Ever seen Garden State? Remember that scene where they're at the mansion and they go swimming in the pool and Zach Braff says some cheesy stuff? That mansion is for sale! We spoke to the Italian countess who owns it.

Last week, I wrote about 32 Club Way, a monstrous $16 million mansion in Montclair New Jersey. I was surprised when I received an email soon after:

Dear Adrian,

I own 24 Club Way, a much more elegant house with a better view. three times the usable land, and with an 87 foot pool, AND it sits majestically on top of the hill and not sideways on the property as the house you wrote about! Also since my home is on the Cedar Grove side of the property, the taxes are about 1/10th what you quoted for 32 Club Way...

If anyone is interested my home is the most expensive in the area.



I googled "Contessa Cara," which led me to the website of a famous German dominatrix. Unfortunately, a famous German dominatrix did not live in an enormous mansion next door to the enormous mansion I had written about. It was actually Contessa Annamaria Nucci, MD, PhD, Italian immigrant, former concert pianist, current psychiatrist, and appreciator of the good life. When I emailed her a request for an interview she said she was "reluctant to get the personal publicity." But on the phone she was more than happy to elaborate her many accomplishments and her enormous house, which is currently on the market for $21 million.

I was most curious about her title, because it is well known that most countesses live in Long Island. Nucci is "not a Contessa per se, but my grandmother is." Her family includes undersecretaries of state and a well-known Italian composer. She immigrated to the US when she was 8, became a concert pianist, then went to medical school in Rome and got her PhD. in psychiatry at Cornell. Now, she says, "I've become very very well known... I'm one of the top 100 psychiatrists in the country." She's been featured in People and Redbook. "The New York Times has mentioned my name." Connie Francis is her patient and I googled her while pretending to know who that was.

Why did she decide to build the 23-room, 11-bath castle on this particular spot of New Jersey overlooking Manhattan?

I bought, obviously, the best tract of land. I thought this is really where I want to spend my life and study the piano. I'm an artist and the place is very artistic. They have some of the very best sunsets and sunrises you could possibly imagine.

No cost was spared. "It took 10 years to complete. Everything is imported and everything is quite unique. We have real plaster moldings from England." The grandeur lured Garden State to her pool. A staff of six keeps the house up, even if Nucci, who is divorced and has no children, happens to be at one of her many other properties. The source of her wealth is "from my concertizing, from my being a physician. And some from the family."

But now her work as a psychiatrist has made it impossible to spend much time at 32 Club Way. "Since I've been a psychiatrist, I've been asked to speak all over," she says. "I said, what a shame: Someone should be enjoying this magnificent house." Since putting the house on the market a year-and-half ago two parties have been seriously interested: One is a Saudia Arabian Sheik. And "I have a chief from Nigeria who keeps coming. He's opened up some gold mines in Nigeria."

So, if you're interested: now is definitely the time to act! Just email Nucci's broker, Jonathan Stravitz of BIOC Commercial Real Estate. But Nucci says she's not selling to anyone who has $21 million. "I envision someone who appreciates the very best. Someone very refined."

(Pics via BIOC Commercial Real Estate)