BUYER: Larry Ellison
LOCATION: Rancho Mirage, CA
SIZE: 18,430 square feet
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen children, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are, technically, on a bit of a vacay out in the California desert where we spent the better part of the last several days watching tennis match after tennis match after tennis match down in Indian Wells, CA from the comfort of the the triple-wide BNP Paribas box and ate about 12 pounds of freshly prepared sushi served with smile by the lovely Monica.
The BNP Paribas Open, for non-tennis fans, is partially owned by tech tycoon and multi-billionaire businessman Larry Ellison who sat court side for the finals yesterday in a red baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and a gray t-shirt that displayed his surprisingly beefy and tanned biceps to lovely effect. Seeing Mister Ellison there with is pin-thin and much younger broo-net female companion reminded us that the hardware and software tycoon recently added another trophy property to a real estate portfolio that already jam-packed with exceedingly lavish and luxurious private residences.
Mister Ellison, a man with a net worth in the neighborhood of forty billion bucks, is nothing if not a real estate baller of epic proportions. His primary home, a sprawling 20-plus acre Japanese-themed compound built around of lake-sized koi pond in Woodside, CA, is widely rumored and oft reported to have cost the big spender upwards of $200,000,000 to build and landscape.
In the early summer of 2010 Mister Ellison dropped a comparatively paltry $10,500,000 to acquire Beechwood, a palatial Italianate pile with 39 rooms on the historic and ridiculously swank Bellevue Avenue in the Gilded Age resort community of Newport, RI. The 15-bedroom mansion, erected in 1851, measures around 19,000 square feet and includes 15 bedrooms and numerous baronial formal entertaining spaces such as a massive mirrored waterfront ballroom designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and added to the already hulking house in 1881 by Mister and Missus William Backhouse Astor Jr. who used the gigantic house to help solidify their position in the upper echelons of American blue-blood high-society to which they were so desperate to belong.
Along with media-mogul Gerald "Jerry" Perenchio, Mister Ellison is one of the largest landowners in Malibu, CA where he owns a reported $180,000,000 (or more) worth of (mostly residential) real estate including but far from limited to a Mediterranean mansion in the gated Serra Retreat where other celeb property owners include Kelsy Grammer and James Cameron. Mister Ellison also owns five contiguous lots on Carbon Beach, arguably the best stretch of sand in the Bu, that he reportedly bought in rapid succession in 2003 for around $65,000,000.
In early 2008 he forked over $12,600,000 to buy his 20-something year old a-list bi-sexual daughter Megan a super-modern mansion in the famed Bird Streets neighborhood above the Sunset Strip. A year later young Miss Ellison–who produced the 10-time Oscar nominated film True Grit–decided she needed more space–or something like that–and acquired the Steve Hermann-designed house immediately next door purchased, according to property records, for $6,250,000 from media mogul Byron Allen.
Property mad Mister Ellison's most recent residential real estate acquisition brings us back around the the desert where we Your Mama, the Dr. Cooter and our two long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly are currently holed up in an otherwise lovely mid-century modern house but for–much to our chagrin and we regret to inform–the rather disturbing amount of track lighting throughout the entire house.
Now chickadoodles, we know we're not breaking any real estate news here today but we thought it might be fun none-the-less to have another look-see at Mister Ellison's new desert hideaway, the 249-acre Rancho Mirage, CA estate known at Porcupine Creek.
The property was built and previously owned by Tim Blixseth and his and Edra Blixseth, phat livin' and hard partying former real estate billionaires who at one time owned a 150-foot yacht called the Toothfairy complete with nouveau riche necessities such as a grand piano, an elevator and a glass-bottomed hot tub. Mister and Missus Blixseth got themselves into some seriously hot water in the mid-naughts over alleged financial malfeasance regarding the financing of the Yellowstone Club, an ultra-exclusive private resort in Big Sky, MT. In a tale too long and complicated for Your Mama to tell here, the Blixseths had a messy messy messy dee-vorce and, ultimately, they lost all their money.
Anyhoo, in 2008 the dee-vorcing Blixseth's put their Rancho Mirage estate on the market with a rather insane an asking price of $75,000,000. With just an itty-bitty pool of potential buyers who might be willing to spend that kind of money for an insanely high-maintenance property with a private 19-hole golf house the resort-style estate went unsold. The price was later lowered to a still sky-high $55,000,000.
