Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Mama Hears...

...from the very plugged in high end real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyak that film and television writer/director/producer Judd Apatow is fixin' to custom build a major residential monument to his Tinseltown success on a one acre flag lot that overlooks the manicured golf course at the ritzy Riviera Country Club* in Santa Monica (CA).

Whatever they are building on the vacant parcel they picked up last June (2012) for $8,600,000 it must really be something, children, because in July 2009 the Hollywood supernova and his actress wife Leslie Mann shelled out $18,250,000 in an off-market deal for a walled and gated three-quarter acre mini-compound in a particularly posh pocked of Brentwood that includes a 10,000-plus square foot main house with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, 3,500 (or so) square feet out outdoor entertaining space and a 17-seat screening room in a substantial poolside pavilion.

Mister Apatow still owns his Beverly Hills (Post Office) starter house, a 4,356 square foot house just below Mulholland Drive near Benedict Canyon that he picked up in late 2005 for $1,656,000, and in October 2010 he sold a just over 6,000 square foot and very un-funny mini-mansion on a gated Pacific Palisades cul-de-sac for $5,260,000.

Mister Apatow produced the hit comedy Bridesmaid (2011), he currently executive produces the cable tee-vee sensation Girls and is currently at work producing the next Steve Carell and Will Ferrell movie vehicle Anchoman: The Legend Continues. Missus Apatow—that would be Miz Mann—frequently snags roles in Mister Apatow's movies but has also landed roles in a number of non-Apatow projects including Sofia Coppola's not yet released The Bling Ring and the animated tee-vee series Allen Gregory.

*The Hollywood Reporter reported in (June) 2011 that initiation fees at the Riviera Country Club run up to around a quarter million clams and some of its Showbiz bigwig members include Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler, Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson, Jon Feltheimer, Jay Sures and Ari Emanuel.

John Legend Buys Bigger in Little Italy

BUYER: John Legend
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $2,494,712
SIZE: 1,969 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Late last November nine-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter John Legend sold his 1,359 square foot apartment in New York City's impossibly chic and fully gentrified Bowery neighborhood. Lucky Mister Legend sold the convertible two bedroom and two bathroom condo crib for $2,675,000, $775,000 more than he paid for the place exactly three years earlier.

Last month, the increasingly celebrity-centric folks at Architectural Digest published a picture driven piece written by the ever so clever Mayer Rus about the sophisticated but earthy and modestly proportioned 1960s mid-century modern residence in Los Angeles' Lake Hollywood area owned by Mister Legend since 2007 and shared with his swimsuit model/accomplished amateur cook and food blogger fiancée Christine "Chrissy" Teigen.

At first Your Mama thought maybe Mister Legend and Miss Teigen had simply packed it up and high-tailed it to Los Angeles for a left coast life of better weather. We recently learned, however, from The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial that Mister Legend didn't vacate New York at all but, in fact, traded up to a larger—if less expensive—condominium in a newly converted 19th-century brick building in Little Italy.* Property records do indeed reveal that last August (2012) Mister Legend dropped the rather unusual amount of $2,494,712 on a 1,969 square foot loft-type condo at the so-called Brewster Carriage House building with just one bedroom but 2.5 bathrooms and a total of $3,144 in monthly taxes, maintenance and common charges.

Listing details and other resources available on the internets show the 160 (or so) year year old building was completely worked over by starchitect Winka Dubbeldam's cutting edge firm Archi-Tectonics in a manner that eco-consciously marries antique architectural details with state-of-the-art technology and modern amenities.

Mister Legend's loft-like but low-ceilinged Big Apple pied-a-terre has an open-concept main living space with delicious variable width white oak flooring, a couple of exposed cast iron columns and, at the roomy living room end, a paneled reading nook, a gas fireplace and three deeply inset metal-framed French doors that open to wrought iron railed Juliet balconies.

The three windows that line one wall in the dining area and kitchen are certainly over-sized but they also look directly across a very narrow air shaft to a solid brick wall. This up-close brick wall view will probably perplex and perturb any number of the children not accustomed to the sometimes compromising realities of urban living. Howevuh, hunties, just like they are with all the ugly-ass air conditioners that hang out of the windows of even the most expensive of apartment houses on Fifth and Park Avenues, New Yorkers are used to this sort of thing. Windows that open into air shafts large and small are simply a fact of residential life in New York City, even in the most luxurious of buildings.**

Anyhoodles poodles, the lone bedroom of Mister Legend and Miss Teigen's apartment opens directly off the living room area and has two street-facing windows that could make it tough to sleep during September's annual 11-day long Feast of San Gennaro. Fortunately, to ease that pain, there's a walk-in closet larger than many bedrooms in lower Manhattan and the windowless attached bathroom has radiant heated floors, an over-sized shower stall and a floating walnut vanity equipped with two sinks and slow-closing drawers.

Even the most brief of perusals of the floor plan included with marketing materials reveals that in addition to the master bathroom and the half bathroom near the front door there's another full bathroom off the kitchen. With all due respect to Miz Dubbeldam—who Your Mama thinks is a goddamn architectural genius—but this location for a bathroom notably larger and more extensively equipped than the actual master bathroom seems a bit silly.

This big ol' second bathroom might make more sense if the condo was configured in such a way that would allow for a quick and simple addition of a second bedroom but, despite it's nearly 2,000 square feet, it doesn't. Given the scale and location of the second bathroom—not to mention the pass through walk-in closet—the absolute best location for a second bedroom would be exactly where the kitchen is currently located. Moving the kitchen seems radical and expensive—if it's even possible. Where else could a second bedroom be added without completely compromising the main living space(s)?

*Marketing materials describe the building as being in NoLIta—as in North of Little Italy—but Your Mama's understanding of New York City neighborhood borders actually puts it not in NoLIta but rather in the northern heart of Little Italy, just off the authentic yet touristically ersatz ristorante- and trattoria-lined Mulberry Street.

**Trust Your Mama, children, it's way it's better too have air shaft windows with a dead on view of a brick wall than to have windows that open into a window-lined air shaft. For more than a decade Your Mama lived in a rent-stabilized two bedroom tenement apartment in which the smaller of the two bedrooms had a single window that opened into an air shaft lined with more than a dozen other kitchen and bedroom windows of the apartments in the building next door. You can't imagine the visual, auditory and olfactory horrors that regularly came through that window. Seriously. Like call the police, please, there's a situation going on over there that is not good. Anyhoo...

listing photos and floor plan: Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti Did It In Westwood

BUYERS: Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,333,500
SIZE: 4,542 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We recently received an unexpected query from a gal we'll call Nelly Needstoknow who wondered if Your Mama had any idea at all where bespectacled and bow-tied celebrity stylist and reality t.v. denizen Brad Goreski and his long-time man-friend, successful sit-com writer/producer Gary Janetti, high-tailed it after they unloaded their low slung contemporary in L.A.'s Lake Hollywood 'hood last year for $1,799,000. We didn't. A second email from Nelly, fast on the digital heels of the first, revealed that she was quite concerned that, after more than a decade of romantic domesticity, Mister Goreski and Mister Janetti might have busted up. Well, children, since Mister Goreski hasn't returned any of our calls lately, we didn't know a thing about that either.*

Naturally, we contacted our always acutely well-informed friend and informant Lucy Spillerguts to see what she maybe knew about the situation. She told us—and we later confirmed with property records—that it does not appear Misters Janetti and Goreski have gone their separate ways and, in fact, they together purchased a multi-million dollar domicile last August in the upscale Westwood area of Los Angeles.

Just in case any of the children who don't dabble in the lesser wattage rungs of the Showbiz food chain don't already know let Your Mama quickly educate you on just who we're talking about. Mister Janetti is a four-time Emmy nominee who wrote for Will & Grace in the early to mid-2000s and currently writes and co-executive produces for (lackluster Academy Awards emcee) Seth McFarlane's wildly successful animated sitcom Family Guy.

