A remarkable piece of history has just exchanged hands with the recent sale of the Rockefeller villa in St. Barts. This fascinating transaction not only brings forth a new owner and the promise of a revitalized future for the property, but also offers us a unique opportunity to delve into its storied past.
In this exclusive feature, we will unveil the details of the transaction, introduce the new owner, and explore their plans for the estate. But, perhaps most intriguingly, we will take you on a captivating journey through time with our exclusive recounting of what the villa was like during its heyday, as described by Eileen Rockefeller herself. Accompanied by photos from 1983, this article offers a rare glimpse into the enchanting world of the Rockefeller family and their cherished island retreat.
Join us as we embark on this extraordinary exploration, celebrating the rich history and unveiling the exciting new chapter of the iconic Rockefeller villa.
Historic Rockefeller Villa in St. Barts Sold for $136 Million
- Acquired by American businessman Adam Sinn for around $136 million
- Largest ever real estate transaction on the island for a single residence
A waterfront villa built by the industrial magnate David Rockefeller in the 1950s on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy has recently been purchased by Adam Sinn, a 45-year-old American businessman. The sale, which was officialized on April 7, set a new record for the highest-ever real estate transaction on the island for a single residence.
Note that the previous record, at $90 million, was held by another property formerly owned by David Rockefeller: The Gouverneur beach property, bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (and now confiscated by the French State).
Chronology of Owners
- 1957: David Rockefeller acquires the property for $32,500 and later builds a villa on it.
- 1983: David Rockefeller sells the property to New York developer Jim Harrisson.
- 1990: Harrisson’s long court battle against the municipality for building permits ends unsuccessfully
- 1991: Harrisson puts the property up for sale.
- 1996: Steve and Linda Horn purchase the property from Harrisson.
- 2023: Adam Sinn acquires the property from Steve and Linda Horn for around $136 million.
Meet the New Owner: Adam Sinn
- Based in Puerto Rico since the early 2010s
- Head of a commodities trading company, Aspire Commodities, based in Texas
Adam Sinn, the new owner of the historic Rockefeller villa, grew up in Hoopeston, Illinois, where he was influenced by the strong work ethic of his family and community. His study abroad experience in Japan through the Rotary Youth Exchange program further shaped his outlook on life.
Sinn attended Texas A&M University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2001. Throughout his college years, he held various jobs and internships to build his resume. His dedication and determination landed him a job at Dell, where he quickly gained recognition for his knowledge and expertise.
Sinn explored different roles in accounting and finance before finding his true calling in energy trading. He seized the opportunity to enter the industry during the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Eventually, he founded Aspire Commodities, one of the largest speculative trading firms in the commodity market, based in Texas.
Future Plans and Legal Possibilities
- Adam Sinn plans to restore the property to its glory during the Rockefeller years
- No current plans for any major development or changes to the property
In a statement, Sinn said he was “thrilled to have acquired such an iconic piece of history” and that “there are no current plans for the property, other than the desire to restore the property to its glory during the Rockefeller years.” Many parts of the estate are now in a natural zone, which means there are restrictions on development. However, it remains to be seen what specific plans Adam Sinn has in store for the property.
Impact on St. Barts Real Estate Market
- The sale has put a spotlight on St. Barts
- Reinforces the strength of the market in Saint-Barth
The sale of the Rockefeller estate has generated significant interest and buzz, with experts saying it will “put a spotlight” on St. Barts and reinforce the strength of the island’s real estate market. However, it is not expected to have any major impact on the island’s development.
A Glimpse into the Past: The Historic Rockefeller Villa’s New Chapter
In Eileen Rockefeller‘s memoirs, she fondly remembers the family’s winter retreat on the bay of Colombier in St. Barths, a villa built in 1957 by her parents, David and Peggy Rockefeller. She writes,
“My first memories of St. Barts are of women sitting in brightly painted doorways weaving straw birds, barefooted men riding donkeys, and the only vehicle on the island, a Jeep, driving up to the chartered plane to greet us.”
St. Barths Rockefeller Estate: A Glimpse into its Golden Era
As Eileen recalls, the house was constructed by local laborers and skilled Italian stonemasons, “became the incubator for masonry, a growing source of income on the island since then.” The striking parabolic arches, she describes, were designed to withstand “hurricanes, salt, heat, and wood-boring insects.”
The villa’s interior garden was a lush oasis, with serpentine pathways connecting the bedrooms to the living and dining areas. Eileen recounts the vibrant atmosphere:
“Red and green hummingbirds zipped back and forth among orchids, bromeliads, and hibiscus along the paths.”
