To date, he has not stayed a single night at the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom mansion, known locally as The LeBlanc Castle, a 30-minute drive north of Detroit.
Located at 2009 Victoria Hill Drive in Rochester, Michigan, the 10,000-square-foot, five-story building is set on 15 acres. It is reminiscent of 15th-century Scotland with its secret passages, wooden drawbridge and other classic features such as a moat. But there are also more modern amenities such as central heating and air conditioning, a gym and a fire protection system.
Gatecliff acquired ownership of the castle after forming a business deal with James LeBlanc, the original designer and builder of the castle of the same name, in 2015.
LeBlanc first bought the land to build the castle in 1991, public records show, and then made several trips to Europe and studied several books on castle architecture to use the theme in designing the home. According to Dylan Tent, a real estate agent at Sotheby’s International who represents Gatecliff, the castle took nearly six years to build and cost $10.5 million.
The house was meant to be an engagement gift from LeBlanc to his wife, Vera, Gatecliff said.
Gatecliff added that LeBlanc was in poor health and was struggling to make payments for the property when they met. So Gatecliff agreed to loan LeBlanc more than $900,000 to keep the house on the condition that LeBlanc pay back the loan in monthly installments. LeBlanc made most of these payments until his passing in May 2022 at the age of 73, leaving Gatecliff in possession of the property.
“James was an amazingly brilliant person,” Gatecliff said. “I saw an opportunity to help a guy who was about to lose his house and ended up befriending him.”
Gatecliff said he and LeBlanc had a lot in common, although they were almost complete strangers when they first met. For example, both men owned businesses in Lake Orion, Michigan. Gatecliff owned a mechanical utility company called Pipe Systems, Inc., while LeBlanc ran a military contractor called Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems. (Gatecliff said he helped LeBlanc source parts for some military vehicles he was working on after the two met.)
Since taking possession of the castle, Gatecliff said he’s modernized several parts of the home’s infrastructure. He replaced the water heater, installed six new furnaces, and added six new programmable thermostats.
Gatecliff has also made several offers since acquiring the property, but none of them have worked so far. The castle is being sold as is and the price includes all period specific furniture. However, it’s currently under contract, and Tent told Insider the deal could close as early as mid-December.
“The quality of craftsmanship that went into building this home is truly amazing,” Gatecliff said. “It’s easily recognized by the wood inlays, the antique chandeliers and the oak wood ceilings. It’s really amazing.”