Mister Goreski first popped up on the pop cultural landscape a few years back when he turned up on the boob-toob looking all clean cut, cute and bubbly in Tom Ford nerd glasses and a parade of designer duds on celebrity super-stylist Rachel Zoe's eponymous reality program (The Rachel Zoe Project). Itty bitty Miz Zoe and the nearly as slender Mister Goreski un-amicably parted ways in the fall of 2010 and—as far as Your Mama knows—still avoid each other with the same fervor that Your Mama avoids sobriety. Since Mister Goreski got out from under Miz Zoe's professional wing he's opened his own celebrity styling salon with clients like Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Demi Moore and Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, written a breezy memoir laced with fashion advice, secured a lucrative and plum consulting gig with Kate Spade and—suprise!—stars in his own eponymous reality show called It's a Brad, Brad World, which, as it turns out, begins its second season on Bravo tonight.**

Property records reveal Misters Janetti and Goreski picked up the renovated residence in August (2012) for $2,333,500. A detached street level garage is about all that's visible from the street as the four bedroom and 3.5 bathroom house sits haughtily high on a knoll behind a concrete wall and a dense thicket of trees and foliage. A locked gate opens into an terraced courtyard bisected by a a limestone stairway that make a long and glutially arduous ascent to the front of the house.

Listing details we scrounged out of the internets shows the two-story faux-quoined vaguely Mediterranean villa was originally erected in 1933 but was recently subjected to a contemporizing transformation that defined itself on the exterior with and unexpectedly modern frameless glass loggia on the second floor that probably has a lovely over the tree tops view of the L.A. Country club but also looks like a damn department store window. Perhaps that feature was a pee-in-his-D Squared jeans-with-glee bonus for Mister Goreski who could surely whip up and install some spectacular holiday tableau up there.

High gloss ebony wood floors and gallery white walls make a high contrast graphic statement throughout the lower level living spaces of the 4,552 square foot residence that's entered through an inset and off-center center hall. The foyer and stair hall divides and organizes the main floor living spaces that include adjoining formal living and dining rooms, the former with a fireplace and both with direct access to sculpture and fountain dotted outdoor living areas and gardens. In addition to the adjoining living and dining rooms the house also has a family room/den with a vaulted ceiling and loft space accessed by an industrial looking steel and wire staircase that Your Mama would absolutely not want to navigate after a long, gluttonous afternoon of cheap candy and expensive gin.

A hulking carved wood buffet makes an important counter balance to the relative modernity—and banality—of the center island kitchen that's finished with chatoyant white cabinetry, sleek Euro-style stainless steel appliances and a center island cook top with circular hood. Of course, children, keep in mind listing photos show the house as it appeared at the time the Misters Janetti and Goreski purchased the property. They very well may have already made any number of minor and/or major alterations and improvements not to mention it's highly likely the non-celebrity sellers took the carved cabinet that Your Mama thinks is the only bit that gave the kitchen any stylistic intrigue or gravitas.

One of the two upstairs bedrooms that connect through to the aforementioned department store window like loggia appears to be the master bedroom that also includes a bedroom-sized bathroom/dressing room combination with an egg-shaped free-standing soaking tub that juts out at an cockamamie angle from one of the corners.

Back downstairs the L-shaped outdoor lounging and entertaining areas include a slate terrace with a built in dining banquette shaded by vine laden trellis. A few steps up a small, trough-like body of water (that does not appear to be a spa or a swimming pool) anchors one end of the yard. At the other end is a puny patch of grass and in between there's an open air flagstone terrace. Sorry boys, but for nearly 2.5 million bucks Your Mama wants a proper in-ground swimming pool and spa, preferably heated and salt water equipped.

Your Mama, who was not invited to their house warming, wonders if the Misters Goreski and Janetti brought their mid-century modern infused aesthetic to their new digs or if they veered of in a more colorful and decoratively decadent angle, like something, say, elegant but unusual and richly saturated in a Miles Redd-y sort of way or something even more madcap and cacophonously Kelly Wearstler-ish?*** Perhaps we'll get a glimpse of it tonight when—we refuse to be embarrassed to admit—Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter will likely be tuned in to Mister Goreski's frothily meranged slice of the reality t.v. pie.

*We tease. Young Mister Goreski has not returned any of Your Mama's ringy-dingies because we've never actually called or otherwise attempted to contact him in any way.

**No, puppies, Bravo did not pay Your Mama to plug their damn show but perhaps they's consider doing so in the future Hello? Andy Cohen? Call me.

***Your Mama has no idea if the Mistes Janetti and Goreski had a house warming party and we don't have any idea if they did the place up themselves or hired an expensive, name brand decorator like Miles Redd or Kelly Wearstler. No doubt we'll find out just what when down during the second season of It's a Brad, Brad World.

listing photos: Prudential California

Maria Bello Lists at a Loss in Venice

SELLER: Maria Bello
PRICE: $1,850,000
SIZE: 1,759 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Television and movie actress Maria Bello must really have an itch to shake up her living situation because the two time Golden Globe nominee recently pushed her multi-colored and Buddhist iconography packed Craftsman style abode in arty-farty (and still a bit nitty-gritty) Venice, CA on the market at a (small) loss.

Your Mama's brief and entirely unscientific research shows the current $1,850,000 asking price represents a $45,000 loss on the $1,895,000 she paid for the place in November 2005. That's probably a pretty doable amount for a reasonably well-do-to working actress like Miz Bello but one that does not take into account improvement expenses, carrying costs and real estate fees. Even if her very team of successful real estate agents coaxes a full price sale, depending on how much she did or did not spend on renovations and etc., Miz Bello's losses could easily tally up to a couple hundred grand.

Current listing details show the two-story 1915 Craftsman sits secreted behind a gated fence and high hedge on a postage stamp sized, .08-care parcel on one of Venice's famous walk streets. The L.A. County Tax Man indicates the three bedroom and 2.5 bathroom house has 1,759 square feet while the official listing shows 2,085 square feet.

West side real estate snobs may grouse about what a gang-infested ghetto Venice still is and how the community's hordes of RV dwellers sometimes dump their fecal waste on the streets but they can snipe all they want because the area is none-the-less quite and increasingly pricey. It's also home to Abbott Kinney, currently and arguably the most interesting and impossibly hipsterish shopping and dining enclave in all of Los Angeles.

Anyhoodles poodles, a compact but well organized front entry garden has a minuscule patch of faux-grass and a slightly raised deck with lounging and dining and lounging partly furnished with Parisian park chairs that look like they could have come from the Rose Bowl Flea Market where Your Mama and our stylish and dear old friend Flower from New York are headed in a couple weeks to scout out and score some vintage finds. But we digress...

Tomato red French doors mark the official entry through a wee glassed in foyer/sitting room/veranda. Fortunately for all use aesthetic sensitivos, the mortifying but practical patchwork slate tile flooring in the foyer/sitting room/veranda switches to the far more pleasing original narrow strip wood floors in the living room that gracefully and thankfully stretches the full width of the house. One end of the room is anchored by a book shelf flanked red brick fireplace and the other end by more book-filled built-in bookshelves, a frumpy-lumpy slip-covered sofa and a big ol' wall-mounted flat scree tee-vee.

The medium brown toned wood floors continue into the dining room that's equipped with a charming built-in buffet and dressed with dark chocolate colored walls, a rustic and well-worn farmhouse table girdled on three sides by bent cane bistro chairs and a beaded chandelier that looks almost exactly like an upside-down Chinese coolie hat.

Hardly huge, the kitchen is reasonably sized for a small(ish) house with plenty of room for a mac-daddy commercial style range, a vintage metal-topped table for two set in front of garden view windows and a butcher block topped center work island equipped with handy-dandy vegetable sink. The beige tile on the rest of the counter tops—by Your Mama's humble and utterly meaningless decorative opinion—are an offense to the eyes and the pot rack is, well, a pot rack and anyone who's been hanging around our little online endeavor for very long surely knows by now that Your Mama has no use for a damn pot rack.

