd. Thornton later bought the vacant lot at 100 Emerald Beach Way, which sits between Jacobs’ property and South Ocean Boulevard.

Jacobs’ suit was filed this month in Palm Beach County court. The plaintiff, 100 Emerald Beach Way LC, details a list of laments against defendants John and Margaret Thornton.

“Even while attacking 100 Emerald with a series of invented claims and demands, the Thorntons have allowed dogs to run wild on their property, barking at great volume and length,” Jacobs’ suit says.

“In one particular instance,” the suit continues, “plaintiff’s landscaper had a bucket truck on Emerald Beach Way for the purpose of trimming plaintiff’s trees. Rather than raise any concerns directly with plaintiff’s staff, the Thorntons called police even though the landscapers were on the street only for the amount of time necessary to properly trim the trees which could only be reached from the street and were not interfering in any way with defendants’ use of the easement.”

The backstory includes a 2014 suit filed by the Thorntons against Jacobs. In that suit, the Thorntons demanded that Jacobs tear down a concrete seawall that blocked their beach access. That suit also said Emerald Beach Way is “a private road on private property” and that parking isn’t allowed there.

The dispute often devolves into the Thorntons’ employees yelling at Jacobs’ staff, the suit says.

The Shiny Sheet reports that Jacobs is appealing a recent decision from the town’s Architectural Commission to approve two new tennis courts on the Thorntons’ six-acre property. An attorney for Jacobs said the courts are too close to her client’s home and will create noise and parking problems. The Town Council will hear the case next month.

Palm Beach mansion prices bounce back

This Palm Beach mansion sold in June 2017 for $23.7 million. (Photo courtesy Andy Frame)

At the end of 2016, the town of Palm Beach’s mansion market was showing signs of trouble. As of mid-2017, however, prices had rebounded sharply.

Among the top 10 percent of single-family sales in Palm Beach, the median price was $15.8 million in the second quarter of 2017, up 56.5 percent from a year earlier, according to a report released Thursday by brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

The average price reached $18.6 million, up 39.5 percent from mid-2016.

The sharp rise would seem to indicate that last year’s downturn was temporary. Among the upper 10 percent of deals, Palm Beach prices plunged 50 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Douglas Elliman.

Elsewhere in Palm Beach County, results were mixed. In Jupiter, average and median prices in the luxury market jumped by more than 25 percent. But in Delray Beach, the average luxury price fell 18.8 percent over the year, while the median price was off 9.5 percent.

For Palm Beach’s priciest official listing, yet another price cut

The mansion at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd. in Palm Beach. Courtesy Smith and Moore Architects.

The mansion at 1071 N. Ocean Blvd. in Palm Beach is the priciest official listing in the tony town, but the asking price keeps falling. The oceanfront spread went on the market in March 2015 for $84.5 million.

Last year, the seller cut the price to $79.5 million, then $74.5 million. This year the price fell to $69.9 million and now $64.9 million.

Palm Beach County’s once-hot mansion market slowed markedly in 2016. The Shiny Sheet’s Darrell Hofheinz has more on the Palm Beach property here.

See how much Tommy Hilfiger paid for Palm Beach mansion

100 Casa Bendita. Photo courtesy Caleb S. Thomas.

Fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger dropped $34 million on a Palm Beach mansion.

No deed has been recorded yet, but the Shiny Sheet’s Darrell Hofheinz confirmed the sale with Hilfiger. “We love Palm Beach,” Hilfiger said in an email. UPDATE: The deed was recorded Thursday.

The house at 100 Casa Bendita had been listed at $39.5 million.

Palm Beach County’s mansion market still soft, broker’s numbers show

Prices in Palm Beach County’s mansion market remained soft in the first quarter, according to a report released Thursday by brokerage Douglas Elliman. That continues a downward trend in mansion prices that emerged in the fourth quarter.


The most dramatic price declines came in Palm Beach, where the average sales price of the top 10 percent of houses fell 23 percent to $7.2 million. The median sale price was off 29 percent, to $5.8 million.

Yet the average price per square foot climbed 10 percent to $1,493. That shows the market isn’t crashing, just shifting to smaller homes, said Jonathan Miller, the New York analyst who prepared Douglas Elliman’s report.

“The bigger product isn’t moving, and the sales are skewing to the lower end,” Miller said.

Other findings, for the top 10 percent of single-family sales in each market:

  • In Delray Beach, the average sales price plunged 38 percent to $2 million and the average price per square foot fell 25 percent to $414. The median sale price was off 12 percent, to $1.7 million.
  • In Jupiter, the average sales price fell 1 percent to $2.4 million and the average price per square foot dipped 1 percent to $469. The median sale price cratered 25 percent, to $1.8 million.
  • In Wellington, the average sales price rose 14 percent to $1.7 million and the average price per square foot jumped 24 percent to $426. But the median sale price plummeted 33 percent, to $1 million.

Palm Beach County’s five priciest mansions mapped

1500 S. Ocean. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s International Realty

Palm Beach County’s five priciest mansions for sale include the $195 million Ziff estate in Manalapan and Netscape founder Jim Clark’s Palm Beach spread, on the market (but not in the MLS) for $137 million.

Rounding out the top five are a $75 million listing in Palm Beach, and Palm Beach mansions listed at $69.9 million and $59.5 million. See them on a map here:

Big deal: Palm Beach mansion fetches $77 million

Is the mansion market springing back to life? Perhaps. The mansion at 60 Blossom Way in Palm Beach just traded for $77 million, according to property records.