In 2009 our man Larry Ellison bought a 50% state in the BNP Paribas Open. Now in need of a place to shack up when in town for the tennis tournament, Mister Ellison went house hunting and eventually settled on the Blixseth's Porcupine Creek, which had by then been snatched by the bank due to foreclosure. By all accounts Mister Ellison dropped $42,900,000 for his new oasis in the desert that includes a palm tree-lined driveway that winds through meticulously landscaped grounds to a massive circular drive that wraps itself around an 80-foot diameter fountain that shoots water 80 feet into the air. So hugely scaled that if a person did not know better they would be forgiven for mistaking the front of the house with it's monumental fountain for a resort hotel.
Of course Your Mama don't know a plantation shutter from a can of cat food but we have to presume that Mister Ellison already has his team of smart architects, hardworking landscape designers and nice gay decorators busting their hiney's transforming the Blixseth's dream house into whatever it is that he imagines it ought to look like. And that's probably a good thing because the Blixseth's day-core was so garishly grandiloquent ridiculously recherche that Your Mama had to get a nerve pill down in us just to peruse the photos that accompanied the listing.
If the fountain weren't histrionic enough, the Blixseth's taste for decorative excess that bordered on high-camp put the pedal to the metal immediately inside the front door in the the foyer where a sheet of water spills over has a tile mosaic that depicts a golfer and a woman in period dress and umbrella standing on the estate's backyard golf course. It is such a strange and twisted visual in which to greet guests that Your Mama can't imagine how a person would even come up with such a thing as an idea and then manage to sell it to a client as an amazing idea. As if that freaky little gem were not bizarre enough, the Blixseth's had the ceiling in the "her" powder pooper off the foyer painted with a mural that depicts a handful of leering painted ladies...harlots, whores, ladies of the night. Seriously. They did.
The monstrous main house measures 18,430 square feet, according to multiple reports, and besides the over-the-top formal spaces stuffed to the gills with imported antique fireplaces, imported hand-carved coffered ceilings and over-scaled herringbone hardwood floors some of the less formal entertaining spaces include a gigantic game room with a stained-glass rotunda ceiling, Carrera marble bar and built-in banquette seating that was originally installed in a European church. The house, designed for large-scale entertaining, includes at least two full kitchens, a smaller one with a stained glass dome ceiling in the eating area and another for large-scale events that includes a walk-in fridge and a walk-in freezer.
The family's private quarters include several guest suites and a children's wing with an Alice in Wonderland-themed play room and nearby nanny quarters. Near the children's wing, according to reports, the Blixseth's installed a sunken trampoline and a full-size circus carousel, which is just plain ridiculous iffin anyone were to ask Your Mama, which of course no one did.
The mansion-sized master suite comprises the entire second floor of the shopping mall-sized mansion. Accessible by stairs or–for the lazy, boozy and/or infirm–an elevator the owners' quarters contain a vast bedroom, private balcony with spa and long views over the grounds and golf course, his and her bathrooms with walk in showers, garage-sized his and her closets, his and her offices and a coffee kitchenette for those mornings when the homeowner doesn't want to wait for the staff to schlep a continental breakfast all the way from the kitchen
Attached to but completely separate from the main house are four 600-square foot casitas and clustered together near the estate's main guard-gated entrance are four guest houses, each with a private address and mail box and each done up with a different themed day-core: Old Hollywood, Africa, Asia and Mediterranean. Don't even get Your Mama started on what we think of themed guest bedrooms because we're about ready to blow a gasket just thinking about the horrors of "themed" day-core. The 1,860 square foot guest houses each contain a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a walk-in wine cellar, and laundry facilities, although one presumes some uniformed minimum wage employee of the estate actually does that dirty work.
Recreational amenities include a resort-style swimming pool complex with palapa that puts those of many tropical hotels to shame. There's also a full commercial-grade spa facility with check-in desk, work-out room with state-of-the- art fitness equipment, two massage treatment rooms, steam room, Vichy shower room, hot tub and a hair salon because when you are this rich you do not wash and set your own damn hair. Along with the 19-hole golf course, there is a full-scale club house with locker room, bar, lounge and pro shop.
What Mister Ellison plans to do with all that land and all that house and all those guest houses is not known but it is truly mesmerizing and dizzying to imagine the annual taxes, upkeep costs and staff wages that all combined much run well into the millions each year. However, for a man with a net worth in excess thirty billion bucks who once owned a boat longer than a football field–the Rising Sun, now owned by David Geffen–with annual maintenance and operation costs in the tens of millions, the cost of maintaining Porcupine Creek is pocket change.
photos (top): Simon Berlyn for Palm Springs Life
photos (bottom): Christie’s Great Estates via Luxist