Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daria Zhukova Buys Big House in the Birds

BUYER: Daria "Dasha" Zhukova
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $19,500,000
SIZE: 9,691 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: There is a large mansion that presides over the tippy-top of the Bird Streets high above Los Angeles' Sunset Strip area that was listed for sale in September of 2008 with the attention grabbing asking price of $29,000,000. The dee-luxe digs were recently sold, but for far less than the original asking price. Before Your Mama gets to discussing the young buyer, let's have a quick look-see at a brief history of the private property that is flanked by the Ricardo Legorreta designed contemporary casa of recently deceased Fantasy Island star Ricardo Montalban on one side and the former home of Lionel Richie on the other, now owned by motivational speaker–and OT VIII level Scientologist–Grant Cardone.

The property was purchased in 1999 by tee-vee producer Adam Chase for $3,100,000. Mister Chase bulldozed the existing house and built a massive, faux-Tuscan style villa complete with a cypress tree lined gravel driveway and tons of terra cotta urns painstakingly aged to look like the might actually have come from Tuscany. Or maybe they did come from Tuscany, what do we know? Nuthin', that's what. Apparently Mister Chase didn't care to live in the huge house very long because he listed the property for $24,500,000 and sold it in September of 2006 to a Greenwich, CT based hedge hog named Robert Krail who, records reveal, forked over $19,150,000 for the almost new mansion.

Mister Krail flipped the property back on the market exactly two years later with a much higher and–if we may say–nervy asking price of $29,000,000. According to Redfin, four times the price tag was chopped and dropped until it landed in August of 2009 at $21,900,000. Then along comes a young, purdy and very rich Russian dilettente named Daria "Dasha" Zhukova who, records show, picked up the property in mid-January of 2010 for $19,500,000. That is, by any account, a huge number but it's also nearly ten million clams less than Mister Krail wanted and just $350,000 more than the premium price he paid for the property 3.5 years prior.

Miss Zhukova is, to say the least, an interesting character on the young and fabulous international art and culture scene. Born in Russia, her mother Elena is a molecular biologist and her father is the controversial and wildly wealthy Russian bidnessman Alexander Zhukova. Her folks went kaput and dee-vorced when she was 10 years old–or somewhere around that age–and she and her mother emigrated to Houston, TX. After a couple of years, Elena and Dasha moved to Los Angeles where property records indicate they settled into a modest if not particularly inexpensive house in the affluent Westwood area just a few blocks away from The Manor, Candy Spelling's overblown residential pile on S. Mapleton Drive. After graduating high school, Miss Zhukova went on to university, matriculating at UC Santa Barbara where she, "did pre-med, Slavic studies, and literature."

Not having visited to her homeland in more than 10 years, she opted to spend her last semester of university in Moscow but soon returned to Los Angeles where she and Christina Tang–a pal from middle school–started up a clothing line called Kova & T. After getting the clothing line up and running–presumably with a few shekels from daddy–she packed her bags and moved to London in order to study homeopathic medicine. By her own account she spent scads of time in Moscow where she she dated racket breaking professional tennis player Marat Safin (now retired).

In 2006, Mister Safin just a notch in her Balenciaga belt, she found a new man-friend in the older, property mad contemporary art collector Roman Abramovich, a notoriously big living Russian oligarch with many billions of bucks at his disposal. In September of 2008, young Miss Zhukova shifted "professional" gears again and with some financial assistance from Mister Abramovich opened the The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in a huge and historic Moscow bus depot that was built in 1926 by noted Russian Constructivist architect Konstanin Melnikov. A few months later, in February of 2009 to be exact and without any publishing experience whatsoever, Miss Zhukova was named editrix-in-chief of the London-based forward thinking fashion and art magazine Pop. The appointment made many in the fashion and publishing world go, "Huh? Wha? Uhm...For real?" Magazine co-founder and current editorial director Ashley Heath had no such reservations and was quoted at the time saying, "Dasha represents a fantastic combination of style, intelligence, youth and cultural clout." Indeed.

Soon after taking on the top spot at Pop, Miss Zhukova turned up preggers with her first child and Mister Abramovich's sixth. In early December of 2009, Dasha popped out a baby boy she and Mister Abramovich named Aaron Alexander.

