Longtime Palm Beach couple sell custom home for $13.6M in private deal

Longtime Palm Beach couple sell custom home for $13.6M in private deal

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A trust was on the buyer’s side of the sale of Suzanne and Michael Ainslie’s house near the beach at 596 N. County Road on the North End.

Former Palm Beach Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Michael Ainslie and his real estate agent wife, Suzanne, have sold for a recorded $13.625 million the North End custom home they completed in 2020.

Susan M. Dufresne of Seabrook, New Hampshire, bought the house at 596 N. County Road as trustee of The Filoxenia Nominee Trust, according to the deed recorded Tuesday for the off-market sale. DuFresne couldn’t be reached, and because of privacy rules governing trusts, no other information about the buyer was immediately available in public records.

Near the beach, the house stands on a lot of about a quarter acre on the west side of North County Road, several blocks south of the Palm Beach Country Club. 

With an exterior inspired by Bermudian architecture, the two-story residence has sleek, contemporary-style interiors. The layout includes five bedrooms and 5,255 square feet of living space, inside and out. 

The Ainslies once lived next door in another custom home they built at 202 Plantation Road. Then, in 2017, the longtime Palm Beach couple paid a recorded $2.2 million for the adjacent property at 596 N. County Road. They razed that 1940s-era home there and built their new residence, property records show. The couple sold the house on Plantation Road for a recorded $7.2 million in October 2019.

FROM THE 2019 ARCHIVES: Michael and Suzanne Ainslie sell their custom home on Plantation Road for $7.2 million

The house that just changed hands has a first-floor primary suite among its features — one of the reasons the Ainslies wanted to build the residence, the couple recalled for a June article about the house in the Palm Beach Daily News.

“And I wanted a bigger closet,” Suzanne Ainslie told the Daily News.

In the same article, her husband playfully described what resulted as “one of the world’s largest closets. I call it the sixth bedroom.” 

The house was designed by architect Nilo Freijomel of Spina O’Rourke + Partners and built by Michael Berry of Berry Custom Builders. 

Among its features are a combination kitchen and family room crowned by a cathedral ceiling. The living room has retractable glass doors that front the outdoor loggia. 

“It’s a very good house for entertaining,” Suzanne said in the June article. “When we fold back the Euro door between the living room and loggia, it becomes one space. It’s also nice because the loggia has retractable screens, a fireplace and a TV, so it’s a whole new room.” 

READ MORE ABOUT THE HOUSE: On the Market: Ainslies’ home for sale at $14.95 million at 596 N. County Road in Palm Beach

Similarly, French doors in the dining room open to a side garden with a patio for outdoor dining. 

Among Michael Ainslie’s favorite spots at the house is the 40-foot lap pool, which has a color-changing module. 

Landscape designer Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design designed the grounds. 

Although the sale was private, the property was briefly on the market late last spring with an asking of price just under $15 million. 

Suzanne Ainslie is an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, which represented both sides in the sale. She handled the seller’s side with agents Lisa and John Cregan. 

Representing the buyer were agents Bobby Goodnough and Raj Shrestha. Goodnough declined to comment.

The Ainslies have longtime ties to New York. Michael Ainslie was once president and CEO of Sotheby’s Holdings when it owned the famous auction house and the Sotheby’s International Realty brand. He later was a director of Lehman Brothers and helped oversee the distribution of the investment bank’s assets after the company filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. He also held the chairmanship of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Ainslies are renting a condominium in West Palm Beach on the 14th floor of La Clara, a recently built condominium tower on South Flagler Drive, the couple confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday. The Ainslies said they are waiting for work to be finished on the nearby Forté tower, where they purchased an 11th-floor condo during its pre-construction phase.

Before the paid a recorded $1.55 million for the property on Plantation Road in 2011, the Ainslies lived for 15 years at 415 Seaspray Avenue in Midtown. They sold that house for $6.63 million in 2012, courthouse records show.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Palm Beacher Michael Ainslies’s book recalls his time at Sotheby’s, being part of Lehman Brothers

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Darrell Hofheinz is a USA TODAY Network of Florida journalist who writes about Palm Beach real estate in his weekly “Beyond the Hedges” column. He welcomes tips about real estate news on the island. Email dhofheinz@pbdailynews.com, call 561-820-3831 or tweet @PBDN_Hofheinz.

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