Coca-Cola Heirs Lose $37 Million in Foreclosure Crisis

Briarcliff was the mansion and estate of Asa Griggs Candler, Jr.
Source: Wikimedia
Briarcliff was the mansion and estate of Asa Griggs Candler, Jr.

Not even the founding family of one of America’s most famous brands has been able to escape the effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Descendants of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler have had a rough go since the housing bust and ensuing recession. The soda heirs' real-estate development company has lost $37.5 million to foreclosure since the economy tanked, and the financial future of the family appears tenuous at best, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.

The Candler family sold its stake in Coca-Cola back in 1919 and turned to real estate development. The family is responsible for several iconic Atlanta-area landmarks and remains well-known in the wealthy suburb of Sandy Springs.

Now led by 81-year-old Asa Griggs Candler V, the family has been plagued by creditors as deal after deal has gone bust. Yet Candler remains optimistic despite his family's crumbling fortune.

"Atlanta’s future is great. Atlanta is not going away,” he said in an interview last month, according to the paper. “And we’ll be right in here trying. We’ll get out of this, along with everybody else, and build our share of the city.”

That “everybody else” includes more than just the residents of a city that’s been one of the hardest-hit by the housing bust. Even wealthy Americans like the Candlers have seen their fortunes decline due to the recession. Between 2007 and 2009, after-tax earnings by the top 1 percent of American earners fell 37 percent.

Another testament to the far-reaching effects of the Great Recession is the story of real-estate developer David Siegel, who, along with his yet uncompleted 90,000-square-foot Florida mansion, is the subject of a new documentary. Siegel's house is now listed for $65 million after once being on the market for $75 million.

As for the Candlers, Asa blames his family's misfortunes on what he calls America’s “ruthless” economy, one that has ignored “man-on-the-street” developers while bailing out Wall Street and the largest automakers.