By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
The front entrance draws tourists from all over the world. At 2700 Point Lane is a fancy gate with the number 23 on it. Many tourists and sports fanatics have taken selfies of it. But few have gotten further than that. Beyond the well-manicured, highly-guarded entrance is a winding road that leads to an enormous mansion that few have ever stepped foot in.
Located in Highland Park, a suburb north of Chicago, the mansion was built and occupied by His Airness, Michael Jordan, whom many regard as the greatest basketball player that ever lived. Not too far away in the same suburb lived teammate Scottie Pippen and dozens of Chicago Bulls players with big homes.
However, Jordan’s 56,000 sq.-ft. home was the biggest of them all.
It was customized with personalized features. For years, Jordan lived in his palace during the gilded age of the Chicago Bulls basketball franchise. He led his royal court in winning NBA championships from 1991 to 1998. With his jaw-dropping athleticism, charisma and groundbreaking endorsement deal with Nike, His Airness transcended basketball and became a global brand and the NBA’s first billionaire athlete and megastar.
For all his success and global appeal, the house that Jordan built in Highland Park today sits empty. For the past six years, it has been on the market where the price has been slashed several times and agents have gone as far as creating a special video just to entice a buyer. With no takers and a tough luxury housing market, selling the manse has been a losing game that has gone far beyond overtime for an owner with such a big name that sells.
For Jordan, it’s a challenge that’s far from being a slam-dunk. With no buyers, the sale of Jordan’s manse has been a humbling, if not humiliating experience.
Jordan began building his palace in 1991. He bought 7.39 acres in Highland Park—one of several affluent suburbs that make up Chicago’s pricey North Shore. Located 27 miles from Chicago, the sprawling, sleek, modern mansion has nine bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and five fireplaces. The master bedroom has a three-sided fireplace, his-and-her baths and private lounge area.
The lower level holds several entertaining spaces, including a card and cigar room with a custom-built, walk-in humidor, wine room and tasting space as well as a “gentleman’s retreat.” There is also a billiards room, library and a full wet bar.
Then there is the full-size, regulation basketball court built to Jordan’s exact specifications. The court has its own entrance and parking lot. There is also a full locker room and a lounge with a viewing area. A full exercise gym with equipment also awaits the new owner.
The home also has an infinity pool, tennis court, putting green and a three-bedroom guest wing and high-end chef’s kitchen.
Jordan lived here with his then-wife, Juanita Vanoy and their three children, Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine. In 2006, Jordan and Vanoy’s 17-year marriage ended in divorce. Vanoy received a $168 million settlement. After both of his children graduated high school from Loyola Academy and Whitney Young, Jordan put the mansion on the market in February 2012 for $29 million. The next year, Jordan would move into his new $12.4 million, 11-bedroom residence in Jupiter, FL with his fiancée Yvette Prieto.
As he enjoyed retirement on golf courses around the world, his estate in Highland Park languished on the market. In 2013, an auction was held. Bidders were offered a reserve price of $13 million and a $250,000 deposit was required. Still, there were no takers and the palatial residence went back on the market, cut to $21 million.
Today, the manor is on the market for $14,855,000, which is Jordan’s number 23 when you add the numbers. If you need financing, the estimated mortgage will be only $60,349 a month, according to Zillow.
In 2015, Jordan hired celebrity luxury real estate agent Kofi Nartey and Katherine Malkin as co-brokers to market and sale the property. Nartey is the national director of the Compass Sports & Entertainment Division. He has sold multi-million dollar homes for basketball star Kevin Durant, hip hop artist Iggy Azalea, and her former boyfriend, basketball star Nick Young. According to his website, Nartey has recently sold six multi-million dollar mansions in California, including a $12 million manse in Pacific Palisades, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles.
Nartey represented the property from late 2015 to July 2016 during which his advertising for the property included a video on YouTube he narrated personifying the estate as the trophy property of a champion. It received 12 million views. In one report, the video has produced some “serious” inquiries, some of them coming from China. With Jordan’s worldwide appeal and the love of basketball by the Chinese, some marketing of the residence was produced to appeal directly to that niche. That strategy hasn’t reeled in a buyer.
Nartey also told Maxim magazine that the new buyer could receive a pair of every edition of Air Jordan sneakers in his or her size. Still, no one has stepped forward to accept the offer. Malkin has continued to represent Jordan’s palace in Highland Park.
Real estate experts say it is not unusual for celebrity mansions to stay on the market for long periods of time. Tom Cruise took his $59 million estate in Telluride, CO off the market after it was put up for sale in 2014.
On the West Coast, another MJ property is having trouble selling. Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch has been on the market since 2009. Initially listed at $100 million, the four-acre, 12,598 sq.-ft. manse is now for sale at $68 million.
In 2015, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James sold his Miami estate for $13.4 million, 10 months after he listed it at $17 million. Still, James netted a $4 million profit since he bought the mansion in Miami’s ritzy Coconut Grove for $9 million. Singer Celine Dion finally sold her massive Jupiter, FL estate mansion in 2017. The 10,000 sq. ft. property was sold at $38.7 million four years after Dion put it on the market for $72 million.
In Highland Park, the housing market is more bullish. Last August, Pippen relisted his home for nearly $2.8 million after taking it off the market in 2016 when no buyers wanted the property for $3.1 million.
Experts say that the biggest challenge for Jordan’s estate is that it’s a very customized home. That turns off rich buyers who are very particular about buying homes that fit their taste. Also, experts say that Jordan’s home is not on the lake, but in west Highland Park where there are no celebrity residents. There is also the fact that the median home price in Highland Park is $483,680, a five percent decrease from 2017.
Unlike many celebrities, Jordan has never taken his mansion off the market since he put it up for sale in 2012, and there’s no indication that the price on the house will be slashed anytime soon.
The Crusader contacted Nartey to comment for this story, but he did not respond by press time Wednesday.
“Kofi is brilliant with marketing strategies,” said Adam Rosenfeld, founding principal of luxury real estate, Mercer Vine in Los Angeles. “But when you have such a specific property that is so customized, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”