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Gardens and Mountains in Australia

May 16th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Leura, Australia

  • Price: $2,800,000

This period-style home on more than 50,000 square feet of land has a national park out the back door and is just a 90-minute drive from Sydney. —Andre Cooray

A Victorian Home with Modern Interiors in Australia

May 8th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Melbourne, Australia

  • Price: $1,800,000

This late 19th-century home has been given contemporary interiors with clean lines and a spacious open-plan layout. —Andre Cooray

Beach Sunsets in Australia

May 5th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Melbourne, Australia

  • Price: $2,300,000

This modern beach-style apartment with a large rooftop terrace has panoramic sea views. —Andre Cooray

A London-Inspired Apartment in Hong Kong

April 30th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

  • Price: $14,200,000

This 3,700-square-foot apartment in the heart of Hong Kong has a large balcony and open skyline views. —Patrick Brzeski

A Modern Home With Ocean Views in Australia

April 28th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Korora, Australia

  • Price: $2,200,000

This two-level home is designed to maximize the panoramic ocean views. —Andre Cooray

English Mansion With Cutting-Edge Interior

April 24th, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Surrey, United Kingdom

  • Price: $19,500,000

This five-bedroom mansion was recently built to the owner’s specification in Weybridge, 24 miles from central London—Nick Clayton

The House Where Thrillers Are Born

April 24th, 2015 admin

Randy Wayne White on the front porch of his Pine Island, Fla., home that he purchased in the late 1980s for about $225,000.
ENLARGE

Inching through spring-break traffic in Fort Myers Beach to reach Florida’s Pine Island can take “an hour and five minutes—or three days,” says novelist Randy Wayne White.

But after crossing the Matlacha Bridge, a respite awaits at his old wooden house, which sits on stilts near the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Walking through the front door reveals a world in itself, filled with mementos of his life as an outdoorsman, adventurer and globe-trotter. First registered in the 1920s but likely built earlier, the one-story house sits on the remains of pyramids built in ancient times by indigenous Calusa Indians, Mr. White says.

A rear view of Mr. White’s home, where he wrote ‘Sanibel Flats,’ the first of his Doc Ford mystery series, and other books.
ENLARGE

Among mementos in the living room is a photo on the mantle with Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway.
ENLARGE

“This place has layers and layers of human history and discourse,” says Mr. White, who has written a number of best-sellers. “I like the fact that people have been telling stories here for 3,000 years.” Last month he published his latest book, “Cuba Straits,” the 22nd in his Doc Ford series of thrillers set in southwest Florida.


Mr. White writes from Sanibel Island, where he and his wife have a house, or at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, one of three restaurants he co-founded in 2003. But toward the end of the writing process—usually three-quarters of the way through—he feels compelled to come back to the Pine Island house full time.

He first laid eyes on his house in the early 1970s, shortly after moving to Fort Myers to work as a reporter for the local paper. Coming around a curve in the tiny community of Pineland, he recalls, the view took his breath away: Facing Pine Island Sound stood a timeworn house with a metal roof, a raised ground floor that allowed for ventilation from below and a floor plan that promoted cross-breezes. Toward the end of the decade, Mr. White started to rent the house as a fishing camp and use it a place to write on weekends. When his marriage broke up in 1987, Mr. White bought the property for about $225,000 and moved there full time.

“I lived here alone for 12 years,” he says. “I had no air conditioning or hot water, and no woman stayed for more than one night.”

While at the newspaper, Mr. White started working as a fishing guide on Sanibel Island, just to the south. After quitting the paper in 1975, Mr. White continued to write on the side but kept the fishing job until 1992. By then, Sanibel’s Tarpon Bay had closed to power boats, which led to Mr. White decision to become a full-time author. To write, Mr. White retreated to a small garden shed behind his Pineland home and clacked away on a manual typewriter set atop an orange crate.

