First off, we'd like to retract something. Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong did not—we repeat, did not—sell his 7,800-square-foot Austin mansion to pay his legal bills. No, our retraction isn't the result of Armstrong leaving us threatening voicemails or sicking his lawyers on us for making false claims (he's managed to tame his inner bulldog, it seems). Instead, it comes as the result of an Austin American-Statesman article that says Armstrong went out and bought himself another sprawling mansion—this one for $4.34 million, and the deal went down in cold, hard cash.
It's a lovely place, really, but an odd purchase for someone who's wallowing in a quagmire of lawsuits. "It's unclear why Armstrong suddenly began flipping real estate," writes the Statesman. "He is facing several multi-million-dollar lawsuits as a result of his confession to extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his record-setting career." In fact, according to our recent tally, Amrstrong is potentially liable for a combined $140 million from at least six lawsuits. And that doesn’t count his lawyers’ fees. Among those suits:
• A Dallas promotions company is seeking repayment of $12 million in Tour de France bonuses.
• A Nebraska insurance company is suing for another $3 million in Tour winnings.
• The Justice Department is seeking triple damages on $40 million it alleges he and his management team defrauded from the government while riding on the U.S. Postal Service team. The total lawsuit is for $120 million, though Tailwind Sports and team manager Johan Bruyneel are co-defendants with Armstrong, and will likely be responsible for part of the settlement.
But that's his business, right? Nevertheless, our natural curiosity, which borders on the voyeuristic, has gotten the better of us. What kind of place did Lance buy? It looks like a playground. From Eric Estate, the website of Austin-area real estate agent Eric Hegwer:
There are 5 bedrooms, and 8 bathrooms on 5 levels, a pool, a boathouse, even a 200 foot suspension bridge on 3.6 acres. All in all you get 4 buildings, just minutes away from downtown Austin in a private gated community.
The main home is peaceful. I’ve actually been in this house, and it is very tranquil. The previous owners told me that it was inspired by monasteries in Europe. And the inspiration comes through. Even though a lot of the materials are hard – stone, concrete, and metal, it doesn’t feel like it when you are inside. The house is exceptionally modern, but blends seamlessly with its environment. It feels warm and inviting, not cold and sterile.
There is a music room, lots of bedrooms, an art gallery, and an artists studio. Inside the master suite is a large bathroom with soaking tub, balcony, and separate his and hers dressing areas.
The kitchen is functional, with lots of storage. The house is designed in such a way that you can easily entertain an intimate group of 6 or a party of 60+.
The second structure is a guest house located next to the large lap pool and hot tub. There is a wine cellar, and a 2nd media room as well. In addition there is a large cabana with a wet bar, and a large covered terrace.
The third building has an indoor sports court, a soundproofed media or recording studio, and an office flooded with natural light.
Finally the fourth structure is an award winning boathouse that is reached by a 200 foot suspension bridge that was flown in by helicopter and spans a nature preserve. The two story building has a screened in porch, outdoor shower, and a wet bar with a fridge.
The garage houses 2 cars, and has a garden room on the lower level, and a woodworking shop on the 2nd floor.
Sounds like a paradise, if you ask us. There was a time, after Armstrong's admission, some criminal charges led pundits to wonder whether he was headed to the Big House, but we don't think this is what they meant. Either way, we really like Lance's new digs, and hope they give him peace of mind between his numerous upcoming court appearances.
Now, for more photos of the house: