Real Estate Buyers Find Bargains In Homes Owned by the Infamous

One buyer demolished the home after buying it

For Sale sign
A previous owner's history can complicate home sales.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you’re in the market for high-end real estate while simultaneously seeking a bargain on the property you’ll be buying, what’s the best step you can take? For some individuals, the answer involves seeking out a home or estate once owned by someone who did terrible things. In recent years, real estate once belonging to the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein have sold for significantly less than their asking price.

That’s one of the big takeaways from a new article by Andrew Zucker at Air Mail. Zucker notes that a townhouse owned by Epstein on the Upper East Side had an asking price of $86 million, but ended up selling for considerably less: $51 million. It’s not the only one of Epstein’s residences to be covered here — the article also describes a Palm Beach mansion that was bought for $3.5 million less than the asking price.

In that particular case, the building was fully demolished, with the lot selling for $26 million. Admittedly, there are countless good reasons why someone wouldn’t want to live in real estate owned by Epstein — especially if, like the Palm Beach space, actual crimes were committed there. (And yes, this concept also inspired a 2021 horror film.)

Epstein is not alone in this real estate category. Zucker also cites cases of other disgraced individuals, including Harvey Weinstein and Bernard Madoff, whose former homes were sold at a loss. Again, it’s not hard to see why many buyers would balk at making such a purchase — especially if proceeds from the sale were going to someone who had done awful things. As it turns out, under certain circumstances the phrase caveat emptor also applies to a home’s ownership history.

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