Slick deal: Oil bust fueled Red Mountain home transfer
Correction: This story has been edited to show that Duer Wagner III also transferred ownership of a property on Chadwick Way. The original story showed the incorrect address.
In late 2014 and the spring and summer of 2015, a slice of luxurious Aspen property was getting the kind of publicity property brokers crave. Called the Summit House, the 18,000-square-foot mansion on Red Mountain was on the market for $65 million.
The asking price, even jaw-dropping by Aspen standards, hovered in a stratosphere high enough to garner national media attention. The Aspen firm listing the property, Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, gave a tour of the Red Mountain home to Denver Fox affiliate KDVR. Sotheby’s allowed photos of the palatial estate, a two-lot property on 155 and 200 Sabin Road, to be used by such outlets as The Denver Post, Westword, TheDenverChannel.com, The New York Times and others.
“But before you get too excited about reaching for your checkbook, know that the Summit House’s listing agent Mark Haldeman will be thoroughly vetting all potential buyers — or at least their bank accounts,” KDVR reported July 1.
Oil prices reverse homeowner’s fortune
It was the financial standing of property’s owner, however, that went into question.
Fort Worth, Texas, oilman Duer Wagner III had owned the 6-acre property since 2004. He finished construction in 2010 on the lavish mountain mansion featuring seven bathrooms, seven bedrooms, 11 fireplaces, two elevators, a swimming pool and 4,000-square-foot deck. Vested development rights for the home allowed it to more than triple Pitkin County’s cap of 5,750 square feet.
Wagner, according to published reports, also was riding high on the price of oil and gas. Crude oil was fetching nearly $100 a barrel in 2013. The market was strong, but a glut reversed the industry’s fortune. On Wednesday, the price of crude oil plummeted to $26.19 a barrel, the lowest since April 2003, before spiking to $32.19 Friday.
On May 15, oil and gas company Duer Wagner Inc. and 11 of its affiliates filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Fort Worth.
The bankruptcy came as Wagner’s companies owed a nine-figure debt to two subsidiaries of Beal Bank, owned by Texas tycoon Andrew Beal. The two subsidiaries, LNV Corp. and CLMG Corp., lent $120 million to Wagner’s oil and gas companies in December 2013, court documents show. The Red Mountain house was used as collateral on the loan, and oil prices crashed soon after, as did Wagner’s revenue.
“These cases have provided an interesting reorganization conundrum,” read a motion filed Nov. 2 by Wagner’s bankruptcy attorney John Y. Bond III, who didn’t return a telephone message for this story. “Just six months ago, at the outset of the cases, the price per barrel of oil was hovering around $60 — up from a first quarter trough of less than $45 per barrel — and there was substantial belief in the market that the price would continue to increase. … Now six months later, the price per barrel has dipped as low as $38 per barrel and is currently sitting at around $45 per barrel.”
The motion sought a settlement agreement that Beal and Wagner would ultimately hatch: Wagner would transfer his Red Mountain home to Beal’s LNV and CLMG corporations.
Wagner’s homes go to Dallas money mogul
On Dec. 17, the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office entered the transaction as a $29.5 million sale. That was $35.5 million less than the highly heralded asking price, but still Pitkin County’s most expensive single-family home deal of 2015. The transaction amount was based on the property’s assessed value at the time, a person knowledgable of the deal said. Property records show the home listed under the ownership of Red Mountain Trust, based in Plano, Texas.
“What I can tell you is that it was a very complex deal that involved a lot of moving parts,” said Haldeman, the listing broker for the property. “That’s about the extent of it. It’s been a very tumultuous deal.”
Forbes describes Beal, 63, of Dallas, as “a college dropout, a self-taught math genius and one of the smartest investors in the country.” Beal has a net worth of $10.1 billion and is ranked No. 42 in the Forbes 400.
“Through his various Beal Banks in Texas and Nevada, the math whiz has built a team to lend to oil and gas producers; he believes the collapse in prices has opened new opportunities,” Forbes said. “In 2001, he gambled against the world’s top poker players at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in one of the highest-stakes poker games ever.”
Beal also added another asset to his real estate portfolio earlier this month when he forked out $100 million for a 28,000-square-foot mansion in Dallas owned by Tom Hicks, former co-owner of the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers.
Beal declined an interview for this story.
“It is our policy not to comment on ongoing bankruptcy proceedings or client relationships. We therefore respectfully decline to comment for your story,” wrote Jim Chambless, senior vice president of corporate communications for Beal Service Corp., in an email to The Aspen Times.
Likewise, Wagner asked that photos of his former Red Mountain digs — the same that made a media splash last year — not to be used for publication. A Sotheby’s employee said “the seller is very personal and does not want to share any photos/info.”
Bankruptcy records show Wagner also agreed to transfer his 75 Chadwick Way home, which is listed under the ownership of 0095 Wrights Road LLC, as well as property in Wyoming, to the creditors,
The Chadwick Way home comprises 3,072 square feet, property records show. Also located on Red Mountain, the Wrights Road home was acquired by Wagner for $3.625 million in September 2005.
That property sold last week to Sunshine Mountain LLC in a deal worth $4.5 million, according to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. That’s $8 million less than the actual value of $12.5 million assigned to the property by the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office.
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The Little Nell Hotel Group, a division of Aspen Skiing Co., announced Friday that it purchased seven acres of vacant land at the base of Mammoth Mountain. It plans to build a Limelight hotel and residences. The size hasn’t been disclosed yet.