Is Oprah done with Chicago?
According to the Chicago Tribune, Oprah Winfrey's former talk-show headquarters could soon be on the market. A real-estate firm is weighing options for "The Oprah Winfrey Show's" famous Harpo Studios property, and it could result in selling, refinancing, or leasing back a portion of the 88,000 square-foot, four-building campus.
Oprah is no stranger to real-estate transactions. In 2011, Business Insider reported that the talk-show queen's properties included a 15,000 square-foot duplex on Chicago's Michigan Ave.; a farmhouse in Kula, Hawaii; a shore home in Lavallette, N.J.; a ski villa in Telluride, Colo.; a home in Douglasville, Ga.; a vacation home on the shores of Antigua; and perhaps her favorite place of all, a $52 million estate in Montecito, Calif., which she nicknamed "The Promised Land." (Some reports say she paid $85 million for the SoCal place, but what's a few mil here and there when you're a billionaire?)
On an episode of pal Nate Berkus's talk show, Oprah offered a tour of the Montecito home's extensive rose garden and serene tea house. She also explained the meaning behind the estate's name: "Dr. King said he would not get to the promised land but one day we might. And so that's why I called it that ... because I think it's a fulfillment of the promise that Dr. King spoke of."
Earlier this year, Oprah commissioned designer Rose Tarlow to give the 23,000 square-foot mansion a facelift when she realized her tastes had evolved. In a spread for O! Magazine, Oprah revealed that Tarlow told her: "This house has nothing to do with you."
Talk about an a-ha moment! The "Oprah's Next Chapter" host reflected: "Apparently, a hand-embroidered pillow from the 1800s doesn't scream, 'Kick back and have a drink!'" And she added, "It's not easy to do an entire library that says, 'Do not touch the books,' but I somehow managed."
"I knew my house was impressive," the 59-year-old wrote. "I mean, just about every guest I ever invited for dinner told me so as they perched on the edge of the opulent sofa, trying not to get fingerprints on anything. I owned a stately home, and I poured my heart and soul into making it perfect. The gilded mirrors, marble urns, the lavish carpets, and sherbet palette -- it was all very grand, but it wasn't very true to myself. And there you have it: The thing that had been missing from all of the beautiful places I'd ever lived in was me!"
Check out this slideshow of the mansion's "before" pics here.
Oprah's Maui farm property is a far cry from the one-acre Mississippi farm that she grew up on. According to NPR, the property is situated at almost 4,000-feet elevation on the side of a dormant volcano, where it gets consistent rainfall and plenty of sun. The media mogul's health guru pal Bob Greene convinced her to "give back to the land -- and find a way to give back to Maui."
In an O! Magazine cover story, Oprah revealed that she designated 16 acres of the property for farming and ended up planting 100 species of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in fertile volcanic soil that's been further enriched with natural fertilizers and compost. "Everything grows five times as big as you'd expect," she said, touting her homegrown "baboon-butt radishes."
In an accompanying video, Oprah told her fans that growing her own crops is a "full-circle moment, because I grew up with a grandmother who was growing things." "Everything we ate came from our own little one acre," she said. "And to have a full-circle moment with that -- not in Mississippi, but in Maui -- is fantastic. It's like having earth jewelry -- jewelry that comes from the earth."
Watch Oprah talk about her Maui farm:
Oprah has Greene to thank for finding her the Hawaii property. According to O Magazine, the trainer turned real-estate whiz had been looking for "the perfect spot" on the island and convinced her to buy the property before a developer swooped in and built condos. The house, which she originally considered tearing down, was soon transformed into a perfect 21st century farmhouse, after it was stripped to its basic structure and remodeled with a wraparound porch.
Of course, not all of Oprah's real-estate deals have had happy endings. Earlier this year, the New York Daily News reported that she took a major hit when she sold the Chicago storefront where she'd opened her flagship Oprah Store back in 2008, losing a whopping $1 million in the transaction. After closing the shop (it sold Oprah-logo apparel and items previously owned by the star), she sold the space to a yoga studio.
Other missteps include a nearly $3 million loss on a co-op in the Windy City, which she sold after first renting it out for $15,000 per month. According to Curbed, the 4,600 square-foot Lake Shore Drive pad is a Benjamin Marshall-designed Beaux Arts mansion, boasting 10-foot ceilings, an upper and a lower foyer, a solarium, a butler's pantry, and a wine room. But it lacks one thing: Any memory of its former owner. The OWN head honcho never even moved into it!
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