Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Morsel: Big Bang's Simon Helberg

SELLER: Simon Helberg
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $849,000
SIZE: 2,569 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Today's second morsel comes by way of Zillow who last week beat us to the punch on their report about The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg pushing his (relatively) modest and charming if not exactly inexpensive Los Angeles, CA crib on the market for $849,000.

Mister Helberg may not, we recognize, be a household name or tabloid fixture but he was none-the-less born and bred in Tinseltown. His father is comedy actor Sandy Helberg (Spinal Tap, High Anxiety) and his mother Harriet Helberg a (former) casting agent for t.v. shows like Night Court movies like The Jazz Singer. Mister Helberg the younger, now in his early 30s and married to actress Jocelyn Towne, has been floating professionally around Hollywood since the early Noughts. Before landing on the Emmy-winning sleeper hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory in 2007 he had recurring roles on a number of tee-vee series including MADtv, Joey and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

As noted, property records show unlucky in real estate Mister Helberg purchased the residence in May 2008 for $950,000. Mister Helberg's property, while not without copious charms, won't be most real estate snobs idea of a dream house as it sits smack in the heart of a densely-packed neighborhood many fancy-pants Angelenos may have been through but probably not to, a leafy and palm tree-sprinkled enclave in the northern reaches of the decidedly down market Koreatown neighborhood between downtown and the historic (and far more upscale) Hancock Park.

Anyhoo, a few quick flicks of the well-worn beads of Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that even with an unlikely full-price sale Mister Helberg faces a not insubstantial loss of $101,000 not counting carrying costs, upgrade and renovation expenses and real estate fees.

Listing information shows the restored and updated 1910 Craftsman-style residence measures 2,569 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathroom. A detached single car garage at the rear of the property has and attached office and bathroom and upstairs there's a self-contained guest suite with vaulted ceilings, private bathroom and open plan living area with full kitchen.

A covered porch at the front of the house marks the entry into a long entry/living room with stained-glass windows, wood floors, beamed ceiling, and stone fireplace. Built-in, half-height book shelves separate the living area from a lounge/reading nook with window seats tucked under the windows.

The dining room, one entire wall fitted with a built-in buffet with glass-doored cabinets, leads into the kitchen, updated with a Suburu-sized Viking range with 8 burners and two ovens, A family room at the back of the house has a bank of French doors that slide (as opposed to swing) open to a small deck that steps down to a wee tiled terrace in the back yard.

Lawn surrounds the wee tiled terrace and extends back to the detached single car garage/office/guest house.

listing photos: Nourmand & Associates

Monday Morsel: Snapper David La Chapelle

BUYER: David LaChapelle
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $1,739,500
SIZE: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Today's first tidbit comes courtesy of the fine folks at Curbed who recently revealed saucy, surrealistic and some might say soo-blime photographer and artist David LaChapelle recently coughed up $1,739,500 for a spectacularly re-done if somewhat sedate new apartment in New York City townhouse built in 1854.

For many years Mister LaChapelle, a staple on the downtown NYC arts, culture and nightlife scenes for–dare we say–decades, lived in the East Village but apparently plans to move on over to the west side where he's acquired a one bedroom and one bathroom parlor floor apartment at the western end of Chelsea, once The Big Apple's gayest neighborhood, now home to the super-fab High Line, a number of excellent dining establishments and a thick crush of high-brow art galleries.

Listing information and marketing materials for the floor through residence show it encompasses a three generous but far from gigantic rooms placed front to back, each with marble fireplace. When the French and pocket doors the divide the rooms are all open the tow allow a view from the front of the apartment clear through the back and out the over-sized bay window that opens to a north-facing private terrace set into the tree tops.

The center room, in its current decorative configuration, does triple duty as the entry, dining room and office area. To the south, through elaborate French doors with side lights and fan-shaped transom, the lone bedroom offers a pair of south facing windows that look out onto the leafy street. The architect and/or decorator solved the closet problem–there is not according to the floor plan a single built-in closet in the entire apartment–with a matching pair of custom-designed and manly-looking wardrobes.

The main living area at the far back of the apartment has a flat screen tee-vee mounted over a chocolate marble mantel, a pair of built-in book-case, a deep bay window, and a sliver-wide kitchen with integrated appliances and white Shaker-style cabinetry topped by thick slabs of grey-veined white marble.

The dynamite old-school Italianate architectural details such as the elaborate plaster moldings–either preserved and restored or painstakingly re-created–and the finely-finished masculine-edged day-core belie the wired up reality of the one-bedroom residence equipped with a new-fangled Crestron home automation system that controls the lighting, integrated audio and visual systems, and electronically operated window treatments.

Your Mama has discussed Mister LaChapelle previously. In the early days of 2009 we prattled on about a 1924 Spanish style casa tucked snugly up into the hillside behind the Chateau Marmont Hotel owned by Mister LaChapelle and at that time listed with an asking price of $1,550,000. Property records show Mister LaChapelle sold the house for fifty grand over asking price in December of the same year to a noted L.A.-based art photographer.

Prior to that, back in the celebrity real estate Dark Ages of January 2007, Your Mama ooed and cooed over the 1,350 square foot two-bedroom East Village apartment Mister LaChapelle had listed at $1,995,000. The apartment was taken off and put back on the market a time or two and the asking price eventually fell to $1,695,000 when it evaporated from the open market in April 2009. The peeps at Property Shark show the famous photographer finally sold his East Village white elephant in June of this year (2011) to an corporate entity for $1,683,000.

