Business

The story behind the buyer of the Rick Siskey mansion

Corvettes, a 1934 Mercedes, autographed guitars and a house of opulence all part of Siskey auction

This week an auction of Rick Siskey's former home will be held. Siskey, a Charlotte businessman, was accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors millions. He took his own life in December 2016. Proceeds from the auction are expected to b
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This week an auction of Rick Siskey's former home will be held. Siskey, a Charlotte businessman, was accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cost investors millions. He took his own life in December 2016. Proceeds from the auction are expected to b

Even though he is a developer himself, Daniel Levine didn’t exactly want a new subdivision going up next to the new home he is building in SouthPark.

That’s why he and his family decided this summer to buy the mansion of the late Rick Siskey, the Charlotte businessman accused of operating a long-running Ponzi scheme. The brick mansion is a Sharon Road landmark known for its vast, neatly manicured front lawn.

“I thought to myself the last thing people in that area of the city might want is 13 to 14 houses popping up in that tract of land because that yard is just so beautiful,” Levine told the Observer Wednesday. “It gives a sense of serenity I think.”

Levine and his family paid $4.5 million for the home in August, but the family’s name didn’t surface because the buyer was officially a limited liability company called 3545 Sharon Road LLC, named after the home’s address. Levine said his intention is to make improvements and then put it back on the market.

The home went up for sale in April, five months after Rick Siskey, 58, took his own life in December. Days before his death, court filings gave the first public indication that he was under investigation for fraud.

Levine and his wife, Leigh, were familiar with the property because in 2009 they purchased about 2.25 acres of the original 9.5-acre parcel from Rick and Diane Siskey. The Levines are building a home on that lot and plan to move in about 10 weeks from now.

When the Siskey home went on the market, Levine said he called his uncle, Family Dollar Stores founder and philanthropist Leon Levine, who lives on the other side of the Siskey home. They decided buying the home would be a good way to preserve the property from further development.

Knowing that the family name might help drive up the price, Levine created an LLC for negotiating the purchase. In the end, he paid $1 million less than the asking price. His uncle ultimately decided not to participate in the deal.

The transaction was complicated because federal authorities had placed a claim on the property as part of their investigation. Levine had to reveal his identity to them before the deal closed, and a federal judge had to release the claim.

Levine’s plan is to clean up the landscaping around the house, which he says makes it seem smaller than its 6,700 square feet. He said he expects to put development restrictions of the property and then put it back up for sale early next year.

“It’s a great house,” said Levine, whose Levine Properties is developing tracts of land in uptown’s First Ward neighborhood. “It just needs to be refreshed in the marketplace so people can see it in a different light than just a tragedy. It’s a wonderful corner in SouthPark.”

FirstWardParkTour_07
Developer Daniel Levine talks about the design philosophy of the new First Ward Park during a 2015 tour. Mecklenburg County will take ownership of the park, developed by Levine Properties, after paying the development company $8 million for the 4-acre facility. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Levine said he and his wife didn’t know the Siskeys well, but they were always friendly. They were shocked when the allegations against Siskey emerged, he said.

A court-appointed trustee is sifting through bankruptcy court claims from hundreds of Siskey investors who lost millions. Proceeds from life insurance, the home sale and estate auctions, including a wine collection being sold Friday and Saturday, are expected to benefit investors.

“It’s really sad for everybody,” Levine said, “the Siskey family as well as everyone who lost money because it seems like he served a lot of people who could least afford to lose any money.”

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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