A surf board on the wide porch, which is designed to keep the house cool and catch the breeze on hot summer days
ENLARGE

“This is where I wrote my first book,” the novelist, now 64, said on a recent visit to the cabin, filled with dusty curiosities like a marimba from Nicaragua, an antique radio the size of a jukebox and an oar that Mr. White used in a canoe race across the Panama Canal. The first book written in his name, “Sanibel Flats,” appeared in 1990. (Mr. White had written several thrillers under different pen names.)

In 2004, Hurricane Charley, the strongest hurricane to hit southwest Florida in decades, devastated Pineland. The houses surrounding Mr. White’s collapsed, but his stood firm, save for some blown-off roofing sheets and a single piece of plywood. “It’s built like a freakin’ rock,” he says.

After the storm, Mr. White embarked on a renovation that he says cost “well over $100,000.” He installed a generator, air conditioning and wooden French doors carved in Afghanistan. He remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, adding a large walk-in shower. And he refurbished a cottage in the back of the 1-acre lot, creating a guest suite with a grand piano. A frequent guest at the time was Wendy Webb, a singer and songwriter who had attended the same high school in Iowa as Mr. White. In time, he decided that he wanted her to stay for more than a night. In 2005, they got married on the porch.

Another view of the porch.
ENLARGE

By then, Mr. White had published several best-sellers. Readers showed up at the house. Once, fans walked up to him while he was in his shower under an avocado tree outside, carrying books for him to sign. Worse yet, a bar opened nearby, pumping music into the wee hours. Mr. White felt he couldn’t work. In 2009, he and his wife moved to Sanibel.

But Mr. White won’t abandon Pine Island. “This is my nighttime writing place,” says the author, sitting in a cozy study with a leather couch and yellow walls, decorated with a propeller piece from an Everglades airboat.

Corrections & Amplifications:
A headline in an earlier version of this article incorrectly had Randy Wayne Wright instead of Randy Wayne White. (4/22/15)

Write to Cecilie Rohwedder at cecilie.rohwedder@wsj.com

A Gallery of Rogues’ Homes

April 24th, 2015 admin

The study inside Kenneth and Linda Lay’s Houston condo, which Kelly Joy and his wife, Becky, purchased in 2013 for about $5.5 million.

Another view of the study. The Joys made few changes to the décor, feeling that the Lays had ‘built a spectacular place that we fell in love with,’ Mr. Joy said.

The dining room. The Lays bought the almost 13,000-square-foot unit in the mid-1990s, when prices ranged from $247 and $340 a square foot for raw space, one broker said.

The living room. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Mr. Joy, a former energy executive, surprised his wife with news he was buying the place.

The living room and kitchen. Ms. Joy was ‘a bit overwhelmed by it,’ her husband said. ’It was way more than anything she thought she might live in.’

A hallway leading to the different living areas. Mr. Joy says that the fact that their home used to be the Lays’ has drawn little attention.

A guest bedroom.

Becky and Kelly Joy on the terrace of their Houston home.

The 2000s saw a tidal wave of corporate scandals in which some of the world’s top business titans moved out of their palatial homes, ritzy ski lodges and vast ranches and checked into prison cells.

Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities—in these cases, executives bilked investors of billions through accounting fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. And part of the proceeds went into real estate.

What became of their mansions? We reached out to case lawyers, county tax offices, real-estate agents, new owners and the fallen executives themselves to ask what became of the properties caught up in the scandals.

Scott Sullivan purchased a waterfront lot in Boca Raton, Fla., for $2.5 million in 1998 and was building a house there. After WorldCom fell, it was sold for $9 million.
ENLARGE


WORLDCOM

An $11 billion accounting fraud felled the company in 2002. Scott Sullivan, the former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and was sentenced in 2005. That same year he forfeited his palatial mansion under construction in Boca Raton, Fla.

“It was a mistake to ever build that place,” said Mr. Sullivan when contacted last month. “It was beautiful, but it was a mistake to ever get that far off track and build something like that.”

