The Daily Catch

Google Founder Eric Schmidt Purchases 40-Acre River Road Estate, Increasing His Rhinebeck Holdings

The former Verrilli property at 176 River Road, now owned by Google founder Eric Schmidt (photo by Emily Sachar)

Google Founder Eric Schmidt has closed on the $2.2-million purchase of yet another piece of River Road real estate, a parcel owned by the esteemed Verrilli family of Red Hook, sources close to the transaction told The Daily Catch this week. 

The closing took place in August 2021, but a goodbye ceremony was not held on the front porch at 176 River Road until yesterday. The parcel is located south of Route 199 along the eastern side of the Rhinebeck portion of River Road.

“It was emotional because the boys were born and raised there,” George Verrilli, 93, told The Daily Catch this morning.

The purchase includes a 7,000-square-foot home once operated as the superintendent’s cottage for the Brooke Astor family, which owned some 2,800 acres on both west and east flanks of River Road.

George Verrilli, an esteemed obstetrician, originally purchased 13 acres of the 41-acre parcel in 1963 for $35,000. The next year, he spent another $12,000 for the contiguous 28 acres on Astor Drive.

Verrilli’s three sons from his first marriage, to Kay Tremper, inherited the property, Verrilli said. Tremper, who had fallen in love with the property as a place to pasture her horses, died several years ago. Verrilli used the garage on the property to store vintage cars, of which he owns nearly 100.

Eric Schmidt has purchased 41 acres on River Road in Rhinebeck from the Verrilli family (photo by Shannon Stapleton for Reuters).

“If you come out of the five boroughs and you find the tranquility on that property, it’s overwhelming,” Verrilli said. “There’s not much traffic on that stretch of River Road. And while it’s not palatial, it’s pastoral. It gives you that feeling that you can straighten out your arms.”

Schmidt’s latest purchase, made under the name of the non-descript Treac Properties LLC, increases the billionaire’s River Road holdings. Schmidt also owns Astor Courts, at 189 River Road in Rhinebeck, purchased for $9.4 million on Jan. 6, 2016. That property was the site of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010. It is not clear how Schmidt intends to use his latest purchase. But Verrilli noted that Schmidt has been making structural upgrades to the stone walls along River Road, among other enhancements.

Schmidt, a software engineer, was the chief executive officer of Google from 2001 to 2011, executive chairman of Google from 2011 to 2015, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. from 2015 to 2017, and technical advisor at Alphabet from 2017 to 2020. Born in Virginia, he is 66 years old.

As of October 2021, Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranked Schmidt as the 55th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $26.8 billion.

Verrilli is also the former owner of the Chocolate Factory. He s now developing plans for an old car museum, to be called the Classic Car Corral, in Milan on property he owns. The museum would store between 65 and 80 old cars.

The Astors were, at one point, America’s wealthiest family. In the early 1800s, the family’s progenitor, German immigrant John Jacob Astor, built a fur trading and real-estate empire.

Brooke Astor, who lived to be 105 and died in 2007, in 1964 donated 190 acres to establish Ferncliff Forest between Mount Rutsen and River Roads, according to Ferncliff historical records. The donation was made to the Rhinebeck Rotary Club and since the club cannot own property, the non-profit corporation, Ferncliff Forest Inc., was established to hold the property. Verrilli said he helped facilitate the transaction.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz reportedly also owns a house on a piece of the former Astor estate.

Members of an investment group owned by Schmidt also have taken over the operation of the Kingston-Ulster Airport, according to town Supervisor James Quigley. 

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