Mister LaChapelle may be the most famous photographer to currently reside in the building but he isn't the only high profile photographer who has owed a piece of the townhouse pie. Property records show way back in 2005 Diego Uchitel, another high-profile picture snapper of famous folks, sold a similarly sized one bedroom and one bathroom floor through apartment for $1,295,000. Mister Uchitel's old apartment was until a couple weeks ago listed with a $1,400,000 price tag and some of the children may recall that over the summer Mister Uchitel and his fashion executive wife put their stylish upstate New York bolt hole on the market at $2,995,000. We're not sure what's happened to this listing and we haven't yet bothered to look. We'll amend when we get around to it.

listing photos: Stribling New York

Book Review: Unreal Estate

After much anticipation amongst real estate-o-philes in Los Angeles and no doubt around the world author and journalist Michael Gross' latest exposé Unreal Estate finally hits the bookstores and online retailers tomorrow.

We are a fan. And not, mind y'all, just because a substantial quote by yours truly appears on the book jacket and not either because we are also referenced and quoted repeatedly in chapter three. It's because, for better and worse, we love a thick and juicy real estate tale of the rich and famous and at that Mister Gross is a master.

Many of the children surely already know–and all of the children who care a whit about such trivial matters should–Mister Gross penned 740 Park, a delectably hair-raising history of 740 Park Avenue–one of the most exclusive and enigmatic buildings in New York City–and its parade of improbably wealthy residents.

Your Mama spent a good portion of the unusually warm weekend tucked into a butterfly chair in our shaded back yard with an advanced copy of Unreal Estate, a 500-page tome that exhaustively unravels the hidden histories of more than a dozen of Los Angeles' greatest and most storied estates in what's commonly called the Platinum Triangle, the high-priced nexus of Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills and Bel Air. The rarefied high maintenance real estate, as delish as it is to read about, acts primarily as the lubricant for Mister Gross' real subject(s): the astonishingly luxurious, weirdly insular, sometimes sordid, often unsavory and frequently tragic palace intrigues of their (usually) well-heeled and (always) high-living residents.

Take for instance the extreme decadence and rather sordid melodrama that has surrounded Grayhall, a vast, 20-bathroom Beverly Hills pile built by a Boston banker and later owned by a laundry list of Tinseltown legends like silent film superstar Douglas Fairbanks, too-tan actor/gadabout George Hamilton who lived in unhappy ickiness in the posh mansion with his brother and mother, a high-flying (and shady-seeming) international financier named Bernie Cornfeld who, like Hugh Hefner, housed a bevy young women in dorm-like bedrooms, and Herbalife's multi-level marketing master Mark Hughes and two of his wives.

Tabloid-inclined readers will enjoy the scads of scandalicious morsels about about west coast movers and shakers like now deceased Holmby Hills resident Alfred Bloomingdale, heir to the eponymous department store fortune, Ronald Reagan kitchen cabinet member, and enjoyer of kinky sex who kept a much younger mistress on retainer for a dozen years. His long-time wife and widow Betsy remains ensconced in the couple's grand Delfern Drive mansion and a prominent and powerful force amongst the hoitiest of the toitiest in Los Angeles' haute society.

Then there's poor Dolly Green, the privileged daughter of Burton Green, a co-founder of Beverly Hills. The grande dame, sometimes portrayed by Mister Gross as rather crass and course, lived large and fast but ultimately died alone but for and at the mercy of her domestic staff and legal advisers. Miz Green lived lavishly in a spectacular Wallace Neff-designed mansion on Bellagio Road in Bel Air now owned by soap opera tycoon Bill Bell and his philanthropically-minded wife Maria.

We recommend Unreal Estate be read in close proximity to an internet-abled computer because it's good fun to key in the (often provided) addresses of the discussed estates for a delicious aerial peep of the very real unreality of real estate in the Platinum Triangle.

Late last week the Deadline Hollywood blog announced that Mister Gross' book has been optioned by the folks at HBO for a Joel Silver-produced series. Mavel tov Mister Gross!

Mister Gross will be reading from Unreal Estate in New York Wednesday (Barnes and Noble on East 86th Street at 7pm) and at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles on November 10 at 7pm.

photo: Broadway Books

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clothing Designer Christian Audigier Lists Topanga (CA) Compound

SELLER: Christian Audigier
PRICE: $3,299,000
SIZE: 3.15 acres, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama apologizes for today's delay. It's been a trying week to begin with and this morning we were down and out with a still not entirely cleared up technical issue in the form or a misbehaving lap top computer. Almost as soon as we managed to get the lap top bandaged and running on three cylinders we had to dart out to our Beverly Hills dermatologist to have a little thing removed. Needless to say, we're a bit bedraggled and definitely behind the eight ball this Friday and, indeed, this entire week. We will be properly back up in the celebrity real estate saddle soon. Anyhoo, we only digress in our complaints.

Today's celebrity real estate subject comes courtesy of an historic and decoratively idiosyncratic Topanga, CA compound owned by consummate self-promoter/clothing designer Christian Audigier and recently put on the open market with an asking price of $3,299,000. According to the fine folks at Trulia, the neo-Mexi-western meets Tinseltown style compound is also available for lease at a rate of $16,500 per month.

In his teen-aged youth French-born and bred Mister Audigier worked for iconic 1980s Italian fashion label Fiorucci and became–according to the interweb–an in-demand wunderkind of denim who consulted for this, that and a bunch of other designers. Eventually Mister Audigier landed in Los Angeles and lit out on his own. His first real claim to household name fame was the formerly ubiquitous Von Dutch trucker that used to be worn by scad of celebs like Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher and made Mister Audigier a mountain of money and famous the world over.

