Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Mama Hears...

photo: Google

...from Lenny Lemmetellya, an unimpeachable source deep inside the Platinum Triangle real estate game, the lavish and downright legendary Los Angeles (CA) estate known as Owlwood is quietly being shopped around with an astronomical (but not surprising) asking price of $150,000,000.

(Gasps heard 'round the globe.)

The sprawling Holmby Hills spread (above), set between Sunset Boulevard and the famously clannish Los Angeles Country Club, has over the years been owned by a long list of high profile people. Owlwood's current owner, however, is a relatively low profile lady named Dawn Arnall, the billionaire widow of sub-prime mortgage mega-mogul Roland Arnall, who went to meet The Great Loan Processor in the Sky in 2008.

Long before he acted as George W. Bush's a U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands (2006-2008), Roland Arnall founded Ameriquest, the company that pretty much invented stated income home loans, otherwise known as "no-doc" or "liar's loans" in which little (or even no) verification of income or financial resources was required to secure a mortgage. Although his fortune has been greatly reduced by the recent mortgage meltdown and near collapse of the American economy, at one point Mister Arnall's estimated net worth ran up to around three billion bucks. Perhaps due to declining health and/or wisely prescient of the economic collapse just around the corner, Mister Arnall got out of the sub-prime mortgage business in 2007 when he sold most or all of his interest in Ameriquest to Citigroup for an undisclosed amount of money.

For a woman of such substantial financial means The Widda Arnall manages keep almost entirely out of the hot glare of the judgmental public eye. Her name was, however, splashed all over the tabs and papers earlier this year when nearly $10 million worth of her jewelry, reported missing in 2006 from a hotel in The Netherlands, turned up in the possession of a Dutch hotel maid who mistook them for costume jewelry. The jewels—a pair of earrings, two rings and two necklaces—were returned to the insurance company that paid out Missus Arnall's claim. As far as we know—which ain't nuthin'—no charges were filed against the hotel maid who was given the gems out of the hotel lost and found, in accordance to hotel policy, when they went unclaimed for six months. Anyhoo, fascinating as all that gem business may be, let's skedaddle back to the property matter at hand.

According to the fairly well scrubbed property records we peeped (and other online resources) Mister and Missus Arnall acquired the three parcels that make up the Owlwood estate in a trio of transactions in 2002. Various reports and other online resources indicate they paid somewhere around $30-35,000,000 for the three properties that by our rudimentary calculations total 9.83 acres. That makes it one of the largest estates in the Platinum Triangle. To put it in (real estate) perspective, the massive mansion Candy Spelling sold last year to 20-something year old Petra Ecclestone for $85,000,000 sits on just about 4.7 acres and wealthy divorcee Suzanne Saperstein's uncommonly opulent Fleur de Lys mega-mansion, listed since the dawn of time for $125,000,0000, sits on just about 5 acres.

We can't be sure the figures are accurate, but the Los Angeles County Tax Man show the house has 9 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a two-minute video made when Owlwood was for sale in the late 1990s and early 2000s (accessible on the YouTube) states the multi-winged mansion encompasses 22 rooms including a baronial, 1,500 square foot living room with solid oak paneling and marble-faced fireplace. Public property records reveal Miz Arnall's 2011 tax bill for the three parcels that comprise Owlwood came to more than $450,000. Just think about that for a moment...

photo: Dan's Hollywood Tours 

Each of the three separate but adjacent parcels that make up Owlwood at one time had a substantial mansion on it. Two of them were torn down. The last mansion standing on the hoity-toity Holmby Hills homestead is a 12,000-plus square foot Italian Renaissance-style pile (vintage photo above) designed by accomplished architect Robert Farquhar and built in 1936 for Florence Quinn, the ex-wife of department store magnate and real estate mogul Arthur Letts Jr.

The property was later owned by hotelier Joseph Drown—he of the recently re-vamped Hotel Bel-Air—and Tinseltown mover and shaker Joseph Schenk—founder of 20th Century Fox—who, even though he was an older married man, reportedly (and allegedly) had a fling with a young Marilyn Monroe who lived in the guest house for a short period of time.