That's a mitzvah and we wish the three of them happy family and all that crap but what Your Mama really wants to know is how this 28-year bee-hawtcha manages to dart around to all her many international business concerns and jobs and still have time to be the globe-trotting baby momma of billionaire Roman Abramovich who may "live" in Moscow but has more homes around the world that Your Mama has fingers. Among his many homes, Mister Abramovich owns lavish spreads in London, the Cap d'Antibes in the South of France, a couple of houses in Snowmass, CO including the 11 bedroom Wildcat Ridge residence for which he paid $36,375,000, and that $90,000,000 hideaway he recently bought St. Barts, not to mention an armada of yachts so big they have damn helipads.

Yes, pets, Your Mama is aware that flying private saves Dasha darling hours of time and frustration that would otherwise be spent being frisked by "security" and suffering through bag checks with all the little people. And certainly her jet setting is made even more comfortable and convenient when swaddled in the splendiferous bosom–or is it belly?–of Mister Abramovich's custom Boeing 767 jumbo jet that is reported to be soon replaced with an even bigger double-decker A380 super jumbo jet. But still, seriously, how and where does dear Dasha find the time and energy to design, curate, edit and nurse and look casually glamorous in 12 time zones at once? It makes Your Mama's head spin just to think about it. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day and Your Mama can barely find the time to push out the words of our little internet dealy-jobber and still make dinner for the Dr. Cooter let alone hop around the world to attend to three jobs and a dozen houses.

Anyhoo, now that we know who this little miss missy Zhukova is, let's have a look at the twenty million dollar domicile she bought to shack up in when in Los Angeles to visit her mother and check in on her clothing line. Listing information indicates the gated and well secured 9,691 square foot house sits on just over an acre and includes 6 bedrooms, 8.5 poopers and, when not socked in with pore clogging smog, to die for 270 degree views.

The ornate iron gates open to a long gravel driveway that makes a last second bend into a large circular motor court and the, unfortunately, front facing three car garage. Not that Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter will ever be in the market for a twenty million dollar anything–so far be it for us to whine and bitch over details–but for that kind of money we do not want to be looking at the garage when we pull our big BMW up to the front door. Besides, this set up leaves no out of sight parking area for all the minimum wage gurls required to maintain this home to park their beat up Kias. So each and every time you come home to your extravagantly expensive house, you gotta park your Mercedes or Maybach behind Inez's hoopdy Hyundai and Pete the pool boy's scratched up Ty-ota pee-cup truck. That, my friends, would be a deal breaker for many a rich person although not, obviously, for Miss Zhukova.

The ocher colored and tile-roofed villa wraps around the motor court, has minty green shutters–that for twenty million had better be operable–and an unassuming front entry with barely a pediment to announce it. The front door opens into an entrance hall that with all its stone columns, slate floors and reclaimed brick walls looks more like a wine cellar than we might prefer our entry look. Listing information indicates that in addition to the wine-cellar-ish entrance hall, the chunky house has at least 15 rooms including a living room with a reclaimed wood beamed ceiling and fireplace with a carved stone antique surround, a round dining room wrapped in arched French doors, a library, den, sun room, a gore-may kitchen with a wood-burning pizza oven separated from the family room by a wide aged-stone archway, a billiard room, a home gym, state of the art screening room, staff quarters, and an actual wine cellar.

In addition to the staff and family bedrooms and poopers, there is a sprawling master suite with an impressively vaulted ceiling with more antique wood beams, a sitting area with fireplace, a trio of French doors that open to a narrow balcony, and a bathroom with enormous twin vanities with marble counter tops, an intricately tiled floor and a free standing soaking tub for two. We're not sure where the terlit is located, but given that the master pooper looks almost as large as Your Mama's 2-car garage we'd imagine it's located in its own well-ventilated and private room.

There are outrageous views from every room that overlooks or opens to the simply landscaped back yard, which includes wide lawns, several stone terraces and loggias with herringbone brick floors and dee-lishus groin arched ceilings fashioned from reclaimed bricks that make a delightful pixelated pattern that makes Your Mama go all goose pimply with delight. Mister Chase and his people made the somewhat surprising choice to buck Bird Street swimming pool tradition and forwent the proverbial infinity edged pool in lieu of a less dramatic but no less inviting rectangular swimming pool and a slightly raised spa surrounded by by a wide terrace of randomly sized cobblestones. The truth is, or at least as far as Your Mama is concerned, when you've got a dazzling view like this property has, the added histrionics of an infinity edged swimming pool seems like a gilding of the lily. So, bravo!

