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Deep-pocketed executives, a semiretired wrestler and professional athletes past and present plunked down millions for the Tampa Bay area's 10 most expensive homes sold in 2012.
In a year of good news for the average homeowner, with mid-level local home sales prices rising to $133,000, these mansions and manors embodied Tampa Bay's top 1 percent. Selling for $3 million or more, these estates on Tampa's Davis Islands, the Belleair coast and other luxury locales sold for a combined $38.5 million. But why settle for the ordinary when you can live in a home with its own tanning salon or private gym? Here are the 10 priciest homes sold last year, based on property records and sales data from the My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service. Belleair, Willadel Drive: Topping the list is wrestler-turned-restaurateur Hulk Hogan's former mansion on the Intracoastal Waterway, famous in its own right as the backdrop for reality show Hogan Knows Best.
Tampa, Villarreal De Avila: This Mediterranean-style mansion was built in 1999 on nearly 3 acres of lakefront at Avila, one of Tampa's poshest country clubs.
Belleair Bluffs, Harbor View Lane: This English country-style manse, with an eye toward the Belleair Causeway, sold for $1 million less than it was listed for in 2010. Tampa, Exmoor Street, Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club: Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson bought this 1924 estate off the greens of the Palma Ceia golf course a few months after the 29-year-old signed a five-year, $55 million deal.
Tampa, The Riviera Street, Beach Park: Named Villa Terracina after an Italian resort, this 1925 home fronts an inlet of Old Tampa Bay just south of WestShore Plaza.
Davis Islands, Tampa, Ladoga Avenue: This 1954 home sits on 27,000 square feet in Davis Islands, with a back yard, gazebo and pool on the Currituck Channel. The 6-acre Avila spread, modeled after a 17th century British royal palace, has 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Yaffe agreed to sell the home as part of a bankruptcy agreement from late 2009, after falling behind on $36 million in debt. Even with the price cut, the home is still the most expensive on the market in Hillsborough County, but it no longer is that in greater Tampa Bay.
Number 9 on the list is a stunning, sprawling colonial in exclusive Golf view, with nearly 9,000 sq. It's rare to have a spec house in the multi-million dollar category, but number five is evidence builders are willing to take the risk in a strengthening housing market.  On a deep water canal on Davis Islands this "Mediterranean Revival" home replaced a tear down and boasts nearly 6,600 sq.
If you think a $6.2 million price tag is stunning, consider that Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, had this manse on the market for five years, starting at $25 million.
Petersburg's Signature Place condo tower, built this Key West-style mansion on a ritzy Davis Islands coastline, opening it to a fundraiser for first lady Michelle Obama and renting it to New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez and visitors to the Republican National Convention.
Its ornate three-floor foyer opens into nearly 10,000 square feet of palatial living, with upstairs lofts, oversized closets and a lanai summer kitchen. With it, he got a spacious playroom with multiple closets, custom stonework and woodwork, and a four-car garage. But it's hard to know who is enjoying its stone fountains and towered master suite: The company that bought it was incorporated by registering agents in Miami, and its only officer is a management firm in the capital of the British Virgin Islands. But the couple who bought it, a Tampa General Hospital senior surgeon and his wife, plan to rip the home down and build anew. At the time, he headed National Gold Exchange, one of the world's largest precious coin wholesalers.
Yaffe shares the $14.9-million price tag with a 15,000-square-foot mansion on Clearwater Harbor owned by Christine Barsema.

That includes a 67,000-square-foot estate under construction on 10 acres in Orange County modeled after the 17th century royal residence of Louis XIV.
The half-acre, gated-compound, completely re-fitted and renovated, is highlighted by tailored gardens embracing a swimming pool, guest house, 5 bedrooms, 4 and a half baths in just over 4700 sq.
The buyers are the founder and a chief officer of Health Insurance Innovations, a Tampa provider of Web-based individual health insurance plans that went public in December with plans to raise up to $86 million. This estate just south of Clearwater Beach's millionaire enclave of Mandalay Point is where he landed. Petersburg global distributor of semiconductor components, paid cash for the gated mansion, crafted after a European country manor and built on a sweeping waterfront bluff. Was Cantor already bored with its custom-made outdoor kitchen, power window treatments or Honduran-wood entry doors?
Terry Bollea and his wife, Jennifer, may have moved from the largest home on this list to the smallest, but the place is still massive.
For those who opt for function over form, there are special filtration systems for the water and air, a lightning-protection system and a 100-kilowatt generator keeping the lights on in case the power goes out.

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