He Vants to … Avoid Traffic on the Henry Hudson

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The von Habsburg family home in Romania, not Westchester. Photo: Getty Images


The towering turrets, the pine-swathed Carpathians, the wolves baying at the moon — what piece of real estate has creepier curb appeal than that thirteenth-century Transylvanian pile, Dracula's Castle? It's now on the market for $78 million, a price that would have even the most blood-sucking Manhattan brokers grasping for their silver crosses. But, then, those New York Realtors might well have an in with the owner: Sixty-nine-year-old Dominic von Habsburg lives in the Westchester burg of North Salem. Descended from Austro-Hungarian royalty, von Habsburg is a furniture designer living in a decidedly un-Gothic, one-floor contemporary. "My friends call it a house for easy living," says von Habsburg, who built the home a few years ago. "It's very airy, simple and full of light."

In other words, a bit different from the fabled castle where he lived until he was 10, when his family fled communist Romania. (He returned for the first time last year, when the government gave the castle, now a tourist attraction, back to his family. He may sell it back to the Romanian government.) A nostalgic von Habsburg says that the cliff-top chateau was "a happy, fairytale place, not a dreary, blood-thirsty sort of place," an idyllic, Sound of Music–like retreat, lovingly restored by his grandmother, Queen Marie. He says people didn't start calling it Castle Dracula until the fifties or so, even though it once briefly housed Romanian hero Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. (Von Habsburg says he's never read it, nor seen the various Dracula movies: "I don't enjoy horror pictures.")

In the North Salem home, a sculpture of a Benedictine monk is the only thing you'll find from the old family seat. But both digs are woodsy and bucolic, which suits von Hapsburg well. ("I can't live in the city," he gasps, much as the Count might have at the dawn's early light.) And no, he says, North Salem doesn't have baying wolves, as Transylvania did. "But we have dogs, and when they howl, it's pretty much the same." —Tim Murphy

N.Y. Man May Sell Boyhood Home — Dracula's Castle [NYS]