Katharine Hepburn’s storied home on the Connecticut shore is no longer for sale.
Owner Frank J. Sciame told me late Wednesday that he pulled the estate off the market a week ago after two years and no offers that matched the $30 million asking price.
“I’m not going to sell it for less than the asking price,” Sciame said.
Sciame said he and his wife, Barbara, plan to use the house in the exclusive, Old Saybrook enclave of Fenwick as a summer home — as they did before putting it up for sale. They also plan to begin construction of a second, smaller house on the property this fall
“We are going to build a guest house in September, right after Labor Day,” Sciame said.
Sciame disclosed that the house was no longer on the market in an interview with Property Line about his winning a $2.2 million jury award against the company that provided title insurance for the former Hepburn property.
Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer, and his wife, Barbara, purchased the 3.5-acre Hepburn estate for $6 million in 2004, a year after the actress’s death.
They completed a top-to-bottom, multimillion dollar renovation, which included raising the entire house 5-1/2 feet to guard against flooding. The Sciames also secured approval to subdivide the property into three lots, planning for future construction.
Sciame said the complaint against First American involves the title insurers failure to determine that what the Sciames thought was a private driveway actually was a “discontinued road” still owned by the Borough of Fenwick.
The Sciames had purchased $6 million title insurance policy when they purchased the property with a clause that increased coverage to $9 million at the time of the recent trial in Superior Court in Hartford.
First American, Sciame said, first offered to pay Sciame $17,000 in 2007 to compensate for the error, but Sciame balked. In June, the jury awarded $2.2 million and earlier this month, a Superior Court judge in Hartford denied motions by First American to set aside or reduce the award.
Sciame has since worked out an easement with the borough.
“The $2.2 million judgment is a victory for all of us who hold property insurance,” Sciame said. “It sends an unmistakable message that an insurer cannot make a title error on a policyholder’s property and avoid compensating the insured; that it must meet its policy contract obligations in good faith and in full.”
A call to First American’s office in Hartford for comment was not immediately returned today.
This is not the only controversy involving the storied seaside estate where Hepburn spent her retirement years. Sciame also battled with the borough over the height of granite marker posts marking the entrance of the driveway.
Construction on the guesthouse cannot begin until after Labor Day because Fenwick zoning regulations do not permit building in the summer.
The plans call for a 2,750-square foot guest house with three bedrooms that will be built to the east of the 8,500-square-foot main house.
When asked about whether he would sell if a buyer offered the full price now that the house was off the market, Sciame said: “No, not at the moment.”
The $30 million asking price reflected plans for the construction of the guest house. A structure on the third lot also is possible.
The Sciames originally had planned to sell the renovated estate as soon as the work was done, but they kept it as a summer house for several years because it became a family favorite.
“Katharine Hepburn wasn’t wrong when she referred to it as paradise.” Sciame said.