All three of the bedrooms at Miz Bello's house are located on the second floor according to listing details. Two guest/family bedrooms—one with a ribbon of square windows—share an average sized but (generically) renovated hall bathroom with pedestal sink and perfectly ordinary square white tile lined tub/shower combination. The master bedroom isn't gonna work for master bedroom size queens but it is sunny with windows on two walls and does have a walk-in closet and a reasonably roomy if dated, late 1980s era attached bathroom with two sink vanity, gray-ish blue tile work and dark stained wood work, a vaulted and wood beamed ceiling and, finally, a spa tub and separate glassed in stall shower.

Given that the entire lot is smaller than many suburban tract houses it's really a wonderful feat of space planning that there's any additional outdoor space beyond the aforementioned humbly scaled front yard area. The kitchen has direct access to a narrow graveled side yard with raised herb garden and there's another smidgen of yard marooned behind both the house and the detached single car garage that, according to listing information, could be converted to additional off-street parking.

Miz Bello previously and briefly owned a converted commercial building in Venice that had been used as a small hotel in the 1940s. She sold the loft-like residence in November 2005 for $2,715,000 to Incubus front man Brandon Boyd who, in turn, sold the quirky crib at a small loss in February 2012 for $2,705,000 to an as yet unidentified buyer who may or may not be a celebrity.

Although she's rarely the headlining star, a quick spin through the interweb reveals Miz Bello's been shaking her smoky voiced money maker around Tinseltown for 20-some years and has an extensive resume that shows stints on t.v. programs that include Mr. and Mrs. Smith, E.R. and Prime Suspect. Her numerous silver screen credits include A History of Violence, The Cooler and Coyote Ugly. She currently has a regular recurring role on Touch with Kiefer Sutherland and half a dozen movie projects in the works that include Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal and The Third Person with Mila Kunis and James Franco.

listing photos: The Agency

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vincent Gallo Flips Out in Manhattan

SELLER: Vincent Gallo
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $2,295,000
SIZE: 1,275 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Yesterday the property gossips at The New York Observer revealed that idiosyncratic and usually L.A.-based actor, wannabe male prostie and notorious serial property flipper Vincent Gallo scooped up a "Nouvel Pad" in New York City's West Chelsea for exactly $2,000,000.

Thanks to a thoughtful informant we'll call Newell Newyorker we've learned that the famously itchy footed actor—who has bought more houses and apartments than Your Mama has brain cells—has already caught a screaming case of the Celebrity Real Estate Fickle and yesterday flipped the one bedroom and 1.5 bathroom condo at the Jean Nouvel-designed (and High Line adjacent) 100 Eleventh Avenue High building back on the open market with a rather ballsy 15% markup price of $2,295,000.

Most online listings show the fifth-floor apartment measures about 1,275 square feet—one online listing shows it has 1,325 square feet—and carries taxes and common charges that total $1,980 per month.

A wee, wedge-shaped entrance hall with adjoining half bathroom and coat closet pops open into combination living/dining/kitchen area defined by a curving wall comprised entirely of a complexly composed grid of different sized and shaped windows. The sleek, custom-fitted kitchen has glass and stainless steel cabinetry and top-grade stainless steel appliances. The massive center work island cantilevers over stainless steel cabinets that can be rolled out from under the counter tops thus creating a convenient snack counter.

Gleaming white terrazzo floors and the curved wall of glass seamlessly stretch into the lone bedroom that seems a bit compact but is none-the-less nicely equipped with a walk-in closet and an attached bathroom with Corian counter tops, soaking tub and separate glass enclosed shower stall.

A giant glass panel in the living area pivots open to a glass enclosed loggia that, in turn, opens through a sliding glass door to a squeezy 60 square foot terrace that faces the building's steel and glass atrium where, in a radical feat of engineering, the architect famously suspended an irrigated tree box.

This is hardly the first time Mister Gallo has bought and sold high priced properties at such a head-spinning rate and, indeed, the button pushing Brown Bunny has owned a slew of architecturally significant homes and apartment ins architecturally significant buildings on the right and the left coasts. In New York, in 2004, Mister Gallo sold a seventh floor apartment at the Richard Meier-designed 173 Perry Street for $2,465,000 that had only purchased exactly a year before, according to property records, for $2,150,000.

He briefly owned two John Lautner-designed architectural spectacles Los Angeles—the so-called Garcia and Wolff houses—and several apartments at the star-studded Sierra Towers building in West Hollywood, including the duplex that Cher recently made available as an off-market listing at a rumored price of $5.5 million. In the last days of 2009 Mister Gallo coughed up $2,340,000 for a 4,300 square foot penthouse loft at the Biscuit Building in downtown L.A. that he sold last April (2012) for $2,600,000 and he currently still owns a three story townhouse loft in the same building that he bought in July 2012 for $825,000 listed in early February (2013) for $1,295,000 and, as of today, is in escrow and about to be sold for an unknown amount.

exterior photo: Nicholas Strini for Property Shark
listing photos and floor plan: Halstead Property

From the Vaults: Piers Morgan

BUYER: Piers Morgan
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $5,362,500
SIZE: 5,508 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms (plus staff room)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Every now and then Your Mama hears from one of our myriad of real estate and/or celebrity obsessed sources who ask us something like, "Did you know that Soandso Celebrity surreptitiously bought a house a couple years ago?"

Such was the case late last week when we received a short but informative missive from the our profoundly plugged in (and rarely incorrect) source Yolanda Yakketyak who wondered if Your Mama had previously heard through the celebrity real estate gossip grapevine that way back in late 20011 British (tabloid) journalist and television host Piers Morgan quietly snatched up a five-and-some million dollar house in the Beverly Hills.

We had not. And as far as we know none of the other property gossips have either.

Mister Morgan is perhaps best known to Americans as the exuberantly and obstinately opinionated lefty-liberal lightening rod who took over Larry King's long-running late night interview-fest a few years ago (2010). His frequent tirades about gun control and other controversial issues often sacred to conservatives are the stuff of Showbiz legend and he regularly provokes the angry dander of politicians, pundits and other high profile people. He's also notorious in Tinseltown and beyond for his entirely unfiltered and undiplomatically colorful language as well as his long-standing and ongoing feuds with handfuls of famous folk: He called Madonna boring, annoying and "a complete con artist," described supermodel Kate Moss as "a vile little creature," labeled Hugh Grant a "tedious little man" and, last September (2012), called out Kelsey Grammer as a "tiresome diva."

Forty-seven year old Mister Morgan has additionally written eight books including three memoirs, was a judge on both Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent and he won Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice program in 2008. Before he made his way to tee-vee Mister Morgan was a well-known and very successful tabloid journalist in the U.K. who has been embroiled—and implicated—in the naughty phone hacking scandal that rocked and continues to rock Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspaper empire.

Anyhoo, property records do indeed show the house in question, the one confidently alleged as Mister Morgan's by Yolanda Yakketyak, was quietly acquired for $5,362,500 in November 2011 through a generically named trust. This was right about the same time Mister Morgan's second wife Celia pushed out a baby at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills. Incidentally and for what it may or may not be worth to anyone, the house—a restored, updated and renovated 1929 hacienda—happens to be located on the very same tree-lined same street where Sharon Osbourne—a judge on America's Got Talent at the same time as Mister Morgan—and her doddering rock star hubby Ozzy currently lease a house of similar vintage, architectural style and size. In what may or may not be an additional coinky-dink, Mister Morgan's second wife's maiden name is identical as the name of the street on which this house sits. All of which adds up to nothing more than some circumstantial celebrity real estate rumor and gossip.

Listing information Your Mama quickly cajoled out of the internets shows the two-story, mid-block residence sits on just under a third of an acre, measures 5,508 square feet and includes four principal bedrooms, one staff room (or guest quarters) and 5.5 bathrooms.

The tree-shielded house sits well off the street in a plush if fairly nondescript pocket of the Bev Hills flats and wraps tightly around a gated and lushly landscaped entry courtyard with a colorfully tiled fountain, vine draped loggia and an outdoor fireplace. An exterior staircase with brightly tiled risers ascends to interior space above the garage that may or may not be the aforementioned staff room/guest quarters.

