Real Estate / Mansions

Storied River Oaks Boulevard Mansion Once Owned by a Baron Hits the Market With a $16 Million Asking Price

An Inside Look at a True Party Palace

BY // 11.17.21
photography TK Images

When Baron Ricky di Portanova and his bride Alessandra (aka Sandra) began adding on to a 1960s-era home on River Oaks Boulevard in the mid-1970s, it was considered trés outré. At 21,500 square feet, the house would become a monstrosity on the one-acre lot, the Brahms cried. The glass-enclosed pool area was sure to be pure folly and unsightly, the neighbors complained.

But in the end, it turned out to be one of the grandest homes on the boulevard and the site of some of Houston’s most gilded parties.

The magnificent, storied property hit the market on Tuesday with a $16 million price tag, $7 million of which accounts for a to-the-studs renovation, including full automation, that the current owners invested in the property.

“This home is a part of Houston history,” Nancy Almodovar, CEO of Nan and Company Properties says in a release. “Countless stories have been written and told for years of the opulent parties and its previous owner’s past. The current owners took on an extensive remodeling project with precision and exacting detail to modernize the home for today’s living, and of course, grand entertaining that is synonymous with the home’s history.

“It is truly a home that embodies both Houston’s future and its glamorous past.”

Oh, the stories these walls could tell.  Roger Moore rappelling down the front of the Neoclassical mansion in a playful recreation of his James Bond character for a special party. The walls also might reveal who actress Dame Joan Collins bunked with in the guest house that opens to the 12,000 square foot air-conditioned pool area. They would shudder at the memory of Ricky introducing dinner guests to his pet boa constrictor, causing one woman to fall out of her chair in fright.

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River Oaks 2115 IMG 58_1_1 (Photo by TK Images)
The 12,000 square foot pool room in the former home of the late Baron Ricky di Portanova is enclosed in 70 tons of glass and steel. (Photo by TK Images)

Guests during the di Portanova reign recall the lavish parties the duo hosted and those special late nights/early mornings when Ricky would cook up his famous tagliolini pasta and caviar dishes at the “summer kitchen” (part of the interior pool space). The Dom Perignon flowed. Sandra’s diamonds dazzled. And Ricky’s ever-present Cuban cigars belched a blue cloud across the party scene. Countless dignitaries and celebrities from around the world were entertained in this area of the home at 2115 River Oaks Boulevard.

When asked about the 70 tons of steel and glass employed to enclose the 12,000 square foot, chandelier-draped pool area, Sandra replied simply that they liked to have good weather year-round. The vast air-conditioned space includes not only the full “summer kitchen” but various seating areas and connects to the two-bedroom guest house at the rear.

River Oaks 2115 IMG 62_1_1 (Photo by TK Images)
The ‘summer kitchen’ in the pool room were Baron Ricky di Portanova often prepared caviar and pasta for his late-night guests. (Photo by TK Images)

Of the seven bedrooms, the primary is on the second floor with a balcony overlooking the pool area, a sitting area and a palatial closet, as one would expect in a house of this size and grandeur. The formal dining area features three sets of French doors that lead directly into the famed indoor pool – the jaw-dropping, centerpiece of the home. Amenities include four gas fireplaces, eight full and two half baths, and a three-car garage. Lavish details such as marble floors, Venetian plaster walls and elaborate moldings with gold accents are found throughout the mansion.

The baron died in February of 2000 and the baroness’ death followed in April of that year, both having succumbed to cancer.

Nancy Almodovar has the exclusive listing on the home.

For a closer look at 2115 River Oaks Boulevard, click thru the photo gallery below.

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