The highest-priced home in Santa Fe for 2019 may sell on Jan. 12. The 11-acre Casa Alegre estate in the north foothills will be on the auction block at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver.
The property’s main feature is a six-bedroom, 6,293-square-foot Pueblo Revival house built in 1930 by former New Mexico Gov. John Dempsey, who led the state from 1943-47.
The property also has three smaller casitas and an assortment of bells and whistles incorporated in the $18 million in renovations done in the 2000s by current owners Robert and Miryam Knutson.
The Knutsons added a clay tennis court with viewing area, along with a swimming pool. They installed new plumbing, electricity, heating and restored interior wood ceilings and finishes.
“We got the best architect who specialized in Pueblo Revival houses and then got curators to work with us to restore the house to perfection,” Miryam Knutson told Bloomberg News earlier this year. “There are 64 kinds of windows in the house and every single one is different, and had to be special-ordered.”
The house has his-and-hers master suites, hers with a fireplace, two terraces and a custom closet with cabinetry, a shoe island and illuminated display cases; his with custom cabinetry and workspace with a built-in desk and one terrace.
The two parcels at 196 Circle Drive (all the residential structures) and 130 Circle Drive (open landscape) are assessed at $4.077 million by the Santa Fe County Assessor’s Office. The Knutsons bought the property in 2004 for about $3.5 million and earlier this year listed it with Barker Realty for $11.5 million, with no takers.
Trayor Lesnock, president of Miami-based Platinum Luxury Auctions, which is auctioning four Knutson properties, believes the gavel will fall somewhere between those amounts.
“It’s certainly not been assessed at the level of the money they have invested, that’s for sure,” said Lesnock, who added he likely won’t be able to establish an estimated winning bid amount until a few days before the auction. “I don’t think it will be anywhere near the list price.”
The auction will have no reserve — no minimum bid. Lesnock said for auctions of this nature, a minimum bid can plant the idea of value in bidders’ heads and perhaps suppress bidding.
The Knutsons had Casa Alegre on the market for about four to six months because of health issues, opting to auction four properties they own in Santa Fe; Durango, Colo.; western Pennsylvania and Boca Grande, Fla. Lesnock will auction off all four, the eastern pair in Chicago on Jan. 10 and Durango and Santa Fe in Denver on Jan. 12.
“I would venture to say, of the four, the Santa Fe property has the most custom finishes on a square foot by square foot basis,” Lesnock said.
Robert Knutson is the retired founder, chairman and chief executive of Education Management Corp., a Pittsburgh-based operator of for-profit post-secondary educational institutions in the United States and Canada.
Former Gov. Dempsey died in 1958 in Washington while serving in Congress. Subsequent owners of Casa Alegre included heirs of the Weyerhaeuser timber family and Martini & Rossi Italian beverage company family. The house had fallen into disrepair before the Knutsons bought it in 2004.
Casa Alegre also has three smaller casitas, the 1,434-square-foot Casita Bonita, the 1,054-square-foot Casita Chiquita and the 1,101-square-foot Casita Dulce. Bonita and Dulce have one bedroom and Chiquita two bedrooms.
Prospective bidders must preregister and submit a refundable $100,000 deposit. Lesnock does not expect a large crowd.
“The buyer pool is already small for each of these [four Knutson] properties,” he said. “There will probably be four to six bidders at the auction.”
Lesnock does not think auctioning a Santa Fe property in Denver will make much difference in the outcome.
“We generally like to do everything on-site,” he said. “We have had some extremely successful auctions off-site. Really, it’s to accommodate the bidders. We haven’t seen [off-site] auctions affect the bidding.”
Top home prices in Santa Fe area
2015: $3.5 million
2016: $5.4 million
2017: $5.16 million
2018: $4.85 million (in Taos)
Source: Santa Fe Association of Realtors