Nov 23, 2020

Got the Blues? Read the Wall Street Journal’s “Mansion” Section

A weekly getaway for those of us who can’t afford a weekly getaway

By Ed Goldman

On those occasional days when I feel depressed but fear I’d get a busy signal if I called a crisis hotline, I pick up the Friday Wall Street Journal supplement, “Mansion.”

I’m suddenly reassured that God’s in His Heaven and all’s weird with the world.

La Dolce Manga

As you probably deduce from the title, “Mansion” targets two audiences:

  1. Those for whom the purchase of a home priced in the low $300 millions (“private island, landing strip and 40-car garage included”) is well within the realm of possibility—maybe even well within the week; and
  2. Those who read articles like that in the same way they consume science fiction, fantasy and late-night ads for diet plans that allow you to lose weight without cutting back on your caloric intake, doing exercise or undergoing blubberectomies, or whatever they call those stomach-reduction surgeries.

 “Mansion” articles usually focus on recent sales—i.e., done deals. This means that no matter how firmly I believe I could have outbid the buyer of actor Rob Lowe’s Montecito estate, which went for a cool $45.5 million, I’ll always be a little too late.

On the other hand, Michael Wekerle, “a Canadian banker and reality-television celebrity” who “makes no secret of his ostentatious tastes or his love of rock ‘n’ roll and fast cars,” announced a few weeks ago he was selling his Fort Lauderdale estate, Manga Reva, for $19.25 million. The story added that this “celebrity”—whom I’d never heard of until discovering he’d been on a show called “Dragon’s Den,” which U.S. viewers may know better as what morphed into “Shark’s Tank”—had paid a budget-conscious $12.5 million for the place just six years ago. 

TV Store Online

The best news is that Manga Reva is still available. Wekerle says it’s the name of his home, but I think it’s the name of a hungry Italian nightclub singer.  

As you’ve deduced, “Mansion” has become a dream conduit for me. It lists properties pre- and post-gobbled up. And unlike the real estate sections in local papers, there’s rarely a page congratulating the real estate agents who nursed along the transaction or a follow-up announcement that they’re now members of their firm’s Bazillion-Dollar Club and will be expected to wear ugly-colored blazers with iron-on celebratory patches henceforth.

To be sure, the ads sometimes feature a wide range of price points. For example, in one recent issue, a regular feature called ”Distinctive Properties” listed a number of homes in far-flung locales. 

One ad headlined “Easy Living in Wonderful Wyoming” featured a 4,800-square-foot home in the “highly acclaimed 900-acre Powder Horn Golf Community” for $1.4 million. 

But another touted a 1,000-acre property on “the west slope of the Tetons” (in Driggs, Idaho) for $12,400,000. I’m surprised the copy for the ad didn’t go something like this:

“Ready for some down-home country livin’ just a stone’s throw from, well,  where the stone lands—because this property is so stupidly vast, you ain’t gonna hit the broadside of nothin’ unless you use a grenade launcher?!”

“Mansion” isn’t only about wide-open spaces. For example, if your theme song is “DO fence me in,” there’s this cozy offering from Christie’s: a “full-floor, four-bed, 5.5 bath home with twin terraces and private elevator” in New York City’s West Chelsea enclave. The asking price is $21 million.

As someone who’s owned a number of homes, may I suggest you offer no more than $20 million for this place? My reasoning: the “full floor” doesn’t seem to include an indoor infinity pool, a drive-in theatre in one of those twin terraces or gift-wrapping room. I also saw no mention in the ad of a trash compactor or built in washer-dryer. Do you want to live in such an expensive place and have to take your wash to and from a laundromat every week? Even with the private elevator, trust me, that can be a real schlep. I don’t think you could talk even Manga Reva into doing it, no matter how much pasta you promised her.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).