SELLER: Roger Birnbaum
LOCATION: Summit Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
SIZE: 7,187 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Long gated drive leads to an estate of unparalleled quality & timeless design. Completed in 2007, this contemporary farmhouse includes a special master w/ sitting room, gym, walk-in closet, unique bath & huge terrace overlooking the city. A most extraordinary 2-story living room w/ floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that open to a covered veranda & over sized lap pool surrounded by gardens, dream kitchen, dining room & media room.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Every now and then a pricey Platinum Triangle property comes along that makes Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter drool with bank account envy and spit with financial jealousy. Such is the bewitching Beverly Hills property that prolific producer Roger Birnbaum recently listed with an asking price of $16,000,000. It's not that we have an incurable craving to live in a shingled contempo farmhouse, because we really don't. It's that the recent renovation and dignified day-core is so soo-blime that we can't help but covet thy neighbor's house.
Mister Birnbaum, for those who do not recognize the name, is what Your Mama calls a super producer. He has shepherded dozens of tee-vee programs and films through the Tinseltown gauntlet including (but not limited to) Four Christmases, The Love Guru, 27 Dresses, Evan Almighty, the unbelievably bad but stoopidly high-larius Stick It, Memoirs of a Geisha (which was, sorry Mister Birnbaum, a much better book), Seabiscuit, G.I. Jane and Who's That Girl, one of the Kabbalah Kween's more insufferable cinematic ventures.
Property records show Mister Birnbaum purchased his swank Summit Drive domicile in April of 2007 for $16,500,000. Several reports from the time suggest the sale price was closer to twenty million clams, but sixteen point five is what we find. If the records are accurate, and we have no reason to believe they are not, it appears that Mister Birnbaum will take a significant financial hit because, as our bejeweled abacus reveals, the property is currently priced half a million bucks below what he paid for the place in 2007.
The property was purchased from legendary former talent manager turned high-priced house flipper Sandy Gallin who, records reveal, purchased the property in November of 2005 for $5,350,000. Mister Gallin did what he's done with the 30 or 40 other fancy flips he's got under his belt: He Gallin-ized the place. That means, he knocked down what he hated, improved what he could tolerate and built what he thought the place needed to be elevated to its rightful place in the complicated lexicon of ritzy Beverly Hills real estate.
The house, tucked up behind other similarly sumptuous dwellings and invisible from the street, is approached down a long, tree-lined stone driveway that leads to a large gravel motor court. There are few sounds Your Mama enjoys more than the crackle and snap of tires on a gravel driveway. Not only does it evoke a childhood sense memory of our Grand-mammies long gravel driveway, it also reminds both Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter of our beloved farmhouse on the East End of Long Island that we sold when we moved west last summer.
Listing information shows the Birnbaum manse measures 7,187 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms including a clean lined master suite with a large, fully paneled bedroom, a kitted out closet/dressing room the size of of a Manhattan studio apartment, an expansive private terrace for nood sunbathing, a gym for working up a sweat and a behemoth bathroom with a beamed ceiling, wood floor and two shelving racks with enough fluffy white towels to stock a small boo-teek hotel.
The almost self-consciously modest entry leads to a dee-voonly double height living room with a wall of windows that slide open to the commodious covered veranda that overlooks the somewhat small yard and long lap pool. The living room is ringed on two sides by a second floor gallery with a modern horizontal railing that both reinforces the impressive length of the room and offsets the vertical volume of the space. Your Mama would like to point out that Mister Gallin and his nice gay decorator showed an extraordinary and all too uncommon restraint in the living room by not hanging two unnecessarily chunky chandeliers from the rafters, which would have wrecked the entire tableau. When people say, "less is more," this is what they mean.
The dining room has more of those barn-like sliding doors and a monstrous round dining room table surrounded by ten caramel colored padded leather chairs. The children will note, again, how Mister Gallin and his nice gay decorator showed tremendous self-control when it came to the heavy-duty but still barely there light fixture.
Other rooms, according to listing information, include a gore-may kitchen with all the super-sized stainless steel appliances a kitchen queen could want as well as a gigantic work island that does double duty as a breakfast counter. We're not going to discuss those ridiculous daffodils that are begging to be squashed by the large and looming pot rack. There is also, according to listing information, a large den with one of the home's three wood burning fireplaces, a large built-in bar for all the booze hounds to belly up to, a media room and an office.
The back yard is, admittedly, a wee bit small for a house in this price range. But truth be told, there's plenty of space for a child-free couple with one mean ol' pussy named Sugar and two long bodied bitches named Linda and Beverly who require only a wee patch of grass where they can lay around and soak up the sun for hours on end. The lap pool, according to listing information, is heated and over-sized, whatever that means. A wonderfully woodsy outdoor living space has cozy looking patio furniture facing a wood burning fireplace where we can imagine it would be nice to sip Chardonnay as the sun sets and the marine layer scoots in.
All the children know that Your Mama has often railed against the boring, banal and beige day-core we too often see in the homes of folks who think "neutral" makes their home more digestible to guests and attractive potential buyers. However, we've also many times claimed that there is a way in which to do beige without sinking into a monochromatic snooze-fest of tone on tone day-core. This, children, is how beige is done.
Property records indicate that Mister Birnbaum and his Missus Pamela own an 18th floor condominium at The Californian as well as another slightly smaller condominium at The Remington, both on Wilshire Boulevard. Records also reveal the condo crazy couple have a townhouse/condo in Boynton Beach, FL, and an oceanfront condo in Jupiter, FL. Obviously, we have no way of knowing if Mister and Missus Birnbaum occupy all those condos or if they are used as rentals or by other family members.
Going back to Mister Gallin...we recently heard from our dee-lishusly catty pal Kenny Kissintell, who always has all sorts of juicy real estate dirt to dish, that Mister Gallin recently completed his latest project, the former Jane Wyatt estate on Siena Way in Bel Air which he picked up in the spring of 2007 for seven million smackers. Kenny whispered the amount that he heard Mister Gallin wants for the fully rehabbed residence and the number is so damn high we don't dare repeat it because it simply can not be true. It's not that Mister Gallin can't work over a property like nobodies bizness, it's that houses just aren't selling for those kind of 8 figure prices right now.
Anyhoo, Mister and Missus Birnbaum's real estate loss on Summit Drive will surely be some lucky bastard's real estate good fortune. Now then, we've got to figure out a way to get all this green off our skin.