A Look Inside Ken and Linda Lay’s Lonely Highrise Castle Retreat

Now that photos have been posted — and the asking price has been chopped a full 7 percent — the whole world gets to peek inside the full-floor condo in The Huntingdon that belonged to Enron founder and CEO Ken Lay and his wife Linda. The buildout on the 33rd floor of 2121 Kirby Dr. was designed in the late nineties by Houston architect Leslie Barry Davidson, who’s proven herself versatile in many historical styles that pre-date highrise construction. But the listing photos show what looks like a glum castle retreat for a king and queen who’ve lost their jester.

Oh, but those 360-degree skyline views of Houston! And really, with angry investors and Californians likely to approach from any direction, you’d maybe want a hideout with 4 good corner balconies, just so you can assess the risks:


You’d probably also want plenty of places to relieve yourself, and this dowdy lair certainly provides: There are 9 bathrooms in the 5-bedroom home, though 5 of them skip the shower and bath.

The 12,827-sq.-ft. aerie was posted on MLS just last week, after a well-publicized “private sale” for a cool $12.8 million begun last fall failed to produce results. Good thing you waited: The asking price is now just $11.9 million. How much further will it fall?

There’s also the small matter of the $10,182 monthly maintenance fee, which sadly does not include regular trims for those topiary balls on the balcony. However, this little pied-à-terre does come with 6 elevators, as well as 10 parking spaces “in premier locations.”

The Lays bought the condo in 1995 and completed most of the latest renovations in 1999. Ken Lay died suddenly in 2006, shortly after being convicted of 10 counts of securities fraud and related charges. A spokesperson for his widow told Houston Chronicle reporter Claudia Feldman last year that the Huntingdon condo was Linda Lay’s last real-estate holding — the 17 other properties the Lays owned (in Houston, Galveston County, and Aspen) had apparently already been forfeited or sold.

But neither Lay nor her spokesperson would explain why she hadn’t been forced to sell the condo earlier and use the proceeds to repay Enron creditors. Feldman took a couple of guesses anyway. Ken Lay’s timely death, before he could be sentenced or launch his appeal, caused all his convictions to be abated. Maybe that stopped the government from taking further action? Or maybe there is a deal:

Perhaps some proceeds from the sale will go to creditors. Perhaps she’ll get to pocket all the money. But court records are sealed, and a Justice Department spokeswoman said she has no public information to share.

33 Comment

  • I’d put this condo right up there with Andrea Yates house. There’s no way I could live there at any price. Too much bad mojo in those walls. There are too many other options in this great city. Why settle for something like this?

  • It’s really not what one would call an “elegant” space. And then, well, there are the vibes as they say. There’s something dark and forboding about it which seems to add to the bad vibes. Good luck selling it. It is the hirise version of a tear-down.

    I think what disturbs people is the amount of money the Lays were allowed to keep.

    Linda Lay was allowed to remain in her “castle in the sky” while Ruth Madoff was evicted and handed a check for $2.5 million and that was that.

    Linda Lay is still a very wealthy woman. Despite her stating in the beginning that they, too, had lost it all. It doesn’t look like she lost that much, really, in comparison to what everyone else lost.

  • Oh my, what OPM, other people’s money can buy. Bet those drapes need cleaning. Is this Tuscan-styled or Spanish-styled?

  • It’s all relative, I suppose. What is broke to her is a King’s ransom to others. “Lost it all” to her probably means she doesn’t have access to a private jet, limos, personal assistants, flying coach, etc. I have no doubt she will continue to live above the acceptable standards of 99% of the remaining population.

    If retaining ownership to the condo and somehow still managing to pay the $10K/mo in maintenance fees means you’ve lost it all, I’d be happy with that stipen.

  • No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, especially if you’re a Missouri farm boy.

    This is why they wouldn’t allow the media to photograph the interiors when it was first put on the market.

  • It looks like a cross between King Arthur’s whore house and the Ponderosa.

  • $12 mil and not a single turret? What a rip-off. With nine bathrooms I guess ol’ Kenny Boy was in serious need of Flomax.

  • Is this a new architectural style – Robber Baron Chic? This place has a lot of the same type of, um, elegant details as the house of old John Spear the former Royce Homes president:


    I guess houses like this aren’t any fun unless they’ve been bought with the tears of the poor and middle class……

  • A deal with the feds has been done.

    Lind Lay’s daughter Robin recenly “downsized” from a River Oaks mansion on Willowick into our hood….and crying the blues about having to do that, I hear….

    Don’t assume the proceeds from the sale will stay in the family……..

  • There are five half-baths. A couple are probably “powder rooms” for guests. With six elevators and a couple of “powder rooms” you can entertain quite a few in your castle in the sky. With that thought, a drug dealer might find this quite desireable given the ease by which everything could be flushed down nine toilets before the cops made it up six elevators. Even the cops are announced at The Huntingdon.

    As for one of the kids “downsizing” they may be suffering a little. As I recall, Linda Lay has annuities worth about $1 million a year. The Fastows have about the same. Maybe a little more. But, well, $1 million ain’t what it used to be. So maybe the kids, again, are suffering a little.

    As for marketing this monstrosity, no other word appies given the building, perhaps Linda Lay should offer a free exorcism.

