Michael Wekerle, Financial Wild Man and Reality-TV Star, Scoops Up Anheuser-Busch Mansion
Tucked on the Intracoastal, the Anheuser-Busch estate is one of the snazzier stacks of historic brick in Fort Lauderdale. Built by America's first family of beer in 1938 by world-class designer Francis Abreu, the six-bedroom Spanish-style villa spreads out over 12,533 square feet of waterfront property, making it one of the largest such lots in town. Although no Bud progeny has picked up mail from the address since the late '60s, the estate attracts high-class house hunters. This week, the historic mansion was bought by a new owner: Canadian financial whiz and reality-TV star Michael Wekerle, who's been described as the test-tube byproduct of Warren Buffet and Mick Jagger, equal parts numbers nerd and rake.
According to the World Property Channel, Wekerle paid $12.5 million for the Anheuser-Busch estate. The investor bought the property only a couple of months after landing a gig on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s hit reality-TV show Dragon's Den.
The show, which is kind of an international craze, focuses on real-life entrepreneurs pitching business ideas to successful investors . . . . . . . . . Sorry, snoozed off there, because that show sounds incredibly boring. The Uncle Sam version of the show is called "Shark Tank" and features Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec, among others.
But as far as your factory-issue stock market moneybags go, Wekerle is pretty badass. He first started dogging it out on the Toronto Stock Exchange when he was only 18 years old. There he subsequently scooped up a pile of money but was later reportedly kicked out of the firm he helped start for boozy and wild behavior. Today, he is the CEO of Difference Capital Inc. Among the firm's holdings is Mark Wahlberg's Wahlburger chain.
Unlike most suits, Wekerle is as tattooed up as a Wood Tavern bar back, including some rad ink on the middle of his palm. He throws parties headlined by Snoop Dogg. He also was sued after a 2010 incident at a Little Rock, Arkansas, hotel that, well, for the sake of dead-pan comedy, we might as well quote here from the straight-laced original news item:
A report from the hotel also described Wekerle's behaviour that night, saying he dropped his pants in the lobby, verbally harassed female guests, licked the bottom of a woman's shoe and foot, exposed himself in the Capital Bar & Grill, and threatened a security officer, in addition to other acts. A concierge noted Wekerle came with a "fanny pack full of money."
The Anheuser-Busch estate isn't Wekerle's first purchase in the area. He already had a house in Fort Lauderdale, and over the past decade, he's reportedly spent $75 million with partners grabbing distressed real estate near the beach, including the Las Olas Riverfront shopping center and the historic Escape Hotel. As part of the land grab, a lot of the struggling mom-and-pop hotel owners were squeezed from valuable plots.