Cell Exec's Dream Chateau Becoming Nightmare

Briggs Freeman RealtorsOne writer has deemed it the "best little teardown in Texas." Champ D'Or at 1851 Turbeville Road in Denton could truly be the icon of housing-bubble, trophy-home excess. The 34,800-square-foot mansion set on 119.2 acres waaay north of Dallas, was completed in 2002, put on the market a year later and is still seeking a buyer.

The spread was inspired by a real French chateau 35 miles southeast of Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte, home of the tragic Nicolas Fouquet. The knockoff is named after its owners, Texans Alan and Shirley Goldfield ("gold fields" in French, get it?). The Goldfields built their Lone Star chateau 25 minutes northwest of Dallas with an original price tag of $72,000,000.

The neighborhood is slightly different than its inspiration's: The chateau is about a half-mile from a trailer park and a Chili's is about seven minutes down the street, off Interstate 35. Neighboring homes include scrubby ranches and a few newer McMansions. It's also near the ghost-town-like Cornelius Town Center and the back entrance to a Wal-Mart.
Alan Goldfield is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of CellStar, once a Carrollton, Texas-based distributor of cellphones and related accessories. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native started the company in 1969 as National Tape and Record Center; by 1997 his 34.7 percent stake in the company was worth more than $500 million. But by July 2001, Goldfield was out of the company he had created, although he and his wife were committed to finishing the mega-home they'd taken four years to build, barely lived in, and put on the market almost minutes after it was completed in 2002.

At least CellStar created the cash flow to build Champs D'Or; it could have been worse.

One of the many rumors floating when the house was complete was that God had told Shirley Goldfield to build the home. Another is that for the few nights they spent in the house, the Goldfields would argue over who was going to take the long trek out of the master bedroom to go fetch ice cream in the kitchen.

Shirley did tell me they actually built a 7,000-square-foot home across the street from Champs D'Or to live in while they built the mansion. She would pile her clothes in shopping bags and schlepp them across the street to her new Chanel-Boutique-replica closet.

Perusing this estate is like taking a trip around the world -- the tearoom was patterned after Tavern on the Green in New York City; the pink-and-black-lacquer master closet after the Chanel store in Paris, France (not Texas); and the ballroom after the Palace of Versailles. Love Monte Carlo? You'll love the Princess Grace pool.

There's a bowling alley in the basement, next to the underground parking for 15 cars in the cedar-lined, tiled garage. There are six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, a 78-foot central dome; custom-built La Cornue range; three kitchens (main, catering and staff); French-silk-covered walls in the women's powder room, with 18-carat-gold Sherle Wagner fixtures. There's also a home theater, exercise room, racquetball court, two reflecting pools with waterfalls, swimming pool, pool house, tennis court, and (very popular in Dallas) a giftwrap room.

The home has had more real estate agents than Tiger Woods has had mistresses. Like a faithful first wife, the first Realtor who listed the house has it back again after three to four other listing agents tried but failed to sell it. This time, the price has been reduced to $27,500,000 and the owners have cut the size of the lot down to 41 acres.

Another two hundred are available at additional cost. (One other rumor: There's natural gas on the grounds.)

In the meantime, the owners are allowing charity tours at $75 a pop.

Champs D'Or is now $790 a square foot. Nearby homes are selling for an average of $264,000. Texas property taxes are running about $720 a day for the house, not the property.

Because of its size, there are few homes even in Dallas for price comps, and Texas remains a non-price-disclosure state. However, I know of a 26,620-square-foot Dallas estate on nine acres that sold for just under $30 million not too long ago, in Preston Hollow where former President George W. Bush lives. That's $1,089 a square foot.

That same buyer bought the nation's most expensive listing, the 77,000-square-foot Bootjack Ranch in Pagosa Springs, Colo. for $46.5 million, or roughly $603 a square foot. It also included 3,500 scenic acres.

Using those comps, Champs D'Or does seem like a bargain at $790 a square foot. Of course, the Denton County Tax Assessor has the spread appraised at $13,595,393, but in Texas, buyers usually don't pay much attention to county appraisals.

Or in this case, maybe we do.

See more homes for sale in Dallas, Texas at AOL Real Estate.
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