He followed up Von Dutch, amongst other projects, with Ed Hardy, a casual but glittery brand that consists of anything and everything that can be blinged-out, bedazzled and/or brazenly emblazoned with graffiti and/or a vintage tattoo design: Swarovski crystal-encrusted tennis shoes, you ask? They got 'em; Rhinestone-studded t-shirts for men? Oh yes indeed, children, but only if you dare; Smart phone cases and chintzy key chains? But of course, mon chéri; Mister Audigier, bless his heart, even gets people to pay him–pay him, children–to drive cars that besides getting its owner from place to place acts as a free and moving billboard advertisement for Mister Audigier's Ed Hardy brand.

At some point, it seems, Mister Audigier realized the salad days of too-tan men wearing gold chains and low-rise tattoo-printed jeans have come to a close. A quick perusal of their online shopping portal reveals that much of the newer Ed Hardy merchandise presents itself in a much less sparkly and flamboyant manner than for which it became (in)famous.

Listen chickens, we don't mean to be mean here but let's be dead honest. Whatever one may think of or however one may judge Mister Audigier's unsubtle self-promoting ways, his flashy (and some might say trashy) lifestyle, and his many fad-oriented fashion brands, the man mastered the fine and gruesome retail art of selling bizarrely bedazzled shit for whole lotta shinola. Y'all can crucify him for making bank on all his over-labeled brands but it's not his fault vast numbers of fashion fools were willing to pay upwards of $200 for a t-shirt with a giant rhinestone studded skull on it. It might be harsh for Your Mama to blast off like this but those people who were all too willing to spend real money on Ed Hardy hairdryers and corny sneakers jazzed up with a glittery dragon should have known better. Don't hate the playa, baby, hate the game.

Anyhoo, property records show that it was in July 2008 that Mister Audigier purchased his semi-remote spread nestled high in the Santa Monica Mountains. Tucked into a tight hair pin curve on a winding road that runs between Malibu and Woodland Hills, the irregularly shaped 3.15 acre estate cost Mister Audigier, as per property records, $2,075,000.
Listing information shows the electronically gated compound–the arched sign over the driveway identifies it, natch, as the C-A Ranch–includes a 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom Spanish style main house from 1931 and a quartet of guest cottages. A one-time–and, we presume, deconsecrated–chapel on the property can now used for more heathen purposes generically identified in the listing as "entertainment." We're not sure but we wonder if that stone-walled space shown in listing photographs, the one where several over-sized and differently colored chandeliers are hung low in a wacky cluster over the coffee table, is the old chapel hall. Whatever that room is, it's a miracle some babe in a bedazzled bikini or shirtless male model with a crystal-studded cell phone case haven't sued Mister Audiger after bumping their pretty heads on those darkly beautiful but dangerous-looking things.
 Anyhoo, throughout the house there are vintage Malibu-style tile details and, from the few listing images available, Mister Audigier appears to have done up and worked over the interior spaces with mixy-matchy sort of day-core that includes a saddle or two; one giant ball crafted with itty-bitty bits of driftwood; an Indonesian-looking carved wood fireplace mantel; worn, tufted leather sofas; wall-mounted animal skulls laden with multi-colored cowboy hats; fur bedspreads and pillow shams; deer antler table lamps; and fancy looking guitars set around in unlikely spots. It's visually aggressive and certainly feels to Your Mama more than a little self-conscious. We, in fact, had to steel our battered nerves with a handful of Tootsie Rolls when we really gave the listing photographs a good inspection. Even still, we'd rather stuff our face with candy and look at decorating derring-do like this than one of those mortifying milquetoast (mc)mansions where everything is brown and beige.
A flagstone terrace surrounds surrounds a long and dark-bottomed rectilinear swimming pool. One side of the pool is lined, boo-teek hotel-like, with 10 or 12 chaise lounges, matching market umbrellas and a couple of curtain-lined poolside cabanas for dining and lounging in a shaded environment.

Lush green lawns mix with more desert-friendly landscaping around the house. Pathways meander through thickets of mature oak, pine and olive trees to the various corners of the property that includes a stream and what listing information calls a "young vineyard."

His neo-Mexi-western meets Tinseltown-style compound in Topanga is not, as it turns out, the only of Mister Audigier's decadently dressed homes currently on the market. Just over a year ago, Mister Audigier heaved his highly-styled 8,276 square foot mansion in Los Angeles' hoity-toity Hancock Park 'hood on the market with an $8,299,000 price tag. Since then, Mister Audigier, who bought the 7 bedroom and 7 bathroom residence in early 2007 for $4,780,000, has had the architecturally dignified (but tarted up) 1920s era mansion off and on the market a couple of times. It was re-listed about two weeks ago with a reduced asking price of $7,650,000.

listing photos (both properties): Sotheby's International Realty

Thursday, October 27, 2011

British Sketch Comedy King Matt Lucas Snaps Up West Hollywood Mini-Compound

BUYER: Matt Lucas
LOCATION: West Hollywood, CA
PRICE: $2,900,000
SIZE: 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms (total)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The British are coming! The British are coming! Well, British sketch comedy king Matt Lucas is coming to West Hollywood anyways.

Mister Lucas, a pudgy, pasty-faced, bald-pated and utterly fearless comedian has toiled in Britain's Big Business of Show since the mid-1990s. He rocketed to comedic fame in the mid-Noughts when he co-created, co-wrote, and co-starred in the super-smart, toilet-humored, and deliciously un-p.c. sketch comedy program Little Britain.

On Little Britain, canceled in 2006, Mister Lucas portrayed a slew of jaw-dropping sad-sack characters including Andy Pipkin, a slovenly middle-aged man who pretends to be disabled, and Vicky Pollard, a pink track suit-wearing chav teenager with a brassy blond pony tail and a rat-a-tat-tat motor-mouth. Little Britain had a brief run on American television (2007-2008) but British Humor–caps intended–doesn't always fly with the American telly watching audience and the show was canceled after a single season.

