Hilbert mansion on auction block

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Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Hamilton County - The mansion once owned by former Conseco CEO Stephen Hilbert will be put up for auction. The move comes after five years on the market and several price drops.

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. 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.

"Not only have the liquid assets of people who have the potential to purchase that property gone way down, but the mindset of people who still have that money has changed significantly," noted co-listing agent Greg Cooper, Prudential Indiana Real Estate.

The strategy for unloading the property has changed, too. Now with its own web page, the mansion will be auctioned by sealed bid.

"Because we've had several offers in the past that haven't worked, it's time to try something different and this technique has proven to be successful," said listing agent Dick Richwine.

Potential buyers have between now and August 27th to submit a bid on the mansion. The sellers say it won't necessarily be the highest bid that gets the property. Rather it will likely go to the most qualified buyer.

"Ultimately, its owner, formerly Conseco, wanted to take a very aggressive position and bring this to a resolution and that was their whole goal in this and we think it's a great idea. There's gonna be an awful lot of publicity drawn to this nationally and internationally that we think gives us a great opportunity to finish it off," said Greg Cooper, Prudential Indiana Real Estate.

Already for sale at pennies on the dollar, the extravagant estate will be sold as is.

"Now there's going to be one thrust, one effort to get the word out and it's going to give us an opportunity whereas maybe we haven't had that chance before," said Cooper.

A sprawling estate valued at $30 million over ten years ago, it could be one of the greatest real estate deals on the market or an empty house still without a buyer.

The auction process begins immediately. Viewing and touring of the property will be handled by private appointment. The last day to view the property will be Friday, August 20th, and the sealed bid deadline is Friday, August 27th, 2010.

The luxury home is listed on Indianamansion.com.

History

The mansion was to be auctioned in 2006, but was removed from a Hamilton County sheriff's sale after a settlement was cleared. Conseco hoped to fetch $20 million for the property.

By 2009, there were still no takers, and the price was slashed to $9.9 million.

Hilbert built the home for $35 million. Not long after Conseco took it over, the real estate market tanked. Whoever buys the home at the current price will get it for 30 cents on the dollar.

In other luxury home news, Ruth Lilly's Indianapolis mansion is on the market for $2.9 million.