Inside, Peggy Rockefeller’s artistic touch graced every corner. “My mother did not use a decorator. She enjoyed her eclectic taste and loved applying her artistic talent to interiors,” Eileen shares. The breathtaking views of the bay were framed by the villa’s floor-to-ceiling windows, inviting guests to take in the natural splendor surrounding them.
Construction ended in 1961, with a celebration with local St Barths people
In 1961, a housewarming party celebrated the villa’s completion, uniting the island’s residents and the Rockefeller family in a moment of shared joy and gratitude. Eileen describes the scene: “I remember a swarthy crowd of people arriving in bare feet, wearing simple dresses and well-worn khaki pants. Many were missing some teeth, but they were full of smiles as my parents and we six children held out our hands in a line to greet them.”
Although the villa has since been abandoned, with its once-vibrant interiors lost to the passage of time, the memories of the Rockefeller family’s haven on St. Barths, lovingly chronicled in Eileen’s memoirs, will forever be a testament to a bygone era of elegance, adventure, and the indelible connection between people and place.
Rockefellers’ Other St. Barths Gem: The Renowned Gouverneur Beach Estate
In addition to the Colombier villa, the Rockefeller family held a special connection to another hidden gem on St. Barths, as Eileen recounts in her memoirs. David Rockefeller had purchased a remote parcel of land on the opposite end of the island, near the secluded Gouverneur Beach, which would later be acquired by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Gouverneur Beach, reached by a charming footpath meandering through sand dunes, offered a striking contrast to the serene waters of Colombier. Eileen writes, “The waves at Gouverneur were much stronger than at Colombier. They rolled and heaved in from the ocean, perfect for body surfing.”
Caretaking the additional property were brother and sister, Monsieur and Mademoiselle Brin. They resided in a modest shack nestled on the hillside, overlooking the picturesque beach. Eileen fondly remembers the pair, who, despite missing a few teeth, “did not lack for words.” Their warm presence contributed to the sense of camaraderie and family that the Rockefellers cherished during their St. Barths sojourns.
Though time has moved on, and ownership of the Gouverneur Beach property has changed hands, the memories Eileen shares in her memoirs allow us a glimpse into the Rockefeller family’s enchanting experiences in St. Barths – a testament to the lasting bond between people, place, and the beauty of the natural world.
Architect Nelson Aldrich’s chef d’oeuvre
Nelson Aldrich’s work on the villa at Colombier in St. Barths is an example of how his architectural style, influenced by the International Style and Bauhaus principles, was applied to residential design. The villa showcases the key characteristics of this modernist approach, such as the seamless integration with the surrounding environment, the innovative design, and the use of local materials and craftsmanship.
Aldrich’s design for the villa at Colombier incorporated elements that were functional, resilient, and adapted to the local climate and landscape. For example, the parabolic arches in the structure were built to withstand hurricanes, salt, heat, and wood-boring insects, while the undulating roofs harmoniously blended with the natural surroundings.
In keeping with the modernist principles, Aldrich also prioritized the use of local materials and the involvement of local craftsmen in the construction process. This approach not only respected the local culture and traditions of St. Barths but also allowed for the transfer of skills, as Italian stonemasons were brought in to train local workers in masonry techniques.
In summary, Nelson Aldrich’s work on the villa at Colombier in St. Barths exemplifies his modernist architectural style, which prioritizes functionality, integration with the environment, and the use of local materials and craftsmanship. This project is a testament to Aldrich’s ability to adapt his architectural approach to different contexts while maintaining the core principles of the International Style and the Bauhaus movement.
Preserving Legacy: A Timeless Conclusion to the Rockefeller Estate Saga in St. Barts
In conclusion, the captivating story of the Rockefeller estate in St. Barts, initially established by David Rockefeller, grandson of the famed John D. Rockefeller, is filled with enchanting stories and a rich history. From the stunning construction of the villa completed by skilled craftsmen to the family’s cherished memories, these tales paint a vivid picture of a bygone era of glamour, adventure, and a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Caribbean island.
As we look to the future, the property embarks on a new chapter with the recent transaction and ambitious restoration plans, carrying with it the legacy of the Rockefeller family. Whether accessed by boat or by land, this magnificent estate on the edge of crystal-clear waters will continue to inspire and captivate generations to come. Through the pages of Eileen Rockefeller’s memoirs and our exclusive account of the villa, readers can embark on a journey through time, discovering the fascinating stories and the indelible bond between people and place, carved in the sands of St. Barts.