Now listen, kids, we're not even going to discuss the inoffensive and ho-hum day-core seen in the listing photos because it belongs to the non-celebrity seller and Your Mama assumes that Mister Morgan has the good damn sense and the dough to hire a talented lady or nice-gay decorator to do this house up in a manner that does it justice.

The primary public rooms include a roomy formal living room with wide-plank wood floors, French doors on two opposing walls for excellent light penetration and cross breeze, a fireplace and a well preserved exposed wood ceiling with heavy cross beams and carved corbels. The dining room has a rather unusual ceiling detail as does the fireplace in the wood paneled den where we hope Mister Morgan has retained—and possibly improved upon—the convenient built-in wet bar.

A short butler's pantry with at least two under counter wine fridges connects the formal dining room to the center island eat in kitchen complete with two sinks, a combination of butcher block and slab stone counter tops and the customary complement of high-grade stainless steel appliances that include side-by-side fridge and freezer.

The spacious second floor master suite has a fireplace, two fitted dressing rooms, two adequate if stylistically uninspired bathrooms and a private veranda with what appears to be a disturbingly direct view into numerous windows of the neighboring residence.

Back downstairs the compact but well organized backyard has a trellis-shaded dining terrace just off the kitchen and family room, a wee patch of grass, a heated swimming pool backed by a dense thicket of jungle foliage, an elevated spa, a sunbathing terrace and a poolside pavilion perfect for escaping the relentless southern California sunshine with a stack of gossip glossies and industry rags.

Iffin Your Mama is being honest—and we always are—we'd confess to the children that we have no idea about Mister Morgans other real estate holdings. Presumably he maintains some sort of residence in New York City where his CNN program Piers Morgan Tonight tapes and we assume he's kept a property foothold in the U.K., probably in London and, perhaps, also in some scenic and upscale locale.

listing photos: Westside Estate Agency

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rascal Flats Double Whammy: Jay DeMarcus

SELLER: Jay DeMarcus and Allison Alderson DeMarcus
LOCATION: Nashville, TN
PRICE: $1,599,000
SIZE: 8,554 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: This morning Your Mama prattled on for spell about the very professionally decorated Brentwood, TN residence that Rascal Flats guitarist Joe Don Rooney and his former beauty queen wife recently pushed on the open market with a $1,679,900 price tag. This afternoon we've decided to stay in the same country music lane and discuss the Nashville area country estate that Mister Rooney' band mate Jay DeMarcus and his former beauty queen (turned occasional boob-toob hostess) wife Allison* have up for sale with a $1,599,000 asking price.

Property records and other online databases including Celebrity Address Aerial show that Mister and Missus DeMarcus purchased the 5.56 acre semi-rural/semi-suburban spread in August 2005 for $1,950,000 and they put it back on the open market way back in late 2008 with an asking price of $2,950,000. Over the intervening 4.5 years—an absolute ice age in real estate time—their increasingly albatross-y white elephant has been de- and re-listed a solid handful of times at a variety of ever-shrinking asking prices. It hardly takes an arithmetic expert—or Your Mama's bejeweled abacus—to quickly calculate that even if Mister and Missus DeMarcus' team of real estate representatives manage to scare up a full price offer the country music superstar is still looking at a $351,000 gut punch to his pocketbook, not counting any renovation expenses or carrying costs.

Current listing information indicates the 8,854 square foot mansion—a 1.5 story red brick pile with more than a passing resemblance to Thomas Jefferson's neo-Palladian Monticello in Charlottesville, VA—has five bedrooms with five all new en suite bathrooms plus two additional powder rooms.

The long, gated driveway sweeps up to the front of the house and on around to a side motor court with an attached three car garage. Wide steps climbs and a deep front porch makes for a genteel transition into an unexpectedly spacious foyer with thin-strip chevron-pattern hardwood floors, weighty and complicated ceiling moldings and a curved staircase with a wood and wrought iron banister.

There are formal living and dining rooms—the former with over-sized nine-over-nine sash windows and a fireplace, the latter with arched doorways, a shallow apse for the buffet and an inset gold-leafed ceiling—and less formal family spaces that include a sun room off the dining room and a roomy den with coffered ceiling, a second fireplace and a long wall of custom built cabinetry with wet bar area.

The kitchen has a milk chocolate colored wood cabinetry, thin strip hardwood floors laid at a 45-degree angle to the room—better would have been to continue the chevron pattern from the foyer, a boxcar-sized center island, dark gray flecked granite counter tops and the customary complement of sleek Euro-style stainless steel appliances. One wall of the kitchen has inset appliances that include a built-in coffee maker, three ovens, a warming drawer and a strange grid of black rectangles that we imagine are cubbies for cook books and other kitchen-related tchotchke. The kitchen joins to a breakfast area/family room with bulky brick fireplace, more built-in cabinets and shelve and a wide bay window with French doors.

The main floor master suite, just off the foyer, is entered through a privacy enhancing vestibule and encompasses a bedroom large enough to accommodate a sitting area in front of yet another fireplace, a large and luxurious but perfectly ordinary bathroom with spa tub and steam shower and a custom-fitted bedroom-sized dressing room with dramatic charcoal-colored walls and a fireplace—by Your Mama's boozy count, the house's fifth.

In all honesty we really can't say if all or any of the other four guest/family bedrooms are located on the second floor but listing photographs do suggest the upper level includes one idiosyncratic six- (or more) sided room ringed by ocular and semi-circular windows. Also located on the second floor, over the attached garage, is a media lounge, an adjacent and adjoining recording studio and a petite, sky-lit second kitchen(ette) with snack counter.

Although the grounds are extensive and include several covered and uncovered terraces and acres of rolling lawns dotted with mature shade trees there does not appear to be a tennis court or a swimming pool. Pity that. A house of this caliber on an expansive piece of property like this really ought to have both or, at the very least, a damn swimming pool.

Mister and Missus DeMarcus long ago decamped this house for a sprawling U-shaped mansion of nearly 11,000 square feet that property records show they acquired in August 2007 for $2,725,000.
Some of the nearby homes are owned by NashVegas A-listers like young country music queen Taylor Swift who recently coughed up $2.5 million for an historic Greek Revival style residence and country-pop crooner Keith Urban and Aussie actress Nicole Kidman who maintain an historic, celebrity-style mansion they snapped up back in 2008 for $3,470,000.

*Before hitching her wagon to Mister DeMarcus, Missus DeMarcus née Alderson was crowned Miss Tennessee Teen USA (1994) Miss Tennessee (1999) and Miss Tennessee USA (2002). She currently hosts People Magazine on CMT, whatever that is.

listing photos: Donna Yancy for French King Fine Properties

Rascal Flats Double Whammy: Joe Don Rooney

SELLER: Joe Don Rooney and Tiffany Fallon
LOCATION: Nashville, TN
PRICE: $1,679,900
SIZE: 7,971 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: After a series of covert communiques over the last two weeks from three well-informed and ever-so-helpful real estate tattle tales down in the country music capital of Nashville, Your Mama is finally getting around to discuss the Brentwood, TN mini-mansion owned by pop-country Rascal Flats guitarist Joe Don Rooney and recently listed with an unnecessarily complicated $1,679,900 price tag. Let's just call this kitty a cat and say it's listed at $1,680,000, shall we?

Anyhoo, property records indicate Mister Rooney and his beauty queen turned t.v. hostess wife Tiffany Fallon—a former Miss Georgia (2001) who went on to pose in her birthday suit for Playboy and was named Playmate of the Year in 2006—scooped up the stately, vaguely Greek Revival pile in October 2007 for $1,575,000.

A tree-shaded circular driveway bends up and around to the front of the imposing and pleasantly dour brick-built residence that's situated on almost three-quarters of an acre in an affluent, guard-gated golf course community about 18 miles due south of downtown Nashville.