Mr. Sullivan’s 4-acre, Boca Raton waterfront property, purchased in 1998 for $2.5 million, was a motivator for Sean Coffey, an attorney who represented investors pursuing claims of securities fraud tied to WorldCom’s “accounting shenanigans,” he said.


The lawyer taped a picture of it to his office window. “We put it up and it fired up the team,” he said.“I thought it was so big you could see it from space,” said Mr. Coffey, who now oversees complex litigation for Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in New York City.

When Mr. Sullivan was indicted in 2002, Mark Nestler, co-owner of Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, cold-called him and got the listing. It came to market in January 2003 for $22.5 million. The next year, Mr. Sullivan switched to Premier Estate Properties, which sold the property for $9 million in 2005, the company said. WorldCom investors received about $5 million from the sale, with most of the rest going toward construction liens on the property, Mr. Coffey said.

The buyer was Daniel Katz, a Milwaukee-based property developer, according to public records. The house, completed in 2006, is over 18,000 square feet and has 10 bedrooms, tennis courts, a pool, and boat dock. (Mr. Katz did not respond to requests for an interview.)

Mr. Sullivan served four years in federal prison and was released in 2009. Today, he lives in a Boca Raton house he bought for $170,000 25 years ago, according to public records. Mr. Sullivan, who declined to provide details about his life after prison other than to say that “life is good,” said he doesn’t miss the place at all. “It was a blessing for that property to go to someone else because we’re not caught up in that material world,” he said.

As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Sullivan testified against Bernard Ebbers, WorldCom’s former chief executive, who is currently serving a 25-year term for fraud and conspiracy. In 2005, in a deal with shareholders, Mr. Ebbers agreed to give up assets in order to settle investor claims. His former company took possession of other assets and sold them in order to recover some of the $400 million it had lent him.

Among Mr. Ebbers’s many properties was the Douglas Lake Ranch, a 500,000-acre property in British Columbia he bought in 1998 for $60 million, according to sources familiar with the deal. WorldCom, which had changed its name to MCI, announced in 2004 that it was selling the ranch for $68.5 million to billionaire real-estate and sports magnate Stanley Kroenke, whose company owns the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

“We would expect that that property would trade for 30% to 35% more today, really as a result for demand from international buyers for large scale opportunities like this,” said Kirk Kuester, executive managing director of Colliers International, which listed the property both in the sale to Mr. Ebbers and to Mr. Kroenke.

A representative for Mr. Kroenke said he doesn’t comment on private business deals. Through an official at the Oakdale, La., prison where he is being held, Mr. Ebbers declined to comment.

Dennis Kozlowski's former Nantucket home.
ENLARGE


TYCO

In 2005, former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz were found guilty of looting $150 million from the security-systems company. In addition to prison terms, the executives were ordered to pay restitution and fines. Mr. Kozlowski was ordered to pay fines of $70 million and to repay Tyco $97 million.

The most high-profile property in Mr. Kozlowski’s real-estate portfolio was a duplex apartment in Manhattan at 950 Fifth Ave., which Tyco had purchased for his use in 2001 for $16.8 million, and then paid $14 million to renovate and furnish, according to a report by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was here that a $6,000 shower curtain was discovered, quickly becoming a symbol of corporate greed. Tyco sold the apartment in late 2004 for $20.2 million, according to public records. The buyer was widely reported to be hedge-fund manager James Dinan, and his foundation lists the same address and apartment number in IRS filings. Mr. Dinan didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Kozlowski’s personal real-estate holdings included an 8,500-square-foot oceanfront home on Nantucket, which was sold off in 2010 for $13.5 million.

Before tearing the house down, the contractor for the new owners, who aren’t named in public records, contacted Habitat for Humanity and told them to take anything they wanted for the charity’s use. Over 2½ weeks, about 12 Habitat volunteers carted away six Sub-Zero refrigerators, an eight-burner Thermador range, claw-foot tubs and granite countertops.

