Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Halsey Minor Takes a Loss in Bel Air

SELLER: Halsey Minor
LOCATION: Sarbonne Road, Bel Air, CA
PRICE: $11,400,000 (reduced from $12,900,000)
SIZE: 7,479 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: One of the most incredible "view" properties in prime lower Bel Air overlooking staggering unobstructed city to ocean views. Gated & private.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Back in March of 2006 a Bay Area based tech guru and net nerd named Halsey Minor dropped a spine tingling $20,000,000 to purchase a glitzy glass house on Sarbonne Road in one of the snazzier sections of seriously-swank Bel Air. Many, including Your Mama, wondered what in the world the married and filthy rich father of three needed with a slinky, sexy and not very kid friendly party pad that looks out over the twinkling lights of Los Angeles. Turns out the Midas-like entrepreneur has a bit of a thing for trophy properties, although it seems this particular property may prove to be a bit white elephant rather than a trophy.

Before we discuss the real estate, let's have a bit of background on Mister Minor. In 1993 Virginia born Mister Minor founded a hugely successful technology company called CNET, an online service that provides news and information about technology and hi-tech products. CNET is widely thought to be the first internet company to actually make money...and make money it did, hand over micro-chip. Mister Minor has since moved on to other lucrative ventures and money making opportunities, but CNET remains a reliable source of information and reviews among technophiles.

A few days ago, Mister Minor's big glass box in Bel Air hit the market with a $12,900,000 asking price...which all the children with eyes and brains will note is significantly less than the $20,000,000 he paid for the palatial place in 2006. Way less. The first to contact Your Mama about this perfectly puzzling and perplexing situation was Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air. Within days, Your Mama received oodles of phone calls and dozens of emails wanting to know why a manicured and modern mansion like Mister Minor's would need to be sold off for $7,100,000 less that was paid for it just over two years ago. In Bel Air!

Well, don't none of us need to be an Albert Einstein to figure out that there has got to be some sort of sinister snake in Mister Minor's real estate grass. Your Mama has heard whispers and rumors from people all up and down Sunset Boulevard, and we're sure some of you have too. But the truth is we really don't know the durdy poop on this property. We can, however, speculate (SPECULATE, children, SPECULATE) that Mister Minor might have a cash flow problem (doubtful), there might be a structural issue or something geologic, or maybe mold has set in. OR, it could also be that Mister Minor is just real estate fickle and wants to quickly rid himself of a high maintenance mansion that requires tremendous sums of cash to keep looking meticulous. Your Mama is hyperventilating just thinking about the gigantic window washing bills.

Your Mama asks that the children take note that the above photos show the house as it was decorated by the previous owner, a wise individual who hired bigwig interior designer Charles Allem to do up the interiors with soo-blime monochromatic palettes, uncompromising detailing and ungodly expensive finishes that make Your Mama's head spin . This place is far too glam-or-uhs and a too "done" for Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter, not to mention that our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly would have every window streaked with their nose juice in about 3 minutes flat, but we still think this place his speck-tack-u-lar...lacking in life and maybe not even so easy to actually live in, but certainly it's lovely to look at, at least as far as we're concerned.

In addition to the 4 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms, the chunky white residence includes living and dining rooms all done up in brown and green, a 2-story study in red, a media room, a giant gym, a stainless steel kitchen that would drive our house gurl Sventlana straight to the crazy house, and a master bedroom with dual bathrooms. Outside are front courtyards with checkerboard landscaping, high hedges, intimate garden spaces, outdoor living areas that include a kitchen, and an 80 foot long infinity pool with a spa.

He may not be a household name outside of Silicon Valley, but Mister Minor is certainly no stranger to dramatic, grandiose and famous houses. In fact Mister Moneybags has been on a bit of buying spree the last few years. Property records show that he continues to own the 8,516 square foot cliff hanger he's long owned on Sea Cliff Avenue in San Francisco's foggy but exuberantly expensive Sea Cliff neighborhood, where the children will recall that weird Robin Williams lives and where our favorite loose lipped wing nut ack-tress Sharon Stone once lived.

In July of 2007, the tech titan purchased the well known Koshland Mansion on ritzy Washington Street in San Francisco. Located in the posh Presido Heights neighborhood, the 17,895 square foot house with 8 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms was built in 1902 to resemble the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's private getaway on the grounds of the Palace of Versaille. Your Mama hasn't a clue what Mister Minor paid for the insanely lavish residence, but we know it was listed for a variety of numbers above twenty and below thirty million clams.