More recently Mister Lucas appeared as both Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and as Kristen Wiig's sublimely creepy roommate Gil in this year's mega-hit Bridesmaids. He currently does it up as a variety of characters on BBC America's Come Fly with Me, a tawdry mock-reality spoof based on a pair of British documentaries about the airline industries. We haven't watched much of the show but what we have viewed makes Your Mama need a nerve pill in all the best and worst ways.

Mister Lucas giddily hinted in the fall of 2010 to Jimmy Fallon he might want to drop any pretense of artistic integrity, "move a bit" to Los Angeles, and "sell out" for fame and fortune. Subsequently, in late August of this year, Mister Lucas announced he planned to move to America–to Hollywood–in order to "make a go of it over there."

We don't know Mister Lucas so we haven't a clue what his professional opportunities or commitments may be but it does appear the man plans to plant some proper real estate roots in Tinseltown. Deeds and documents Your Mama rather randomly ran across show in mid-September (2011) the dryly quick-witted 40-ish year old British comedy phenom dropped a star-sized $2,900,000 on a celebrity-style compound on one of the most desirable streets in West Hollywood, CA.

Your Mama thinks two point nine million is an ass-load of dinero for a house without a swimming pool. But, children, when considering the high price we must also consider Mister Lucas' centrally located and privately situated stateside compound is a veritable Los Angeles Residential Real Estate Unicorn: The compound is actually and in complete truth located in short walking distance to all sorts of places an upscale (and possibly homosexual) resident might want to go like Trader Joe's, the dry cleaner, a fancy gym, well-stocked pharmacy, City Hall for parking permits, and the Pacific Design Center for high-end decorating doo-dads, gew-gaws and hoozy-goozies. Dining options accessible without a car are myriad and include the Restaurant at the Sunset Marquis and the original Barney's Beanery not to mention Nobu and a Koo Koo Roo with outdoor seating.

Anyhoo, the two-residence compound was sold by the estate of recently deceased vocalist/songwriter Gil Garfield whose claim to fame was a few top 10 single hits in the 1950s with a trio called The Cheers. Bert Convey was a third of the trio before he became a game show host. Redfin shows Mister Garfield purchased the property in April 2007 for $3,499,000, a number that means Mister Garfield's estate took a substantial $600,000-plus loss on the property.
In addition to the West Hollywood mini-compound Mister Garfield also owned an historic estate in Palm Springs (sold in May 2011 for $1,750,000) and a John Elgin Woolf-designed and Michael Taylor-decorated Hollywood Regency-style residence just above Los Angeles' Sunset Strip currently on the market for $2,995,000 (shown above). Your Mama hears from our amigo Juan Totellyousomething–a long-time pal of Mister Garfield–that singer Michael Bublé leased the Woolf-designed residence before he bought his Bird Street aerie in the spring of 2009. At one time Mister Garfield also owned the house next door to his Woolf-designed digs that he sold to boo-teek hotelier Jeff Klein, owner of the Sunset Tower Hotel, and his man-mate John Goldwyn, a Hollywood scion and film and television producer (Dexter, Baby Mama).

Anyhoodles poodles, we digress and we're here to discuss Mister Lucas and his new American bolt hole. Listing information for the gated and high-hedged property shows the main house, a single-story Spanish-style casa, was built in 1928 and includes 3 bedrooms and 2.75 bathrooms. The Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the house measures 2,245 square feet, which may or may not be accurate. The living and entertaining areas of the main house include a large living room with vaulted ceiling and fireplace, formal dining room plus a circular breakfast room, and a state-of-the-art kitchen with stainless steel cabinetry and a massive work island with a view of a courtyard garden through a vast and very contemporary wall of glass.

Lush landscaping, secluded courtyards, open terraces, and a variety of pathways and fountains surround and separate the main house from the unusually large two-story guest house near the back of the property. Listing information shows the guest house encompasses a living area, kitchenette, 2 bedrooms, one bathroom and a roof top terrace accessed by a swooping exterior staircase.

When queried, Señor ToTellyousomething whispered to Your Mama the guest house is "close to" 2,000 square feet and that the lower level, a loft-like space with kitchenette, was used by Mister Garfield as an art studio where he made abstract paintings. The second floor–previously occupied according to  Señor ToTellyousomething by Mister Garfield's private chef/man Friday–contains a bathroom, bedroom and living area that opens through wide banks of sliding windows to a sunny roof terrace with tree top views. Sadly, as mentioned above, the property does not currently have a swimming pool. It should and if Mister Lucas wants Your Mama to shove our big ol' backside into a swimsuit for a pool party–and we're absolutely certain he does not–we recommend the newly expatriated actor add one before next summer. Just a thought.

Welcome to Hollywood Mister Lucas.

listing photos (Lucas compound): Rodeo Realty
listing phtoos (Woolf-designed residence): Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills North

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writer/Producer Jesse Alexander Puts Quirky Pad Up For Sale

SELLER: Jesse Alexander
LOCATION: Sherman Oaks, CA
PRICE: $2,100,000
SIZE: 4,399 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Sorry Charlies, but pickins are a bit slim in the celebrity real estate world today so rather than a household name, big time billionaire or tawdry tabloid princess let's discuss a decidedly but pleasantly peculiar Sherman Oaks, CA residence owned by television writer/producer Jesse Alexander and listed on the open market this week with a $2,100,000 price tag.

For most of the first decade of the Noughts, Mister Alexander successfully toiled as a staff writer and/or executive producer on a number of hit shows (Lost, Alias and Heroes) that each spawned a rabid cult-like following of fans and, let's be honest chickens, more than a few fanatics. Lost, Alias and Heroes have all been canceled.

