Robin Williams' Lingering Legacy: A Napa Valley Wine Estate
The swirl of speculation that's followed the untimely death of Robin Williams has spread to his financial health at the time of the comedian and actor's suicide last week. And much of the attention has focused on a luxurious property in California's Napa Valley that he'd been attempting to sell since 2012. The 654-acre vineyard estate had recently returned to the market with a $5.5 million discount.
Williams originally priced the property located between the towns of Napa and Sonoma at $35 million, admitting that he felt that he could no longer afford it. Williams then took it off the market before relisting it in April at $29.5 million.
Although it's a working winery, the main house that Williams built on the property at the beginning of the century is anything but workmanlike, with the 20,000-square-foot custom-designed mansion being constructed of Portuguese limestone, and featuring an oak-paneled library, a climate-controlled environment for art and wine, and a bell tower.
And along with popular luxury amenities like a screening room and infinity pool at the five-bedroom, 12-bathroom, Mediterranean-style home, there's a guesthouse, a stable and a fishpond. The Zillow blog further reports that aside from the Sauvignon blanc grapes on its farm acreage, there's a grove of olive trees.
So was the estate that Williams dubbed Villa Sorriso (or "Villa of Smiles") an eventual sorrow for him?
Attorney Danielle Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights, told ABC News that divorces had left Williams still rich in real-estate holdings but "cash poor." Forbes magazine, however, cited estimates that put his estate's net worth at the time of his death at $50 million, with $25 million of that in real estate.
Williams' publicist has discounted any claims that the entertainer was in any financial peril, declaring in a statement that those reports are "simply false," and saying of Williams decision to end his life: "I understand people's desire to try and understand this, but we would encourage your focus be on working to help others and understand depression."
As for the fortunes of properties like Villa Sorriso in the Napa Valley, some of the luster appears to have faded from owning a wine estate. The rich and picturesque agricultural region didn't escape the impact of Great Recession on property values: Real estate prices had skyrocketed there in the housing boom that preceded it, in part due to an influx of "gentleman farmers" like Williams.
And the bigger the properties are, the tougher they seem to be to sell. Former 49er football star Joe Montana slashed the price on his Sonoma County estate from $49 million to $35 million in 2012, after it had already lingered on the market for years. And the Robert Mondavi estate, originally listed at $25 million in 2010, was put up for auction at a starting bid of about half that 18 months later, and sold for an undisclosed price.