Published On: Mon, Nov 11th, 2013

Billionaire Steven Rales Buys $7 Million Property On Mount Desert Island Near His Brother Mitchell’s $25 Million Summer Estate Plans To Rebuild It

Mount_Desert,   _Maine RALES

Property purchased by Steven Rale on Mount Desert Island,  Maine

The State of Maine, in the North Eastern portion of the United States, has long had its own rugged and individualist seafaring style. It has also long had the capacity to baffle and confuse outsiders, including those who come within its borders every year for family vacations to visit its fabulous country side and sit beside its beautiful beaches.

Mount Desert Island  is a good example. It is neither a desert nor really a mountain. In fact it is at the same time an island, one of Maine’s many coastal islands, and also the name of one of the small towns on the island. Sorry to say there is no real mountain anywhere once you clamber up the rocky landings from its turbulent seashores, but with verdant and lush meadows, and lots of rolling hills everywhere, there are no signs of a desert at all. The highest point on the island is however a respectable 1, 500 feet above sea level, called Mt. Cadillac after the French explorer who also founded the city of Detroit.


rales brothers danaher

                                                                                                                                                                  Rales Brothers

The island was named originally by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, based on the first sightings he made on approaching from the sea appearing to show that the summits of the island’s “mountains” were free of vegetation. Hence the name he gave to it: “île des Monts Déserts”, or Island of the Bare Mountains. In French “Désert” means simply bare not a desert, but in English the name stuck anyway.

Mount Desert Island is also the largest island off the coast of Maine. With an area of 108 square miles (280 square kilometres) it is actually the second largest island on the eastern seaboard of the United States; smaller only than Long Island and larger even than the more famous Martha’s Vineyard.

The whole island has a year-round population of only about ten thousand people, but two and a half million tourists flood in every year in the summertime to visit Acadia National Park which is on the island. The town of Mount Desert proper has just two thousand full time residents.

800px-Mount_Desert_Island,   _Maine

                                                                                                                            Mount Desert Island in the evening / Wikipedia

However it turns out the town is one of the most expensive anywhere in Maine in terms of property values, and has long been a place where millionaires build their summer estates tucked away from prying eyes. Current notable summer residents include politician George Mitchell, actor Tim Robbins, billionaire David Rockefeller, actress Susan Sarandon and celebrity Martha Stewart.

Billionaires are still rare, even on Mount Desert Island, but are far from unheard of. Local newspaper the Bangor Daily News reported recently that, according to paperwork at the local town office, another billionaire intends now to establish a foothold along the island’s rugged shoreline. Not only is it just another billionaire, but another member of the Rales family.

Mitchell Rales was the first in his family to set up house for the summer on Mount Desert Island. It seems he even owns the island’s most valuable property, by assessed value, since he built an estate there in 2010 overlooking the mouth of Northeast Harbor, a village within the boundaries of Mount Desert. The houses erected on his four and a half acre property, plus the land they sit on, have a cumulative assessed value of US$24.5 million according to the BD News.

Now his eldest brother, and long-time business partner, Steven Rales has bought a property close to him just three miles away, for which he paid US$7 million last year. A house already sits on it, built in 1927, and the Mount Desert Code Enforcement Office issued a permit to demolish it a month ago on October 1st. It seems a new house will be built further back from the shoreline but plans for this have not yet been filed.

Bass_Harbor_Head_Lighthouse wikipedia

 Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse/ Wikipedia

Jewish Business News reported the other day on a possible US$4 billion acquisition bid the Rales’ may be making, through the corporation they control, Danaher Corp for the medical diagnostics division of Johnson & Johnson.

Yet despite their prominence in business both brothers are somewhat reclusive and have avoided media interviews for many years. There is nothing wrong with valuing one’s own personal privacy and Mount Desert Island is certainly an excellent place to hide away “far from the madding crowd”, and as a playground for the super rich.

The Bangor Daily News also points out that when Steve Rales re-married last year, to Lalage Damerell, he did so in a private ceremony in, you guessed it, Mount Desert Island’s North Harbor officiated there by the local notary public.


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