It turns out that even Aspen's elite can't escape the effects of the world recession. Smarting from the latest stock plunge, high country homeowners are also digesting today's report in the Aspen Daily News that assessed property values in Pitkin County have dropped $10 billion over a two-year period -- meaning a quarter of the local real estate market's total worth has evaporated.
Thank God for Barbi Benton and MTV's Extreme Cribs.
Benton, the former country singer and Playboy Playmate who was queen of Hefner's hutch long before Kendra or Crystal Harris were even born, and whose film credits include such fare as Naughty Cheerleader and Hospital Massacre -- not to mention a regular gig on Hee Haw and an astonishing seventeen appearances on Fantasy Island -- is better known these days for being the proud owner of one of the showier homes in Aspen's swank Starwood subdivision. It's a 24,000-square-foot honker featuring a disco, a gym, two pools with underwater speakers, a revolving bed... and, oh yes, a projection room.
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Designed largely by Benton, with assists from tycoon hubbie George Gradow, the place is a natural for Extreme Cribs, which will showcase the Barbi house on Monday's episode. Benton talks about being wooed by the series in this Aspen Times account.
Doubtless the disco, the massage room, and the indoor/outdoor pools will feature prominently in the episode, with the couple's 23-year-old daughter Ariana leading much of the tour. It could be just the kind of pick-me-up Aspen's battered superwealthy need.
Even with the economy in freefall, Benton's home still shows up on the property rolls valued at $26.3 million. Not a bad piece of change if Benton and family ever want to swap the high-country life for a starter home in suburban Tempe.