Florida Keys

A private island off Key West sells for $8 million to ‘Real World’ homeowner

Thompson Island was passed down through the Knight family for 70 years and was built in 1939.
Thompson Island was passed down through the Knight family for 70 years and was built in 1939. Realtor.com

Thompson Island off Key West, for decades the home of philanthropist and developer Edward B. Knight, has sold for $8 million to a man who owns another luxury waterfront property nearby.

Andrew Lippi, who owns the “Real World” resort compound used for the 17th season of the MTV series, last week bought the gated island estate off A1A close to the entrance of Key West.

“I think we’ll be living in it for awhile,” Lippi said Wednesday.

He said he was attracted to the property’s history. “We’re very lucky. I’m very fond of older houses.”

He would only describe his family as large.

“I’m a pretty private guy,” Lippi said. “I try not to dangle out there.”

The island deal closed March 28, said Will Langley, of Berkshire Hathaway, which offered the property. The sale will fund the Edward B. and Joan Knight Foundation.

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Thompson Island, the former home of philanthropist and developer Edward Knight, went on the market for $8 million. Movoto.com

“I still have a confidentiality agreement and can’t comment on anything that’s not public knowledge,” Langley said.

It went on the market not long after Knight died in August 2016 at 99, two months after the city renamed the White Street Pier in his honor.

The original asking price was $10.5 million for the home that measures 8,700 square feet and has a helicopter landing pad.

Thompson Island isn’t far from Key Haven, a neighborhood in unincorporated Monroe County about one mile north, where the “Real World” house is located. It’s currently an Airbnb rental that fetches $999 per night.

Thompson Island sits on nearly five acres at 4095 S. Roosevelt Blvd. and it’s the only private island with direct access to A1A by a bridge. Built by the legendary Thompson family, which included Ed Knight’s father-in-law, and completed in 1939, it has been passed down through the Knight family for 70 years.

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This is an interior shot of the estate in Key West. Movoto.com

The main home has four bedrooms and six bathrooms and the estate includes a four-car garage with living quarters upstairs and a caretaker’s cottage.

Although Lippi said he will use it as his personal home, Thompson Island’s real estate listing included ideas to make it a rental property.

“This property is perfect for a family compound, a corporate retreat, or a seasonal home with potential monthly rental opportunity,” according to the listing on Realtor.com. “It is the most unique offering in the Keys in generations.”

Albert Tropea and Ronda Rinald, of Key West Sailing Adventure private charters, own the sailboat that was used as the home for the character Sonny Crockett on “Miami Vice.”

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.
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