Put on your thinking caps and you’ll remember how Yolanda promised that we’d discuss greener pastures than dry-bone ol’ LA. And they don’t come much greener than Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.
But before we begin, we wanna tell y’all a wee little secret. Here it is: Yolanda doesn’t care about Hollywood celebrities.
No, really! We don’t care about them at all. We think it may be because we’re just a jaded LA-raised beotch. So we write about celebrity homes because they drive lots of clicks and keep Yolanda’s bread buttered. And sure, we understand that it’s cool to see how folks you see on the screen or hear on the radio live. We totally get it.
But we’re much more fascinated — perhaps even obsessed — with a group of people who we sometimes call the “phantom billionaires”. A perfect example is Tina Trahan, whose $7 million Santa Monica spec-mansion we dissected a few months back. Chances are about 99.9999% percent that you will never see her included on any sort of wealth list. Ms. Trahan is an unemployed single mother without family money (we think) or a hefty divorce settlement (she was never married to her child’s father). And she is practically ungoogleable. With the exception of this juicy 2009 Deadspin article, of course.
And yet the lady is rich. Ludicrously rich, in fact.
The enigmatic Ms. Trahan somehow owns multi-million dollar homes, spends her time being whisked around the country on private jets, and has a middle-school age kid who attends the uber-elite Buckley School in Sherman Oaks with the children of billionaires. The Tesla-driving Ms. Trahan is also believed to be a close confidante of celebrities like Bradley Cooper, Tiger Woods, and a variety of other assorted moguls. We don’t know how she does it, y’all, but she gets it done. And Yolanda loves it.
Anyways, sometime last week our old story about our favorite socialite suddenly started receiving many hundreds of hits. At first, Yolanda wasn’t sure what all the random commotion was about. But then helpful commenter Joe Blow informed the ignorant Yolanda that Ms. Trahan had shocked locals by flashing the big cash way up on the faraway shores of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Sure enough, Yolanda quickly discovered that a prominent article in the Geneva Shore Report had fingered Ms. Trahan as the purchaser of an unabashedly opulent (and expensive) co-op residence in one of the most historic structures in the city. Still, Yolanda was a bit skeptical at first. Our Ms. Trahan, you see, is a very high-falutin’ gal. Our gurl usually keeps it swanky with strictly LA, NYC, and Miami destinations. Plus, she never ever puts her name on anything. It’s always blind trusts.
But a quick check of property records positively, absolutely confirms that Ms. Trahan — and Ms. Trahan alone — paid $5,995,000 for the property in question. And yes, that’s the full damn asking price. She paid every little penny. Every grain of sand. And in her own, real name.
And what property are we referring to? Buckle up…
The expensive resort town of Lake Geneva has long been popular as a local vacation destination for folks from Chicago and Milwaukee. Since the 1800s, wealthy landowners have built hulking manor houses along the picturesque lake. Think of Lake Geneva as the Malibu to Chicago’s LA. Make sense?
Anywho, Ms. Trahan now owns the entire first floor of a historic and seriously massive mega-mansion known as Stone Manor. And the history of the place is as interesting as you might suspect. For a full and much more comprehensive recap, please click here or here, but we’ll try to summarize as best we can.
(Photos courtesy of genevalakefrontrealty.com)
Stone Manor, easily the largest mansion on Lake Geneva, began construction way back in 1899 and was commissioned by a German immigrant turned powerful Chicago real estate investor named Otto Young. Younglands, as the hulking Renaissance Revival-style villa was then christened, reportedly cost $2 million to build — an incredible amount back at that time — and was completed in 1901. In total, it includes six different levels of living space in more than 40,000 square feet with 50+ bedrooms. There are two sub-basements, three main levels, and a rooftop terrace with a swimming pool.
The exterior walls are entirely carved from Bedford limestone, naturally. The interior walls are hewn from massive chunks of Tennessee marble. And believe it or not, y’all, all the doorknobs and fixtures and plumbing were 24-carat gold. Auric himself should’ve raided this place instead of Fort Knox, right? Right!
Poor Mr. Young didn’t get much chance to enjoy his opulent hotel of a manor. Just five years after completing the construction, he died from complications of an extended bout of tuberculosis.
From there, the estate descended to a long line of unlucky owners. Its history became littered with bankruptcies and foreclosures and other assorted money troubles. The house has been (at different times): a boarding school for girls, a hotel, a restaurant, and — most bizarrely — a Christmas tree museum (???). It’s also been repo-ed by the bank at least twice and sold for as little as $10,000 back in 1954.
