Realaspen.com: Paulson plops down $24.5 million for Aspen pad

Editor’s note: Realaspen.com late Monday posted an update to its original story, saying Paulson’s daughter, Amanda, contacted the website to deny her father purchased the home.

Henry “Hank” Paulson, the U.S. Treasury secretary who fiddled while Wall Street burned in late 2008, has landed quite nicely on his feet with the purchase of a $24.5 million estate in Aspen, according to the newly launched realapsen.com

Veteran Aspen journalist Troy Hooper, former editor of the Aspen Daily News, went live with the scoop early Monday afternoon, confirming through a number of sources that Paulson is indeed the buyer of Aspen Lakes Ranch.

Hooper, on the first day of his new, local-content website, had this take on Paulson’s purchase:

“The view through Paulson’s 35-foot-high windows in his new seven-bedroom, eight-and-a-half bath palace on a 8.9-acre estate is certainly prettier than the view from the treasury secretary’s seat from July 2006 to January 2009, when Paulson was in office. That’s probably why he chose to ski out here at the height of the nation’s financial crisis, reportedly managing the recession over the telephone.

“When he testified before Congress that he was skiing in Colorado in December 2008, with America’s economy on the brink of collapse, pundits blasted Paulson for not being in Washington. When he was there, Paulson was accused of funneling federal bailout money to his friends in the finance industry, including Goldman Sachs, where he was once the CEO. Now that Paulson has plunked down the most cold, hard cash that Aspen realtors have seen in nearly a year, the man who has been vilified far and wide is receiving a warm welcome in Aspen.

“’It’s a great sign for the Aspen market,’ said a local broker knowledgeable of the Paulson purchase but who was not authorized to speak about it. ‘If he is bullish on Aspen to the tune of $24.5 million, that gives other buyers incentive. They see that Aspen real estate is a sound investment.’”

Definitely a better place to put your money than the stock market these days. Still, Paulson’s new pad pales in comparison to other Pitkin County real estate deals. According to realaspen.com, the record ranch sale was $47 million in 2006 for Crystal Island Ranch, but of course that was back before the bubble burst and Bernie Madoff victimized dozens of Aspen’s elite.

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