Habitat for Humanity auctioned off the items and raised over $30,000, said board president Lou Gennaro. The funds were used to build affordable housing on the island.

Mr. Kozlowski was also forced to sell an 8,600-square-foot, eight-bedroom house in Bachelor Gulch, a ski community in Beaver Creek, Colo. The home, purchased in 2000 for $8.5 million, included features like radiant heating around the fireplace “to take the chill off the stone,” said Darwin McCutcheon, broker associate at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate in Bachelor Gulch.

In late 2006, Trevor Rees-Jones, founder and chief executive of Chief Oil & Gas in Dallas, paid $10 million for the house, according to public records. He also paid $750,000 for all the furnishings, which were colorful, “mountain-classic style” and “really classy and well done,” said Mr. McCutcheon, who represented Mr. Rees-Jones. Mr. Rees-Jones did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Kozlowski, who served six years in state prison and on work release, was formally paroled last year and now lives in New York City, said Alan Lewis, his attorney. Through Mr. Lewis, Mr. Kozlowski declined to comment.

ENRON

In 2001, the company collapsed in what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history, which led to federal criminal charges against numerous former executives. Former Chairman Kenneth Lay died in 2006, just a few weeks after being convicted of conspiracy and fraud.

Texas, where Enron was based, allows homeowners to shield their primary residences from creditors under homestead-exemption laws. That meant that Mr. Lay and his wife, Linda, were able to hold on to their almost 13,000-square-foot apartment in a Houston condo building.

The Lays bought the unit in the mid-1990s, when units in the Huntington were going for between $247 and $340 a square foot for raw space, said Martha Turner of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty in Houston, who managed sales in the building from 1995 to 1998. The couple then hired an architect who designed a “beautiful, opulent” place, said Ms. Turner. “I thought it was a gorgeous home, but it was not to everyone’s taste,” she added. “It was very heavy, with beams, carvings, stone, antique pediments and reclaimed wood.”

In 2010, Mrs. Lay’s son, real-estate agent Beau Herrold, listed the unit for $11.9 million. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Kelly Joy, a former energy executive who now invests in a wide range of interests, surprised his wife, Becky, with the news that he was buying the place. He paid roughly $5.5 million in cash, he said.

His wife was “a bit overwhelmed by it,” said Mr. Joy. “It was way more than anything she thought she might live in.” The couple made few changes to the décor, feeling that the Lays had “built a spectacular place that we fell in love with.” As for the property’s provenance, Mr. Joy said “in Houston, the energy from most of the Enron scandal has dissipated” and that the fact that their home used to be the Lays’ has drawn little attention.

In today’s market, the property would likely sell for about $7 million, said Ms. Turner.

Mr. Herrold and Ms. Lay, through her attorney, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Bernard and Ruth Madoffs’ South Florida home, which was sold in 2013 for $9.1 million.
ENLARGE


BERNARD L. MADOFF INVESTMENT SECURITIES LLC

The investment firm under Bernard Madoff engineered a massive Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions. Mr. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to pay $170 billion in restitution.

When Mr. Madoff was first exposed in late 2008, all eyes turned to his 4,000-square-foot apartment on Manhattan’s East 64th Street, where the disgraced financier spent 24-hours a day under house arrest before the unit was seized by the government.

The apartment, where the Madoffs had lived since the 1980s, sold in 2010 to Alfred Kahn, a toy-industry executive and his wife, Patsy, for $8 million. It sold again in August for $14.5 million to Lawrence Benenson, a real-estate executive, according to public records. Mr. Benenson did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Mr. Madoff and his wife, Ruth, owned several other properties, all of which have been sold to raise funds for victims of the fraud. Their home in Montauk, N.Y., at the far tip of Long Island, sold in 2009 for $9.4 million, according to public records. The Wall Street Journal reported that the buyer was Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, one of the country’s largest owners of retail and office space.

