OSTERVILLE — In the movies, a handsome, bored millionaire would wreck his yacht on shore. Wandering around a deserted estate, he would meet a beautiful woman, fall in love, and only later learn that his true love was a ghost. He paid millions for her estate just to live out his life near her.
The real-life story is also about love, money and real estate.
When she died in 1991, movie star Lee Remick left her waterfront Osterville estate overlooking North Bay to her two children and husband of 21 years, producer William “Kip” Gowans.
Seventeen years later, her husband is trying to sell the house, worth millions, and the two grown children are in court trying to find out how much the house and furnishings are worth.
The three heirs now stand to split millions when somebody buys the 1934 landmark and deepwater 100-foot dock, one of only two houses on Pine Island, connected to Osterville by a bridge and causeway.
There’s interest but “no check yet,” real estate agent Jack Largay said about the one-of-kind house with unobstructed 360-degree views of Osterville Harbor and Nantucket Sound.
The view “from the third level is “probably as good as you can find anywhere on Cape Cod, “ Largay said.
Remick was no stranger to the Cape. Her first acting job was at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis when she was just 16. She grew up in Quincy where her family owned Remick’s Department Store. By the time she bought the 1934 Osterville property in 1979, she was the Hollywood star of such films as “The Days of Wine and Roses” with Jack Lemmon and “The Omen” with Gregory Peck.
Remick and her family enjoyed 12 years off and on in Osterville before she died in 1991 of cancer at age 55.
Since her death, the six-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom Colonial on two acres exploded in value from $2 million in 1995 to its current price of $8.8 million.
The property’s value soared as Gowans continued to live in Osterville after his wife’s death. Under Remick’s will, he could stay on in their home until he died or left.
“She died in 1991, and he’s been there on his own all that time,” said Edward Kirk of Osterville, Gowans’ lawyer. “He was quite content there.”
But Gowans, now in his 70s, moved out of the country a year or so ago to live with a daughter, Kirk said. Gowans’ departure triggered marketing of the house, listed for $9.9 million early last year.
“It’s in the best interests of all three (heirs) that the house be sold, because it’s very expensive to maintain,” said John Conathan II, the Yarmouthport lawyer representing Matthew Colleran and Kate Minelian, Remick’s children from her first marriage. The tax bill alone is $36,000 a year for the property, which is assessed at $4.82 million.
Early this year, the two children asked Barnstable Probate Court to order an inventory of the estate. When nothing happened by an April deadline, they asked the court to appoint Conathan as trustee in place of their stepfather and their mother’s former business adviser, Patricia Black.
“They haven’t properly accounted to the beneficiaries or kept them informed of financial matters,” said Conathan, who met Remick through mutual friends and regarded her as a friend.
By last week’s deadline, there were no objections to the children’s request, awaiting a hearing in Barnstable Probate Court. Black’s lawyer, Pamela Veasey of Boston, didn’t return a call for comment.
Gowans “didn’t really object to the request for a new trustee,” Kirk said, adding, “We were trying to sell the house anyway.”
The Osterville house is the last unknown in Remick’s overall estate, once estimated at $3.4 million.
But with the Osterville home will go a place of many memories.
Remick’s daughter, Kate Minelian, told the Boston Business Journal this spring that she spent 12 summers and two full winters at the Osterville house, and “it will always be in my soul.”