Combined, the three livable levels encompass a spacious but hardly Brobdingnagian 7,971 square feet of professionally decorated (and mostly taupe, putty and beige colored) interior space that were all done up and worked over by the much-published decoratin' dynamos at the top-shelf firm McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors. Mister and Missus Rooney themselves described their day-core in a November 2009 article in People as "very un-Nashville" and "Classy casual." The lazy and the infirm will appreciate the mini-manse's elevator that makes stops on all three floors of Mister and Missus Rooney's residence that listing details show has a total of 4 bedrooms and 4 full and 2 half bathrooms

An anemic portico protects the side-lighted front door that opens into a grand, wood-floored double-height entrance hall flanked by a formal dining room to the left and, on the right, through fifteen-pane French doors, a small paneled study with a coffered ceiling, the first of the home's five fireplaces and built-in shelves where some of Mister Rooney's scads of industry award statuettes are displayed.* The mocha-stained wood floors in the entrance hall extend throughout most of the main floor including into the dining room and the voluminous formal living room with an extra high ceiling, fireplace number two, a walk-in wet bar and a trio of towering arched windows that swing open to an expansive entertainment terrace and swimming pool.

Two corridors off the living room connect to the  family quarters where the floor plan included with digital marketing materials for the property reveals there's a laundry room larger than most middle class kitchens not to mention an 800-plus square foot open plan kitchen/eating/family room. The center island kitchen has a modern mix of stainless steel and putty-colored raised panel cabinetry, some sort of stone or solid surface counter top in almost the exact same shade as the cabinetry and all the customary high-grade commercial style stainless steel appliances one might expect to find in the million dollar plus mansion of an otherwise down-to-earth seeming country music star. The sun-flooded family room end of the vast space is anchored by the home's third fireplace, this on stacked stone with built-in book and display shelves on either side.

The main floor master suite, well if a wee bit awkwardly situated for privacy just off the formal living room, has yet another fireplace plus a walk-through closet/dressing room with his and her sides separated by floor-to-ceiling drapery. The master bathroom offers a pair vanities—one L-shaped with a make up station, two cabinets for linen and toiletry storage, a spa tub and separate glassed in shower stall and a fully enclosed crapper cubicle.

The three guest/family bedrooms on the upper level are easily accessed by the elevator, the main stairs in the entrance hall and/or the back stairs in the family room. Each of the bedrooms has a roomy walk-in closet and a private attached bathroom. The architect for this house was clever—and smart—not to have any of the bedrooms share walls, a situation that ensures private and peaceful slumber and—ahem—what have you.

In the aforementioned 2009 People article Mister and Missus Rooney described the fully finished and, as far as we can tell, entirely or at least essentially windowless basement as "Man Land," a designation that is arguably better than the ubiquitous and upsetting term "man cave" but none-the-less still sends chilling shivers of mortification up and down Your Mama's spine.

In addition to the 600+ square foot recreation/media room—complete with pool table, fifth fireplace and  an adjoining wet bar/kitchenette—Mister Rooney's so-called Man Land also includes garage space with direct entry for five cars, a soundproofed state-of-the-art recording studio, a nearly 30 foot long exercise room and a space labeled on the floor plan as a "salon/flex room." Does this indicate that Mister and Missus Rooney installed a private hair and make up salon in their Man Land? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

Tucked into the corner between the living room and the family room there's a screened porch (with heating) that leads out to a massive slate terrace that continues on to surrounds the swimming pool. At the far end of the swimming pool a series of tree-ringed stacked stone walls not only provide the perfect spot for an elevated spa but provide visual privacy from the looky-loo golfers as they make their way long the greens and fairways of the private Governor's Club golf course.

As far as Your Mama knows for our research on the internets both of the other members of Rascal Flats also maintain substantial homes in the Nashville area. Lead vocalist Gary LeVox owns a 22-room resident with 11,260 square feet that's located in the same small gated enclave where some of the other residents include Kix Brooks and Joe Galante.

Country music's most committed flat-iron aficionado Keith Urban and his porcelain-skinned Aussie actress wife Nicole Kidman used to live directly across the street from Mister LeVox until they acquired a larger and more opulent mansion in the same swanky gated enclave where some of the other homes are owned by unlucky in love country music super nova Taylor Swift and, as it turns out, multi-talented Rascal Flats bass guitarist and harmony vocalist Jay DeMarcus and his former Miss Tennessee wife Allison Alderson. Mister and Missus DeMarcus picked up their nearly 11,000 square foot behemoth back in August 2007 for $2,725,000 but, bless their real estate hearts, still own another Nashville white elephant they've been trying to unload since 2008. More on that shortly...

*The many awards and accolades of Rascal Flats include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, six Academy of Country Music Awards (plus an ACM Home Depot Humanitarian Award), five American Music Awards, six CMT Music Awards, six Country Music Association Awards (plus a Horizon Award), five People's Choice Awards, one Radio Music Award and one Grammy Award for Best Country Song (Bless the Broken Road, 2006) plus five more nominations.

listing photos and floor plan: Fridrich & Clark Realty

Friday, February 22, 2013

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Buys and Sells

SELLERS: Michael Rapino and Jolene Blalock
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,975,000
SIZE: 4,710 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In late 2003, right about the time Live Nation Entertainment CEO and President Michael Rapino married petite and pin thin model/actress/accomplished Crayon artist Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise), property records show he coughed up $2,850,000 for a micro-estate in L.A.'s lower Nichols Canyon that he and the missus listed last month with an only slightly higher price tag of $2,975,000. The price must have been spot on because within three weeks the mock-Med villa—built in 1979 with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms—was put into escrow with an unknown buyer.

Live Nation Entertainment is a recent and somewhat controversial merger between Live Nation—a concert promoter—and ticket selling juggernaut Ticketmaster. Live Nation owns dozens of performance venues around the country and they produce, promote and sell oceans of often high-priced tickets to vast numbers of concerts and other events. According to online statistics—and you know how everything you read on the internets is true—Live Nation had nearly $5.5 billion in gross flow through revenue in 2011.

Some of the more eagle eyed and memory blessed children might recall that a few weeks ago Your Mama discussed some scuttlebutt then making its way around in the Platinum Triangle about former Live Nation Executive Chairman Irving Azoff shaking up his music mogul worthy real estate portfolio.

Anyhoo, active listing details show the walled and gated micro-estate encompasses: a sizable motor court with parking for five or more cars; a front-facing attached three car garage; several modestly scaled but lushly landscaped gardens and courtyards; a partly octagonal two-story residence that opens to an indoor/outdoor living/dining area with a built-in barbecue station; a heated salt water swimming pool ringed by hedges and one of those abominable child-safety fences; and, finally, a lighted tennis court overlooked by a tented and curtained pavilion stuffed full of body torturing gymnasium equipment. All that, children, is crowded like a Tokyo subway car during rush hour onto a compact .58 acre lot.

the interior spaces are—natch—wired for sound and security and include a proper entrance hall, a sunny great room with fireplace, a separate formal dining room with oddly angled walls and wood floors and a brooding, oak paneled den with vaulted ceiling and built-in wet bar. The center island eat in kitchen is certainly spacious and well-equipped with a built-in desk area and top-notch stainless steel appliances but there's something, well, a little too ordinary about it. Maybe it's the ho-hum blond Shaker style cabinetry, the buff colored tile floors and/or maybe its the too ubiquitous MacMansion-style beige and brown flecked granite counter tops? The second floor master suite, according to the listing descriptive, skews celebrity-style with a sitting area, fireplace, dual walk-in custom closets and an over-sized bathroom with spa tub and steam shower.

As it turns out, Mister and Missus Rapino—who currently have one toddler age child—have already acquired their next home, a two parcel compound in a particularly posh pocket of Brentwood in Los Angeles with a  a much larger, far more expensive and more family-friendly mansion and a separate guesthouse. Property records show they paid $14,750,000 for both parcels.

The main house, a gated and new-fangled East Coast-ish sort of traditional with black shutters, measures in at 11,213 square feet with five bedrooms and six full and three half bathrooms including a spacious master suite with private office, walk-in closet and dual bathrooms.

