Up for Auction: Luxury 200-Acre Ligonier Estate Owned by Former EDMC Exec

Woodmere is one of four high-end properties owned by Robert Knutson scheduled to hit the auction block this week.

Got a taste for luxury and the outdoors? This sportsman’s paradise in Westmoreland County might be the place for you — if you’re willing and able to make a bid for it.

Once listed for $7.5 million, Woodmere — featuring a five-bedroom, 9,300 square-foot sandstone manse in the heart of Ligonier’s fox hunt country — is hitting the auction block later this week.

Owned by Robert Knutson, former executive of EDMC — one of the nation’s largest for-profit higher education systems — and his wife, Miryam, Woodmere will be auctioned Thursday, Jan. 10 in Chicago.

Platinum Luxury Auctions is overseeing the sale of the property, which has no minimum reserve price.

Woodmere is one of four estates owned by the Knutsons heading for the auction block. A Boca Grande, Fla. Home owned by the couple will be auctioned alongside Woodmere on Thursday. The couple’s homes in Durango, Colo., and Santa Fe, N.M. are scheduled for auction Jan. 12. Prior to going to auction, the properties were listed for sale for a combined $46 million. 

Situated across 198 rolling acres, Woodmere’s amenities include a separate five-bedroom guesthouse, a two-bedroom staff house, a heated dog kennel, shooting range and three barns.

There’s also a pheasant pen and nine stocked fish ponds as well as a “Stonehenge” formation constructed from the same sandstone that was used to build the estate. A boat dock with two slips leads out to the property’s largest pond.

Inside the home is a wood-paneled library, a media room and a glassed-in conservatory. The home is described as having plenty of space for “large family gatherings or charity balls.”

Knutson, 84, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he and his wife decided to consolidate their holdings when he faced health issues stemming from a mystery infection he suffered more than a year ago. The couple has since bought a $25 million retirement home in Los Angeles, close to where Knutson receives treatments at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Knutson told the Trib that Woodmere, which he called home for more than 30 years, would always hold a special place in his heart.

“It was a very emotional thing to be leaving Western Pennsylvania. When I think of all the things my wife and children and grandchildren enjoyed at wonderful Woodmere, the walking trails, the fish ponds — it was just very special,” Knutson told the Trib.

Knutson came to Pittsburgh in 1969 when EDMC, then known as Education Management Corp., took over the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, according to the Trib. He was named president of EDMC in 1971. Under his leadership, EDMC became a powerhouse in the growing for-profit higher education sector.

In 1996, the company went public. Knutson retired in 2006, when a consortium of private equity firms led by Goldman Sachs acquired EDMC for $3.4 billion. Following a massive expansion, and a federal lawsuit that alleged the company grew through fraudulent recruiting practices, EDMC filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year.

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