Mister Schenk sold the house to oilman William Keck who is said to have added an indoor swimming pool and gold-plated bathroom fixtures shaped like—you got it!—oil derricks. In the mid 1960s Mister Keck sold to actor Tony Curtis who in turn sold it to Cher and Sonny Bono in 1974 for around $750,000. Cher—who was granted sold ownership the house in her divorce for Sonny—unloaded the house in 1976 for $950,000 to carpet magnate Ralph Mishkin who flipped it just a couple years later to a flamboyant and (maybe) shady arms dealer named Ghazi Aita.

It was Mister Aita who added the 4.6 acre spread next door, purchased from pioneer porn producer Bill Osco. The old Osco-estate is where Owlwood's extensive swimming pool and tennis court complex are now situated a significant distance from the main house. Mister Aita put the two pieces of the estate on the market in 1999 for a combined $58.9 millions dollars. Finally, in 2002, it was sold to Mister and Missus Arnall.

photo: Dan's Hollywood Tours

At the same time they picked up the two-parcel estate from the arms dealer Mister and Missus Arnall also acquired a third adjacent parcel with a gaudy, pink-colored mansion (vintage photo above) and kitchy heart-shaped swimming pool. The Mediterranean mansion was originally built for Rudy Vallee—who never occupied the premises—and was later owned by busty pin-up babe Jayne Mansfield, who painted the whole thing a putrid but somehow endearing shade of pink. Eventually the Sunset Boulevard estate was bought by crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, who left it pink. Much to the chagrin of many, Mister and Missus Arnall razed the appropriately dubbed Pink Palace in 2004, allegedly without the proper permits, and as far as we know—which ain't nuthin'—the undeveloped site of the former Pink Palace functions as little more than a parking lot.

We don't know if Missus Arnall and her Real Estate—Lenny Lemmetellya told us Owlwood is being represented by a relatively unknown agent at The Agency—plan to put the property on the open market but certainly if they did it would garner a heap of international press that might help to attract a foreign potentate, tech tycoon, or pampered heiress with an ocean of money to spend on what is arguably one of the most desirable estates in all of Los Angeles. Has any one called Petra Eccelstone's sister Tamara who is rumored to want a Los Angeles estate that puts her baby sister's 56,000 square foot behemoth to shame? Imagine.

A short list of Missus Arnall' nearby bigwig neighbors include (but are far from limited to) Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Mansion, recent divorcee Jamie McCourt, contemporary art gallerist Larry Gagosian, couture-collecting octogenarian socialite Betsey Bloomingdale, and actress turned make-up mogul Connie Stevens. Directly across Sunset Boulevard is the monstrous mansion where Michael Jackson met his early end in June 2009.

Less than two years after they acquired Owlwood Mister and Missus Arnall paid movie producer Peter Guber a staggering $46,000,000 to purchase Mandalay Ranch, a 650-acre ranch property just outside Aspen (CO) with a 15,000 square foot main house (with 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, movie theater and indoor basketball court), 2 guest cabins and at least one barn with additional living quarters. As best as we can tell Missus Arnall still owns Mandalay Ranch.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally something juicy!!!

Anonymous said...

There's an old video on YouTube that shows the interiors! Grounds too. Very cool.

Anonymous said...

Mandalay Ranch near Aspen. Ah yes, Berchtesgaden USA. Nothing like a palace in the wild.

Anonymous said...

Smart woman. Timing is everything.

Anonymous said...

Very juicy gossip..but honestly even given the sprawling grounds... the price is a joke.

Candy Spelling said...

Ten acres or not, the price is beyond ridiculous and will never happen. She won't even get half that. Not only is the house not in the best shape (I hear it's been termite-infested for years), but the grounds have been looking a bit shabby, as well.

Oh, and as for the old Pink Palace? While I don't have a problem with it being torn down, at least put some sort of purpose into the demolition. For years it has just sat as a giant swath of dirt, with no attempt made to construct anything new or integrate it into the larger estate. So tacky.

To sum up my message to Dawn: Gurl please!

Anonymous said...

This will break the spelling-ecclestone record.

Anonymous said...

If she seriously intends to sell, it will sell for a fraction of the list price and end up being torn down. The pool will probably be worked into some sort of new Mediterranean mega mansion.

Anonymous said...

