Family that controls Ashley Furniture adds another Tampa Bay home –

It would take the inventory of a furniture store to fill up all the Tampa Bay homes now owned by the family that controls Ashley Furniture Inc.

On June 1, Kevin and Shari Wagner — she’s the daughter of Ashley founder Ronald Wanek — closed on a $3.7 million waterfront estate in Treasure Island. That was the top price paid for any residential property in the bay area so far this year.

In 2013, Wanek and his wife, Joyce, bought a bayfront mansion in St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle area for $8.4 million — still the record price for any Tampa Bay home or condo since 2011. The couple also own two other houses on Snell Isle.

Wanek, worth an estimated $2 billion, ranks 949th on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. He built his Wisconsin-based company into the nation’s largest home furnishings manufacturer and retailer, with $3.31 billion in revenues last year and more than 560 company-owned and licensed stores. According to recent published reports, the company could be for sale.

Ashley Furniture is majority owned by the Wanek family, led by Ronald, now in his mid 70s, and his son, Todd, as chief executive. Shari Wagner is the company’s vice president of international sales. The company recently announced plans to bring the e-commerce headquarters of one of its subsidiaries to Ybor City.

Although they have been living in Wisconsin, Wagner and her husband have applied for a homestead exemption on the newly purchased 8,000-square-foot estate on the Intracoastal Waterway. Known as “Villa La Serenissima,” the five-bedroom, 51/2-bath home has Italian marble floors, a double staircase and wrought-iron elevator and banisters.

Other amenities include multiple fireplaces, a 600-plus-bottle wine room and home theater. The estate is situated on a quarter of an acre with several sun decks, an outdoor kitchen and Italian-glassed pool with swim-up bar.

The home, which had been on the market since early August, was listed by the Malowany Group of Smith & Associates. Samuels Realty & Investments was the selling agent.

Shari Wagner, who did not return a voice message, will be a 20-minute drive from her parents’ Snell Isle home. They bought that and the house next door for a total of just over $6 million in 2008.

The Waneks’ largest property, which is not their homestead, sits on a full acre with wide-open views of Tampa Bay. Several contractors’ vehicles were parked in front of the 10,8000-square-foot house Monday morning.

Wanek has been a prominent Republican donor who in 2012 helped host the Republican National Convention in Tampa. He also housed the Wisconsin delegation on Snell Isle.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.


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