Fast forward to December of 2007 when the forty something Mister Minor purchased Carter's Grove Plantation, an historic 400 acre estate that sits on the James River outside of colonial Williamsburg, VA and includes a 35-room Georgian style plantation home. Recent reports reveal he plans to use the property as a private residence and thoroughbred horse-breeding farm.

Eventually the real story will come out as to why Mister Minor is willing to lose more than seven million damn dollars on this property, but until then we'll leave it to the children to come up with all manner of cock-eyed and crazy ideas and notions.

YOUR MAMAS UPDATE (later same day): Your Mama was contacted by a man we'll call Mister Green With Envy who recently visited this house and whispered in our big ear that, "All carpets have been pulled up and the place is empty and dirty. Several panes of glass that form the exterior balconies are broken and the entire ground floor is torn down to the studs. Most bathrooms have had everything removed, leaving a nice hole and a concrete floor." All of which means, of course, that the new owner will need to spend at least a couple million smackers on top of the purchase price to put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Although mega-rich folks do it all the time, Your Mama still has to wonder why Mister Minor would spend $20,000,000 to purchase a carefully and meticulously designed and deco-ray-ted house only to tear it all apart? Did he just get tired of having to make bazillions of decisions about which Calcutta marble to use and which Waterworks faucets to buy? Hmm.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like Halsey Minor was Bamboozled by yet another "Nice Gay Decorator"

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 2:23:

$12.9mm for a 7,500 sq ft residence in Bel Air isn't some crazy bargain. The property is probably priced where it should be, as hard as that may be for Mr Minor to swallow.

He got Bamboozled and swindled by anotehr "Nice Gay Decorator" and "Greedy Slimey" real estate agent whom didn't tell him he's paying waaaaay to much for the modern home.

That said, I find this home absolutely orgasmic. It's gorgeous! The views are unmatched and the location is superb!

Anonymous said...

So they're building another Bel Air behemoth in front of the house, maybe that's taking away enough view and privacy to knock off seven million? I doubt that's the only problem, especially since it looks like the new construction sits below, in front of retainer walls, so maybe you were right about the geology problem.
Just a guess.

Anonymous said...

Yamba Jamba!

I just think it's great that someone's got the balls to do up a house like this. Maybe not great to live in every day, but certainly a great party pad to hang out in when it's not your primary residence. It's gotta be a tough sell, but I think it's cool.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was in Architectural Digest. Anyway I would buy it in a nanosecond and drink all night long 74 Petrus in that 80 foot long infinity pool.

Anonymous said...

Cheap and tacky looking in person. It has no soul. The Alice in Wonderland entry is poorly executed and the hard, stainless steel surfaces with industrial lighting in the gym make it look like a commercial medical/dental office. Simply Horrible.

Oh, and it sticks out like a sore thumb in the gentile Bel Air neighborhood.

Beverly Hills garish-yes, Bel Air: hell no.

StPaulSnowman said...

Can you tell me the way to the shark exhibit? We found the starfishpool and the colorful poster sales area but can't find the sharks. He probably cut the price because, as my mother in Palm Springs says, "they say the big one is coming......these houses will end up flotsam!"

Alessandra said...

I haven't seen it in person, but Brooklawn Dr's comments echo my own sentiments. It just looks like it was done by someone who had read a book about mid-century modernism but had never actually seen any pictures. It doesn't look inviting, and all the damned recessed lighting makes me want to scream (Home Depot has a lot to answer for).

chris said...

Well looking at Zillow there appears to be construction going on in front and below, as a prior poster has said, and this would suggest to me that he fears the result and wants to get out while he can. Wait much longer and loose more probably.

Anonymous said...

a little mystery & a great story, thanks mama.

pch said...

It's all way too Rico Suave for my taste. But I'm liking the basic architecture -- lots of potential there.

Anonymous said...

The house going up on Chalon is quite a bit lower and far below the view line.

Anonymous said...

Explains why the present listing has no interior pictures. I think it's great. As many have said, the exterior architecture of the home seems great, while inside some of the design choices while impressive were un-practically. Building a whole house these days takes so long and is stressful, should be nice for someone to pick this place up and spend a few months finishing to their desire and having a great new house.

A bit puzzled that Mr Minor actually is trying to unload it for millions less than his purchase price after even spending more money on demolition... yikes. Big mistake,but when you have his money... I guess who the F* cares.

StPaulSnowman said...

Brooklawn Drive...........too wonderful to let slip by .......did you mean gentile or genteel? Even a midwesterner knows that there are probably some non-gentiles in Bel Air.

Anonymous said...

Bought it, started renovating it, got Bel Air bored with it, wants to dump it, and doubt he cares.

so_chic_darling said...

