The Spoils of Ponzi

Want an 8,500 square foot home on the New River near Las Olas with eight bathrooms and a two-story pool house? Have $9 million?

Buy Joel Steinger's house!

The owner of scandal-ridden Mutual Benefits Corp. has his house (pictured above) listed for sale. The link offers several photographs of the estate, including the beautiful pool and two-story guesthouse. Of course, I doubt Steinger would ever sell it --because any proceeds would be available to his many creditors (including presumably the federal government and the Mutual Benefits receivership). Here's the description of the estate:

This deepwater point estate is a stunning historic landmark on the New River, suffused with romantic elegance and island-like splendor. Sequestered in an intimate, gated enclave of only six estate residences, this historic jewel rests at the very tip of a tree-lined peninsula where the Himmarshee Canal meets the New River amid picturesque winding waters that epitomize Fort Lauderdale's beauty as the Venice of America. Sprawling over 229 feet of deepwater frontage on two and a-half lush lots, this Old World residence originally built in 1928 has been masterfully expanded and renovated as a picture-perfect showplace for entertaining in the ultimate South Florida setting. Mizner influences characterize the exquisite architectural design in timeless grace and serenity with the counterpoint of absolutely stunning scenery everywhere. Warmly elegant entertaining spaces spill onto the grand loggias and lounge areas by the magnificent pool, across which sits the totally private pool/guest house. There is extensive full-service boat dockage on both sides of this choice southeast-facing property. Just one block off of Las Olas Boulevard, the location is superb, rooted in the region's rich history in surroundings of tropical splendor, close to the beach and everything that downtown Fort Lauderdale has to offer.

Wraparound loggias with skylit cypress ceilings create true outdoor living spaces with an advantageous viewpoint across luxuriant gardens and open lawns to the surrounding waterways. Framing the beautiful pool and spa, a magnificent stone patio inlaid with grass gridding extends along the canal to the private pool/guest house. ... Fine workmanship hallmarks every aspect of this generously scaled residence totaling 8,458 square feet with 5 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half baths, and 4-bay garage.

Glass-paneled doors usher guests into the impressive 2-story marble foyer where a dramatic suspended staircase sweeps upward aside arched clerestory windows. Tranquil river views backdrop the formal living room refined with rich oak flooring, Venetian plastered walls, a fireplace, and hand-painted frieze below the coffered ceiling. French doors open to a conservatory-style morning room with intricately molded mirrored walls, handsome mahogany bar, and exterior French doors to the loggia. An intimate sitting room/office with beautiful hand-carved bookshelves overlooks the gardens. Flowing onto the loggia, the elegant formal dining room with fabric-upholstered walls and hand-painted ceiling .

Today, Steinger lives in the "historic jewel" under a mini-version of federal house arrest, complete with a physical monitor and curfew. Not a bad little prison.

As you go on the virtual tour of the house, remember that lobbyist Russ Klenet (Mr. Stacy Ritter) was a perpetual guest at the home, where he helped Steinger cook up his business and political plans. He also kept his boat there. No wonder Klenet went whole hog with Steinger; the ostentatious wealth surely blinded him to whatever tiny shred of ethicality Klenet might have ever have had.

Crime doesn't pay? The jury is still out on that one.

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman