PRINCE ALBERT HONORS HIS MOTHER, GRACE KELLY, BY BUYING HER CHILDHOOD HOME

by Eleonora Pedron PHILADELPHIA. Not only is it the place where his mother grew up, but also the very place where his father, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, proposed to Kelly before their ‘Wedding of the Century’ in 1956. in a recent inteview, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors said the Philadelphia home is now in the hands of the royal family of Monaco. In fact, Prince Albert II has confirmed this September 2016 the purchase of the six-bedroom, 2.5-story Colonial home in the city’s East Falls section for $754,000. Real estate agent John O’Connell said: ‘There were multiple offers on the property, we started at a higher offer because we had no idea what the wow-factor would be. The people who put in offers really wanted it because of a combination of the name and the architecture.’ The house remained in the Kelly’s family until 1974, when Grace Kelly’s mother Margaret sold the estate to Thomas and Janet Lawnton, who then sold it six days later to Marjorie Bamont. She lived at the home for more than 40 years. She died in May 2016 and the decrepit house was purchased in September, after four months on the market. Prince Albert’s cousin John B. Kelly III accompanied the prince on October to kick around ideas about what to do with the home. “We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do with it,” the prince said. “We’re looking at having it contain some museum exhibit space and maybe use part of it for offices for some of our foundation work.” The home was built in 1935 by Kelly’s father, John B. Kelly. He was a three-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower in the 1920s and later a prominent businessman active in Philadelphia politics. A sign posted outside designates the structure as a Pennsylvania historical landmark.

Kelly spent her childhood in the home, which features six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The estate sits on a 0.69-acre parcel that features gardens and a private backyard. Inside, the home boasts a formal panelled dining room, finished basement and a barroom. Grace Kelly left Philadelphia at age 20 for Hollywood, but remained adored by Philadelphians through the years. In 1982, the city mourned after Princess Grace, then 52 years old, died from injuries she suffered in an automobile crash in France, heading home from her Roc Agel villa.

The actress is pictured here showing her mother her new engagement ring while they sit in the family’s living room

Once asked about memories growing up in Philadelphia, Kelly recalled walking along the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park, saying it was her “greatest treat.” Prince Albert said he has early memories of visits to the home, such as staring out an upstairs window or rolling around on the living room carpet. “The house is filled with little moments like that. Moments of being a family,” he said. The father of two told the magazine that he can’t wait to make new memories in the home with his own children, twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.

Rainier III and Grace of Monaco with son Albert and daughter Caroline in Philadelphia in the sixties

 

Prince Albert said in an interview on the People Magazine website recently posted that the house is “very special to our family.” He said he was happy to have saved it “from a near certain death or development.” In fact, the relatively low price tag for a property with such history is even more surprising when you consider it was a price cut – the estate was originally listed at $1 million  over the summer. But the price may have been related to the condition of the property. In fact, in 2013 Pennsylvania SPCA Law Enforcement officers were called   to investigate a possible animal hoarding case. The late owner Bamont, who was believed to be suffering a mental health crisis at the time, eventually pleaded no contest after she was convicted of 14 counts of animal cruelty. Quite curiuos is the fact that a similar case had notoriety in the US. It was enhanced by the film based on the life stories of the eccentric paternal aunt and first cousin of  Jackie Kennedy, both named Edith Bouvier Beale. The Beale women were members of NYC high society, but in their later years, withdrew from the New York City life, taking shelter at their Long Island summer home/estate Grey Gardens.

 

“Little Edie” Bouvier Beale in front of her decrepit house in the early ’70s

After the squalor and isolation they lived in was exposed in the early ’70s, former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made a famous visit to the house to clean it up, to save her relatives from eviction. In 1979, after Big Edie’s death, Grey Gardens was purchased for $220K, ($790K in 2016) by Ben Bradlee,  the former executive editor of the Washington Post, who who was a friend of the Kennedys. He and his wife, journalist Sally Quinn, said thatGrey was the prettiest house they had ever seen and they promised to restore the decrepit estate (the sale forbade the razing of it, anyhow).

Grey Gardens restored by Bradlee and Quinn

A furthermore curiosity is the 2016 classification of the Principality of Monaco as the most expensive city in the world ,  where $1 buys just 17sqm of luxury property floor. The five-floor penthouse of the Tour Odeon, developed by the Groupe Marzocco, designed by the Monegasque architect Alexandre Giraldi, has been prospectively put on the market for a tidy $335 million, or thereabouts!

Aerial view of the Mediterranean Sea from the Tour Odeon’s penthouse

 

I.e. in Europe, in London (classified  3rd) $1m buys 21sq m of prime property; the second is Honk Hong, where $1m buys 20sq m of real estate. Of course, the Corinthia Residences at Whitehall Place in London is a coveted luxury spot, with just little diffrence in landscape, view and weather…

The Corinthia Residence in London Whitehall Place, luxury apartments from £8.5m to £15.6m

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