It looks like something a Vegas stripper who hit the power ball lottery would own.

lil' gay boy said...

A spectacular tour-de-force that's completely unlivable - would that I had the bucks to own such an unpractical, overpriced property . . .

Anonymous said...

lmao so_chic.. my thought too. It's flash lovin' stripper's dream.. in a word, tacky.

Anonymous said...

OK the white thing with the rectangular back with the hole cut out.It's very Miami decorator.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what other celebs who currently live in Westchester County, NY?
So far I have:

Vanessa Williams Chappaqua
Bill CLinton Chappaqua
Glenn Close Bedford
Rob Thomas Mt. Kisco
DMX Mt. Kisco
Donald Trump Bedford
Funk Master Flex Ardsley
Chris Madden Purchase
Chevy Chase Bedford
Susan Sarandon Pound Ridge
Richard Gere Pound Ridge
Beyonce Scarsdale
Eartha Kitt Pound Ridge
Ralph Lauren Bedford
Tommy Mottola & Thalia North Salem
Joseph Abboud Bedford
Letterman North Salem
Chynna Phillips Bedford
Martha Stewart Bedford

Anonymous said...

Sam Waterston in Katonah

drewfm04 said...

charles allem has a site and under his portfolio you'll this house in detail

Anonymous said...

Ophelia Tietz in Pound Ridge

Anonymous said...

Yes we can! What a great country we live in here in the United States of America. We are still brand new after these 232 years. Everything is still possible. Every four years we have the opportunity to rise from the ashes, start fresh, and reshape our future. But this time was special. Maybe now the bright red scar that slavery left will begin to fade. All you foreign friends out there in the world, wish us luck!

Anonymous said...

We wish you luck!

Anonymous said...

You can grab deals all over BEL AIR. I see under million dollar homes all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Kissyface here! Yes, I'm back, and I'm over and done with that terrible, terrible Parker who refused - absolutely refused - to consider moving into the DeMille Estate with me in Los Feliz. The NERVE!! Well, I'm more fabulous than that. I have not just endured, I have PREVAILED!

And now I have a few things to say about this pile. Or, rather, I have a few things to say about what this pile says about another Bel-Air pile: The Singleton Residence.

The skinny is: The Singleton House is a dog compared to this Halsey Minor doo-dad - which is now repriced at $12 Million. So I figure Singleton is worth, say, $6 or $7 Million.

Back on March 29, Yo Mama sagely informed us chillun that Singleton is a [http://realestalker.blogspot.com/2008/03/weekend-mish-mash.html] "Richard Neutra designed house in Bel Air that was built for Teledyne tycoon Henry Singleton and is currently owned by octogenarian hair guru Vidal Sassoon is back on the market with an asking price of $19,950,000, which is exactly the same asking price it was listed at before." And it's STILL THERE for the SAME RIDICULOUS PRICE[http://www.sothebyshomes.com/socal/sales/0024833], while Halsey Minor is taking this bath! OOO, BOOOO-HOOOOO! It's just so UNFAIR! Numerous people have noted [example: http://www.radaronline.com/photos/2007/06/vidal_sassoon_bel_air_neutra_house_1.php], the Singleton House has been hacked up by the Sassoons, and isn't even in the good part of Bel-Air. Moreover, Architecture for Sale said it had 2,490 square feet when the Sassoons bought it [http://www.architectureforsale.com/address_notable.php?property_ID=9]. But the Wall Street Journal [http://www.realestatejournal.com/columnists/private/20070723-private.html?mod=RSS_Real_Estate_Journal&rejrss=frontpage] says that the re-do "expanded the 1959 home to 5,500 square feet from 3,400. Whatever.

However you cut it, Singleton is way out-classed in every way by this pile but one: Asking Price. And don't tell me "Neutra" ... there is no "Neutra" worthy of the name left in Singleton.

pch said...

10:18, values vary tremendously in 90077. Lower Bel-Air, also called Old Bel-Air, was developed mostly before World War II and is what people usually think of when someone says Bel-Air. It's divided into East Gate (most desirable) and West Gate (generally speaking, second best). Both are very, very expensive.

Upper Bel-Air (Roscomare, Stradella, Linda Flora, etc.) stretches up toward Mulholland Drive and was developed largely with post-war, middle class ranch houses; nice, but it's a huge step down in price and status. Properties seem to list from the low-to-mid-one millions and up.