Mister Alexander's resume on the Internet Movie Data Base indicates he's won one Emmy–for Lost–but there are actually two Emmy statuettes that on the shelf behind the desk in his self-contained home office that contains a kitchenette, bathroom, and an entire wall lined with video game consoles and pinball machines. Speaking of quasi-nerdy pursuits such as video game console collecting, in addition to his television activities Mister Alexander has participated in the development of various video games as well as written a number of graphic novels.

Property records show Mister Alexander, who is (or was) married–we don't know–and produced a couple of young boy children, acquired the gated and privately situated Sherman Oaks residence in late August 2002 for $1,125,000. We're not sure what exactly the house looked like back in 2002 but listing photographs show the exterior is now a somewhat wacky, wee bit whacked, and not entirely recommended but not altogether displeasing architectural mash-up between a cedar-shingled east coast-ian Cape Cod and a classic SoCal post-and-beam mid-century modern.

The wide gated driveway extends from the street deep in to the property where there's a two-car attached garage, a cramped flag stone entry terrace and and off-center pitched overhang that signifies the front entry. The children will note that Mister Alexander, his wife and/or their nice, gay decorator used a proper crystal chandelier for a porch light, a brazenly glitzy choice that hints of the idiosyncratic, colorful, multi-patterned and very personal day-core splashed about over all the interior spaces.

Double doors open into a hub-like foyer with shallow vaulted ceiling, a stairwell to the lower level, and milk chocolate colored hardwood floors. A wide door way on the right reveals the mostly black and white banquet hall-sized dining room and directly opposite the front door another wide doorway, this one flanked with pony-wall pedestals, festooned with a paper garland, and bracketed by high-contrast red and white curtain panels, steps down into what was probably originally intended for use as a "formal" living room.

Rather than a formal living room that no one besides an occasional guest ever even looks at or goes in to, the Alexander clan re-purposed the "formal" living room in to a casual, put your bare feet on the coffee table-type of library/media room with chunky stone fireplace, walls lined with book-filled book shelves, and a floor-to-ceiling windows and sliders that open to a tree house-like covered veranda. When it's movie watching time, black out curtains pull closed over the windows and an over-sized, ceiling-mounted projection screen scrolls down from the ceiling. Kudos to the papier-mâché wart hog head mounted on the chimney breast and a hip-hip-hoo-ray for the identical wheel-mounted navy blue sofas that thankfully anchor and smooth out the colorfully rough edges of the otherwise cacophonous and chaotic but ultimately cozy space.

The dining room, formal only in size and perhaps palette, has a decoratively daring semi-glossy black band painted below the belly high chair rail, a behemoth butcher block-topped farmhouse table that easily seats 12, and a DIY-ish light fixture fashioned from ordinary plumbing pipes and five polka-dotted lamp shades. Mis-matched frames line two walls and feature a rather extensive collection of cheesy but charming dog portraits.
The lustrous milk chocolate hardwood floors continue from the dining room in to the the all-white and stainless steel kitchen finished with lightly veined white marble counter tops and gleaming white subway tile back splashes that extend–as they should–from the counter top clear to the base of the upper cabinets.
 The kitchen opens to a casual dining area and family room with wood-beamed vaulted ceiling. At one end a built-in breakfast banquette has a cheeky, white tufted leather bench seat. At the other end a Union Jack patterned rug–with the traditionally red stripes replaced with a mossy taupe color–defines the family room area where a wonderfully well-worn club chair-style brown leather sofa manages to make a happy decorative marriage between a flashy white laminate and stainless steel coffee table, even flashier zebra-striped chaise lounger, and black and white honeycomb-patterned curtains that can be pulled closed over the wide banks of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors that line two walls.
The master suite, adequate in size for Your Mama and the Dr. Cooters needs but downright eensy-weensy by modern-day suburban mcmansion standards, offers a petite sitting area with huge sliding glass doors that open to a deep covered patio and a pair closets where the doors have been replaced with piped valances and white fabric panels. The attached (all-white) bathroom isn't particularly large but is well laid out and certainly luxurious with double sinks, marble counter tops, vintage-style honeycomb tile floors, a separate terlit

The pervasively eclectic and, yes, whimsical, day-core blooms completely in the bedrooms and play room spaces of the Alexander children. In one room, red and black Tartan-print wall-to-wall carpeting clashes perfectly with a camouflage bean bag, rainbow-colored Takashi Murakami flower cushion, wall-mounted cardboard-constructed animal heads, and an entire wall covered in a green and blue toned topological map of the world. It's a visual riot to be sure, children, but it also looks to Your Mama like a highly stimulating room perfect for the educational activities and play time explorations of young children.

In addition to a play room space for the kiddies, the lower level of the house includes a small vestibule with treadmill and a sizable self-contained space with kitchenette, bathroom and direct backyard access. Listing photos show the white-walled room used as an office space with an Eames desk, a Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair, and the aforementioned wall of video game consoles and pinball machines.
The back yard has four or five distinct areas that include a terraced section (where we'd plant a couple rows of citrus trees) and a bed of bark (or something) with a complicated- and expensive-looking jungle gym contraption, a long narrow swathe of green grass interrupted by a square, island-like deck. A concrete and flag stone-floored covered porch with white-brick chimney breast and raised fireplace/grill continues around the house and extends towards the rear corner of the property where a multi-level terrace surrounds a raised circular spa with rock waterfall that tumbles down to a dark-bottomed, lagoon-style free-form swimming pool. A free-standing, fabric-lined, and semi-permanent cabana established a swell spot to escape the skin-scorching San Fernando Valley summertime sunshine.

listing photos: Coldwell Banker

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

John Hughes' Widow Lists Lake Forest Estate

SELLER: Nancy Hughes, widow of John Hughes
LOCATION: Lake Forest, IL
PRICE: $5,890,000
SIZE: 11,233 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 4 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Few movie watching folks betwixt and between the ages of 15 and 65 have not in some way been affected or even transformed by the couple of dozen angst-ridden and ennui-laden teen comedies written, directed and/or produced by the late, great film maker John Hughes.

