Billionaire John Goff’s Eagle Mountain Lake Retreat: Here’s Where He Sealed the Famous Deal With Morgan Stanley

A custom-built compound on an 8,600 acre lake, with pool, tennis and sport court, kids pavilion and putting green where one of the most significant decisions in financial history went down. This is definitely the deal of a lifetime for anyone who wants an extraordinary lake home retreat in North Texas, or even a primary home that happens to be on a beautiful lake with a two story boat dock and oh yes, two boats.

Fort Worth billionaire John Goff, a self-made man, founder and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Holdings, and his wife Cami, are selling their 8,000 square foot plus compound on Eagle Mountain Lake, about 15 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth. The sale will be made by auction October 8 without reserve. That means no minimum, though one will probably be established by the bidders. Not only are the Goffs selling the compound they re-shaped from an existing home on Eagle Mountain Lake, they are selling every piece of furniture, plate, bedsheet, even the fluffy white towels monogrammed with the compound’s Jack Sprague-designed logo, Mariposa del Lago.IMG_9488

“We are even selling the margarita machine,” jokes Cami Goff, “and selling the mix that comes with it!”

The winning bidder can grab their toothbrush and move right in!

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The gated retreat, known as Mariposa del Lago, or “Butterfly of the Lake,” (based on the tremendous number of monarch butterfly migration patterns on the grounds each year) has been the Goff’s central family retreat for the couples’ five children since 2001. It’s also where a lot of business deals have been made. It was on that famous putting green where John Goff convinced Morgan Stanley to buy the company he and Richard Rainwater built, Crescent Real Estate Equities, for $6.5 billion dollars in August of 2007.

Morgan Stanley was very interested in our platform and asset base and made an offer. I pushed hard to sell the company. Our board was happy with our progress and wanted us to keep doing what we were doing. I didn’t have all my net worth tied up in the company, but I had a lot of it — hundreds of millions of dollars. And we got it done, but it wasn’t a day too soon. I was extremely nervous the day leading up to the close. It was Aug. 2, 2007, and, boy, the wheels were starting to come off.

One year later, in September of 2008, Lehman Brothers would file for the largest bankruptcy in the history of the U.S., setting off a domino effect resulting in the greatest recession since the Great Depression. Goff’s timing was so impeccable it was almost telepathic. He bought his company back from the bank holding the note on Morgan Stanley’s purchase, one of the worlds’ most prestigious financial houses, in 2009 for less than 50 cents on the dollar.

Barclays Capital had loaned Morgan Stanley $3.5 billion in 2007 to help finance its $6.5 billion purchase. When the loan headed south in early 2009, Barclays asked Goff whether he wanted to buy the assets back.

“I told them, ‘Sure. But you’re probably not going to like the price I’m going to come up with.’”

Before all that high powered finagling, Goff, a CPA who grew up on the Texas Gulf coast with a degree in accounting from the University of Texas, had purchased a contemporary home with an inside waterfall on a perfect Eagle Mountain Lake location. Goff loves to sail. He bought the lot next door, too, and set about remodelling the main house down to the studs, adding a guest home and dock, and building the outdoor sports centers. Dallas architect Richard Drummond Davis, a personal friend, managed the architectural design and remodel, while antiques expert extraordinaire Joseph Minton helped furnish the interiors, and Fort Worth builder David Lewis constructed. The 6,500-square-foot, Oklahoma river stone and white cedar main house has four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms on three floors. There is a Great Room, relaxing nooks, formal dining room with wet bar, a temperature controlled 200 bottle wine room featuring an antique French door the Goffs found in France, and a gourmet kitchen with hammered copper sink and top of the line everything. The main floor consists of the lounging rooms divided into cozy nooks (with fireplaces) so nothing feels overpowering, plus dining, kitchen and a breakfast room that opens to an outdoor cooking/dining area complete with a pizza oven. The foyer is huge and features the two-story waterfall from the original house. The two-story tall Great Room has a double-sided stacked stone fireplace and western-type chandelier, plus French doors with Blenko glass accents as transoms. Downstairs are three bedrooms, a recreation game room and an arcade with bar, plus access to the dock. There is a protected outside porch with a deep overhang.

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“This is where the family likes to sit with a glass of wine and watch thunderstorms roll in over the lake,” says Sandy Lambright, project sales manager for Concierge Auctions.

The master suite encompasses the entire second level with a huge bedroom, long dressing hall with vanities, and bath featuring a car wash shower and infinity bathtub with overhead waterfall faucet to rinse off after bathing. There is a Toto smart commode, expansive closets with built ins, and a his and her office/study. The dressing hall features those same Blenko glass accent panes overlooking the Great Room, which let in prisms of colored light.

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Here's where the Morgan Stanley deal was sealed

Here’s where the Morgan Stanley deal was sealed

It’s all quite a work of art. But, says Cami Goff, it’s time to let another family enjoy the home and make more beautiful memories on the waters.

