An air of mystique looms over Windermere Estate, the secluded Lake Minnetonka mansion.
The 14,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home is on a private island, accessible by water or a private bridge. The estate boasts 1,150 feet of shoreline.
For years, rumors have floated about the multimillion-dollar estate — that megawatt stars have stayed there, that it has its own car wash, that it has gold plating.
"People see this home as an incredibly glamorous property located on an island and, clearly, the architecture is incredibly unique," said owner Kam Talebi. "But what I don't think has been understood is, at the end of the day, it was built to raise a family. We wanted to create a timeless home where our goal was to raise our family there, and we did."
When Talebi and his wife, Sara, purchased the embattled Greenwood property in 2013, it was strewn with weeds and the house had been long vacant.
"The house had sat idle for years, so we wanted to be safe and ended up tearing it down to basically the framing and starting from scratch," said Talebi, CEO of Kaskaid Event Group, which owns Crave and Union restaurants.
The property also had a troubled past. Its owner, developer Jeffrey Wirth, pleaded guilty to tax fraud conspiracy. Some of his ill-begotten money was used in the development of the property.
"Whatever the history, we certainly didn't carry it over to this house," Talebi said. "I worked with the bank to purchase it from the bank, and we wanted an absolutely fresh start."
While the infrastructure was there — the bridge, gas, water and electricity — "we took it from there. We basically started from scratch," he said.
The Talebis brought in Excelsior-based Erotas Custom Building. Sara, an interior designer, also played a large role in the design of the four-story home.
"My wife is a designer, and every corner and angle of the house was thought through in detail, so there was a lot of passion and pride in building and decorating the home," Talebi said. "It was very hands-on."
About the rumors? Yes, Windermere Estate can be accessed via a private bridge. There is indeed a heated, eight-car garage with a car wash. There is also gold plating. As for stars, more about that later.
Elegant and European
The home itself is European in feel, with a mix of timeless materials and rare contemporary pieces from around the world. The vibe is that of a sleek fashion house with black, white and gold accents.
Beyond the triple-height ceilings of the grand foyer, there's a sun-filled, glass-enclosed atrium, one of the largest residential atriums of its kind. A vintage Italian Sputnik light fixture — measuring 5 feet in diameter — illuminates the space.
Lighting, in fact, is an important feature of the home, with contemporary and antique Murano glass fixtures sourced from around the globe. Marble is also prominent throughout.
The kitchen features a double island outfitted with Carrara marble directly sourced from a quarry in Italy. The backsplash is made from vintage marble. The first-floor office is clad with black lacquered walls and 24-karat gold leaf finishes. There's also a marble fireplace in the office with hues selected to match the rest of the room, just like with the marble mantel and backsplash of a nearby lounge.
The glass elevator has a marble floor. The staircases are lined with wrought iron and brass railings, as are the several balconies.
"In Italy, you have balconies looking over the village. Here, there are balconies looking over the main part of the house," Talebi said. "It's very much influenced by Italian and European architecture."
In addition to custom built-ins and wallpaper, all five bedrooms have their own en suites. The primary suite features a ninth-century French plastered fireplace, a private terrace overlooking the lake and a custom oversized closet. The spa-like en suite boasts a steam shower, soaking tub and rare marble and onyx flooring.
While the family wanted a timeless, one-of-a-kind home, they also wanted one that was flexible and family-friendly.
"We wanted our kids to grow here and have their friends over and grow into it. When you look at the zones of the house and the multiple levels, it gives us and the kids the flexibility to do different types of gatherings," Talebi said. "Yet every area still feels incredibly intimate."
That may be why Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez rented the home during the 2018 Super Bowl when Lopez performed at the Armory in downtown Minneapolis as part of pre-game festivities. "J.Lo was with her kids, and it was an incredibly fun house with lots of activities for the kids," Talebi said.
The gathering spots include a lower-level theater, with seating for 12, studded doors and 1960s Italian glass sconces from a theater in Rome. Nearby, there's a banquette lounge with a custom brass bar. Other highlights include poker, billiards and two wine rooms — one for red, the other for white.
The lower level also houses a health and wellness wing with a locker room, fitness center and sauna lined with 24-karat gold tile. The area is outfitted with custom flooring, plaster detailing and antique light fixtures collected from the famed Metropolitan Building in downtown Minneapolis.
Outside, amenities for leisure and entertaining include a pool and hot tub as well as two private docks for launching boats and Jet Skis.
"In the summer, so much of the kids' activities revolved around being on the water, boating and water sports," Talebi said.
Now that their children are older, the Talebis decided to list the house.
"Our best memories here are of our kids growing up here," Talebi said. "Now they've grown up and have left. For Sara and I, it's just too big of a home to live in."
He added, "I think the next family who lives here will appreciate the family-focused nature of the home, which was a big goal for Sara and I. Everywhere in the house you look around and you've got waterfront. The views are breathtaking. It's an incredible house to relax in."
Listing agent Peter Prudden said what's also nice about the home is that it can be enjoyed during all the seasons. And its placement on a hill and an island doesn't get any more tranquil and private.
"It's really built for a year-round, four-season experience," Prudden said. And "it feels quiet and secluded."
Peter Prudden (612-805-5466; Peter@pruddencompany.com) and Jessica Prudden (612-875-4675; Jessica@pruddencompany.com) of Prudden & Company have the $10.995 million listing.