Jilted buyer of Redstone Castle reflects on what might have been
Glenwood Springs correspondent
REDSTONE ” Ralli Dimitrius loves his new castle.
He wouldn’t give it up ” not for a million-dollar profit.
That’s the kind of money Los Angeles businesswoman Toshia Wildasin says she is willing to pay him for the Redstone Castle, in addition to the $4 million he paid in making the winning bid at an Internal Revenue Service auction in Glenwood Springs.
However, “It’s not for sale,” Dimitrius says. “I don’t want to disappoint her. Even if she offered me $50 million I wouldn’t take it.”
His unwillingness to sell more than disappoints Wildasin. It is the latest devastating development for a woman who had her heart set on being the castle’s new owner.
“That place should have been mine. It’s not, and I accept it, but it’s really difficult for me. It’s very emotional,” she said.
To this day, Wildasin thinks back to March 19 and what might have been, and it’s all she can do not to cry.
On a day when Dimitrius was all smiles over his success at the auction, Wildasin was an emotional wreck. She could only put on a brave face in the Glenwood Springs Community Center room where the auction had taken place, and think of what might have happened had she been bidding.
But when the auction started, Wildasin wasn’t there yet. And when it was over, Dimitrius walked off with the castle at what many observers in Redstone considered to be a bargain price.
Wildasin said she would have offered $4.7 million “without blinking an eye.
“I would have gotten nervous near the $5 million mark,” she said.
But she will never know whether she could have outbid Dimitrius. All she knows is that months of work aimed at buying the castle at the auction had gone for naught. Now Wildasin’s only chance of realizing the dream of owning the castle lies in changing Dimitrius’ mind. She would happily pay $4.5 million to $5 million, or maybe more, if she could persuade him to give up what he cherishes.
“He’s in love with that castle and so am I,” said Angela Hough, the fiancee of Dimitrius.
Wildasin said she got to Glenwood Springs late because weeks of trying to get investors to go in on a somewhat risky business proposition didn’t result in a firm commitment until late the day before the auction.
Wildasin is a partner in the posh Table 8 restaurant in Los Angeles and is opening a second Table 8 in Miami. She was in Miami when she learned she had willing investors. Because it was spring break she had to drive to Fort Myers to catch a plane to the Eagle County Airport.
After two layovers and a sleepless night of travel with her pet Chihuahua in tow, she raced to the local Wells Fargo bank to open a new account and get a cashier’s check for the $200,000 required to participate in the auction. The bank manager agreed to stay past the office’s closing that Saturday morning to make that happen.
But the technicalities of opening the account and transferring funds resulted in Wildasin’s late arrival at the 2 p.m. auction.
Jeff Bier, a Redstone real estate agent who was working with Wildasin, tried to get the IRS to delay the bidding until she arrived. And the agency agreed to wait for probably about 10 minutes, said John Harrison, the IRS special agent who has handled the castle case.
But out of fairness to other bidders, and with a slew of media waiting, the agency eventually went ahead without her.
Wildasin thinks the decision may have cost the agency as much as $1 million in additional proceeds that it could have used to compensate victims of fraudulent investment scams.
The IRS seized the castle and a Victorian home in Redstone and then auctioned them off to help provide restitution to potentially more than 1,000 victims of a $56 million scam involving the castle’s former owner, Leon Harte.
Dimitrius recently completed payment on the castle. The IRS also seized about $17 million in cash and two racing cars worth a total of about $2 million. Harrison said the agency expects to be able to pay about 40 cents on the dollar for claims in the case. It already has paid $960,000 to a mortgage firm.
“Yeah, we would have liked to have gotten more money” from the castle sale, Harrison said.
But there’s no guarantee that would have happened had Wildasin been able to bid, he said. He also wonders whether Wildasin would have had the resources needed to make the castle a viable business in a town that is counting on it succeeding for the sake of Redstone’s economy.
“It’s one of those things, as we all know, it’s kind of a money pit,” Harrison said of the castle, built by coal magnate John C. Osgood at the start of the 20th century.
Dimitrius appears to have both the money and plans to make the castle succeed, Harrison said.
“It seems to me that he’s a good fit for the community. I’m not saying that she wouldn’t be, or her group wouldn’t be. … Here’s a guy, he isn’t scrambling for funding. He just says ‘I’ll cut you a check’ and we’re done,” he said.
“I just think it turned out the way it was supposed to, really, even if we did get a little less money.”
Bier was pulling for Wildasin to end up owning the castle. He stood to gain financially by working with her, he said, but he also has an interest in the castle’s future, as a longtime Redstone resident who once was a caretaker there.
“She sounded like she was going to do something that I thought would be certainly advantageous to the community,” Bier said.
Wildasin had hoped to build some small cottages on the front of the castle property. She wanted to make the facility a family oriented retreat where weddings and conferences could be held, and carriage and sleigh rides, fly fishing and cross-country skiing could be offered. She understood the castle’s importance to Redstone and wanted to make it available for community functions such as fire department dinners.
Bier said Redstone residents were approached by a lot of prospective buyers, and were interested in seeing it bought by someone who would work with the community and keep the castle open to the public. Wildasin appeared to be one of their better hopes, Bier said.
She also seemed to have done about as much work as anyone in planning for the castle’s future, and looking into the issues that surrounded owning and operating it.
“She got her arms around it and knew what was going on,” he said. “She had a great deal of enthusiasm.”
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