A large home on the private island once owned by Robert Ripley, the charismatic, globe-trotting founder of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” is on the market for $4.3 million.
Ripley lived full-time on the island in Mamaroneck, NY, hosting over-the-top, celebrity-studded parties in a 28-room English-style manor, packed with curios he brought back to the United States from the more than 200 countries he visited during his career.
Inside, guests including Babe Ruth and Mae West would gawk at Ripley’s collection of javelins, war drums, skeletons, exotic outfits, and taxidermied animals. Outside, he’d take them on pleasure cruises on Long Island Sound in his Chinese junk, the Mon Lei.
At the top of his career, which spanned the Great Depression and both World Wars, Ripley was earning well over half a million dollars per year with his syndicated comic strip, books, radio, and television shows. Ripley died in 1949, at the age of 58.
After his death, an opera singer bought BION (“Believe it Or Not”) Island and eventually subdivided it. The home for sale today, an updated five-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion, sits on nearly 1.2 acres and was built in 1950.
The house is separated from mainland Mamaroneck by a small stone bridge and gate. It’s surrounded by water, and has its own private dock.
Inside, the home’s living room has a nautical theme (which makes sense, given that there’s a water view from every window), French doors to the deck, vaulted ceilings, and a large picture window. There’s a fireplace, piano, and a formal dining room that’s currently home to a billiard-table.
There’s an open-concept kitchen and family room, with skylights and French doors that flood the room with natural light. Just off the kitchen, there’s an octagonal breakfast nook, with a matching tray ceiling. The master bedroom has exposed beams, a bank of windows looking out on the water, and a door leading out to a large balcony.
Elsewhere, there’s a gym and sauna, bar, 2,500-bottle wine room, putting green, pool, waterfall, and outdoor shower.
The home’s current owner seems to have embraced Ripley’s taste in exotic curiosities. Listing photos show what appears to be a large statue of a Southeast Asian dancer on the living room mantle, a stone carving in the billiard-room, and lit paintings in the bar.