The incredibly satisfying sound of your heels against travertine marble and hand-scraped hardwood floors might be worth the $30 million alone. That's a conclusion I reached after a sunny morning tour of 100 Carnarvon Drive, the nearly 27,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom mansion also known as Memorial Estate or Chateau Carnarvon. Its original $43 million asking price in 2014 set the record for Houston's most expensive residential real estate listing ever; reduced to just under $30 million in March, it's still the priciest house on the market for miles. Shocker.
Built in 2012, it belongs to Dr. Wilbur "Ed" and Marie Bosarge. The couple are prominent area philanthropists–Ed, a renowned mathematician and former NASA contractor, is co-founder and chairman of Quantlab–and own properties around the world. The Bosarges are selling because they've rarely used the home since furnishing it, realtor Kellie Geitner told the Chronicle when it first went on the market.
The place is palatial and feels like a live-in museum, largely thanks to sculptures, tapestries, and giant paintings on display all throughout the property. There's a great deal to see–namely eight bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, four half baths, two full apartments, a movie theatre, and an attached four-car garage spanning two floors on a 2.5-acre lot–so much so that Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty produced a 14-page booklet just to list its amenities.
Where to begin? There's the stained glass domed ceiling above the grand stair hall; walk-in closets the size of my apartment; offices and living quarters for onsite staff; a hair salon (seriously); a library (obviously); dedicated rooms for billiards, massage, exercising, receiving guests, and playing music–the latter, totally soundproofed, renders the term "garage band" useless.
There are parquet floors, marble columns and pilasters, dramatic chandeliers on motorized lifts for cleaning, hand-carved wall panels, intricate crown molding, rotundas, balconies galore, 14-foot ceilings, skylights, an elevator, and on and on. Every room brings a new level of luxury, bursting with scrollwork and archways and medallions and gilded accents. Design elements drip with inspiration from Versailles, Venice, and the Moors. The gardens and their courtyards are sweeping and resplendent; century-old olive trees flown in from Europe stand at attention around a resort-style saltwater pool. There are many hot tubs–I lost count of just how many.
All that is to say, the place is a wonder to behold, but not one in which I could ever imagine myself really kicking my feet up and taking a load off.
There was much to "ooh" and "ahh" for as Geitner took me and a small group of mostly brokers around what is essentially a modern-day palace. Everyone was impressed, but our takeaways were varied.
"It's not too much," one broker said, without a hint of sarcasm, as we invariably passed over something like five different types of marble. Perhaps we'll agree to disagree.