It wasn’t until 1990 that the ol’gurl, with her kibbles and bits sagging from years of abuse and neglect, finally got a second lease on life and a much-needed facelift. That year, it was purchased by wealthy Chicago developer Tom Ricci, who quickly completed a multi-million dollar restoration of the entire property and proceeded to divvy up the interiors into several different condominium units. It is Yolanda’s understanding that there are two units on the third floor, two units on the second floor, and one giant unit that spans the entire ground floor.
It is the first floor unit where Ms. Trahan just dumped six million bucks. And it is the first floor that has long been considered the most desirable unit in the building. And it’s not just because it’s the only full floor spread, either. It’s because all of the main rooms — the ballrooms, the drawing rooms, sitting areas, are mostly located on the main floor. Check out the pics below, kids. See what we mean?
See all that detailing? All original — trust. The unit clocks in at a mammoth 12,000-square-feet with 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms.
Instead of doing our normal blah blah blah with the pictures, we’re gonna let them all talk. We will say, however, that the upkeep on a condo like this could potentially bankrupt your run-of-the-mill millionaire.
Here’s something Yolanda doesn’t see too often anymore. It’s a library — a real, honest-to-goodness library!
A beautifully detailed covered terrace shelters its occupants from the oft-chilly Wisconsin days. Views take in the lake.
The kitchen is perhaps the least-inspired part of the interior, but all the same, it’s got some pretty cabinets.
The nearly-$6 million sale price is — per Yolanda’s cursory research — the third-highest sale price paid for a residential property in the entire state of Wisconsin this year. And it is — by far — the largest for any sort of co-op property. Yolanda would not be the least bit surprised if this is the most money ever paid for a condo unit in the entire state. Yes? No?
Along with that huge sale price comes other expense. Things like $2,707 in monthly association dues.
$2,707 in dues per month?! Holy mackerel! (We’re not positive, but that might be even more than Beverly Park folks pay!) All that money goes toward maintaining the estate and the amenities within. Let’s not forget about the tennis court, subterranean garage, rooftop pool, yacht slips, 10 acres, and 400′ of lakefront frontage. Quite honestly, y’all, Yolanda is a bit surprised that monthly nut isn’t bigger.
Why would Ms. Trahan randomly decide to buy big digs in Wisconsin? Maybe it ain’t so random after all. Ms. Trahan, you see, originally hails from Chicago. We don’t know for sure, but we can imagine that she visited these shores as a young lass. Perhaps she even romantically resolved to buy this place when she was rich and famous (or at least running with a famous crowd) like she is now.
So where does all Ms. Trahan’s money come from? We’ve talked to a couple people who have different theories, but we think the most plausible explanation is that it comes courtesy of Ms. Trahan’s current squeeze, Chris Albrecht, CEO of the Starz media company.
But Ms. Trahan ain’t just your ordinary lady living off a sugar daddy’s spoils, either. As previously mentioned, it is Ms. Trahan — and only Ms. Trahan — who owns this extraordinary Stone Manor condo. Plus she’s got that $7.15 million house in Santa Monica. She’s got her own money and it seems she’s suddenly not afraid to flaunt it. She is boss lady status.
Which brings us to our final point…
Perhaps we overrate our own importance, y’all, but we can’t help feeling that this purchase is partially a big “F.U.” from Ms. Trahan to Yolanda. Think about it. Why would this lady — who has striven to keep herself all but ungoogleable — suddenly slap her own name on such an outlandishly opulent and noticeable residence? She’s always used blind trusts, before, to Yolanda’s knowledge.
Make no mistake, kiddies, Ms. Trahan is not a dumb lady. Far from it. We are quite certain she got to where she is by using her brain (seriously). She knows people will be squawking about this purchase, which is absolutely enormous for the area. As we’ve already said, it’s the third largest residential sale in all of Wisconsin this year and quite possibly the largest ever in the state for any sort of condo/co-op situation. And she paid the full damn $6 million asking price. No other unit in the same structure, kids, has ever sold for more than $2 million or so. A full price sale of an extravagant property with her own name sittin’ on the deed. It’s like she’s saying “Yes, bitches, I’m really rich. Keep those lips movin’.”
Now, it’s entirely possible that Ms. Trahan is unaware that we exist and doesn’t give a hoot about any of the silly nonsense we squawk about on this blog. But we like to imagine she does. We hope she does. Because if not, she just schooled us without even trying.
Yolanda is well-off and we drive a new Caddy to get our daily pedicures, of course, but we are distinctly aware that Ms. Trahan could likely buy and sell our life several times over. She just spent $6 million on an apartment with an annual tax bill of $70,000 (mas o menos) and monthly association dues of nearly $3,000! On a property where she will probably spend only a few weeks per year. The lady is ballin’.
Did Yolanda just get owned by Ms. Trahan?
Yep. She did.