Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

House Was Scene of Famed Heist

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

House Was Scene of Famed Heist

Article excerpt

One of the most interesting and expensive houses in Florida is, in fact, a $22 million tear-down.

On five acres facing Biscayne Bay in Miami's tony Coconut Grove, 10 minutes south of the gleaming condo towers of Brickell Avenue, the former DuPont Estate has just been removed from the MLS. A sale is pending.

The buyer, said listing agent Toni Schrager of Avatar Real Estate, will spend $250,000 to tear down the 27,000-square-foot house. "It was built really, really well," said Schrager.

The narrow property, 1,100 feet deep with just 225 feet of water frontage, is platted for seven new luxury homes. Walled, gated and with a boat house and yacht basin, the property is at the end of lush St. Gaudens Road, not far from the Cocowalk tourist magnet.

Described as "modern," the mansion was built in 1964 and looks it -- it is a bigger version of the houses one would find in Sarasota's Harbor Acres or Bird Key in the 1960s. Most of those have been torn down, too.

What makes it notable, other than its size, is who built it, in 1964, and that happened there three years later.

The original owner was Willis duPont, an heir of that duPont family. The rich ones. DuPont Chemical, etc. Willis and his Spanish wife, Miren, lived in the house with their two young sons and were concerned with security. So concerned, in fact, that they laid off their security guard and installed a closed-circuit television system to patrol the estate, which has a privacy wall that extends into the bay, according to an article by Les Standiford published by Reader's Digest.

There is just one thing about an electronic security system. It must be turned on. And on the rainy evening of Oct. 4, 1967, it was not turned on. And, a patio door was unlocked.

Willis, then 30, would lament these oversights later that night when a band of armed home invaders broke into the house. …

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