Although the property spans just .66 acres, there's adequate room for a parking lot-sized tree-shaded circular motor court at the front and out back a deep terrace that extends the full-width of the house as well as a fair swathe of flat lawn—where Your Mama would bet Mister Rapino soon installs a very expensive jungle gym—and a decent-sized heated swimming pool.

In addition to all the usual features—formal living and dining rooms that both have fireplaces, a roomy family room, a chef-friendly kitchen, etc.—the three-story mansion has a fully finished basement that contains a guest (or staff) suite, a fitness room, an office, a bedroom-sized temperature controlled wine cellar, a projector equipped screening room and a suburban kitchen-sized laundry room outfitted with two washers and two dryers, a center island folding table with marble counter top, inlaid tile floors and enough high gloss white cabinetry to stock every brand of detergent, fabric softener and bleach known to mankind. As can and ought to be expected in a nearly $15 million mansion in Los Angeles, the property is secured with a state-of-the-art closed circuit television system.

Included in the Rapino purchase was an adjacent but legally separate parcel that happens to butt up against the extensive, sculpture sprinkled grounds—see the coiled Serra piece in the lower right corner?—that surround the whackadoodle architectural confection that Frank Gehry conjured up for home building tycoon and deep pocketed art world patron Eli Broad and his wife Edye. Gehry's extravaganza makes a thrilling and geometrically complicated if not easily comprehensible amalgamation of very contemporary residential and museum-style vernaculars but, then again, what does Your Mama really know about anything?

Anyhoo, the L.A. County Tax Man Office—and other information we easily teased out of the interweb—shows the mostly wooded .66 acre property sits well well off the street up and around the bend down a long, shared driveway and includes a 2,365 square foot ranch style house with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in 2,365 square feet. Combined the two lots total 1.19 acres.

listing photos (Nichols Canyon): Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills South
listing photos (Brentwood): Partners Trust
aerial photo (Eli Broad): Google

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Floor Plan Porn: 995 Fifth Avenue

SELLER: Joseph Plumeri
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $32,000,000
SIZE: 8,360 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half bathrooms (plus an additional staff room and bath)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen chickens, Your Mama was unexpectedly waylaid and re-routed this morning so we are all kinds of discombobulated, bent out of shape and plum worn out. Rather that prattle on about the slew of recent celebrity real estate transactions we haven't yet gotten around to discussing—or linking to—we thought rather than leave y'all high and dry it might be fun to veer off a bit for little afternoon delight in the form of some good ol' fashioned and very high brow New York City floor plan porn, shall we?

Even before we arrived home Your Mama very fortunately received a communique from our ever vigilant aide-de-camp Hot Chocolate who captured Your Mama's limited attention with a colossal, full-floor condop* spread at 995 Fifth Avenue in New York City that just popped up on the open market with a bell-ringing $32,000,000 asking price.

The children may recall that free-spirited and sartorially fearless beer heiress Daphne Guinness recently sold her outrageously dressed and art filled condop apartment at 995 Fifth Avenue, formerly the Stanhope Hotel. Miz Guinness sold her 4,100-ish square foot half floor unit in late November (2012) for $11,300,000—$435,000 less than she paid for the place in spring 2008—to some otherwise little known outside of Wall Street but obviously very rich portfolio manager named Matthew McLennen and his pixyish blond wife Monika. The children may also recall that Miz Guinness was involved in a very public legal dustup with her downstairs neighbors who successfully sued after their apartment was repeatedly water damaged after Miz Guinness somehow managed to overflow the bathtub in her master bathroom on four separate occasions. The court ordered the skunk-haired Miz Guiness to pay for the repairs of the damages but tossed out the neighbors request for financial compensation due to "mental anguish and emotional distress."

Anyhoodles poodles, a few short minutes research on the internets turns up clear and easy evidence that the behemoth, 8,000-plus square foot sprawler was purchased in March 2010 by insurance services fat cat Joseph Plumeri who coughed up just over $21,000,000 for the 15th floor residence that developers first listed in May 2007 with a significantly higher $33,000,000 price tag.

Maybe Mister Plumeri isn't a household name for all the celeb obsessed tabloid readers but in the banking and insurance industries he's a bone fide playa, babies. The Willis Holdings Group, the company at which Mister Plumeri is the CEO, is such a big deal that they were able to buy the rights to the old Sears' Tower in Chicago. That's why the 1,451 foot tall skyscraper is now, officially, called Willis Tower. 'Tis true.

As it turns out, Miz Guinness's neighbors weren't the only residents of 995 to file a lawsuit. Mister Plumeri actually filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the developer, Extell, after post-purchase renovations uncovered a hornet's nest of (alleged) issues and defects that "create a nuisance and/or danger to the 15th-floor apartment residents and other's life, health and safety." The issues were hardly trivial and were cited in the New York Post as "'numerous latent defects, including defective waterproofing, defective installation of floors and soundproofing...defecting fireproofing, [and] defective structural work.'"

The Stanhope building is austere and elegant and worth knowing something about if you care about such things but, in the interest of time, rather that fashion a new one, we're taking the easy way out toda. Here's how Your Mama described the Stanhope back in February 2012 when we discussed Daphne Guinness's apartment that was then listed at $14 million:

The Stanhope, a stately if somber limestone and brick edifice designed by preeminent New York architect Rosario Candela in 1926 stands directly across from the southern flank of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The building was converted to 26 (or so) luxury residences in the early- to mid-Aughts and offers its well-heeled residents white glove services (doormen, porters, valet parkers, etc.), a private library/conference room, access to the on-site (and very posh) La Palestra spa and fitness center, 24-7 concierge services accessible through a touch panel/video intercom, and wine storage space (plus sommelier recommendations and free delivery) at Acker, Merrill and Condit, a swank wine shop on the Upper West Side.

Listing information puts Mister Plumeri's palatial pad at 8,360 square feet and shows there are eight bedrooms and ten full and one half bathroom. We don't dispute the 8,360 figure but a brief scour of the floor plan included with current listing details and we came up 2-3 guest/family bedrooms lined up on the northern facade, a separate guest suite off the entrance gallery, a discrete—and discreet—staff bedroom with private bathroom tucked up behind the fire stairs and a multi-room master suite situated in the southeast corner. At best, that's a total of six bedrooms. We're not sure where the eight comes from. We also tabulated the number of bathrooms shown on the floor plan and we came up with not 10.5 bathrooms but seven full and two half bathrooms. Perhaps there are a couple of crappers we've over-looked?

We realize that 8,300 and some square feet might not sound large compared to a 35,000 square foot mega-mansion in Beverly Park or Alpine, NJ but by New York City standards, it's a whale-sized apartment for sure. Mister Plumeri's pad is so massive, in fact that it has three street frontages: Fifth Avenue, East 81st Street and Madison Avenue.

A quick comparison of the floor plan included with marketing materials from the time Mister Plumeri purchased the condop and the floor plan included with current listing details shows that Mister Plumeri made some minor but important alterations to the extravagantly proportioned apartment that still includes a 36-foot long entrance gallery with direct elevator access, a nearly 41-foot long living room with three gigantic windows that peer over the Met and beyond to Central Park.

About ten feet of the formal dining room was sliced off to make room for a walk-in temperature controlled wine cave; The corridor access to the old library was closed up and the library became the study that's now only accessible by traversing the new library—the old media room—and passing through a short hallway flanked by a half bathroom and convenient wet bar; In the 600+ square foot open-plan kitchen/family room Mister Plumeri had an ovale breakfast banquette built into an over sized window; An oddly located staff room just behind the family was incorporated into one of the guest bedrooms and a new staff room (with private bathroom) was carved into a space where a small guest bedroom (and bathroom) used to be.

The most significant changes were made at the rear, eastern flank of the apartment where the tail end of a 50-plus foot long corridor that links the public and family areas to most of the bedroom suites was softened with a circular vestibule. Two guest bedrooms, each with walk-in closet and private bathroom, line up along the northern side that overlooks East 81st Street and 998 Fifth Avenue, an even swankier co-operative with residents—or at least owners—who include Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik, booze heir Matthew Bronfman, hedge fund honcho Mark Rachesky, media mogul Herbert J. Siegel, real estate scion Jordan Panzer and big tim businessman Paul Fribourgg. Because of the way doors can be closed around the circular vestibule, a third guest bedroom, also with walk-in closet and private facility, can easily be incorporated into the already vast master suite next door.