Mister Hughes' film making flame burned white hot although relatively briefly, his salad days being the mid-1980s to mid-1990s when he created and conjured scads of iconic (and dark-edged) coming of age movies that include National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and the Home Alone franchise). In addition to making Macaulay a child star of epic proportions, Mister Hughes' movies paved the path towards not always long-standing fame and fortune for a long list of young actors who become known as The Brat Pack. They include but are not limited to Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy and Anthony Michael Hall.

The bespectacled and socially awkward-seeming Mister Hughes never cottoned to the glitzy-glam life of an a-list Tinseltowner and all but withdrew from the harsh glare of the kleig lights in the mid- to late-1990s. He reportedly continued to write (and write and write) and penned the story for a few (not very good) movies–can you say Maid In Manhattan? He'd effectively (and effectively) retreated from the ugly Business of Show, a probably not-entirely-conscious maneuver that has created a mystique and enduring legacy that surrounds the public memory of the man, the writer and the movie maker; In August of 2009, while walking down West 55th Street in Manhattan where he was visiting family, a 59 year old Mister Hughes unexpectedly suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Since sometime in 1988, Mister Hughes his wife and their two children–now grown adults–lived in a grand, Tudor-style mansion in the affluent Chicago, IL suburb of Lake Forest. Many of Mister Hughes movies are set in very similar upper middle class suburbs such as that which he lived. Property records are frustratingly vague but Mister and Missus Hughes reportedly paid around $600,000 in 1988–the apex of his film making fame–for the quite sizable Tudor-style pile on a thickly forested, 2.1 acre estate situated a short block or so from the sandy beaches that line the shore of Lake Michigan.

Just months after Mister Hughes met his maker on the streets of Manhattan his wife Nancy bought a new house, albeit just .6 miles from the old one. More on that later. With a new mansion, one not intimately connected to the life, times and early passing of her husband, Miz Hughes recently heaved and hoisted the house she previously shared with Mister Hughes on the market with an asking price of $5,890,000.

Current listing information shows the two-parcel spread and the original mansion was designed by architect Edwin Hill Clark and completed in 1930 for local scion Arthur Farwell Tuttle. Mister and Missus Hughes made a two-story addition to the house in 1992 that painstakingly matched the architectural detail of the original residence down to having custom hardware replicated for the doors.

The 17-room Tudor–or 21-room Tudor depending where one peeps in the property records–wraps around an intricately patterned brick driveway and massive motor court. Listing information shows the multi-winged mansion measures 11,233 square feet–property records show 18,725 and 16,909 square feet depending on where we look–and contains six-to-seven bedrooms–depending on how one counts, 6 fireplaces, a 3-car (heated!) garage, and six full and 4 half bathrooms. That's ten terlits, kiddos, which means the Hughes family either spent a lot of their free time scrubbing bowls or they employed a part-time minimum wage worker whose sole responsibility was to wield a wire scrub brush and a can of Comet.

The generously-scaled interior spaces at Chez Hughes have airy 10-11 foot ceilings and retain much of their original architectural detailing that includes wide-plank wood floors and extensive custom mill work. Your Mama asks that the children take note of the way the architect has the front door opening in to a discreetly dignified small, paneled vestibule rather than directly into the much larger but still intimate foyer.

It was only last week that we prattled on about airplane hanger sized foyers so buckle your seat belts, bunny rabbits, because here we go again: Lowerd Jeezis in heaven have mercy on Your Mama for we arr so damn dog-tired of all these inexplicably ubiquitous and unnecessarily bloated mcmansions where the front door opens directly into a way-to-flashy double height foyer with twin staircases like it was the lobby of some gaudy god damn boo-teek hotel. The children ought to trust Your Mama when we bloviate about how there ain't nuthin' less sexy or welcoming than being smacked across the face by a warehouse-sized foyer all too bluntly and conspicuously designed with a horrifying lack of restraint and seemingly specific purpose to do little more than impress the guests and induce eye-popping bouts of envy from the obviously impoverished Chinese food delivery guy.

Anyhoo, in addition to the well-scaled and fireplaced formal living and dining rooms, listing information for Mister and Missus Hughes' home indicates other rooms include paneled library with vaulted ceiling, media room (or 7th bedroom), and  a tile-floored sun room/conservatory with arched French doors the open to one of the four blue stone terraces that surround the residence.

The kitchen, large and well-equipped but out-dated and slightly industrial-looking, has a massive brass and stainless steel pot rack that looms over the butcher block-topped center work island and connects by way of perfectly aligned pointed archways through a sizable bay-windowed breakfast room to a family room with fireplace, French doors and wood-beamed ceiling.

Listing information also indicates the mansion contains a rear hall with back stair case, a sewing room, recreation room–whatever that is, and a custom-fitted office suite with wood floors, tray ceiling, fireplace, a wide niche lined with built-in bookshelves, and a built-in desk.