The Madoffs also owned a home in Palm Beach, Fla., purchased in 1994 for $3.8 million. It was sold to the Texas-based Bray Children’s Trust for $5.65 million in 2010, according to public records. MP Design and Architecture in Palm Beach was hired by the family to perform a major renovation, said president Michael Perry.

In addition to upgrading the wiring, windows and doors, MP Design’s main job was lightening and brightening the home, which the Madoffs had designed in an oddly dark manner, Mr. Perry said.

“It almost seemed like it was done to be a hideaway,” said Mr. Perry. The Bray Children’s Trust sold the property in 2013 for $9.1 million to a Garden City, N.Y.-based company identified in public records as Algonquin Partners LLC.

An attorney for Ms. Madoff did not return calls seeking comment. Through an official at the federal prison where he is being held, Mr. Madoff declined to comment.

Write to Katy McLaughlin at katy.mclaughlin@wsj.com

A Coastal Villa in Fiji

April 21st, 2015 admin

  • Location:

    Fiji, undefined

  • Price: $1,800,000

This 8,000-square-foot luxury home on the South Pacific island has two guest pavilions, beach access, and sunrise and sunset views. —Patrick Brzeski

A Gallery of Rogues’ Homes

April 21st, 2015 admin

The study inside Kenneth and Linda Lay’s Houston condo, which Kelly Joy and his wife, Becky, purchased in 2013 for about $5.5 million.

Another view of the study. The Joys made few changes to the décor, feeling that the Lays had ‘built a spectacular place that we fell in love with,’ Mr. Joy said.

The dining room. The Lays bought the almost 13,000-square-foot unit in the mid-1990s, when prices ranged from $247 and $340 a square foot for raw space, one broker said.

The living room. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Mr. Joy, a former energy executive, surprised his wife with news he was buying the place.

The living room and kitchen. Ms. Joy was ‘a bit overwhelmed by it,’ her husband said. ’It was way more than anything she thought she might live in.’

A hallway leading to the different living areas. Mr. Joy says that the fact that their home used to be the Lays’ has drawn little attention.

A guest bedroom.

Becky and Kelly Joy on the terrace of their Houston home.

The 2000s saw a tidal wave of corporate scandals in which some of the world’s top business titans moved out of their palatial homes, ritzy ski lodges and vast ranches and checked into prison cells.

Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities—in these cases, executives bilked investors of billions through accounting fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. And part of the proceeds went into real estate.

What became of their mansions? We reached out to case lawyers, county tax offices, real-estate agents, new owners and the fallen executives themselves to ask what became of the properties caught up in the scandals.

Scott Sullivan purchased a waterfront lot in Boca Raton, Fla., for $2.5 million in 1998 and was building a house there. After WorldCom fell, it was sold for $9 million.
ENLARGE


WORLDCOM

An $11 billion accounting fraud felled the company in 2002. Scott Sullivan, the former chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and was sentenced in 2005. That same year he forfeited his palatial mansion under construction in Boca Raton, Fla.

“It was a mistake to ever build that place,” said Mr. Sullivan when contacted last month. “It was beautiful, but it was a mistake to ever get that far off track and build something like that.”

Mr. Sullivan’s 4-acre, Boca Raton waterfront property, purchased in 1998 for $2.5 million, was a motivator for Sean Coffey, an attorney who represented investors pursuing claims of securities fraud tied to WorldCom’s “accounting shenanigans,” he said.


The lawyer taped a picture of it to his office window. “We put it up and it fired up the team,” he said.“I thought it was so big you could see it from space,” said Mr. Coffey, who now oversees complex litigation for Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in New York City.

When Mr. Sullivan was indicted in 2002, Mark Nestler, co-owner of Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, cold-called him and got the listing. It came to market in January 2003 for $22.5 million. The next year, Mr. Sullivan switched to Premier Estate Properties, which sold the property for $9 million in 2005, the company said. WorldCom investors received about $5 million from the sale, with most of the rest going toward construction liens on the property, Mr. Coffey said.

