$15 million foreclosure process on Aspen area home winds down | AspenTimes.com

$15 million foreclosure process on Aspen area home winds down

This home at 170 Clay Lane changed hands after its owner failed to satisfy a $15 million loan.

Renowned developer Gregory "Skippy" Gozzo built and once owned a home on the outskirts of Aspen that enjoyed a wealth of publicity when it was up for sale.

VH1 featured it on "Celebrity Real Estate Splurges" and other real-estate media gushed over the fact that the 13,477-square-foot, eight-bedroom home sat on a 5-acre lot in the middle of an elk migration corridor.

In July 2013, the palatial estate, once listed for $58 million, was put up for auction. But no suitors placed the minimum bid of $17.5 million, according to an Aspen Times article.

"We had a lot of good years in that house," Gozzo said last week from Florida, where he lives and runs his development firm.

Gozzo no longer lives in or owns the house, which he built in 2000 and turned over to a Houston-based concern called Neugebauer 1998 Children's Trust on June 1, 2016. The transaction was part of a deed in lieu of foreclosure, because Gozzo defaulted on a $15 million loan he took from the trust May 28, 2014, according to the Pitkin County Treasurer's Office. After interest, the debt stood at $18.1 million, records show.

Gozzo said he had used the property, located at 170 Clay Road off in the East Owl Creek area, as collateral for the loan, which was taken out for reasons not associated with the home.

Over the past few months multiple public notices have been published in the Aspen Times Weekly as well as posted on courtroom bulletin boards that a foreclosure auction for the property is set for June 28.

But it's not the typical foreclosure auction where potential buyers will gather in front of the courthouse steps to place their bids to the county treasurer. In this instance, it's a process in which the Neugebauer trust will be able to claim a clean title to the property, said Chris LaCroix of the Aspen law firm Garfield & Hecht PC in an email to The Aspen Times last week.

"The lender acquired the property over a year ago pursuant to a deed in lieu of foreclosure, and the purpose of the foreclosure is to clean up title to property that the lender already owns, which is common after a lender acquires title pursuant to a deed in lieu of foreclosure," he wrote.

Sydney Tofany, the county's chief deputy public trustee, also explained that the process means the property owner will clear a second mortgage on the property.

Gozzo said the deal ended up working out fine for him. While he had to surrender the property to the lender, he's no longer on the hook for eight-figure loan.

"(The lender) had the right to buy it back," he said. "We didn't admit any guilt and we sold the property. We admitted nothing and it's an even swap."

Even though the Pitkin County property market is returning to levels that produced $2 billion in total sales in 2015, LaCroix said the Neugebauer trust isn't anxious to sell for the time being.

"The owner does not plan to immediately begin marketing the property for sale, but could change its mind and decide to sell at any time," LaCroix said.

The home, which includes a swimming pool with a waterfall and an indoor gym and steam room, among other features, currently is being advertised for rent at for $90,000 a month.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com