By Tom Shevlin
NEWPORT – Belcourt Castle, a Gilded Age masterpiece and one of Bellevue Avenue's most storied summer cottages, has been sold to the founder of Cranston-based jewelry manufacturer Alex and Ani.
Terms of the sale, which was completed on Monday, were not immediately available, however the deal was confirmed by one of the parties.
Last week, as the terms of the sale were being finalized, Alex and Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian spoke to Newport Now at length about her attraction to the property and her plans for its future.
Originally built between 1891 and 1894 as the summer cottage of Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, Belcourt Castle quickly became one of Bellevue Avenue's most famous homes, surrounded by Gilded Age intrigue courtesy of its young, wealthy owner.
Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the 50,000-square-foot manse draws heavily upon Gothic and French Renaissance architecture, and has been described as a bit eccentric when compared to its Gilded Age contemporaries.
Rafaelian, whose locally-made jewelry line has blossomed into one of the country's fastest-growing lifestyle brands, said that it has always been a dream of hers to own a piece of Newport history, and to be a part of its future.
Describing herself as "a life-long lover" of Newport's mansions, Rafaelian said that she intends to restore the property and use it, in part, as a special events venue.
"This is something that I could put my stamp on bring it back to its original glory," Rafaelian said.
Coming on the heels of a private equity deal with San Francisco-based JH Partners, Belcourt Castle is the latest in a string of high-profile purchases for Rafaelian or her company. Earlier this year, Rafaelian announced plans to buy Little Compton's Sakonnet Vineyards, while her company separately acquired Wilson's of Wickford.
Outside Belcourt on Monday, the mansion's information board that normally holds tour times and contact information, had been draped with an American flag.
The home, which had fallen into disrepair after World War II, was purchased by the Tinney Family in 1956 for $25,000. After more than 60 years lovingly restoring the home, the property was listed for sale by Harle Tinney, in 2009 for $7.2 million. It had been reduced twice while on the market to $3.9 million.
Tinney, who is expected to play a part in the home's restoration, was not immediately available for comment.
Kate Leonard, of Lila Delman Real Estate was the listing agent for the property.
For more on the sale, and Rafaelian's plans, be sure to pick up Thursday's edition of Newport This Week.