By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN, email@example.com The Hartford Courant
11:35 a.m. EST, December 27, 2010hc-50-cent-money-pit-1228-20101226
Think your house is a money pit?
You've got nothing on rapper 50 Cent and his sprawling, 17-acre estate in Farmington, which has been on the market for three years with no takers.
Keeping up the property costs about $450,000 a year, covering everything from taxes and insurance right down to winterizing the sprinkler system and replacing burned out exterior light bulbs, according to estimates from area real estate brokers.
Add in the cost of occasional big-ticket items like roofs, furnace and painting and annual costs would easily top a half-million dollars.
All for a 50,000-square-foot house the size of a low-rise office building in suburbs. The mansion made headlines last week when a couple of guys broke in, highlighting the fact that the property isn't even occupied much of the time.
But it costs money full-time, just to keep it in showing condition on the chance that someone wants to buy it. The hefty maintenance bill would be enough to run as many as 100 apartments in West Hartford where scores of people live year-round.
"That's not quite a city block, but it's a neighborhood," said Marc Gottesdiener, a longtime Hartford apartment owner and appraiser. "It's mind-boggling for just one house."
Rob Giuffria, a broker with Prudential Premier Homes in Farmington, said the mansion with its 21 bedrooms and 37 bathrooms isn't likely to be shown more than once in 60 days.
"All this is just to hold the property," Giuffria said of the costs.
Giuffria estimates that the biggest chunkâ€” $175,000 â€” is for round-the-clock security, a cost that may well go up after two intruders scaled a fence last week and broke into the compound. One was apprehended drinking a bottle of wine.
Heidi Picard-Ramsay, an agent with William Raveis in Avon who has the listing, concurred with the high cost of upkeep, but said it is all handled by G-Unit, the New York company 50 Cent co-founded. G-Unit did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the actual costs.
Property taxes run $98,000 a year, and policies that insure the property likely carry hefty premiums of at least $30,000 annually, Giuffria said.
Grounds maintenance requires at least one-full time groundskeeper and probably some part-time help at a cost of about $48,000 a year. Then there are the specialists: an arborist at $4,000 a year; an electrician to maintain exterior lighting, at $1,000 a year; a plumber to winterize the sprinkler system for another $1,000. The indoor and outdoor pools add at least another $3,000.
Inside, there's the cleaning bill of $2,000 a month, but that's the least of it. Gas heat can run as much as $5,000 a month in winter, while air conditioning likely sets the rapper back $8,000 a month during the summer.
50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, bought the property for $4.1 million, but reportedly spent between $6 and $10 million on renovations. The mega-mansion also has been owned by boxer Mike Tyson and was built by real estate swindler Benjamin Sisti.
The rapper first put the property on the market in 2007 with an asking price of $18.5 million. It has since been reduced three times to $9,999,999, the price as of a month ago.
"It's the antithesis of his upbringing," Gottesdiener said. "He was brought up in tough times, his family scraping money together. The money to maintain such a residence is extremely ludicrous compared with his upbringing."
Picard-Ramsay said there has been some interest following the recent price reduction, but gawkers need not bother: a full background check on financials ferrets out those who can't afford the price tag.
The size, location and asking price will continue to make the property, which also includes a gym, billiard rooms, racquetball courts and a disco with a "dancing room" featuring stripper poles, a tough sell, Giuffria said.
There's no estimate on how much it costs to polish those stripper poles.