The master bedroom encompasses a wing of its own and includes a long entrance hall, sitting room with fireplace, bedroom, a pair of fancy bathrooms and two custom fitted bedroom-sized dressing rooms, one of which was created by absorbing an adjacent guest bedroom and bathroom. When compared to the old floor plan, it's clear both of the bathrooms in the massive master suite were reconfigured and expanded. One now has a spa tub, separate shower and a bidet while the other has a steam shower and a bar. Now, children, pleeze. How goddamn divine would it be to have a bar in the bathroom? It's perfect for an easy-peasy, pre-chompers scrubbing early morning pick me up and ever better for a late night nipper during a pre-bedtime steam.

A quick peek and poke around property records indicates Mister Plumeri has been in the mood to shake up his property portfolio the last few years. In August 2011 he sold a small one bedroom and 1.5 bathroom co-operative at The Pierre building on Fifth Avenue for $1,950,000 and at the tail end of 2012 he dropped $3,640,000 on a condo crib in an Old School ocean front building in Palm Beach, FL. At one point he owned a number of residences in New Jersey but it looks like most if not all of them—including an large house on two bay front lots and a smaller land locked one across and down the road in the seaside community of Mantoloking—were deeded over to his ex-wife in 2010.

*If you care about the differences between and condo, a co-op and a condop, have a look see at a 2005 article in the New York Times that parsed the distinction(s) so Your Mama don't have to.

listing photos and (current) floor plan: Douglas Elliman Real Estate
(former) floor plan: Corcoran via Street Easy

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Iron Chef Michael Symon Swaps Penthouses

SELLER: Michael Symon
LOCATION: New York City, NY (Soho)
PRICE: $3,500,000 (list)
SIZE: 1,509 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We've known for a while now that meat-centric James Beard Award winning chef Michael Symon and his wife Liz bought a two bedroom and two bathroom New York City penthouse apartment last March (2012) for $3,050,000, quickly caught an acute case of the Celebrity Real Estate Fickle and flipped it back on the market less than a year later with a $3,500,000 million price tag.

Property records show Mister and Missus Symons purchased the petite penthouse from London restaurateur turned theater investor Laurence Isaacson who brazenly installed floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two walls of the living room, slathered one wall of the guest bedroom/sitting room with a very Ross Bleckner-esque random abstract pattern wall covering and obsessively used cobalt and navy blue as the only accent colors throughout the otherwise neutrally decorated.

Mister Isaacson—don'cha know—had the penthouse photographed in all its poppy, cobalt blue glory for the Wall Street Journal back in July 2011 when it was listed at $3,395,000. Your Mama suggests y'all steel yourselves with a nerve pill and/or a stiff cocktail of your choice before having a look see at that decoratively unwise fantasia of beige and blue. Listen, butter beans, Your Mama loves cobalt blue just as much as the next person but too much of a good thing is just too damn much of a good thing. Okay?

As far as we know—and we really know so very little about anything—Mister Symon does not currently own or operate an eatery in New York City.* He does, however, frequently appear on scads food and cooking related television programs, many of which are taped in New York: Melting Pot, Iron Chef, The Next Iron Chef, Cook Like an Iron Chef, Dinner: Impossible, Food Feuds and The Chew. It's a wonder the man has time to cook or run a damn restaurant. Anyhoo, getting back to the real estate discussion at hand...

Listing photos show Mister and Missus Symon didn't remove the mirrors in the living room (or the kitchen) but did otherwise de-Isaacson-ed the penthouse so they could add their own less strict decorative stamp and palette to the 1,509 square foot apartment that's accessed via a semi-private key lock elevator that unfortunately opens directly into the (open-concept) kitchen area.

To the right of the front door there's a 22-foot long main living space that makes for a generous living room but would most certainly be a bit crowded with the addition of a proper dining table. To its credit, the living area does have matte finish narrow strip wood floors, airy 12-foot ceilings and three over-sized west facing windows.

A snack counter peninsula divides the living/dining space from the compact but expensively equipped kitchen outfitted with butcher block and slab marble counter tops and back splashes, gray on putty-colored cabinetry with minimal hardware, high-grade stainless steel appliances and, curiously, more mirrored panels above the fridge and upper cabinets on the far wall. Where Mister Isaacson had a flat screen t.v. mounted to the wall, Mister Syman has added a new-fangled sort of pot rack from which hang a dizzying and dangerous looking collection of sauce pans and colanders.

The two bedrooms—small by suburban standards, adequate by urban standards—are situated side-by-side at the rear of the penthouse. The guest bedroom makes use of a hall bathroom that's covered floor and walls with mosaic tile and where there's a stacked washer and dryer. We're not sure how we feel about doing the laundry in the same room who—ahem—evacuate but it's definitely better to have private laundry at all than to not have it at all and we suppose in the bathroom seems a smidgen better maybe than having them shoved up under the counter in the kitchen as they often can be in New York City apartments.

The master bedroom next door, only slightly larger than the guest bedroom, has a small private balcony—too small to do anything by stand around and smoke, really—a walk-in closet plus a full wall of built-in storage in the bedroom area. The attached master bathroom has two sinks and a separate tub and shower set up. Decoratively speaking, we could definitely due without the extra shaggy shag rug—our house gurl Svetlana would have a violent conniption if we brought home a dirt and dog hair collector like that—but we do rather appreciate the padded bed frame and headboard that ensures Your Mama's boozy shins would stay bruise free on late night trips to use bathroom and candy cabinet.

The penthouse comes with a private, nearly 1,000 square foot roof terrace. For some reason it makes squeamish that you have to ride in the elevator to access the roof terrace but we do very much appreciate that the elevator opens into a private wet bar/butler's pantry. That means there's no need to navigate the elevator situation whenever you need to freshen up a drink or snatch a snack. The meandering roof terrace has several sitting/dining areas, some of which are decked and some of which have faux-grass underfoot.

The $3,680 per month common charges and taxes help cover the cost for the pet-friendly André Balazs-developed complex on the border between the SoHo and NoLiTa nabes that offers residents 24-hour doorman services, a fitness room, storage space and an on-site super/manager.

BUYER: Michael Symon
LOCATION: New York City, NY (Gramercy Park)
PRICE: $2,750,000
SIZE: 1,777 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It seems that Mister Symon had picked out his next penthouse even before he listed his old one. Last November, according to the details on Street Easy, Mister Syman and his wife put another penthouse—this one several blocks north and east of Gramercy Park—into contract that property records show the finally closed on in early February (2013) for $2,750,000.

Listing details show the Symons' new penthouse pad is, at 1,777 square feet, only slightly larger than their previous penthouse and also includes a semi-private key-lock elevator entrance plus lots of direct access outdoor space, two bedrooms well separated for privacy, two bathrooms and—the piece de resistance, perhaps—a private deeded parking space in the on-site garage.

Mister and Missus Symon's new penthouse also has a larger, loft-like open-concept main living/dining/cooking space with high ceilings and medium toned mocha brown wood floors and direct access to both the north and south terraces. The south-facing living area has a (gas) fireplace flanked by built-in book shelves and surmounted by a flat-screen television. A wall of floor-to-ceiling wood-framed doors slide open access to a 220 square foot south facing terrace that does have lovely over-the-rooftop city views but—sadly—isn't entirely private due to the windows of the upstairs apartment. There will be no nude sunbathing here unless Mister and/or Missus Symon don't mind their upstairs neighbor having a direct and up-close view of their naughty bits.

The living area merges seamlessly into the open-concept dining/kitchen space that also, technically, does triple duty as the foyer since the elevator entry opens directly into the dining room. Like in the living room a full wall of floor-to-ceiling wood-framed glass windows peel open to a second, north facing terrace that is larger than the one off the living room but not any less exposed to the upstairs neighbor.