Eagle Mountain Lake is about the size of lake Grapevine and one of North Texas’ best lakes for sailing. Located 15 miles out of downtown Fort Worth, or about a 45 minute drive from Dallas, it is part of the Texas Yacht Racing Circle and home of the Fort Worth Boat Club, founded in 1929. Club members have participated in races all over the world, even bringing home an American Cup in 1971. The lake is deep, accessible nearly year-round, and offers 60 miles of shoreline.

Outside the main house, past a pool below a stone spa water cascade, is a Moroccan-inspired, 1,500-square-foot-plus guest cabana with a lower-level bunk room. Think Marrakesh meets Tahiti. The upper story features a seamless pane of windows right on the waterfront, so it seems as if you are floating on a ship. There is a kitchen with a precious mini dishwasher, a full bathroom with steam shower, and a Moroccan Murphy bed made of mahogany camouflaged by ornate screens with Mother-of-Pearl inlay. Beneath this sexy, exotic getaway is the bunk room with another bathroom, twin trundle beds, paddle boards stored overhead and patinaed concrete floors. The bunk house is virtually indestructible to the biggest brood of kids.

Outside the guest house is a small sandy “beach” with lounge furniture. By bridge guests can reach the two story dock, with a diving board into the lake and another grill and bar for entertaining guests on the second story, overlooking Eagle Mountain Lake. Up here I checked out the grill and had to chuckle: the grill was a Kirkland brand, huge, shiny stainless and brand new. But it proved what many writers have said about John Goff: a most humble man from Lake Jackson, Texas who just “dresses in better clothes, ” as Crescent’s John Zogg puts it.

Friends also say he’s surprisingly shy and a “value-conscious shopper” who doesn’t scrimp but won’t waste money. He and Cami have five children — three from his previous marriage — and homes in Beaver Creek, Colo., Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and at Eagle Mountain Lake outside Fort Worth.

In 1981, fresh from college, Goff joined the Fort Worth office of Peat Marwick, now KPMG. The Bass family were major clients. Goff was assigned to Rainwater, who was then the Bass family’s chief financial adviser. Soon Rainwater left the Bass brothers and launched his own company in 1987. And he wanted Goff to be with him.

“That was my big break,” Goff says. “It was a small, scrappy office doing interesting things. I was blessed that he believed in me and trusted me.”

When the stock market crashed a few months later, Rainwater handed over $50 million to Goff and told him to find companies worth picking from the ashes. That was the only directive Goff was given.

That and to invest some of his own money in it. He was about 32 years old and had no net worth except for his personal home. When Rainwater told him he wanted his “skin in the game”, Goff cashed in a $15,000 401k and paid the penalty.

“It was scary. It’s all I had,” he says. “I did well for both Richard and me.”

And now he is selling off another piece of dirt he has “done well, done very well on”.

“This is the best opportunity there will ever be on Eagle Mountain Lake,” says Allie Beth Allman, founder and CEO of Allie Beth Allman & Associates. Allie Beth is selling her own private lake home on Possum Kingdom Lake.

“It’s one-of-a-kind,” she says.

As for price, the Goffs are selling Mariposa del Lago without reserve through Concierge Auctions in cooperation with Kyle Crews and Daylon Pereira of Allie Beth Allman and Associates, who worked with Concierge to successfully sell off the huge Timber Creek Ranch at Lake Cypress Springs.  That ranch was valued at $15 plus million, and while the winning bid was confidential, I hear it was somewhere north of $8 million. Often, the luxury property auction comes in after the sellers have exhausted every possible means to sell. But the Goffs chose the Allie Beth Urban team and Concierge because they knew their property was so unique and, like Timber Creek, not suited to conventional real estate marketing. The buyer of Timber Creek turned out to be local, but the owner was almost a Chinese billionaire who said he “wanted a ranch like George Bush.”

No doubt that man is circling Mariposa del Lago.

What is the actual value? With the easy $10 million Goff poured into the home, $8.9 comes to mind as a fair price. The Tarrant County Appraisal District has the property appraised at $1.5 for taxes. But of course, that’s the appraisal district. The house next door is listed at $949,500, reduced from $999,900, but it’s a simple, 1978-built family home with a plain-Jane dock.

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The Goff retreat cannot be compared. But with the tremendous growth North Texas is experiencing, many of these water-front homes could undergo the same changes. This is exactly what happened down at Lake Marble Falls, and Eagle Mountain is much closer. In any case, the winning bid buyer will be getting one hell of a deal.

“We are having some very strong interest,” says Kyle. “A lot of that interest is in the property as a vacation home paradise that is 45 minutes away.”

And we may have some Real Estate movie stars in the making: the promotional video for Mariposa del Lago includes a tour by Fort Worth resident Scott Murray, and yes that is the handsome Daylon Pereira on the tennis court. Address is 7941 Summit Cove, Fort Worth, Texas and the auction date is October 8.

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