5 BRs, Pool/Hot Tub, Mediterranean Vu; Too Far to Commute to Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — Oligarchs, let the bidding begin.

Having formally moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the United States is now selling off the seacoast estate that has been home to its ambassadors to Israel since 1962, a posh five-bedroom home on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean just north of Tel Aviv.

The asking price? About $87 million, which would be a national record for a residential sale, according to The Globes newspaper, which first reported the listing.

But it is a fair price, real estate agents said, given its location on what is considered Israel’s most prestigious street, Galei Tchelet, or “Azure Waves,” both an ambassadors’ and billionaires’ row, where the sunset views of the Mediterranean are utterly unobstructed.

It is also an exceptionally large property for the street, 1.2 acres, and is grandfathered into zoning restrictions that have since prevented landowners from assembling such large lots, according to Eytan Blumberg, a broker at Anglo-Saxon Real Estate.

The existing residential record was set this year when Roman Abramovich, the Israeli-Russian billionaire owner of the Chelsea soccer club, paid $65.5 million for a sprawling compound nearby, but it was a few blocks from the sea, Mr. Blumberg noted.

Other residents on Galei Tchelet include the Indian, Austrian and Chinese envoys, as well as Boris Kuzinez, a Moscow-based developer, and Teddy Sagi, the Israeli founder of the gambling-software company Playtech.

More Malibu than Middle East in its architecture, the “Mad Men”-era ambassador’s residence, the scene of many large Fourth of July parties, has been frequently renovated and upgraded over the years, with recent additions including a xeriscape garden in the front yard and a pool deck and hot tub in the rear.

Daniel B. Shapiro, who lived in the home as the Obama administration’s ambassador, said the house was built on land given to the United States by the Israeli government as compensation for food aid from Washington back in the 1950s, when Israel was still a poor fledgling country.

“Nobody lived up there then,” Mr. Shapiro said. “It was just a rocky bluff. It wasn’t worth anything yet.”

Its first occupant was Walworth Barbour, who was appointed by President John F. Kennedy and served a dozen years as ambassador. He left little evident imprint on Israel, though his name adorns the nearby American International School.

The current occupant is Ambassador David M. Friedman, who has etched his influence on the country in myriad ways as a driving force behind the Trump administration’s radically altered policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He has lately been preoccupied with seeing through a very different sort of real estate deal: Israeli annexation of occupied territory on the West Bank.

In 2018, Mr. Friedman orchestrated the closing of the American consulate in Jerusalem, merging it into his portfolio and commandeering the consul general’s stately 19th-century residence.

That residence made the home in the Herzliya Pituach neighborhood, just north of Tel Aviv, superfluous. The Herzliya residence was a 10-mile drive to the former embassy in Tel Aviv, but about 50 miles from the new embassy in Jerusalem.

“We expect the sale to move ahead in the coming months,” the embassy said in a statement. A spokeswoman declined to answer questions.

But Mr. Shapiro said that the much smaller Jerusalem home does not meet current U.S. State Department standards for ambassadorial residences. “I don’t think that’s a long-term solution,” he said. “I imagine they’ll build a new one. But that’ll take time, and money.”

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