The seller was Venezuelan banker Victor Vargas. He paid $68.5 million for the property in 2008.

Palm Beach County’s mansion market was dormant for much of 2016. But in January, a Palm Beach property fetched $85 million. The Shiny Sheet’s Darrell Hofheinz has more details.

Trump, China and Twitter: 9 tweets that likely irked PRC leaders

President Donald Trump hosts his Chinese counterpart at Mar-a-Lago next week. It’s the second global — and Asian — leader the president brings to the Southern White House.

But this meeting may not be as amicable as the golf diplomacy with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. In fact, People’s Republic President Xi Jinping will not stay at Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach club but instead will spend the night in Manalapan.

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Abe, and the Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Why? Well, Twitter may have something to do with it.

RELATED: Will Palm Beach County benefit when Trump brings  a global leader?

On the campaign trail, Candidate Trump frequently blasted the trade deficit with China, saying the People’s Republic was “ripping off” Americans via unfair trade and monetary practices. Those complaints worked their way into Mr. Trump’s Twitter missives.

Since his election as president on Nov. 8, Mr. Trump has not taken China to task on Twitter very often. He’s just fired off nine times.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

But they’ve stung — in particular his defense of accepting a congratulatory call from the leader of China’s rival, Taiwan. Mr. Trump has also sharply criticized the PRC for inaction in dealing with provocative moves by North Korea.

In early January, China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, lambasted President Trump’s “Twitter diplomacy” likening it to a “child’s game.”

RELATED: Night at Mar-a-Lago: Inside charity event with Trump, Sessions nearby

Here are Mr. Trump’s China tweets since his Nov. 8 election.

Winter of discontent? Life with Trump as a neighbor

Billionaire Jeff Greene, who plans The Greene School for elementary and middle-school students in West Palm Beach
Billionaire Jeff Greene

President Trump shines the spotlight on Palm Beach when he leaves the White House to travel south to his part-time home, Mar a Lago, as he did last weekend.

But for some Palm Beach residents, including billionaire investor Jeff Greene, last weekend’s visit also brought gridlock and a hit to one of his businesses.

Read the Post’s coverage on President Trump here

Greene said he lost reservations at his Tideline Resort & Spa due to Trump’s visit. Tideline is at 2842 S. Ocean Blvd. on Palm Beach.

In fact, “a big group went to the Seagate Hotel in Delray Beach because they didn’t want to deal” with the traffic and the hassle of Palm Beach, Greene said.

The Secret Service effectively closed off a portion of Palm Beach near Mar a Lago during the weekend while Trump was in town. West Palm Beach wasn’t much better on Saturday: Trump protesters clogged the waterfront along Flagler Drive.

Other Palm Beach businesses, including some restaurants, lost reservations, too, said Greene, a Palm Beach resident who lives at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd., “two doors down” from Mar a Lago, which is at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd.

(In truth, these are very big doors: The property just south of Mar a Lago is the Bath and Tennis Club, followed by Greene’s $24 million oceanfront estate.)

Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, said she’s aware some tourists were having a hard time getting back to their Palm Beach hotels with the security checkpoints and roadblocks.

And shopping on Worth Avenue? Some tourists were afraid to try:  “People don’t want to be inconvenienced. They’ll shop elsewhere,” she said.

Baker said she’s now wondering how life in the future will be affected by Trump’s visits to Palm Beach.

For instance: The Palm Beach Boat Show, set for March 23-26.

Although the actual show only lasts a weekend, the set up takes considerably more time. The week before and the week after, a number of yachts cruise into the Intracoastal and go right by Mar a Lago.

If Trump were to fly down to Palm Beach during this time period, boats would be forbidden from cruising on the eastern side of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs near Trump’s “winter White House.”

Baker said she figured with Mar a Lago booked for 25 events this season, Trump  was going to skip his winter visits because of the tight security that surrounds him.

But that’s evidently not going to be the case, she said.

In fact, Trump now is expected to visit Palm Beach again this coming weekend.

Greene noted that Trump likes spending all holidays, such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, at Mar a Lago, as well as his winter visits. “He loves it here,” Greene said.

So being president of the United States won’t change Trump’s routine.

Going forward, Greene said Palm Beach officials and the Secret Service need a better plan: “You can’t shut down a town for four to eight years,” he said.

Indeed, even into Monday morning, before Trump left for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, getting around still was difficult.

Greene said it took him 45 minutes to cross the bridge Monday to take his son to school in West Palm Beach.

One bright spot to the weekend: Greene said he lives close enough to Mar a Lago to skip the traffic when he attended the Red Cross ball Saturday night.

“I walked,” he said.



Tiffany building on Worth Avenue on track to fetch top dollar

259 Worth Ave. is on the market.
259 Worth Ave. is on the market.

When the Tiffany building at 259 Worth Ave. went on the market late last year, dozens of investors showed interest, said Robert Granda, the Franklin Street broker marketing the property.

The seller is weighing 10 offers for the property, and Granda said the final price is likely to be $40 million, or more than $2,300 a square foot.

“It is a pure, prime, Class A, trophy asset,” Granda said. “When you Google Worth Avenue, this is the building that comes up.”

Tiffany plans to stay in the building after the sale, he said.