Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, the granddaughter of renowned Canadian business mogul Samuel Bronfman, and her husband Andrew have unloaded their nearly 5-acre compound in Bel Air for a reported $85 million.
The sale price, according to The Real Deal, 400% of what the couple paid for it 16 years ago.
The sprawling compound is said to include a 19,000-square-foot main house designed by minimalist British architect John Pawson, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, it features a nearly 7,000-square-foot guest house.
According to the Journal, the property’s main house was built in 2009 and includes a theater, gym and spa. The grounds also feature a pool and a tennis court.
The Hauptman’s own and manage the investment firm Andell Inc.
The life story of Samuel Bronfman is the stuff of legend. Born in Soroki, Bessarabia, then part of Imperial Russia, he was, according to biographers, one of eight children of Mindel and Yechiel Bronfman. After traveling to Saskatchewan, Canada, they relocated again to Brandon, Manitoba.
A wealthy family, they were accompanied by their rabbi and two servants. Soon Yechiel learned that tobacco farming, which had made him a wealthy man in his homeland, was incompatible with the cold Canadian climate of that region. Yechiel was forced to work as a laborer for the Canadian Northern Railway, and after a short time moved to a better job in a sawmill. Yechiel and his sons then started making a good living selling firewood and began a trade in frozen whitefish to earn a winter income. Eventually they turned to trading horses, a venture through which they became involved in the hotel and bar business.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the family bought a hotel business, and Samuel, noting that much of the profit was in alcoholic beverages, set up shop as a liquor distributor. According to Wikipedia, he founded the Distillers Corporation in Montreal in 1924, specializing in cheap whiskey, and concurrently taking advantage of the U.S. prohibition on alcoholic beverages. “The Bronfmans sold liquor to the northern cities of the U.S. such as Boston, New York City and Chicago during the Prohibition era, while operating from the perimeters of Montreal, Quebec where alcohol production was legal.”
In the early 1950s, Bronfman established The Samuel and Sadie Bronfman Family Foundation, one of Canada’s major private granting foundations. He served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1939 to 1962, and in 1971 helped establish the Bronfman Building at McGill University. The Bronfman Archaeology Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, is named for Bronfman and his wife.
By Kenneth H.M. Robeson