Also in 90077 are Beverly Glen Boulevard and all the little roads off that canyon...little houses on little lots, well-located but not anything that impresses anyone. That's probably where you're seeing listings that dip under a million.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention "the window washing bill"...MAMA.I did indeed own a window washing business in you lovely little village as late as 2004.I washed the windows occasionally for the previous owner.The bill was 1,500bux.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet Anon 12"07... ur full sh*t

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure there was some drama a few years back at CNet that involved backdating of stock options and a few of the top execs had to leave. (BTW, CNet was just bought by CBS Corp.)

So maybe Halsey had to raise some quick cash to pay the tax man....and to quote Mama, I'm just SPECULATING!! :-)

Mike Cook said...

Don't like the exteriors. The front I don't even understand, the rear looks like a poolside motor hotel in Lauderdale.

Except for the red library and the gym, the interiors are totally doing it for me. Especially enjoy the stainless steel, green themed number.

Yes we can...

Anonymous said...

The SF Washington Street spot has been looking unused for a very long time. The grounds are maintained, of course but no one is ever seen coming or going by the neighbors. So there the house sits unused, who knows why?

Anonymous said...

Totally HOT.

This 1961 Richard Dorman mid-century is a serious renovation, redesigned to reflect the previous owner's desires, lifestyle and substantial budget. Toward that end, mission accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Is the driveway made of stainless steel panels?

Anonymous said...

That is the most depressingly fuggest house I've ever seen. I hate everything about it.

Anonymous said...

Thats cuz your from Virgina.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure a porn video was made in this house - time to get out the blue light.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about any porn film shot here but I do remember seeing Joan Rivers hawking cheap jewelry from that enchanting sitting area

Anonymous said...


I live a block from the Washington Street house... Nobody ever moved into it and was last open to the public last May for a fundraiser. At the time, it was entirely void of furniture (yes, I was there). Anywho, the plants in containers out front are dead, and the rest of the gardens viewable from the street are in need of a good trimming. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kissy face,who are you,when were you here and more importantly why are you back?

Anonymous said...

Polly Sweetie, Kissyface is tons-O-fun. We liked him so much that Aunt Mary (if I recall correctly)got the name going for him around time of DeMille post on 4/4. He's a good boy. Wish he'd visit more often.

Anonymous said...

Here's a INSIDE scoop on Sarbonne Road! This property could be one of the biggest White Elephant on the market.

1) Halsey Minor has spent the past 1.5 years in court with litigations over this property after purchasing it.

2) Mr. Minor was starting renovations on the property to add extra bedrooms for his growing family when he discovered rotten beams in the structure. They went on to discover more rotten beams, improper repairs, and structural problems with the entire house.

3) Mr. Minor then rumored to have hired an inspection company to do a full inspection in preparation for a lawsuit, but no one knows if a comprehensive inspection identifying ALL defects was ever completed.

4) Mr. Minor then launched a lawsuit to get the full $20 million back plus costs for the past 1.5 years. Unfortunately, Mr. Minor did not get the full judgment.

5) Mr. Minor was only given a judgment for repair costs, legal fees, and punitive damages amounting to less than $3 million total. Since there wasn't really a full inspection made during the investigation, the judgment for repairs is nowhere near whatever the actual amount to fix the house because no one really knows all that is wrong with the structure.

6) The lawsuit and judgment is public record and can be access by anyone.

7) The current Listing Agent is quietly telling other brokers and their clients that it would take about $2 million for repairs to make the house habitable. I would not trust that figure since no one knows exactly all that is wrong with the house.

8) The initial purchasing price of $20 million paid by Mr. Minor was based upon an assessment value of $12 million for the land and $8 million for the structure/house/improvements.

9) This could explain the current listing price of $12.9 million, which can be assumed only for the value of the land plus selling costs.

10) Looks like Mr. Minor is selling this property as a tear down property.

11) The only explanation for the $12.9 million listing price is that the entire house/structure on the property is a complete right-off and has no value.

Basically, the actual cost of buying this property and repairing all the currently known defects is at least $15 million+. I would bet that it would take way more than just $2 million to repair all of the defects.

There are far better estate properties on the market from $8 million to $15 million.

If anyone finds out more about this property, PLEASE post a comment. I'm dying to find out just how BAD this property is or rather how fat this White Elephant is!

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone with a clue about what the truth is. Check the public records as the entire unsavory transaction is recorded. I heard about this situation and investigated. As a broker, "buyer beware" is always wise advice when real estate investing. Always, always push the inspectors and appraiser to DO THEIR JOB no matter how much pressure a seller puts on you or the many offers that are knocking on the door. you may not have the legal resources of mister minor after the fact, when you discover the problems. minor does not make billions because he is stupid or easily snookered. in this case, however, and not to put too fine a political point on this post, he truly met a pig with lipstick.

Anonymous said...

