(Bloomberg) -- In 1997, Paul Fireman, the founder and then-chairman and chief executive officer of Reebok International Ltd., was living with his wife Phyllis in an historic house. “It was a very nice house, but it was old and I wanted it renovated,” Fireman says.

After hearing from architects that his plans would basically involve a gut renovation, “I said, I’m not going to destroy this house. I’ll look for another piece of property.”

Fireman paid about $4 million for a 12-acre plot a mile and a half away, in the Boston suburb of Brookline, Mass., and later added two acres for a further $2 million when an adjacent parcel went up for sale. He hired the architecture firm Shope Reno Wharton to design a new home. “It started when I was just looking for a family room, and one thing led to another,” Fireman says. “I just got carried away a little bit.”

That is, perhaps, an understatement. The final product is a 26,623-square-foot limestone mansion with eight bedrooms, seven baths, and five half-baths. “It’s a little large for me right now,” Fireman says. “But 20 years ago it was OK.”

Now, in an effort to downsize, he’s putting the property on the market. The house and a 7.3-acre plot of land are listed with the Sarkis Team at Douglas Elliman for $38 million; an additional seven acres are listed separately for $17 million, meaning that, if someone wants to buy Fireman’s property as is, it will cost $55 million.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s about what Fireman says he put into the property. In total, he spent “between $40 million and $50 million,” he explains. “To be honest, I didn’t have a budget; I just built it,” he continues. “I know it’s a shameful thing. But meanwhile, what’s left is a beautiful home.”

Built to the Extreme

“The most incredible thing,” Fireman says, “is that it took only 19 months to build.” 

Every room has ceiling heights of at least 11 feet; the floors, walls, and ceilings have from three to five inches of plywood, in order to make the home “as soundproof as you’ve ever heard.” His contractors, Fireman says, “built it to the extreme.”

The main entry, which spans the depth of the house, has a massive foyer with a curved staircase leading to upstairs bedrooms, a gym, and a massage room. The ground floor contains a formal dining room, library, living room, billiards room, and an office. Each floor can also be accessed via an elevator.

The finishes, Fireman says, are particularly notable. “We have a lot of marble and a lot of limestone”  shipped from a quarry in Indiana. “Every block came numbered.”

The wood paneling in the library is black walnut. “We had a guy from France come in for a couple of months,” Fireman explains. “He and his assistant had to polish the ceiling and walls and floors by hand. The whole room is just like a piece of furniture.”

Perfect for Art

The house was formally completed in 1999, and Fireman, his wife, and their decorator set about filling it with furniture and decorations. 

“We had a very good time; we’d travel the world looking for antiques,” he says. “It wasn’t quick and dirty, it was a long process.” Along with decoration, Fireman says the house was perfect for his art collection. “There’s a lot of impressionist work, some contemporary, and some modern,” he says. (Should a prospective buyer want the furniture, that would be a separate conversation.)

In one photo in the house’s listing, a Modigliani painting hangs above a fireplace. Photos of the house’s interior on the architect’s website display paintings by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, and Mark Rothko, along with sculptures by Nikki de Saint Phalle and others.

Last Lap

Fireman decided to sell, he says, “because we got older. Twenty years will do it to you—we’re in the last lap, so to speak.” His children are all married and no longer live in the house, and so “we ended up buying another house, taking it down, and building something quieter and smaller and yet, still very nice.”

His house, Fireman says, will appeal to anyone who likes “the privacy, and the exclusiveness” of the land. “I’d also assume they’ll be pretty wealthy,” he says.

The entire property is “beautiful and glamorous, and if I was 40, I’d stay in it, but I’m 75,” Fireman continues. “The house will be here 500 years from now.”

To contact the author of this story: James Tarmy in New York at jtarmy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Justin Ocean at jocean1@bloomberg.net

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