I was the CEO of Arby's. I'm auctioning off my Texas mansion with a lowly $2.5 million starting bid because my wife and I are getting older and neither of us wants to live here alone.
- Len Roberts, who served as the CEO of Arby's and RadioShack, is auctioning his Texas estate.
- The 11,792-square-foot home in Fort Worth was built for hosting fundraisers and galas.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Len Roberts, 74, about his choice to auction off his nearly 12,000-square-foot home on 1.82 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. Bidding starts April 24, with the starting bid at $2.5 million and a 10% buyer's premium. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
We're not moving from this home for financial reasons. We're moving to simplify our lives.
We're empty nesters — it's just me and my wife now. It's a big house, and you have to manage it.
People always talk about people who live in castles, "What is it like living in this big castle with just the two of you?"
The key question is which one of us will predecease the other. I asked my wife, "Would you want to be in this big home alone?" She said she'd leave the next day. I said the same thing. I just don't want to be in this big home by myself.
We found a home 3 miles away that we felt comfortable in at our age.
I'm expecting a loss, but we've already got our money's worth out of the home
We built this home in 2004 and put in $12 million to build it. The replacement value, done by AIG, is $21 million. It's been like that for five years.
We had the resources to build what we wanted, and we built our dream home. Our builder had an unlimited budget — I kid around and say he still found a way to exceed it.
We had 19 wonderful years here, and we never really thought we would get a return on our investment. We're at peace knowing that. We got our money's worth.
An auction is the best way. The auction house recommended $2.5 million be an entry point, and we trust their expertise. We don't want to do anything to discourage anyone from participating in the auction.
Even though the house is in Texas, it features traces of our early lives in Chicago
My wife really built this home.
The only conditions I had were that it would be large enough for the entertaining we wanted to do and that this home would be built from limestone.
I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago. My family didn't have much.
We never went anywhere on vacation outside of Chicago. But every summer we would look forward to our summer vacation, which was basically going to the museums of Chicago — they're all limestone. And so I fell in love with limestone.
I always dreamt, if I ever made it in life, I wanted a limestone home. So that was my condition.
I met my wife in Chicago when I was 16, and there's a home theater in the house that goes back to our Chicago days.
As teenagers, we went to the Marbro Theatre. It was during those days when they had very ornate theaters for movies.
We searched high and low and we found the exact plans of that theater — the colors, the way the ceiling was made, the materials they used for the walls — and we duplicated that design in our home theater. The only thing that's different are the seats we sit in.
It's one of my favorite rooms.
I built this home to host some of the biggest fundraisers in Fort Worth
We did a lot of entertaining in this home, due to my position as the CEO of the largest corporation in Fort Worth. That all stopped when I retired in 2006.
We orchestrated some of the biggest galas and charity events in Fort Worth, Texas, in this beautiful home. We've hosted at least 100 events. Everyone who's anyone has been in this home having dinner — sometimes 250 people.
We built this house with 120 audio speakers because we knew we were going to have a lot of events here, and when you host a charity you're always going to have a featured speaker.
I didn't want people to stop what they were doing to come squeeze in, like you normally have to, and listen to somebody talk. I wanted them to be able to relax, listen to whatever the speaker was going to talk about.
We're leaving the PA infrastructure there. So whoever buys this home is going to get a home that is very ready to entertain and to host events.
We hope that whoever gets this house will make it as available to the community as we have.
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