Two mansions, two miles apart, spark intrigue in Palm Beach, Florida. The first, on the northern end of the oceanfront street nicknamed Billionaire's Row, is 30,000 square feet of arched windows and red, Spanish-tile roof, a villa that includes a ballroom where flappers danced and sipped moonshine in the 1920s.
This is David Koch's vacation home. The billionaire oil baron, along with his brother Charles, has gained recent notoriety as the sugar daddy of the Tea Party. In 1979, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket, and he and Charles have since given more than $100 million to right-wing causes and organizations, according to a 2010 New Yorker profile that exposed their tremendous influence in politics. David lives in New York City and winters in Palm Beach.
The second mansion is a short drive south on Billionaire's Row, a narrow strip of asphalt that buffers colossal wealth from the ocean. With an open driveway and a generous front lawn, this house bears little resemblance to its neighbor up the road. The original historic villa was leveled, replaced by a 42,000-square-foot mansion built in efficient Colonial style, with square windows, gray peaked roofs, and columns framing the front door. The pool is a long rectangle, and the backyard stretches all the way west to the Intracoastal Waterway. Inside, prized artwork graces the walls, and millions of dollars worth of wine cools in the cellar.
For two decades, the owner of this $25.9 million mansion didn't speak to the owner of the first. He is David Koch's twin brother, William "Bill" Koch. A feud over the family business kept the brothers warring in court for years. Bill, 71, a rumpled and white-haired chemical engineer, was labeled in the press as the black sheep of the family. One of the Forbes 400 richest people in the world and the second-richest man in Florida, he made headlines for his salacious romantic affairs and his penchant for suing his enemies, and for burning cash on historic wine bottles and a $2 million photo of Billy the Kid.