The buyer was Daniel Katz, a Milwaukee-based property developer, according to public records. The house, completed in 2006, is over 18,000 square feet and has 10 bedrooms, tennis courts, a pool, and boat dock. (Mr. Katz did not respond to requests for an interview.)

Mr. Sullivan served four years in federal prison and was released in 2009. Today, he lives in a Boca Raton house he bought for $170,000 25 years ago, according to public records. Mr. Sullivan, who declined to provide details about his life after prison other than to say that “life is good,” said he doesn’t miss the place at all. “It was a blessing for that property to go to someone else because we’re not caught up in that material world,” he said.

As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Sullivan testified against Bernard Ebbers, WorldCom’s former chief executive, who is currently serving a 25-year term for fraud and conspiracy. In 2005, in a deal with shareholders, Mr. Ebbers agreed to give up assets in order to settle investor claims. His former company took possession of other assets and sold them in order to recover some of the $400 million it had lent him.

Among Mr. Ebbers’s many properties was the Douglas Lake Ranch, a 500,000-acre property in British Columbia he bought in 1998 for $60 million, according to sources familiar with the deal. WorldCom, which had changed its name to MCI, announced in 2004 that it was selling the ranch for $68.5 million to billionaire real-estate and sports magnate Stanley Kroenke, whose company owns the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

“We would expect that that property would trade for 30% to 35% more today, really as a result for demand from international buyers for large scale opportunities like this,” said Kirk Kuester, executive managing director of Colliers International, which listed the property both in the sale to Mr. Ebbers and to Mr. Kroenke.

A representative for Mr. Kroenke said he doesn’t comment on private business deals. Through an official at the Oakdale, La., prison where he is being held, Mr. Ebbers declined to comment.

Dennis Kozlowski's former Nantucket home.
ENLARGE


TYCO

In 2005, former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz were found guilty of looting $150 million from the security-systems company. In addition to prison terms, the executives were ordered to pay restitution and fines. Mr. Kozlowski was ordered to pay fines of $70 million and to repay Tyco $97 million.

The most high-profile property in Mr. Kozlowski’s real-estate portfolio was a duplex apartment in Manhattan at 950 Fifth Ave., which Tyco had purchased for his use in 2001 for $16.8 million, and then paid $14 million to renovate and furnish, according to a report by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was here that a $6,000 shower curtain was discovered, quickly becoming a symbol of corporate greed. Tyco sold the apartment in late 2004 for $20.2 million, according to public records. The buyer was widely reported to be hedge-fund manager James Dinan, and his foundation lists the same address and apartment number in IRS filings. Mr. Dinan didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Kozlowski’s personal real-estate holdings included an 8,500-square-foot oceanfront home on Nantucket, which was sold off in 2010 for $13.5 million.

Before tearing the house down, the contractor for the new owners, who aren’t named in public records, contacted Habitat for Humanity and told them to take anything they wanted for the charity’s use. Over 2½ weeks, about 12 Habitat volunteers carted away six Sub-Zero refrigerators, an eight-burner Thermador range, claw-foot tubs and granite countertops.

Habitat for Humanity auctioned off the items and raised over $30,000, said board president Lou Gennaro. The funds were used to build affordable housing on the island.

Mr. Kozlowski was also forced to sell an 8,600-square-foot, eight-bedroom house in Bachelor Gulch, a ski community in Beaver Creek, Colo. The home, purchased in 2000 for $8.5 million, included features like radiant heating around the fireplace “to take the chill off the stone,” said Darwin McCutcheon, broker associate at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate in Bachelor Gulch.

In late 2006, Trevor Rees-Jones, founder and chief executive of Chief Oil & Gas in Dallas, paid $10 million for the house, according to public records. He also paid $750,000 for all the furnishings, which were colorful, “mountain-classic style” and “really classy and well done,” said Mr. McCutcheon, who represented Mr. Rees-Jones. Mr. Rees-Jones did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Kozlowski, who served six years in state prison and on work release, was formally paroled last year and now lives in New York City, said Alan Lewis, his attorney. Through Mr. Lewis, Mr. Kozlowski declined to comment.