A flat acre in holmby hills goes for about 10-15mm...so nearly 10 would be close to 100-150mm for land value alone. But really, at these levels it is not a rational but an emotional decision.

As an aside, even if I were ever that rich, I don't think I'd want to have to take a golf cart to go for a swim!

Anonymous said...

That driveway is a nightmare to enter or exit off of Sunset Blvd. I wonder if with the new lots there is a way to exit onto a side street?

Rosco Mare said...

Thanks for the Monday afternoon delight, Mama Dearest. Enjoyed the YouTube link.

Even as hideously pink from Mansfield's era,
The landmark house should not have been demolished. Glancing at it was irresistible when passing by it.

Anonymous said...

2.3 acres of flat, undeveloped land adjacent to the Bel Air Country Club just sold for $13.5 million a few weeks ago. and that's arguably a better location, so...

anyway, nobody (not even Tamara) is going to pay $100 million for land value only. and the house is obviously a teardown. whoever does end up buying 10 acres isn't going to live in an dumpy old 12k sq ft house. the owner is smoking crack yet again with her pricetag.

Petra's said...

Candy, you useless old hag. Everyone knows you're just jealous because this place might sell for more than that old blimp hangar of yours.

11:32 - the sale price of the Manor was not a record, no matter how many times delusional Candy goes around town telling everyone it was. The record would be Gary Winnick's purchase of his Bel Air estate for $94 million.

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine this can't be torn down. Holmby Hills has something against subdividing. You can add to, but you can't take from. God people! Re-read Unreal Estate if you don't know!

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about subdividing?

Anonymous said...

You can tear down in Holmy Hills, you just can't cut tax parcels. However genius, I am sure the lot the pink house was on was never incorporated to the same tax PIN so probably could be sold off separate.

Anonymous said...

Upon review... all three properties still appear to be separate tax parcels. The house is on one, the pool area is the largest parcel and the dirty heap former pink house is the third.

This will end up being 3 separate houses, sold.

Anonymous said...

I have to say this house turned out to be a huge disappointment based on what you can see from the YouTube video. And judging by the shape of the grounds I'd say little to no work has been done to the place since then. Even the grounds do not appear as they should for $150 mil. Based on all this I wouldn't be surprised if what an earlier guest said about termites is correct.

It's worth $60-70 mil as a fixer upper since there is so much land and it's in such a good location, but the place will likely be torn down, way too small for the price. I'd feel too guilty tearing it down, but if I had the money I'd probably double it in size and totally re-work the grounds.

Anonymous said...

$80 million maybe.

Rosco Mare said...

Over the years, several houses have been destroyed in Holmby Hills, sadly including beautiful and historic homes of Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Jack Benny, Esther Williams, Jayne Mansfield, Barbra Streisand, Walt Disney, Gregory Peck, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Bonita Granville, and recently Frank Sinatra. A real bummer, isn't it...

Anonymous said...

Whatever happens it's a beautiful house with a cool history. Anyone know if theres a garage attached to the main house or if it's that separate structure a few feet to the north? How lame would a front facing garage be on this house...

Anonymous said...

for anyone who is interested, at the time Sonny and Cher owned it, there was an 8 page article full of pictures in the May/June 1974 issue of Architectural Digest. I still have the magazine and would be happy to send copies of the article to anyone who wants it. Obviously the decor is dated now, but fun to see what it looked like almost 40 years ago. There was a small lake to the left of the circular drive as well as a swimming pool and pool/guest house directly to the left of the back corner--from the aerial picture Mama posted, none of them appear to be there any longer. The original house that was on the parcel where the pool and tennis court currently are was an 8,400 square foot Spanish-style house that was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann and was built in 1925. It was the former home of Esther Williams. Oh yeah, I also have the Sotheby's brochure from when Owlwood along with the Williams' house was for sale in case anyone is interested--great aerial view of both properties before the Williams' house was torn down.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 6:21PM--As far as I know, the only garages for Owlwood are the structure to the North of the house--that building is comprised of garages and staff quarters. There's actually a separate set of gates for the garages--to the right and immediately before the gates to the house. I believe the only way to get from the garages to the house is via a sidewalk at the far end of the garages--I guess you just send a staff member to get your car for you!!!!!

