Home of late philanthropist, businesswoman Christel DeHaan on market for $14M

The 41,762-square-foot, seven-bedroom home of the late philanthropist and businesswoman Christel DeHaan hit the market Monday for $14 million.

The Indianapolis home sits behind stucco walls topped with terracotta tiles at 4501 N. Michigan Rd. on a 150-acre estate that was formerly the grounds of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Maur, according to the listing posted by Michael Johnson, an agent for Encore Sotheby’s International.

“Nowhere else in the city will you find an estate with such a commitment to design and aesthetics,” the listing reads. “Each section of the home, surrounding terraces, formal gardens, and lush landscape are stunning and functional based on their intended use.”

Johnson did not immediately return a call seeking comment about the house. According to Indianapolis property records, the estate is owned by CD Realty LLC, which shares an address with the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and Christel House International.

DeHaan, who co-founded Resort Condominiums International in 1974 and built it into one of the largest timeshare exchange companies in the world, died on June 6, 2020, at age 77. She ran the company after a divorce before selling it in 1996 to New Jersey-based HFS Inc. for $825 million. That made DeHaan one of the wealthiest women in America.

She used her fortune in 1998 to establish the not-for-profit Christel House International, which operates K-12 public charter schools in high-poverty areas throughout the world. She ran the organization until her death. She also founded and served as chairwoman of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.

The listing provides a rare chance to see the two-story stucco and stone house that was built in 2007 on a private lake. The estate’s high walls and gates blocked the view from Michigan Road.

This photograph of Christel DeHaan’s estate was taken in 2016 and is in the Library of Congress. (Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, 2016)

The house includes a tennis court, outdoor pool and pool house, indoor lap pool, sauna, fountains, terraced patios, sculptures and acres of formal and informal gardens. It has 61 rooms, according to the listing, including 10 full-bathrooms and seven half-baths and a full, finished basement.

The elegant home has in-law quarters, multiple kitchens, a spiral staircase and five fireplaces.

DeHaan was a German native who was born in the last days of World War II and raised by her mother after her father was killed during an American air raid. As a teen, she moved to England to work as a nanny, and then to Indiana in 1962 after meeting her first husband, who was a soldier based in the United Kingdom.

In 1974, she and her second husband, Jon DeHaan, started RCI. When they divorced, Jon DeHaan tried to cut her out of the business. When they went to court in one of the highest-profile divorces in Indiana history, however, a judge awarded Christel DeHaan control of the company.

Correction: This story originally said the house was located on Michigan Avenue. It is Michigan Road. You can see our corrections at IBJ.com/corrections.

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8 thoughts on “Home of late philanthropist, businesswoman Christel DeHaan on market for $14M

  1. If the past is any indication, the DeHaan property will probably end up like these did…

    Lilly – given to IU for Chancellor residence
    Fletcher – Hudson Institute (now sorority HQ)
    Holcomb – condo development
    Hilbert – party house for Forest Lucas
    Simon – to be subdivided for homes

    The highest and best use is to give it to Butler University, let them build a bridge to it and incorporate the site into their Ecology and Environmental Programs

    1. The main house and surrounding land has, per the tax records, the physical address of 1212 Castania Drive. That certainly has more glam and appeal than Michigan Road.

  2. Christel was a great lady, and her legacy lives on through her Foundation .. Which is cool. The article mentions the divorce. I have been around long enough to remember that Christel, and her attorneys, made a fool out of Jon – after he tried to make a fool out of her. Someone should write book about that high stakes drama !
    CMA – for what it was s worth, I think you are spot on with the Butler idea, and Victoria .. good catch. !!

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