ENRON

In 2001, the company collapsed in what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history, which led to federal criminal charges against numerous former executives. Former Chairman Kenneth Lay died in 2006, just a few weeks after being convicted of conspiracy and fraud.

Texas, where Enron was based, allows homeowners to shield their primary residences from creditors under homestead-exemption laws. That meant that Mr. Lay and his wife, Linda, were able to hold on to their almost 13,000-square-foot apartment in a Houston condo building.

The Lays bought the unit in the mid-1990s, when units in the Huntington were going for between $247 and $340 a square foot for raw space, said Martha Turner of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty in Houston, who managed sales in the building from 1995 to 1998. The couple then hired an architect who designed a “beautiful, opulent” place, said Ms. Turner. “I thought it was a gorgeous home, but it was not to everyone’s taste,” she added. “It was very heavy, with beams, carvings, stone, antique pediments and reclaimed wood.”

In 2010, Mrs. Lay’s son, real-estate agent Beau Herrold, listed the unit for $11.9 million. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Kelly Joy, a former energy executive who now invests in a wide range of interests, surprised his wife, Becky, with the news that he was buying the place. He paid roughly $5.5 million in cash, he said.

His wife was “a bit overwhelmed by it,” said Mr. Joy. “It was way more than anything she thought she might live in.” The couple made few changes to the décor, feeling that the Lays had “built a spectacular place that we fell in love with.” As for the property’s provenance, Mr. Joy said “in Houston, the energy from most of the Enron scandal has dissipated” and that the fact that their home used to be the Lays’ has drawn little attention.

In today’s market, the property would likely sell for about $7 million, said Ms. Turner.

Mr. Herrold and Ms. Lay, through her attorney, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Bernard and Ruth Madoffs’ South Florida home, which was sold in 2013 for $9.1 million.
ENLARGE


BERNARD L. MADOFF INVESTMENT SECURITIES LLC

The investment firm under Bernard Madoff engineered a massive Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions. Mr. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to pay $170 billion in restitution.

When Mr. Madoff was first exposed in late 2008, all eyes turned to his 4,000-square-foot apartment on Manhattan’s East 64th Street, where the disgraced financier spent 24-hours a day under house arrest before the unit was seized by the government.

The apartment, where the Madoffs had lived since the 1980s, sold in 2010 to Alfred Kahn, a toy-industry executive and his wife, Patsy, for $8 million. It sold again in August for $14.5 million to Lawrence Benenson, a real-estate executive, according to public records. Mr. Benenson did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Mr. Madoff and his wife, Ruth, owned several other properties, all of which have been sold to raise funds for victims of the fraud. Their home in Montauk, N.Y., at the far tip of Long Island, sold in 2009 for $9.4 million, according to public records. The Wall Street Journal reported that the buyer was Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, one of the country’s largest owners of retail and office space.

The Madoffs also owned a home in Palm Beach, Fla., purchased in 1994 for $3.8 million. It was sold to the Texas-based Bray Children’s Trust for $5.65 million in 2010, according to public records. MP Design and Architecture in Palm Beach was hired by the family to perform a major renovation, said president Michael Perry.

In addition to upgrading the wiring, windows and doors, MP Design’s main job was lightening and brightening the home, which the Madoffs had designed in an oddly dark manner, Mr. Perry said.

“It almost seemed like it was done to be a hideaway,” said Mr. Perry. The Bray Children’s Trust sold the property in 2013 for $9.1 million to a Garden City, N.Y.-based company identified in public records as Algonquin Partners LLC.

An attorney for Ms. Madoff did not return calls seeking comment. Through an official at the federal prison where he is being held, Mr. Madoff declined to comment.

Write to Katy McLaughlin at katy.mclaughlin@wsj.com