Friday, May 6, 2011

Mortgage Mogul Sells to Showbiz Bigwig

SELLER: Mark and Susan Cohen
BUYER: Joe and Donna Roth
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $21,500,000
SIZE: 11,329 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Once upon a time an ambitious man named Mark Cohen got into the mortgage business. In the 1990 and 2000s he was, children, one of the top mortgage originators in the entire country and for all we know–which is really so very little–he still is. Mister Cohen was so successful originating mortgages, in fact, that in the spring of 2002 he and the Missus Cohen possessed the financial wherewithal to splash out $6,850,000 for a substantial but badly neglected 1936 Paul Revere Williams-designed mansion in the high fallutin' Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles.

For those not familiar with the intricate geographies of Los Angeles real estate, the small and exceedingly swank Holmby Hills neighborhood, which drips with old Hollywood history and glamor, sits sandwiched between Beverly Hills and Bel Air and straddles Sunset Boulevard on the north and west sides of the Los Angeles Country Club.

According to the fine folks at The Movieland Directory, the Cohen's multi-winged white brick residence was previously owned by multiple Oscar-winning filmmaker Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls) and later, in the 1980s, by Aaron and Candy Spelling who used the house as a springboard into The Manor, their civic center sized mansion located a few blocks south and now on the market with a preposterous asking price of $150,000,000.

The Cohen couple, clearly craved a show place that would reflect their exploding income and hired a team of big name and enormously accomplished professionals to transform their nouveau-riche real estate dreams into reality. The architecture was handled by noted Los Angeles architect Richard Manion, a man responsible for at least four–and probably many more–of the steroidal piles in the guard-gated Beverly Park community as well as a slew of other leviathan and luxurious mansions and mega-mansions around Los Angeles and the world.

For doing up the day-core the Cohens engaged the august and well-established Los Angeles interior designer Craig Wright who installed a very correct and sophisticated interior where 18th century antiques mix with Art Deco details that rub up on old-school Hollywood glamor that do a dance with contemporary artworks by blue-chippers like Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet and Ross Bleckner who–we speak the T–once made a very aggressive pass at Your Mama back when we were young, wisp thin and visiting him at his studio/residence in SoHo.

The ritzy and elegant result of the Cohen's cash and the efforts Misters Wright and Manion of was published in all its opulent Tinseltown glory in the February 2010 issue of Architectural Digest. Listing photos show the sprawling residence glimmers and glows in that everything is very expensive sort of way but according to Platinum Triangle real estate insider I.B. Knowinthings, who has been up in the Cohen's crib, "There wasn't a soft chair in the house."

Just a few short months after the property appeared in the glossy pages of A.D., as is often the case with homes that appear on the glossy pages of A.D., the Cohens put their lavishly, meticulously and expensively rehabbed residence in the Holmby Hills on the market with an asking price of $28,500,000.

The price subsequently sank to $23,950,000 and according to online listing information and real estate records the property was sold this week for $21,500,000, far less than the 28 they may have wanted but still, an astronomical number that suggests the upper pricing reaches of the real estate markets have new life breathed in to them.

According to I.B. Knowinthings and confirmed by Our Fairy Godmother in the Holmby Hills, we've learned that Mister and Missus Cohen's done done done digs in the Holmby Hills were snatched up by entertainment industry executive and super-producer Joe Roth.

In the early 1990s Mister Roth was the chairman of 20th Century Fox and in the late 1990s he was the chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. In 2000 he founded Revolution Studios through which he's produced a slew of movies with a-list actors that include Daddy Day Care (Eddie Murphy), Mona Lisa Smile (Julia Roberts), The Forgotten (Julianne Moore) and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (Johnny Depp). He's currently at work on a couple of high-profile(ish) projects that include Ten with a bit too long in the tooth to be an action star Bruce Willis and Snow White and the Huntsman, which may or may not star Johnny Depp and/or Charlize Theron. In 2007 it was announced that Mister Roth–along with quirky billionaire Paul Allen–is the majority owner the Seattle Sounders, a professional soccer franchise,

Some of the children whose minds remain sharp and vigilant will recall that Mister Roth previously appeared in Your Mama's celebrity real estate sights in mid-November 2010 when he listed his fabled and nearly-flawless Art Déco mansion in Santa Monica, CA with a $12,450,000 price tag. By early March 2011 the price had sank to $10,150,000 and as of late April 2011, the property is in the process of being sold.

According to listing information Mister Roth's new multi-winged residence, which sits on a 1.2 acre parcel that backs up to a sharp curve of often busy Sunset Boulevard, rambles across 11,329 square feet and includes a total of 7 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms including a massive master suite with dual dressing rooms and his and her bathrooms, one "masculine" and one "feminine."

Mister Manion the architect retained what was good in the house–such as the insanely good elliptical dining room, eliminated or altered what was bad–previous owners had made a number of ill-conceived additions, and added a few bits and pieces such as a glassy winter garden to fill in and finish the architectural puzzle.

The result reinforced and lengthened the enfilade of vestibules and rooms that include the formal living room, entry, dining room and winter garden that run the full width of the sprawling mansion. In addition to the formal living and dining rooms, the home's primary public spaces include an intimate music room, center hall/card room and a lusciously paneled library where it appears to Your Mama the ceiling is covered in buttery soft caramel-colored leather.

