Van Elslander mansion sold at auction
Grosse Pointe Shores — Someone is the proud new owner of a home that once had the highest price tag in the state.
Who that someone is and how much was paid wasn't revealed.
Grand Estates Auction Co., the Charlotte, N.C., firm that handled the auction of the home, announced on its website it had been sold Tuesday but didn't include details. Before the auction, a company official said 30 people had viewed the property.
What is known about the property is that it had been the pride and joy of furniture magnate Art Van Elslander, who founded Art Van Furniture. He put it on the market a year ago, asking a cool $15.9 million, which sounds more inviting than $16 million.
He wasn't able to sell it and retained Grand Estates to hold an auction Tuesday.
The French chateau is so large — 17,912 square feet — that an Art Van store could turn a profit for the year just by outfitting it.
The things in those 18,000 square feet are jaw-dropping: It has six bedrooms, all suites — and 13 bathrooms, nine full and four half. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, two-story marble foyer and floating staircase. It has wall murals, 30-foot draperies, dangling crystals, an elevator, wine cellar and five-car garage.
What's outside? Its 3.75 acres hold a tennis court, basketball court, putting green, pond and a fountain. One neighbor is Lake St. Clair. Another is the home built by Edsel and Eleanor Ford, which wasn't so shabby itself.
Van Elslander and his wife, Mary Ann, built the home in 1991, and it stood in testament to their business success.
Every room had its own personality, with different carvings, crystals and draperies. Even closets had ceilings different from the rest of the home.
The 36-foot dining room held a table that could expand to 28½ feet; that's room to sit 22 people.
Such a domicile couldn't be sold during a routine auction and Tuesday's event was far from normal. Just to make a bid, a person had to give a retainer, a certified check for $200,000. That way, the auction could quickly dispense with the riffraff, said Grand Estates. The losing bidders received their money back. The absolute auction had no reserve price, meaning there was no minimum price that had to be met.
The auction was held at the palatial home and open only to the bidders.