Lucas Oil owners to buy former Hilbert estate

A buyer finally has been found for the 25,000-square-foot Carmel mansion once owned by Conseco Inc. co-founder Stephen Hilbert.

Lucas Oil Products Inc. owners Forrest and Charlotte Lucas confirmed Wednesday afternoon they were buying the massive estate from CNO Financial Group for $3 million, a steep discount to the original $20 million asking price.

Forrest Lucas, a native of Corydon, is a former truck driver whose company signed a $122 million, 20-year naming-rights contract for the home stadium of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006.

“I believe it is a sound business investment," Forrest Lucas said in a prepared statement. "But more importantly, I consider this property to be a true work of art which should be preserved and shared. This is an asset with enormous potential not only for Lucas Oil but also for the community. I anticipate that this property will be utilized for various business activities as well as community functions. We have not figured it all out yet but we have a talented group of people dedicated to developing a business plan to make the best use of this investment.” 

A sealed-bid auction for the 33.6-acre estate held in August attracted a half-dozen potential buyers.

Charlotte Lucas said she didn't know if the estate would be used as a residence.

“I see this as the perfect site for occasional fund-raisers and benefits," she said. "The property is so amazingly beautiful, with plenty of room to accommodate just about anything.”

Carmel-based Conseco, since renamed CNO, had been trying to unload the mansion—which it gained control of during a court battle over loans Hilbert took out to buy Conseco stock—for five years. Once valued at $35 million, it went on the market with a $20 million asking price, and more recently was listed at $9.9 million.

Following the auction, Prudential Indiana agent Greg Cooper, who co-listed the property, declined to elaborate on details of the offers, only saying that “we’ve had multiple bids over a wide range of prices.” But he acknowledged that most were submitted by local bidders.

Bids called for $100,000 in so-called “earnest money” to be submitted. And the high bidder whose offer was accepted must have delivered no less than 10 percent of the total bid within one business day.

The mansion at 1143 W. 116th St. is being sold “as is.” CNO has been paying to maintain the property. The company announced its plans in July to conduct the sealed-bid auction.

Built in 1993, the estate includes a 15,000-square-foot “sports palace,” catering facilities, a guest house and its own power plant.

Lucas has made several creative business deals since launching his California-based specialty oil products company in 1988.

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