November 2, 2011 / 9:55 PM / 6 years ago

Drug company CEO sells mansion where girlfriend died

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona drug company chief has sold the historic California mansion where his girlfriend was found hanged two days after his son took a fatal fall in the house, his real estate agent said on Wednesday.

Jonah Shacknai, founder and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., sold the 12,750-square-foot property on Monday to a group of unidentified investors, said Scott Aurich, of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The landmark 12-bedroom, 11-bath Spreckels mansion in Coronado, California, an upscale resort island near San Diego, was listed for $14.5 million. It was built in the early 1900s by businessman and philanthropist John D. Spreckels.

Shacknai declined comment through a spokesman.

Shacknai’s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, 32, was sharing the residence with him when she took her own life there on July 13, according to police.

Police said Zahau had tied herself up with her hands behind her back, slipped a noose around her neck and threw herself over a second-story balcony overlooking an outdoor courtyard. Her nude body was found later that morning.

Max Shacknai, the executive’s 6-year-old son, died later that week from injuries he sustained from a fall down the staircase on July 11 while he was home alone with Zahau. Police ruled his death an accident.

Police also said Shacknai, whose company makes the popular wrinkle filler Restylane and the acne treatment Solodyn, was never considered a suspect in either investigation.

Relatives of Zahau have disputed the police finding that she committed suicide and hired an attorney to help them arrange for a private investigation of her death.

Zahau’s body was exhumed last Wednesday, and a well-known pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, conducted a new autopsy on Friday, with results expected to be made public in a week to 10 days, said the Seattle-based lawyer, Anne Bremmer.

Aurich told Reuters that Shacknai has not returned to the mansion since the deaths, and his personal belongings were removed last week.

He said the specter of the two deaths at the home did not hinder efforts to sell the sprawling property. California law requires that any deaths on a property in the last three years be disclosed to potential buyers.

“There is still some scuttlebutt and hype in the news about what happened, but that hasn’t made much of a difference,” Aurich said. “It’s in Coronado, and it’s right on the beach. There’s no better property to have.”

He said the investors plan to begin remodeling efforts in January and then plan to resell the property.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton

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