Wyly home changes ownership for $13.4 million in bankruptcy sale
The widow of the late billioniaire businessman Charles Wyly has sold the couple’s Woody Creek ranch home for $13.4 million as part of a bankruptcy case that has been ongoing for more than three years.
Caroline “Dee” Wyly originally had listed the 13,853-square-foot home for $33.5 million in March 2015, after she declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in October 2014. The advertised price gradually declined to $14.9 million in November, the same month it went under contract for the final purchase price, according to bankruptcy court records in Dallas.
The transaction was recorded Feb. 22 in the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.
Wyly’s husband died from an August 2011 car crash near the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. He was 77. Forbes reported his net worth to be $1 billion in 2006 before the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service accused his brother, Samuel, and him of concealing offshore stock holdings. That led to a $400 million Manhattan court judgment in September 2014 against Sam Wyly and the estate of Charles Wyly, triggering separate Chapter 11 filings by Sam Wyly and Caroline Wyly the next month. The cases were consolidated until the court separated them in November 2016.
Caroline Wyly’s 20-acre ranch home, located in the Fox Ranch subdivision, got a number of looks from prospective buyers, said listing broker Brian Hazen, noting that the trend of buying luxury properties has headed closer to within city limits.
“We had a legitimate appraisal,” he said of the original listing price. “It was pretty fair and it wasn’t just us throwing a huge number around.”
In August 2016, the asking price was reduced to $26.5 million. The following November, the court converted Caroline Wyly’s bankruptcy to Chapter 7 liquidation and also appointed a trustee to administer her estate. By April 2017, the price had been reduced to $17.4 million, then $15.9 million in June 2017 before its final listing price.
“There was more urgency at the end to sell it,” Hazen said.
Hazen, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, has had court approval to hold the listing since it hit the market.
Most proceeds from the sale — $13 million plus $90,000 in attorney’s fees and expenses — were paid to Compass Bank, a creditor in the bankruptcy that also had a lien on the estate, according to bankruptcy documents.
In a separate but related transaction, Caroline Wyly sold an undeveloped lot in the Fox Ranch subdivision for $1.8 million.
The buyer of both properties is a Fort Worth, Texas-based limited liability company called 0955 Woody Creek LLC. Although Fort Worth is located in the same region as Dallas, where the Wyly family made its full-time residence, there is no connection between the buyers and seller, according to court documents.
“It is the trustee’s understanding and belief that the buyers are unrelated to the debtor,” case trustee Robert Yaquinto wrote in a Nov. 22 motion, adding that the buyers asked that their identities not be publicly disclosed.
Carbondale broker Leo Carmichael, who represented the buyers, said they “had no relationship whatsoever” to the Wylys.
“It’s a property with a unique appeal,” he said. “It’s a unique house, the whole complex.”
Caroline and Charles Wyly were married for 56 years, and their first vacation to Aspen was in the 1960s, according to a website dedicated to the memory of Charles Wyly. The family lived near the base of Aspen Mountain and later bought a home in Snowmass Village before making Woody Creek their Colorado retreat.
The Wyly brothers — who once owned such chains as the Bonanza and Ponderosa steakhouses, as well as the Michaels art-and-crafts chain — both kept a permanent residence in Dallas over the years. Charles and Caroline funded the construction of the Wyly Community Arts Center in Woody Creek in 1996 before it moved to Basalt in 2005, while Sam Wyly once owned Explore Booksellers in Aspen before selling it in the wake of the bankruptcy.
Sam Wyly owns the Rosemary’s Circle R Ranch in Woody Creek, which is currently listed for sale at $29.5 million as part of his bankruptcy proceedings.
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.