Rarely does a house become famous for its driveway, but this one in Alabama is the exception. Its driveway curves in the shape of a guitar, while creative landscaping makes it seem like it’s being strummed.
Despite its whimsical shape, the 50,000-square-foot mansion – thought to be the largest estate in Alabama – has had a sorry history. Built as the ultimate symbol of success, it was also the scene of its on-again, off-again owner Larry House’s financial breakdown.
It’s been on the market for years, and now House is hoping to unload it in an auction this Saturday, on Halloween. That’s despite the fact that he hasn’t had to pay property taxes on it since 2011, as Yahoo Real Estate confirmed after an AL.com report last year. The market value of the property is now pegged at $12.2 million; in 2011, when he paid more than $50,000 in taxes, it was valued at $11.9 million. Alabama law exempts homeowners from owing property taxes if they’ve reached age 65 and report zero income.
Back in 1997, the year the Guitar House’s reported $30 million construction was completed, House was flying high. He led physician management company MedPartners and was in the midst of putting together a $7 billion buyout, the biggest deal in Alabama history, according to the Birmingham Times.
But questionable bookkeeping quashed the deal, and House’s expected $84 million windfall turned into a $39 million loss after his company’s stock value dropped 45 percent in one day, the Birmingham Times wrote.
He was forced to resign amid the turmoil.
He was also in the midst of a messy, drawn-out, and expensive divorce that ultimately led to the steps of Alabama’s Supreme Court.
Mounting money problems forced him to try to sell the house, but he was unable to unload it. It went up for auction in 2003 but fetched only $3.95 million, which all reportedly went to the bank.
But House apparently couldn’t let the home go, so he bought it back from the bank sometime later, according to real estate network The Real Deal.
Now it’s going up for auction again.
Its value is estimated at $10 million, less than half what it cost to build, so the Guitar House represents a rockin’ bargain for budget-minded mansion owners. The gigantic 15-bedroom, 22-bathroom mansion, on 27 acres, is modeled after the historic castles in Italy and France. The house has a 2,000-bottle wine cellar, a gym, a 25-seat theater with a 170-inch screen, and an elevator.
Also on the property: a six-stall horse barn, a resort-like pool with waterfall, and a 3,000-square-foot guest house.
The auction will be conducted on the property, about 30 minutes from downtown Birmingham, this Saturday by DeCaro Luxury Real Estate Auctions (it’s at a gated community, so don’t try to crash). Bidding requires, among other things, a $100,000 deposit.
And here’s fun idea: Show up to bid dressed as your favorite guitarist; it is Halloween, after all.
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