Father Gregory said...

A few observations:

- Agreed that the existing house will most likely be torn down. Lovely, full of history, but very dated and dwarfed by the sheer amount of land. A buyer at this price point is going to put their own stamp on things, for sure.

- The current garage appears to be detached - if you look at aerial photos you can see it just north of the main house.

- Noticed there are two more vacant parcels (about 3 acres total) adjacent to the western edge of this estate. A quick perusal of the trusty interwebs show they appear to be owned by a philanthropist named Fred Hameetman. If those could also be acquired and combined with the other 3 parcels - my God! You'd have the canvas for the best estate in LA (if done properly).

- Thank you, Mama, for this delicious morsel. This child is eternally grateful.

Anonymous said...

re: 2.3 acre bel air sale for 13.5mm, it is not holmby hills which is more expensive i believe (but could easily be wrong).

two lots on mapleton backing onto lacc, just south of playboy mansion have sold in the last two years...one for 14.4, the other for 13.6...they are 1.2 and 1.39 acres, both teardowns.

Anonymous said...

150m? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH

Good luck getting HALF of that!

Anonymous said...

comparing the prices of 1 and 2 acre estates to calculate how much this 10 acre estate should cost is useless. it's like trying to figure out how much candy spelling's house is worth by looking at adjacent homes.

there is nothing like this estate in the area, it is a 'trophy' property, just like the saperstein or spelling places and basically will sell for as much as that special buyer will pay. did anyone think candy could get $85 million for her pile? also ms saperstein has had multiple offers on her pile, including two for more than $80 million. only problem is shes so batshit crazy that she always finds a way to screw up a deal.

again, not comparing those places to this, just saying that this is a once in a lifetime land opportunity that can't be judged by the mere numbers alone. while I doubt she will get the $150 m, its a reasonable starting point.

Carla Ridge said...

Michael Gross pretty much thoroughly debunked the Esther Williams connection to the so-called "Esther Williams Estate" in his book 'Unreal Estate'; she said she never owned it and could only vaguely remember being there once for a photo shoot. But these stories tend to take on a life of their own, in Tinseltown.

Now, as someone who has visited the main house at Owlwood told me recently, the effect of the house looking small and dated is an optical illusion. It's a well- appointed mansion of substantial size; no NEED for a teardown. You can be guaranteed nothing that goes up in its place would be of higher -- or even equal -- quality. Not that THAT'S news, even in Holmby Hills. So just do the old girl over, parvenus! Voila: instant cachet.

PS: The house is nearly identical to the one also for sale by George Marciano on Crescent at Lex for what, $24 million? That's on much less land, but the houses' architect was the same and layouts virtually identical. Carolwood is just *slightly* more lavishly finished, in the public rooms.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of McCourt, any movement in their real estate portfolio Mama?

Anonymous said...

This house is only 12k sq ft. While it is very similar to the house on Crescent... that house is 20k sq.ft.. I know the location here is allegedly more desirable, I'd much rather the Crescent location than right on busy Sunset. Obviously this is much more land. This house will be torn down and some crazy pants will build a hideous shrine to their own ego.

Anonymous said...

This morning I found it odd that there were no comments from the many children expressing outrage about this man inventing the stated income loan. Then I just saw that Arnall was a democrat suporter, per the link Mama provided, from when they purchased. Could be a coincidence that everyone stuck to the real estate this time (vs extravagent living, waste, environment depletion etc..), but I doubt it, based on previous posts. Bunny Mellon comes to mind..

Anonymous said...

Not defending Arnall, he was def. part of the problem on the lender side of things (consumers bear responsibility too, IMHO) but I'm not really sure what you're saying there.

Arnall was a Democratic fundraiser (or whatever) but he switched to the Republican side at some point. Not sure why or exactly when and not making a judgement, but that's what happened. he switched.

Bush is who nominated him for ambassador...and that didn't happen because he donated to Democrats but to Republicans.

Just saying...

Anonymous said...

The Winnick transaction of $94 million was a non-standard transaction involving multiple properties.

Anonymous said...

1:10 I stand corrected. I also agree with you that consumers had a responsibillity in their decisions. Thank you for your points.

Anonymous said...

Bulldoze this bitch!!!

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