The Sarbonne Road Listing is much worse than a pig with lipstick. It's a huge money pit waiting to ambush an unsuspecting buyer. I actually got to tour this property this week and found out more horrible things. The listing agent said that all of the electrical and most of the plumbing most be completely redone. The top and second floor patios need to be replaced due to water damage from the rotten post beams. The patio floors were severely cracked and were warped and bumpy. There is severe water damage in the loft/library/office part of the house because every time they water the front lawns, water would leak into the house. The pool equipment is located in a maintenance room under the front of the house and there is water leakage in that room as well. The retaining wall in the maintenance room was also cracked and you can see the water stains on the wall from leakage. It also smell like mold and sewage. When asked if the retaining wall needs repair or replacement, all the listing agent can say was "it needs major work...and you should expect to have major repairs since the buyer doesn't even know ALL of the problems with the house". The ground floor level had the smell of sewage and mold. The West side outdoor staircase from the top floor to the ground floor is missing a section from the second floor to bottom floor. The listing agent said that they had to remove the bottom portion of the staircase to do soil testing and other tests. I was asked to not even step out on it as it is not stable and the remaining portion of the staircase can break apart. When we went out to the outdoor pool area, it was very noisy because of the gigantic monster of a house that is being built right below and in front of the Sarbonne Road property. Construction is expected to take another year or two to complete. The listing agent stated that there are many more serious problems that not even they are aware of and that I should expect to put at least $3 million just to fix the problems and does not include the renovations and interior design that is still required.

I would think that with the $11 million listing price, you would need another $5 million to $8 million minimum to properly fix all of the problems and to make it inhabitable. So the REAL cost of purchasing this property is more like $16 million to $19 million. If you choose to tear the house down and rebuild a custom house on the property, you would probably end up spending even more money with architecture and construction costs. Not to mention the long period of time to get approval from the Bel Air building committee on top of the city permit department. It'll take several years minimum to be able to build a new house on the property.

They need to drop the price on this listing to below $10 million to make it worth while for any buyer looking for a deal. In this depressed real estate market and the credit crunch, not very many people have the cold hard cash to buy this property.

I knew the property was a lemon before I viewed it this week thinking this could be a very good deal. But after seeing it myself and getting more inside information from the listing agent, I could not believe just how unbelievably bad this property is. It's much worse than I had thought. I can't imagine anyone would want to spend that kind of money on such a Turkey, not to mention inheriting all of the problems and stresses in owning this property.

I completely agree with the previous comment on this property...BUYER BEWARE!

Unknown said...

Minor was sued in September for failure to pay for several paintings he won from an auction.

In September of 2007, Minor announced the development of a new 5 star hotel located in historic downtown Charlottesville. The hotel will be part of Minor Family Hotels, a series of 5 star boutique hotels located in historical districts around the world. Yet this is the only hotel.

Sadly for Charlottesville this hotel is no more than a skeleton against the skyline.

Minor took a $23.7 million loan from Silverton Bank, but Minor has missed $10.5 million in payments so far.

Construction has come to a halt.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Minor lost another one. Merrill Lynch received a judgment of $22M against Mr. Minor and the judge refused to lower the bond so that Mr. Minor could appeal. He needs to post $22,000,000 cash bond to appeal the verdict. Sounds like the nail is being hammered in Mr. Minor's coffin.

Term Paper said...

Basically, the actual cost of buying this property and repairing all the currently known defects is at least $15 million+. I would bet that it would take way more than just $2 million to repair all of the defects.

lionel said...

Halsey Minor's 205-acre 'Fox Ridge Farm' near Charlottesville Virginia, acquired by him in 1999, was as of January 2010 with two mortgages. The first mortgage for $6.52 million as well as second mortgage for $920,000. Default on the second mortgage resulted in a January 4, 2010 foreclosure auction at which Minor purchased back the mortgage for $1.155 million, which was $235,000 more than was owed on the second loan. The initial mortgage - also delinquent - was scheduled for another public foreclosure auction Feb 20, 2010 however was averted then Fox Ridge Farm Holding Co. (a Minor entity) made that mortgage current Feb 8, 2010

Interview Question

Anonymous said...

Charles Allem can't go wrong with his designs or his personal style! Check out this amazing profile on him at Clos-ette Too, you will love it!! http://bit.ly/pXerv7

Siddiq said...

lmao so_chic.. my thought too. It's flash lovin' stripper's dream.. in a word, tacky.

Unknown said...

I have some reading up on Carter's Grove in Williamsburg and it really seems like Halsey Minor was left with all the blame after some shady dealings. I really hope he gets the justice he deserves

kingsmill homes said...
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