Forrest Lucas buys Hilbert mansion for $3M
Hamilton County - It's been on the market for over five years. Now the sprawling mansion that once belonged to Conseco co-founder Stephen Hilbert has been sold. The estate went for $3 million - a fraction of the $35 million it cost to build.
Eyewitness News exclusively reported at noon that the buyer is Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil. Central Indiana residents will certainly recognize the name. Lucas purchased the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium for 20 years in a $120 million deal.
"This place has always been one of the prettiest places I've ever seen in my life," Lucas said. "I don't think anyone's ever seen a piece of property or real estate of any kind that is any prettier than this. This is preserving a big piece of art, as far as I'm concerned."
The 17-year-old, 25,000-square-foot mansion was one of the best known private estates in Indiana. It once belonged to Conseco insurance founder Stephen Hilbert, who built the home, its sports facility and other buildings on the 40-acre property for $35 million.
CNO, formerly known as Conseco, won control of the property during a court battle stemming from loans that Hilbert took out to buy company stock. He's since settled with the company. The estate went on the market in 2005 at $20 million then came the collapse in the real estate market.
Last year, the asking price was slashed in half, and still no buyer. In July the property went up for sale through a sealed bid auction. The sellers said at the time that it wouldn't necessarily be the highest bid that gets the property rather it will likely go to the most qualified buyer.
CNO, which sold the home, said that Lucas plans to use the state for both corporate and community needs and the mansion was sold as is.
"I can justify it by having this as a corporate retreat for my employees and for my customers, and of course we hope to have friends and family and have some social functions for the city on top of that," Lucas said.
When asked if the property would ever be used as a personal residence, Charlotte Lucas replied, "I really don't know right now; however, I see this as the perfect site for occasional fundraisers and benefits. The property is so amazingly beautiful, with plenty of room to accommodate just about anything."
"I think there's enormous potential for The Mansion to become one of the great corporate and philanthropic locations in America today," says Realtor Greg Cooper for Prudential Realty in Indiana. "It can serve the community in so many ways while remaining a true landmark for the State of Indiana and the entire Midwest."