It's the Florida address that played a fateful role in the collapse of two Canadian media empires and it can be yours for $35-million (U.S.).
Izzy Asper's oceanfront mansion at 102 Canterbury Lane in Palm Beach has been put up for sale by the Asper family. It was there that Mr. Asper approached Conrad Black in 2000 with the idea of buying dozens of Canadian newspapers owned by Lord Black's Hollinger International Inc. Lord Black agreed and they codenamed the deal "A Canterbury Tale" after the mansion's address and Chaucer's famous work.
When the $3.1-billion (Canadian) deal for the Hollinger papers closed in August, 2000, it was hailed as a breakthrough for Mr. Asper's CanWest Global Communications Corp. and Lord Black's Hollinger. Instead, CanWest buckled under the crippling debt load and Lord Black and other Hollinger executives faced scrutiny for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in side deals.
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Both companies ended up in bankruptcy protection with their assets sold for a fraction of their purchase price. Mr. Asper died in 2003 and Lord Black is in jail for fraud and obstruction of justice, awaiting word on an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Asper bought the Palm Beach house in 1997 for $7.5-million (U.S.) from auto dealer Roger Dean. The 12,500-square-foot property soon became one of his favourite haunts and he regularly conducted CanWest business from the study which overlooks the ocean. After he died, his widow, Ruth (Babs) Asper, kept up the house and lived in it occasionally.
It's not clear why the family is selling it now and Mr. Asper's son, Leonard, declined comment.
The sprawling Bermuda-style home will be quite a find for a wealthy buyer. It has nine bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a pool, hot tub, night-lit tennis court, home theatre and a two-storey guest house. The interior features some personal touches by Mr. Asper including a giant mural in the billiard room that depicts a Wild West bar scene with a sign that says "Izzy's Bar & Billiards".
"It's one of a kind," said Cristina Condon of Sotheby's International Realty in Palm Beach, which is handling the sale. "We have a lot of interested parties."
Mr. Asper loved the area so much he bought another house on Canterbury Lane in 1997, but sold it in 2000 for $2.75-million, according to city property records.
The Canterbury name stuck for other Asper ventures. Leonard and his brother David are partners in a private equity fund called Canterbury Park Capital. Their father also owned the Palm Beach home through a Calgary company called House of Canterbury Inc.
Meanwhile, Lord Black has put his Palm Beach home up for sale as well. There is no listed asking price, but according to property records the 21,000-sq.-ft. home is valued at $32.6-million by city officials for tax purposes.