Wide, croquet and bocce-ball friendly lawns meander around the landscaped estate that includes a number of terraces for casual and large-scale entertaining as well as a 50-foot long swimming pool surrounded by a thicket of mature shade trees.
As mentioned earlier, just months after Mister Hughes tragically met his maker on the streets of Manhattan his long-time wife and widow Nancy dropped $5,200,000 on a smaller but still baronial Cotswald-style mansion (above) on 1.34 acres that sit just over half a mile away from the currently for sale residence she shared with Mister Hughes. The approximately 9,500 square foot residence, accessed via a 55-foot long private bridge that spans a forested ravine, was built and completed in 2005 by a local real estate developer and listing information Your Mama managed to scare up out of the interweb shows it encompasses 17 rooms with 5-6 bedrooms and 7 full and 4 half bathrooms.

listing images (old house): Coldwell Banker
exterior image (new house): Chicago Magazine

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oracle's Multi-Bazillionaire Larry Ellison Lists Bay Area Horse Property

SELLER: Larry Ellison
LOCATION: Woodside, CA
PRICE: $19,000,000
SIZE: 5,850 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen kittens, Your Mama may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but we are neither a dumb bell with our fat head stuck in the sand. Like all of the rest of y'all, Your Mama is well aware of the heavy, wet blanket of weltschmerz that's settled over many and angrily gripped others of the world's citizenry.

At the risk of appearing far more flip than we actually are, we all have a cross to bear through both the best and ugliest of times. Our beast of burden, for better or worse, is the reportage–as it were–of the admittedly unimportant milieu of celebrity real estate. We confess our rather frivolous and superficially focused obsessions sometimes cause us a rash from extreme envy, soaring moments of financial aspiration, a bit of schadenfreude now and then and, yes, sometimes even a brutally paralyzing futility of purpose. Even so, and keeping in mind that one need not dwell 24-7 in the darkness and deficiencies of modern life to maintain a strong engagement with their moral compass, forward we march, our gold sneaker-shod feet following in our well-worn if shallow

Last week from the always jaw-dropping world of billionaire real estate came the news–or the "news" iffin you're so inclined to see it that way– that high-tech über-tycoon and residential real estate baller extraordinaire Larry Ellison has over the last few years dropped upwards of $100,000,000 on a trio of non-contiguous multi-parcel properties that ring the sensationally high-priced shoreline of Lake Tahoe. More on that here and later.

Mister Ellison, as real estate watchers the globe over well-know, appears frequently in all the real estate gossip columns for his prolific property purchasing ways and obvious penchant for insanely expensive and extraordinarily high-maintenance properties.

For many years Mister Ellison–now in his later sixties, deeply suntanned, gym-toned and worth an estimated 33 billion dollars–has made his home base in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley near the mother offices of his hyper successful hard/software company. (That would be data base management juggernaut Oracle in case any of y'all are completely ignorant of who Mister Ellison is.)
Down on the peninsula south of San Francisco Mister Ellison owns a couple of super-posh and very pricey estates in Woodside (CA) including a maniacally clipped and manicured 23-ish acre Japanese-style country estate where modern conveniences are all but invisible behind and below the multiple, completely authentic, and painstakingly constructed structures hand-built by artisans and architects well-schooled in 16th century Japanese architecture and building techniques.

Por ejemplo, niños, the main house is built entirely without nails but is none-the-less seismically sound to endure a 7.3 earthquake and a Disneyland-like flip of a switch causes a misty fog to develop–Japan-like, it seems–over the 2.3 acre man-made lake around which the compound is built. The house, a serious work of art, really, is rumored and much reported to have cost Mister Ellison an astonishing and tummy twisting $200,000,000-plus to acquire, design, and build. 'Course that's small potatoes compared to the (alleged) billion dollar-plus construction costs of Mukesh Ambani's 570-foot tower mansion in Mumbai. But we digress.

In classic multi-billionaire real estate baller style, back in November 2005 Mister Ellison shelled out a not inconsequential $23,000,000 to purchase a pair of adjacent equine-friendly properties located just a bit more than one mile from his giant Japanese compound in Woodside. The two properties encompass 6.88 acres and include a stately, four-columned Colonial style mansion with detached 3-car garage, poolside cabana, detached guest house, two barns and–as can be expected of Mister High Maintenance Real Estate–extensive gardens and various equestrian facilities all of which are protected–we should all assume–a state-of-the-art security system capable of closed-circuit surveillance and grave injury.

Unbeknownst to Your Mama until a few days ago, Mister Ellison hoisted his horse farm in Woodside (shown above) on the open market more than three months ago with an asking price of $19,000,000. It does not, children, take a mathematics savant to see that even with a (probably unlikely) full-price sale Mister Ellison faces a financial loss of $4,000,000 not counting carrying costs, renovation and maintenance expenses and real estate fees.

Your Mama does not know a trivet from a cheese doodle but we can't help but ponder if a man of Mister Ellison's almost unimaginably vast wealth sweats much or at all when faced with the prospect of losing four or five million bucks on a real estate deal. One imagines he would but then again four million dollars is probably not so different for Mister Ellison that four dollars is for Your Mama. This is, after all, a man who until recently owned an five-deck and 82-room boat called the Rising Sun–a god damn ship, really–that according to the Aristocratique cost the high hogger around $13,000,000 per year to staff and maintain. The behemoth boat is now owned by music and media mogul David Geffen, whose estimated $5.5 billion fortune is staggering by any standard but none-the-less a fraction of Mister Ellison's major mound of money. But we digress again.

Current listing information for the Woodside, CA horse farm Mister Ellison has on the market shows the two-story southern Colonial style main mansion, approached via a -shaped gated crushed stone driveway, was built in 1968, measures around 5,850 square feet, and has 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

esque staircase with carved wood newel post and intricate iron railing. The formal living room has wood floors with parquetry border and fireplace with cast stone mantelpiece while the banquet hall-sized formal dining room has a coffered ceiling, custom-laid wood floors.

Other downstairs spaces, as per marketing materials, include an intimately-scaled library with basket weave patterned marble floor, wood-burning fireplace, paneled walls and built-in cabinetry. French doors open to the flag stone poolside terrace. A fully-equipped butler's pantry joins the dining room with the center island eat-in kitchen, all perfectly maintained and top-quality but a little dated seeming. The breakfast area opens into a family room with limestone tile floor, unusually coved ceiling, bulky stone fireplace with raised hearth, built-in booze bar with sink and fridge, and French doors that open the broad backyard terrace.