A wing added sometime after Mister Williams originally designed the house extend offs at a 45-degree angle and now contains a semi-circular bar with heavenly fluted wood-paneled walls, the media/family room and a billiard room. Below the media and billiard rooms a sizable fitness room with a bank of French doors that open into the backyard was utilized by the Cohens as a home-fitness facility with glossy ebony wood floors, mirrored walls and all sorts of body torture equipment that Your Mama would know how to manipulate if our fat ass depended on it.

The service wing was expanded and now includes a bedroom-sized butler's pantry, an all black and white cook-friendly kitchen with commercial grade appliances, a breakfast room with fabric tented ceiling, laundry facilities and a generously sized staff room with private pooper. A small half bath near the rear entrance to the house from the rear motor court smartly provides terliting facilities for day staff and grounds keepers.

On the second floor four family bedrooms each have private facilities and share an informal sitting/family room. The super-luxe master suite includes a gigantic bedroom with fireplace, sitting area and the most marvelous leopard-print wall to wall carpeting. There are dual dressing rooms and bathrooms. The "his" facilities resemble a men's club or haberdashery with lustrous paneling, marble (or maybe onyx) floors, a vanity with fluted wood base and a built-in desk. The "her" goes decidedly glam with a boo-teek-style dressing closet and a bathroom with silver-leaf walls and ceiling, a flat-screen tee-vee flush mounted into the mirror and and a custom-crafted vanity with a glimmery fluted mirrored base.

Brick pathways meander around the house and connect the various outdoor areas that include a lush lawn that slopes down towards Sunset Boulevard. At the far end of the lawn a column of water shoots up into the air, presumably to provide a visual focal point to to held deaden traffic noise. The swimming pool complex, sited on the side of the house as far from Sunset Boulevard as it can be, includes a simple rectangular swimming pool, in-ground spa, wide brick sunbathing and dining terraces and a two-story entertainer's cabana with kitchenette. The upper level of the cabana opens to the pool deck and the lower level opens to a brick terrace with black and white awning strip tent that overlooks the properly north-south aligned lighted tennis court.

listing photos: Nourmand and Associates


StPaulSnowman said...

A fascinatin' read Mama. I had to see what this Bleckner guy looked like after your comment. His Wiki photo makes him look pretty wispy himself. I am confident that, had things gotten could have taken this guy. On the other hand, you could have negotiated for a painting and now be livin' high on the hog. You could dictate your posts to a Miss Hathaway type while you nursed your G&T and tummyrubbin' the longbodies.

Anonymous said...

Foil wallpaper, interior topiary, flemish bond in the motorcourt, hideous color choices and dull architecture. If this mishmash is the work of a great decorator, you can have it. HoHumby Hills has a great scam going if this is one of its great gems. (Just trying to start things up here in the playroom.)

Anonymous said...

Disgusting excess everywhere. The "see how rich we are" syndrome in action. I'd prefer the Zuckerberg place any day. Sensible, relatively understated. Rational.

Anonymous said...

Its basketweave, not flemish bond.

Though the house is way too opulent for my simple tastes, I am loving the neatness of the two-storey cabana doing double duty to the pool and tennis court. Nicely done.


avg joe :() said...


so if property taxes have gone up 90% since 1996 will they drop by 80% anytime soon ?

at that time will the market reset itself ? or continue on downward ?

the uber rich and famous cannot support it for much longer, or can they ?


Jimmy said...

Ah, Mark Cohen: a super dupper top toxic mortgage originator. He who fed the CDO excesses of Wall Street and vastly contributed to the whole economy melting down. Great. The Robber Baron class is not dead.

Suzy said...

I would like to have seen it in its original day when Mr. Mankiewicz (a fantastic writer) lived there.

I wonder if now there's a plaque next to the front door which reads "Welcome to Wretched Excess."

luke220 said...

Sorry Flora, it's not a basketweave.

angie said...

I must be missing something. I can't figure out if these pictures are pre or post 'meticulous' rehab. The rooms look dated, gaudy, and stale to me. Maybe they were photographed with an inferior camera? Great article Mama, thank you.

Casey Donovan said...

Here's the sales web site angie.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a basketweave brick pattern on the motor court and around the pool. Flora's correct.

Regardless and despite it being nothing I'd want, I think the house is pretty.

Anonymous said...

Not Flemish bond, and not basketweave (google it!) but it is certainly excessively busy and tiresome.

angie said...

Thank you Casey!

Anonymous said...

I have loved this house for some time now. Beautifully done IMHO. I couldn't afford to write the check but I would have if I could have

Jeph said...

yo mama... i found old pics of this house in the architechtural digest website. those were much more opulent than the ones shown here. anyway on another note a couple of days ago on inside edition they featured the house in the first home alone movie is up for sale somewhere in the 2 million range. do you have any inside information you would like to share? i find it odd that you haven't mentioned anything about it

Anonymous said...

Kiddo, I have been designing and specifing paving since you were in in diapers, as Our Beloved Mama well knows. I don't need to Google Basketweave to know it when I see it, though you clearly do.
Flemish bond is a wall bond; only a clueless idiot would specify that for paving.


Jeannified said...

Beautiful place, but too sterile for me. Like Mama said, not a soft seat in the house.

Oliver said...

Joe Roth hasn't been married to Donna Arkoff Roth for almost a decade. his 'current' wife is Irene Roth.

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