As far as we know, lucky, lucky, lucky Miss Zhukova continues to maintain a £1,500,000 penthouse on London's Kensington Church Street–that's about $2,400,000 American at today's rates. Her penthouse pad is conveniently located just a hop, skip and a jump from where her baby daddy is combining a couple of Lowndes Square townhouses into one hulking, 30,000 square foot beast that will reportedly have 8 bedrooms, 5 floors above ground, 3 levels below ground–one of which will contain an indoor swimming pool–and 4 flats above the garage for staff. Of course Your Mama don't know a grape from a tennis court but we have to assume that Miss Zhukova and her maliysh will be taking up residence in Mister Abramovich's big ol' townhouse once the extensive renovations have been completed.

photos: Everett Fenton Gidley


Madam Pince said...

Oh dear Lawd. I saw an interior brick arch just like this one on House Hunters last night, and I didn't like it any better in the Midwest than I do in California. I need a bourbon and ginger ale ... pass the nerve pills, Mama.

StPaulSnowman said...

Every year, when I do battle with my friendly property tax assessor, he always uses the sales of neighborhood comps as a basis for the annual increases. It's pretty schizophrenic when your happy, lucky neighbor sells a house for a good price and then everyone else takes it in the shorts in recalculated value assessments. In our area, it is usually someone transferred from California who thinks the house is remarkably cheap when compared to the prices they are used to. Sadly, these well tanned chumps are dwindling in numbers. Should one be happy when a house like this sells for 19 million or should you curse its effect on the neighboring property? Perhaps in this bracket they don't even think about how much property tax they are paying. For those of us mortals who will one day want to sell a house, the taxes will make a sale increasingly difficult. I naively thought that as the values dropped, so would the property taxes.

Sebastian Leopold Berkowitz said...

"Besides, this set up leaves no out of sight parking area for all the minimum wage gurls required to maintain this home to park their beat up Kias."

Hahahahahahahaha... oh mama you turn my crank. Reminds me of a bygone time when my old housegurl Latreasa parked her raggedy-ass Lebaron on my driveway (despite being warned repeatedly to leave the jalopy parked down the street lest it caught the scathing attention of high-falluting neighbours)... well, not only did she block my mur-say-days in the garage when I was rushing out to see my hair hack, but the damn thing leaked oil like the exxon valdez all over a 4x4 area of beautiful pavers... guess beehawtcha took it as a sign though because last I heard she now works reception over at the jiffy lube...

Stewie said...

It's a very nice house. I like the nice drive way that shields the property from prying eyes. Yeh I think she actually did a pretty good deal on this - 19.5m seems reasonable for this property, especially given the initial asking price. Mind you, I'm sure she could have bought something way more expensive, seeing as Roman has quite a bit of cash to spare. I was thinking they'd actually shack up in a place like Beverly Park or along the Bel Air country club. This seems a relatively modest acquisition by Russian billionaire standards. A very nice home though

Carla Ridge said...

The only 'groin vaults' I care for don't have bricks in them.

Anonymous said...

St. Paul Snowman,

I live in Michigan and I know what you mean.
There was a house next to mine that was for sale a few years ago and everyone from around here offered $750,000 for it. Then some idiot from California came in from out of town and paid $850,000 for it.

Probably worth $500,000 now. lol

And for some reason, none of the property taxes on any of my properties have dropped even though the home values have dropped by at least 25% or more.

davidsl said...

in california your property taxes are tied to the sales price of your home, not your neighbors thanks to an ill conceived piece of legislations from the '80's called proposition 13. so this sale has no affect whatsoever on the taxes of the neighbors.

Grrrowler said...

I feel like I should love this house, but the best I can come up with is "meh". I suppose it would be more interesting in person, but in pictures it's pretty boring.

As for the garages at the front of the house, if there's enough land for a longer driverway they shouldn't be the focal point on a $200K house, let alone a $20mil house. With that much land available to this house surely the architect could have flipped the doors to the back of that wing. Instead, they became the largest single element on the front of the house.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm looking at the brochure for the upscale Inn at some upscale Napa winery. Not necessarily a bad thing, but...

It would be be very amusing if they'd managed to Photoshop in a scene from Avatar on the screen in the media room.

Luke Gibson Photography said...

I like the photography of most of the images, but it would've helped if a wide-angle lens had been used, especially on the front exterior images, to capture the entire front of the house, and in the pool area. I would've loved to photograph this house; it has a lot of great detail and something interesting at every turn.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised she didn't buy the Spelling Home for 150 million.

Anonymous said...


staff parks on the street, and walks up that long driveway. isn't that how your workers do it?