Who exactly built Nelson Peltz's Palm Beach mansion, location of Beckham-Peltz wedding?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Support local journalism. Unlock unlimited digital access to palmbeachpost.com

So who built Montsorrel, the oceanfront mansion that is the centerpiece of Nelson and Claudia Peltz’s Palm Beach estate, where the wedding of daughter Nicola Peltz will take place Saturday to Brooklyn Beckham, son of soccer legend David Beckham and his former-Spice-Girl-wife, Victoria?

The story begins in 1891, the year Anita O'Keeffe was born. She was the sister of artist Georgia O'Keeffe and would one day be the widow of Robert R. Young, the New York Railroad magnate. The slightly dark and withdrawn personality she exhibited in her later years — before her death in 1985 — was the logical result of multiple tragedies.

Beckham-Peltz wedding invitation list: Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend Beckham-Peltz Palm Beach wedding?

Who is billionaire Nelson Peltz?: Peltz’s Palm Beach mansion is location of Beckham-Peltz wedding

More Beckham-Peltz wedding facts: Brooklyn Beckham, Nicola Peltz Florida wedding from Spice Girls to royalty

The Youngs’ only child, a brunette named Eleanor — but nicknamed Cookie — was, like Brenda Frazier, one of the Glamour Debs of the Depression era. At 21, Cookie eloped with Robert Ogden “Bunty” Bacon — a handsome, tanned, tennis-playing rogue loathed by Anita and R.R. — and broke her parents’ hearts.

The marriage was short-lived. A few years later, Cookie died in the crash of a Fairchild Model 24 monoplane piloted by her new boyfriend, Greek shipping heir Nicky Embiricos, whom she planned to marry as soon as he legally extricated himself from the wife and young child he'd left behind in Palm Beach.

Only Nicky, Cookie and Cookie's dog were in the plane after it crashed into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean shortly after taking off from Newport, Rhode Island. When pulled from the floating wreckage, Nicky and Cookie were barely alive. He died on the beach during lifesaving efforts; Cookie died a few hours later at a local hospital.

The Youngs had homes in Newport and New York. In Palm Beach, they owned an Addison Mizner-designed house in the North End called The Towers, where Anita hosted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor — whom she shorthanded as "the DDW" in her household notes — as well as Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy; Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; and the Maharani of Jaipur.

The creation of Montsorrel estate, current home to Nelson and Claudia Peltz

In 1958, Anita Young endured another tragedy. R.R., facing financial ruin when his plans for expanding the New York Railroad went awry, died after shooting himself in their Palm Beach home.

Anita O'Keefe.
Anita O'Keefe.

During the summer of 1964, his widow razed the Palm Beach house to replace it with a more colossal Neoclassical mansion she would call Montsorrel – often poetically translated as Mount of Sorrows but, more prosaically, as Grassy Hill. The mansion would be purchased in 1987 by Nelson and Claudia Peltz, who have since carried out renovations.

Construction of the house took three years. Reputedly a stern task mistress, Young’s demands during the construction of Montsorrel reportedly caused the contractor to kill himself, according to local gossip.

The house caused a sensation in town, with “everyone but everyone” endeavoring to get in the doors, the New York Daily News gossip column “Suzy Says” reported in 1968.

“All sorts of stories and rumors grew up about the place — the marble entrance hall was 100 feet long, guests whose aristocratic feet wore out early would be provided with Jansen-decorated golf carts to get about the place, the 18th century parquet floors were better than those things at Versailles, the staircases were bowers of white orchids and amaryllis, the pool and loggia were too good for a Roman emperor, the glass-enclosed terraces were petrifyingly gorgeous. Whatever — 90% of the stories turned out be true.”

Suzy concluded: “This Palm Beach showplace is Anita’s dream come true.”


Note: This article was adapted from one originally published in a special Palm Beach Daily News section marking the Palm Beach centennial in 2011.

Support local journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Facts on site of Brooklyn Beckham, Nicola Peltz wedding in Florida