$135 million for a 1920s texas mansion upgraded by peter marino



J.R.’s Southfork it’s not, neither is it a typical McMansion, but we’re still deep in the heart of Texas.  Located just minutes from downtown Dallas, the Crespi-Hicks Estate could become the most expensive piece of real estate in the country if it finds a buyer at its asking price of a cool $135 million.  And with its last update by Peter Marino, the sellers hope his magic helps to sell the 1920s palatial mansion.




With almost 29,000 sq. ft. of living space, this is a sophisticated palace on a grand scale. Just for the record, that’s ten times the size of the average American home!  But this really is an amazing place.  Built in the 1920s for an Italian Count and his American wife by renowned architect Maurice Fatio (the talent behind homes for the likes of Vanderbilt, Hutton, and Kahn), the house is elegant and refined, combining the best of the past with all the modern comforts of 21th century living.




A recent update by starchitect and decorator Peter Marino ensures that the potential new owners are not stuck living in the past.  What I love about this home is that almost nothing feels dated.  By calling on classic proportions and decoration inspired by French architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, the architect has created a home that really does feel timeless.  The rooms are large, but not over imposing.  The ceilings soar, but retain a familial coziness.  It’s almost like we have lost the talent to create a house like this – Spelling Manor in LA can’t stand in its shadow in terms of quality and workmanship!




Perfectly planned to work with the surrounding landscape, the main house is designed so that most rooms have windows on at least two sides allowing light to fill the space and granting tranquil views of the gardens.  There is an equally grand pool house and guest house (I want to move into that guest house permanently!!) to round out the property.




Stately halls are bright and carefully furnished as to retain control over spaces that could easily become filled with superfluous trappings.  Bonafide Old Masters and Modern Art hang in rooms filled with rich architectural detail.  The paneled study and library showcase a mix of modern and antique furnishings that should inspire everyone to mix up their home decor to really tell the story of the space.  The collected feel of the furniture allows the room to feel lived in and gives the sense that the owners have collected cherished pieces over time and not bought everything all at once, which is often the feeling of “designed” spaces.




Possibly my favorite corner of the house is the magnificent Art Deco bar with its silvered walls and eglomise panels.  This room shows that the original owners were open to taking the latest decorating trends of their day and mixing them with more classic interiors.




How do you sell a palace for $135 million?  Well, that’s the job of the best in real estate.  But even a multi-million dollar listing needs to be read with an educated eye: the kitchen claims to “incorporate 10th century Dutch Delft manganese tiles” – I hope this is a typo, but I’m afraid even the Dutch didn’t start producing their famed tiles until the early 1500s at best. Weren’t we all busy stalking deer in the 10th century – ok maybe not, but close enough!  A listing also refers to a “gilted mantel from the 1700s”.  Gilt pieces are gilded, not gilted, but again this is something most real estate professionals are not expected to know.  It’s a good example that you cannot always believe what you read and are best to do your own homework on “claims” made on property, whether its real estate or art – especially if you’re looking to drop this kind of Texas-size coin.




richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: first (aerial), David Woo for The Dallas Morning News; all others, Douglas Newby & Associates, listing agents, Dallas