Southways, the 13-acre former Pillsbury estate located on Lake Minnetonka's Smiths Bay that stalled while listed on the market at more than $50 million, is now being offered for sale in an auction.

The 40,000-square-foot mansion, which includes a pool and tennis complex, smoking house, tea house, caretaker's cottage/greenhouse and caretaker's maintenance shop, is available in its entirety or as five separate parcels of two-plus acres, according to Sheldon Good & Co., the Chicago real estate auction firm chosen to handle the sale.

The 1918 property was originally owned by John S. and Eleanor Pillsbury, son and daughter-in-law of the co-founder of the grain producer and food-making giant.

Southways is now owned by James Jundt, a former hedge fund manager and onetime Minnesota Vikings co-owner, and his wife, Joann. The Jundts had the property up for sale not long ago with an asking price of $53.5 million.

They bought it when Eleanor Pillsbury died in 1991 at age 104. The Jundts staged many events there, including a Republican fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann that lured President George W. Bush in 2006. The Jundts now live in Arizona.

The sealed-bid deadline is Dec. 9 for Southways, which sits on Bracketts Point in Orono. The first tours by interested bidders began today, said David Latvaaho, senior vice president for Sheldon Good.

Latvaaho said the Jundts "tried to sell conventionally," but the property is really like "a collectable" and better suited for auction.

"It would be terrific if someone could keep the entire estate together," he said. "There is nothing like it on Lake Minnetonka."

Latvaaho said that "preliminary discussions" with Orono city officials were positive about the prospect of splitting up the property, if necessary.

Southways is "equipped with every conceivable amenity for entertaining, from lavish private gardens to a full-scale outdoor chess set," Latvaaho said. "Rarely does an opportunity arise to acquire a home of such historic significance, such grandeur and such magnitude."

In 1992, the Jundts commissioned New York City-based architects Beyer Blinder Belle, famous for restoring Ellis Island and Grand Central Station, to undertake a multi-million-dollar restoration to bring the estate back to its original grandeur but with modern amenities.

The grounds are noted for sweeping lawns, mature trees and formal gardens decorated with European statues and private sitting areas that offer views of Lake Minnetonka.

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Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482