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Katharine Hepburn estate? Being bought by Obamas? Um, no

January 9, 2012 |  7:15 am

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Some rumors won't die. But why anyone would believe for a nanosecond that President Obama had $18 million to buy a house that once belonged to Katharine Hepburn, of all famous people, in Connecticut, of all places, in an election year, of all years?

Such a purchase would so put Obama squarely in the camp of 1%-ers -- not a popular move at a time when the 99% are supposed to go to the polls in November to elect a president. Plus, there is no evidence he has that kind of money.

That said, such a rumor circulated last week.

It first appeared as speculation reported by longtime gossip columnist Liz Smith, who knew and wrote about Hepburn. The rumor then was followed by a report in the Hearst Newspapers — and in no time was rampant on Twitter. Neither Smith nor Hearst and certainly not the tweeters cited sources, according to the Hartford Courant.

The White House made it clear the rumor was baseless: "It's not true," was the adamant denial to reporters.

But the agent representing the Hepburn estate, when asked by the Courant whether the Obamas were buying the house, mysteriously responded only with: "We can't offer a comment on that matter."

Even Smith, who started the rumor, characterized it as "absurd" for political reasons.

Frank J. Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer and his wife, Barbara, initially bought the home for $6 million, completed a massive, multimillion-dollar renovation and put the site on the market last year. The asking price: $28 million for the house and the surrounding 3½ acres on the shore of Long Island Sound — or $18 million for a buyer not interested in the entire property.

The estate, on the Fenwick waterfront near Old Saybrook, had been in Hepburn's family; she retired there before dying in 2003 at age 96.

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 -- Geraldine Baum

Photo: Katharine Hepburn in 1992 in the garden at Fenwick, her country home in the Connecticut town of the same name. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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