Transaction fronted by 'trustee to the stars' is largest of 2008 to date, comes after reports that TV/film/music star Jessica Simpson planned move to Nashville
[Update 6:40 a.m., March 28:]
So far this week, NashvillePost.com has been unable to reach anyone involved in the purchase of 27 Northumberland, nor any representative of Jessica Simpson. The U.K.-based tabloid OK yesterday published an item speculating that Simpson has purchased the home in question, but including a statement from someone it identifies only as "a rep for the singer" saying Simpson "absolutely did not buy a house in Nashville."
We never said Simpson did or didn't buy the property, but we are continuing to look into who was involved in Davidson County's top home sale of 2008 to date. Further details to come.
As originally reported:
The highest-priced home sale so far this year in the Nashville area almost certainly involves a major celebrity. But which one?
There is reason to suspect that the buyer, whose identity has been concealed, is singer, actress and pop-culture phenomenon Jessica Simpson.
In a purchase recorded last week with the Davidson County Register of Deeds, Dick and Anne Ragsdale sold their home in Forest Hills' gated Northumberland development to a buyer represented by Music Row money manager Mary Ann McCready as trustee. The purchase price was $3.47 million.
Ragsdale is a well-known healthcare entrepreneur who founded Community Health Systems, among other companies. McCready has previously fronted purchases by superstar couple Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman as well as numerous other A-list Nashville talents.
On behalf of the buyer, McCready took out a loan from SunTrust Bank for $2.77 million, which is also the tax-appraisal value of the home at 27 Northumberland with its adjoining parcel.
The Ragsdales bought a house in January that tied for second in that month's edition of NashvillePost.com's "Headline homes" column. They paid $1.95 million for 4301 Esteswood Drive, next to Harpeth Hall School.
Their prior home was one of the first built in the Northumberland development after former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Guilford Dudley and wife Jane carved it out from the pastures of their estate, also called Northumberland, in the late 1980s. The mansion, spanning nearly 11,000 square feet, contains seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, plus two half-baths.
Last October, Rolling Stone and other media outlets reported that Jessica Simpson was planning to move to Nashville and pursue a career in country music. She is said to be recording locally on a project for Columbia Records, a part of the SonyBMG group.
Simpson, 27, has had a pop singing career since the late 1990s but achieved more widespread fame with her then-husband Nick Lachey in the MTV reality show "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica." She went on to star in the 2005 film version of The Dukes of Hazzard. Her soundtrack cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" had a country twang to it but yielded a racy video (skip to the end if you need proof) that would have caused convulsions on the Row if released by a country artist.
In recent months, Simpson's apparent romance with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has featured prominently in tabloid and sports coverage.
Efforts to reach trustee McCready on Sunday were unsuccessful. Nashville Realtor Rick French, who represented the buyer in the sale, was also unavailable. Seller's agent Emma Roy, of Worth Properties, shed no light on the matter.
"I really don't know anything about it," Roy said when contacted over the weekend. "That's all I can say."