Conrad Black's Toronto mansion was sold for $14-million on Thursday to a wealthy entrepreneur who will allow the former media baron to live in the estate as a renter.
Harold Peerenboom, who owns an international executive search firm, told The Globe and Mail that the sale went ahead after the Canada Revenue Agency lifted liens on the 2.7-hectare property on Monday.
"I can confirm to you that I bought the house today [Thursday], but it is a private matter," he said.
The price was $5-million less than an appraisal commissioned by the CRA, which had placed liens to recover $15-million in unpaid taxes that Mr. Black is disputing in a separate court case.
The agency said in court documents that Mr. Black owes a total of $31-million in unpaid taxes to the Canadian and U.S. governments. He will receive $1-million from the sale, while the other $13-million will go to pay off mortgages on the property.
One of the conditions of the sale will permit Mr. Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel, to continue living in the home by paying an annual rent of $155,000, plus upkeep of the property and the salaries of three employees. He has an option of repurchasing the property if it is put up for sale.
The estate includes nine bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, along with a pool and spa. It was initially supposed to be auctioned off, but that was cancelled when a pre-emptive offer was made by Mr. Peerenboom, who said he bought the mansion to help Mr. Black, an old friend.
"I have no intention of living there. I am very happy where I live in Toronto where I raised my family," Mr. Peerenboom said.
On Monday, Mr. Black reached an undisclosed settlement with the CRA, which agreed to remove the liens. Neither Mr. Black nor Mr. Peerenboom would discuss the settlement.
When the revenue agency applied for the liens, it submitted in court that Mr. Black might sell the house and leave Canada without paying the unpaid taxes. Mr. Black's lawyers argued that the liens would jeopardize the sale of the house and offered to put the sale proceeds in a blind trust until the income tax dispute is settled.
"It is a private matter and I think any further questions should be directed to Mr. Black," Mr. Peerenboom said. Mr. Black said Monday he would have no further comment.
The 23,000-square-foot property was originally built by Mr. Black's father, George Montegu Black II, and had been in the family for 65 years. At one time, Mr. Black controlled Toronto-based Hollinger International, once one of the world's largest English-language empires whose flagship publications included Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post and the National Post.