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Conrad Black selling family’s $21.8-million Toronto estate

An aerial view of Conrad Black's estate at 26 Park Lane Circle in Toronto.

J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

Conrad Black is selling his family's historic estate in Toronto's exclusive Bridle Path neighbourhood.

The former newspaper baron will put 26 Park Lane Circle up for auction on March 8.

Mr. Black and his family have entertained Richard Nixon, the Duke of Edinburgh and Elton John in the mansion, which includes a chapel consecrated by two Cardinals. Residents and guests can spread out between nine bedrooms and 11 bathrooms in the main house, guest apartment and coach house.

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There's also an indoor pool and spa in the mansion, which was first built by Mr. Black's father, George Montegu Black.

The 6.6-acre property has an estimated value of $21.8-million, according to real estate agent Barry Cohen of Re/Max Realtron Realty Inc., who is handling the sale in tandem with Concierge Auctions of New York. There will be an unpublished reserve, which means a minimum price will be set but not revealed publicly.

Mr. Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, are downsizing.

"It is a big house for two people. We will be abroad a good deal, and moving to a more manageable home will be a convenience to us now as our careers have evolved. Auction is the best way to achieve this end, as it sets the timeline on what will be, in physical terms, a large relocation," Mr. Black said in a statement.

The house was built in six phases and extensively renovated over the years, with much of the design done by New York-based Thierry Despont.

Guests who enter through the long, winding drive will arrive at a grand Georgian-style residence with a three-storey foyer. An ornate chandelier hangs above the centre hall and a staircase winds to the upper levels. Luxuries include a two-storey library, a billiard room, a wine cellar, an indoor pool and a spa.

In 1986, Conrad Moffat Black, then 42 years old, abandoned his Anglican upbringing and, under the tutelage of Cardinal Emmett Carter, then archbishop of Toronto, converted to Roman Catholicism. Both Cardinal Carter and his successor, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, served at the consecration of the chapel. The copper cupola that graces the top of Mr. Black's library is modelled on the dome of St. Peter's in Rome.

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After his divorce from his first wife, Shirley, Mr. Black married newspaper columnist Barbara Amiel in 1992.

Black family spokesman Adam Daifallah, of Hatley Strategy Advisors, says Mr. Black rarely entertains on a large scale in Toronto any more, as he spends more time in Europe. The Blacks will move into a "more manageable" Toronto residence, he says.

Mr. Black maintained a base at the house as he endured a near decade-long battle over the misappropriation of money at Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc., a key part of the Hollinger newspaper empire Mr. Black co-founded in the late 1960s. At its peak, Hollinger owned hundreds of papers across Canada, the United States, Britain and Israel.

His stable of publications included major dailies across Canada as well as the London Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.

Allegations of wrongdoing surfaced in 2003, and two years later Mr. Black and four other Hollinger executives faced a number of criminal charges.

Mr. Black was convicted in 2007 of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice, but later had two of the fraud counts overturned on appeal. He served 37 months in a U.S. prison and was released in 2012, when he returned to Canada.

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During the legal battle, Mr. Black sold his five-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach, Fla.

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