Historic Wyeth-designed Cielito Lindo fetches $6.8 million
Robert Stevens, courtesy of Fite Shavell & Associates Enlarge Photo With its prominent tower room rising above the roofline, historic Cielito Lindo at 122 Kings Road was sold this week for $6.8 million by homeowner Jody Weissman.
One of Palm Beach's most unusual historic homes, Cielito Lindo at 122 Kings Road, has sold for $6.8 million, according to a deed recorded Wednesday by the Palm Beach County Clerk's office.
The house is one of several Kings Road residences that were subdivided from a massive 1927 mansion designed by society architect Marion Sims Wyeth in a fanciful Moorish style for Woolworth heiress Jessie Woolworth Donahue and her husband, James.
Jody Wolf Weissman sold the Estate Section house, which stands a bit north of The Mar-a-Lago Club. Palm Beachers Stephen C. Smith and his wife, Austin, were the buyers.
Fite Shavell & Associates of Palm Beach handled the transaction for Weissman and had listed the 12,380-square-foot home at $7.99 million. The house was sold "90-percent furnished," said agency principal David Fite, whose firm acquired the listing in May. Allyson Chambers was the listing agent.
The Smiths were represented by agent Heather Woolems Rogers of the island brokerage of Sotheby's International Realty. Rogers would not comment on the sale.
Built on a parcel that then stretched from the ocean to Lake Worth, the original 45,000-square-foot Cielito Lindo - typically translated from the Spanish as "Little Piece of Heaven" - was subdivided 20 years later after Jessie Donahue downsized to another Palm Beach home designed by Wyeth. The living room was demolished to make room for King's Road, and the two major wings of the main house became the largest homes - including the three-level tower residence at 122 Kings Road - on either side of the new street.
Although it was originally an oceanfront home, subsequent lot divisions put the house in a mid-block position. With seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two powder rooms, the house has been completely restored and updated, and features extensive formal gardens created by landscape designer Mario Nievera.
Among the notable features on the grounds is an expansive wall with a fountain original to the Donohue estate. The wall is carved with the words Cielito Lindo.
Stephen Smith co-founded The Seaport Group, an investment bank with offices in New York City, West Palm Beach and several other cities.
Jody Wolf Weissman and her husband, Morris Weissman, bought Cielito Lindo for $2.43 million in May 1998 and transferred sole ownership of it to Jody Weissman in January 1999.
She is in the process of divorcing her husband, the former CEO and chairman of American Bank Note Holographics Inc., who remains free on bond after a federal jury in New York City convicted him in August 2003 on charges that he helped carry out an accounting fraud related to the initial public offering of his firm's stock in 1998, said her attorney, said her attorney, Jeff Fisher of Fisher & Bendick in West Palm Beach. Morris Weissman has yet to be sentenced.
In September 2003, Jody Weissman signed an appearance-bond collateral mortgage, using the house to secure a payment of $1.25 million of a total $1.5 million "surety obligation" in relation to the appearance bond her husband filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Jody Weissman filed for divorce eight months ago. In view of the pending divorce, a New York judge released her from the appearance-bond mortgage in June and ordered Morris to make other arrangements to secure his bond, said Fisher.
Together and separately, the Weissmans took out a number of other mortgages on the house, according to county property records, beginning with a $1.8 million 30-year mortgage in 1998.
"Jody was a wonderful client to deal with. We had multiple offers on the house, and her conduct was absolutely ethical," said Wade Shavell, who co-owns Fite Shavell with Fite.
The 2010 "market value" of the Kings Road home was appraised by the county for tax purposes at about $4.57 million.
The Smiths also own a residence at 109 Ocean Terrace on the North End, which they bought in 2004. Four years later, they transferred its ownership to themselves or their successors as trustees of the Austin A. Smith Revocable Trust.
Whether the same trust purchased the Kings Road house was unclear from information available on the county clerk's website Wednesday and Thursday.
Cielito Lindo's exterior is distinguished by red-tile bands, a red barrel-tile roof and geometric-shaped, interlaced-wood details.
Its library features pickled paneling that was originally part of the 1764 estate of English artist William Hogarth, along with pecky-cypress walls and ceilings in the bar room and an 18th-century marble fireplace mantelpiece. The tower room features panoramic views
"Of all Wyeth's work, this house was his largest and most impressive," architectural historian Donald Curl, a former professor at Florida Atlantic University, has said about the residence. "It was also the most Moorish, especially the tower and the entranceway."