  • Yeah, it’s hideous… But I like the balconies!

  • As for why they get to keep their house versus Ruth Madoff losing hers: it all depends on how the estates were set up and also the state they live in.

    In Texas, you have plenty of protection to prevent any authority for taking your home for debts (except for mortgage debt). The Galveston County home is probably listed as a second residence and so with Aspen. The Aspen also has to fall under the Colorado state laws regarding what can be taken to pay debts.

  • Sorry but I don’t believe for one minute the feds couldn’t have found a basis to seize it all the way they did with the Madoffs.

    All of the all she said they lost. Personally I actually think Ruth Madoff was the proverbial innocent spouse and Linda Lay was not and that she should have been indicted along with her husband.

  • To the author: Shockingly, you are not required by law to use bold in every sentence. If you are required by your editor, please find a better job.

  • I love your imagery Matt Mystery!
    “… the ease by which everything could be flushed down nine toilets before the cops made it up six elevators.”

  • Jayce,

    The bolds adhere to the beloved Swamplot style manual. S’awright!

  • Kenny Boy is not ‘dead.’ A timely death, indeed. That was much too convenient. People with that amount of ill-gained money can buy lots of things, like new faces and identities. Linda’s probably got him stashed in the dungeon or another country.

  • I still have a sneaking suspicion Ken Lay isn’t dead at all. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s living in Brazil or somewhere under a fake name. Maybe Linda will “die” at a convenient time too, like right after the condo is sold!

  • It’s funny you mention that, marketingwiz! A couple of months after his death, I was in Knokke, Belgium (a tony beach town). I saw a black Mercedes parked on the street there with Texas plates! In BELGIUM! So I’ve always joked about the car being Lay’s.

  • I love your imagery Matt Mystery!
    “… the ease by which everything could be flushed down nine toilets before the cops made it up six elevators.”


    Everything including shredded documents I might add.

  • I have no doubt he’s dead and had no doubt at the time. Not the brightest light bulb as they say in the end. He should have learned from what happened to Linda Sarofim. People with heart conditions should enjoy the serenity of beaches. Not mountains. The latter tend to cause fatal heart attacks.

  • http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/stanford/6840283.html

    There really is a different standard for others. The Lays gave up what?

    Not to mention the various “social types” who played Lea Fastow’s “Wheel of Fortune” and plunked down $25,000 and “won” in some cases $1 million six months later. Including one of John Daughtery’s top agents. They of course were allowed to keep the money. How were they to know it wasn’t legitimate?

    Although some were referred to as “unindicted co-conspirators” which I suspect most wouldn’t mind being referred to as if they knew where to make a $975,000 profit off a $25,000 “investment” in six months. Sure thing is what it was.

  • I’m starting to think all capitalism is based on the Ponzi Principle.

  • Ken Lay and the Enron bunch represent a small group of really bad eggs.

    The vast majority of businesses are on the up and up.

    Another thought to throw on the pile, the more a government interferes with regulation of a business, more entangled that business is in lobbying the government. i.e.:

    Regulation of cigarettes caused the lobbying by tobacco industry.

    Heavy regulation in the energy sector create messes like Enron and big oil, big wind, big solar, big ethanol lobby.

    Regulation in farming causes big corn and big sugar lobbies.

    Every lobby in DC is reaction to a law that affects it directly.

    This doesn’t mean no regulation is a panacea. That would be anarchy.

    I’ve also heard it said: “Capitalism without morals equals Anarchy.”

    We see that when a few greedy bastards ruin it for everybody else that plays by the rules, everybody suffers.

  • Speaking of HDR Photography…

  • That is truly one of the ugliest residences I have ever seen. The architect and designer are the ones who should have been sent to jail. After seeing that, what Ken Lay did at Enron is beautiful in comparison. It is always the same pattern. Idiots without any taste or sophistication get rich–usually through fraud–and then build ridiculous monuments to their own vanity. Any architect/designer with integrity would not work for a narcissist like Lay. Leslie Hamilton needs to be tried at the Hague for crimes against humanity.

  • I’ve seen worse but not for $1,000 a square foot. It has this odd “tract home” monotony to it. 12,000 square feet of monotony.

    Not sure what style you could call it. Tacky Tuscany?

    Again it is a tear-down. Or tear-out I suppose is what you call it in a hirise.

  • Thank God Ken Lay is dead. And poor Linda isn’t lording over the rest of us from her pied-a-terre.Truly one of the crappiest,tackiest,tasteless residences ,anywhere!!! They had NO taste.And now Linda has hardly any money.Boo Hoo.Deal with it bitch!!

  • And now Linda has hardly any money.


    She has plenty of money. As do the Fastows and the Skillings and all the rest.

    And at the proper time she will write a check to the right charity and the social scribes at the Houston Chronicle will item her just as they recently did with Lea “Weingarten” which some amazingly didn’t realize was Lea Fastow.

  • It is amazing what anger, ignorance and stupidity can write…

  • Ken Lay prolly sat around and pounded on his phat caulk on the balconies while looking down at all the poor souls he scorched to pay for that place.

  • The Lay Penthouse has been reduced again Gus time to comment..$6.990,000

  • Is that Formica in the kitchen???