The spacious but hardly huge kitchen and service areas are sleek but efficient with dark ashy brown cabinetry, a chunky solid-surface counter top that waterfalls over one end of the super-sized center island and cantilevers over the other end to provide a snack counter. The appliances are high end and while there's no overhead cabinetry for tableware and food storage there's a sizable butler's pantry with large pantry closet and a wine refrigerator. Beyond the butler's pantry there's a spacious and very convenient storage area and laundry room.

Each of the bedrooms has a roomy walk-in closet and direct access to one of the two terraces—the master to the south end terrace and the guest bedroom to the north side terrace. The guest bedroom has easy access to the hall bathroom—tucked discreetly behind the kitchen for property pooper privacy—and the master has direct access to a larger—but also windowless—marble-walled bathroom with double sink floating vanity and a separate soaking tube and glassed-in stall shower with built-in seat for taking a post hair washing break.

Common charges and taxes for the building come to $2,139, according to listing details, and additional creature comforts include custom window treatments, custom closet system and wiring for a surround sound system. The boutique building isn't much to look at—it's just a big grayish brown brick building with a uniform facade of over-sized warehouse-style windows—and it doesn't have a doorman but it does offer residents a private basement level storage areas.

*Mister Symon did open an upscale Greek eatery Parea in 2006 near Madison Square Park but it quickly closed its doors the following year. Mister Syman does, however, own numerous restaurants in and around Cleveland, OH, a mid-sized Midwestern city perhaps better known for its pierogies and sausage sandwiches but also posseses—so our research shows—a strong and epicurean streak partly underpinned by a few of Mister Syman's healthy handful of local dining establishments that include Lola, Lolita, Roast and B Spot Burgers.

listing photos and floor plans (Soho and Gramercy Park): Corcoran

LeAnn Rimes Snatches Up a Suburban Short Sale

BUYER: LeAnn Rimes
LOCATION: Hidden Hills, CA
PRICE: $3,000,000
SIZE: 8,642 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Last December recently rehabbed country music queen—and Twittering trouble maker—LeAnn Rimes tweeted about how happy she was to finally close on her new house in the guard-gated, celebrity-stocked and semi-rural suburban enclave of Hidden Hills, CA.

It took awhile for details to surface about which house exactly she and her second husband Eddie Cibrian—the philandering ex-husband of foul mouthed and sometimes volatile Brandi Glanville of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—settled on but according to several sources the couple successfully purchased a privately situated short sale property.*

Property records show the two acre estate was sold in late December for an even-steven $3,000,000 and listing details we dug up on the internets shows the sprawling, two-story sorta-Spanish style McMansion was built in 2005, measures in at 8,642 square feet and contains six bedroom suites and nine bathrooms.

An extra-wide driveway at the front curls up to a compact motor court and four car attached garage that extends finger-like off the front of the stone-, stucco- and wood-faced residence. Tree shaded lawns surround the house that opens up to backyard entertainment areas that include several covered porches, a dark bottom swimming pool with inset spa, a poolside dining pavilion with built-in barbecue station and, set well away from the house, a separate guest house nestled into a steep slope.

As it turns out, the new residence of Mister and Missus Cibrian-Rimes is just a few doors down and around the corner from the house the couple leased the last few years. That house, a considerably smaller—and in our humble and utterly meaningless opinion, architecturally pedestrian—5,100 square foot mini-mansion on one acre with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a two-stall stable has popped up for sale on the open market with an asking price of $2,595,000.

*Records Your Mama peeped show the seller—a merchant services company executive and his philanthropically inclined and athletic wife—purchased the property in late December 2006 for $5,575,000, which means someone—the seller? the lender?—lost almost 2.6 million buck on this deal.

listing photos (new house): Crescent Realty
listing photos (old house): Ewing & Associates Sotheby's International Realty

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mickey Rooney Sells Modest Lake Front Residence

SELLER: Mickey Rooney
LOCATION: Westlake Village, CA
PRICE: $1,075,000
SIZE: 2,413 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We don't know if it has anything at all to do with the scandalous allegations of elder abuse that he made in 2011 against his step-son but The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial whispered to Your Mama that nonagenarian actor Mickey Rooney popped his surprisingly modest lake front home in a 24-hour guard-gated community in the upscale suburban community of Westlake Village, CA on the market last December with a $1,075,000 asking price.*

Born in Brooklyn to vaudevillian parents and raised in Hollywood by a single mother, Mister Rooney has been in The Big Business of Show since before he could properly walk or talk. At 92, the still-working actor has appeared in—literally—hundreds of films, animated features, made for t.v. movies, television programs and stage productions including but hardly limited to the Mickey McGuire series (1927-1934), National Velvet (1944), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Sugar Babies (1980) The Fox and the Hound (1981), Bill (1981), Night at the Museum (2006) and The Muppets (2011).

The man may only be just barely more than five feet tall but, in case some of you youngsters don't know your Hollywood history, he's a goddamn giant in Tinseltown. He's recipient of an Emmy (and four more nominations), two Golden Globes and four Oscar nominations plus a Juvenile Academy Award and an honorary Oscar for his nine-plus decades long Showbiz career. He received a Tony nomination for his lead role in the Broadway musical Sugar Babies and has no fewer than four stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for radio, another for television, a third for films and a fourth for Live Theater.

Mister Rooney, either a real cocksman or a terrible husband, has been married eight times including, ever so briefly, to Ava Gardner in the 1940s. He's the father of nine biological children and at least one step-child. It's his step-son, Chris Aber, the biological son of his current and long time 8th wife Jan Chamberlin Rooney, that Mister Rooney accused of elder abuse. Court documents and press reports show that Mister Rooney claimed his step-son—who also worked as his long time personal assistant—committed elder abuse over a period of years that deprived him of food and medication, stripped him of his small fortune and left him unable to make basic decisions about his own life. Curiously, Eighth Missus Rooney—that would be Jan—denied the claims of elder abuse by her husband, a sticky situation that surely must have made conversation a bit tense at dinner time.

Anyhoo, property records show Mister and 8th Missus Rooney, married 30-plus years now, purchased the humble if not exactly inexpensive abode way back in June 1981 for an unknown amount of money.

Listing details show the nondescript two-story 1970s contemporary has four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,413 square feet of updated—if  uninspired—interior space. There's one bedroom downstairs and the second floor master suite has a long and narrow balcony that cantilevers over the deck below and looks directly out to the narrow finger of Westlake Lake that runs along the backside of the .12 acre postage stamp-sized parcel.

Mixy-matchy beige and brown tile floors run throughout the main living spaces that include an open plan living/dining room with vaulted ceiling and a mottled red brick fireplace shoved uncomfortably up into the corner next to a wide glass door that slides open to a small deck that overlooks the lake.

The eat-in kitchen, according to listing information, is "newer with lovely cabinets" and has a curved breakfast counter, hausfrau-grade white appliances, flecked counter tops that may or may not be granite or some sort of quartzite and a large lake view window hung with those horrid vertical blinds that always make Your Mama shudder and shiver with decorative mortification. We know that vertical blinds are ubiquitous but—from a decorative stand point, as far as Your Mama is concerned—they're really no better than tacking up a cheap sheet.

A deck runs the full width of the back of the house and steps down to a wee patch of grass that ends at the bulk headed water's edge. Listing information indicates there is a private dock where residents and their guests can tie up their watercraft.

Property records indicate this isn't the first house in Westlake Village owned by Mister and Eight Missus Rooney. In March 1994 they sold a much larger 6,192 square foot mock-Med McMansion with six bedrooms and 7 bathrooms on just over half an acre for $735,000.

Current listing information available online shows Mister Rooney's residence is currently in escrow. Your Mama has no idea what Mister Rooney's future real estate plans may be and, even though Your Mama may not care for his rather righty-tighty politics when it comes to social issues, we very sincerely hope he's headed to comfortable circumstances where he'll be well provided for and taken care of by people he can trust.

*Most listings indicate the asking price if $1,075,000 but at least one digital listing shows it at $1,070,000. 

listing photos: Prudential California Realty