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The changes might have been made by William R. Rupp, the Florida businessman who bought the Shipman house for $8.8 million in 2001. It was definitely he who added the aggressive, four-foot-high double-R monogram emblazoned on the entrance gate.

Mr. Rupp soon became embroiled in a dispute with the owner of the next-door building: the hulking modernist town house built by the architect Paul Rudolph in the 1980s. Mr. Rupp put up a two-story-high spite wall, blocking some river views from the Rudolph house; it survived one legal challenge. He died in 2007, and his estate offered the property in the spring of 2008 for $25 million.

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