Conrad Black has sold his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., and moved to New York to wait out the final stages of his prolonged battle to overturn convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Lord Black unloaded the ocean-front mansion this week, selling it for $25-million to an unidentified couple from California.
"I have left [Palm Beach]and am in New York and will stay here for some time," Lord Black said in an e-mail Friday. He added that the buyers "have homes in other states, very pleasant people but I don't really know them."
Lord Black had put the house up for sale several times in recent years, but it fell victim to Florida's sagging real estate market. He listed it for $37-million in 2005, $35.5-million in 2006 and $30-million last year. The city valued it at $24.3-million for tax purposes in 2010, records show. That was down from $32.6-million in 2009.
Lord Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, bought the property in 1977 for $10-million and made numerous renovations. The 21,000-square-foot home sits on three acres and has six bathrooms, five bedrooms, a tennis court, movie theatre, fountain, pool and a tunnel under the road to the beach.
The house played an important role in Lord Black's criminal case, serving as security for his $20-million bail when he was initially charged in 2005. Lord Black was eventually convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice relating to the misappropriation of $6.5-million from Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc.
Two fraud charges were later reversed on appeal and Lord Black has filed one last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the remaining fraud charge and the obstruction charge reversed as well. Three other former Hollinger executives were also convicted of fraud.
Lord Black was sentenced to 6½ years in prison in 2007, but he was released on bail last summer while the final appeals proceeded.
By then it was clear the Blacks had lost interest in the Palm Beach property. During his bail hearing last summer, lawyers for Lord Black told a Chicago judge that Lady Black has health issues that make it uncomfortable for her to live in Florida during summer. The Blacks also turned over control of the house to a Connecticut investment firm, although they kept an option to buy it back.
It is also doubtful Lord Black will be able to remain in the United States much longer. If his final appeal is not heard by the Supreme Court, he will be resentenced in June on the two remaining convictions. He could return to jail or be released based on time already served. However, even if he is released, he could be deported from the United States because of his criminal convictions. If that happens, it's unclear where Lord Black would go. He is a British citizen, but his lawyers have filed applications to allow him to return to Canada.