Upstairs there are two bedrooms that open to a shared balcony and share one bathroom, a separate guest suite with built-in desk and shelves plus private facility and an expansive master suite that sprawls across one entire wing of the upper floor. A vestibule provides a privacy buffer from the upper hallway to the bowling alley-like bedroom with fireplace, sitting area, and two sets of French doors that open to one of the balconies set into the double-height portico at the front of the mansion. The master suite comes complete with ample closet space that includes a bedroom-sized dressing room and a  Carrara marble-clad bathroom.

Out back a flag stone terrace meanders around and partially surrounds a pond-like swimming pool set into a hillside with stacked stone walls and water falls. A path leads up the hillside above the pool to a privately situated spa and an adjacent pool cabana with entertainment/media room is convenient for boozy drink mixing, snack grabbing, suit changing, and terlit sitting.

Not surprisingly given his thing for lavishly landscaped estates, well-conceived, executed and maintained gardens surround the house with various ponds with stepping stones and an arched bridge or two, rock waterfalls, specimen trees, and crushed stone pathways shaded by beautifully gnarled shade trees.

The second parcel, located across a narrow but not private lane from the main house, offers a fully-equipped ranch-style guest house with living/dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. A substantial tile-roofed barn behind an electronic gate offers five stalls each with turnout and lush gardens border a riding ring and sandy beach volleyball court.

Of course, Your Mama make no claims whatsoever to comprehension of the capricious and unreservedly capacious real estate ways of men (and women) like Mister Ellison. However, it's not so difficult to imagine that this horse farm, the one he wants to sell, might be somewhat unnecessary given that his sprawling Japanese-themed compound just around the corner about a mile away also contains significant equestrian facilities.

In addition to his impressive residential real estate holdings in Woodside, CA, property records reveal Mister Ellison owns many additional properties around the Bay Area including at least six non-contiguous suburban residences in Redwood City–presumably these are for investment or business purposes–plus a 10,742 square foot bay view contemporary mansion atop Pacific Heights in San Francisco. Mister Ellison was much in the real estate news earlier in the year when it was revealed in the media he had been engaged in a lengthy legal wrangle and tangle with his down slope neighbors who accused him of illegally chopping off the tops of a pair of titanic redwood trees on their property in order to open up the view from his house. The suit was settled "to everyone's satisfaction" in late May or early June (2011).

At about the same time Mister Ellison was wrangling with his neighbors in San Francisco he paid a mouth drying $42,900,000 for Porcupine Creek, a vast Rancho Mirage, CA estate with 18,430 square foot main mansion, 4 guest casitas plus 4 more guest houses, a resort-styled and sized swimming pool complex with palapa, spa facility with massage rooms and hair salon, a private 19-hole golf course, and a club house with locker room, bar, lounge and private pro shop.

The previous year, Mister Ellison spent $10,500,000 to acquire Beechwood, an opulent, 39-room  Italianate mansion in natty and nabobish Newport, RI built in 1851 for wealthy dry goods pooh bah Daniel Parish and later owned by Caroline and William Backhouse Astor Jr.

Beginning in the early Noughts Mister Ellison began to acquire significant amounts of property in Malibu, CA. His holdings in the star-studded and hideously expensive ocean side enclave include a secluded multi-residence equestrian compound inside the guard-gated Serra Retreat that features a funicular that connects the main house to the athletic and entertainment complex below complex tennis court and swimming pool.

Mister Ellison famously paid around $65,000,000 for five contiguous property on Malibu's colossally costly Carbon Beach–one of which was rented for quite some time by sitcom and romcom queen Jennifer Aniston after her marriage with Brad Pitt famously and very publicly swirled down The Tinseltown Terlit of Love way back in late 2005–where other billionaires and near billionaires with houses on the sand include the likes Jerry Perenchio, Haim Saban, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Terry Semel and the dueling divorcées Frank and Jamie McCourt.

Back in Lake Tahoe, where we began today's lengthy real estate tale, our research into the public property records indicates Mister Ellison spent $14,000,000 in March 2006 for a 2.02 acre lakeside spread on Lake Tahoe's north shore in Incline Village. Property records also reveal that in December 2007 Mister Ellison dropped another $28,000,000 on two adjacent parcels that together come to 7.38. A few quick flicks of the hard-working beads on our bejeweled abacus calculates based on property records that Mister Ellison's Incline Village estate spans nearly 9.5 acres is said to have than 400 feet of very desirable lake frontage. The compound loving billionaire is reported to be near completion on the construction of an 8-structure private residence with a total of about 18,000 square feet of interior space. The stone and log-sided structures–tucked discreetly behind a well-secured wall and gate, natch–include a main house, beach house, tennis pavilion, guest quarters, guard house, caretaker's cottage and writer's cabin.

Mister Ellison's daughter Megan has clearly caught The Compound Bug from her property mad father. Over the last several years the budding and increasingly busy 20-something year old movie producer (Catch .44, True Grit, Passion Play) has spent a truly bone-chilling $32,850,000 on three contiguous properties high above Los Angeles' Sunset Strip, each with a sizable cutting edge contemporary residence and each with unobstructed multi-million dollar views over the twinkling lights of Tinseltown from downtown to, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean.

listing photos (Woodside): Alain Pinel Realtors

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Tidbit Two: Donald Trump

SELLER: Donald Trump and Melania Knauss
LOCATION: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
PRICE: $7,150,000
SIZE: 11,000 square feet (approximately), 5 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We may be a little late to grab the celebrity real estate brass ring on this one but how can Your Mama resist the opportunity to briefly discussion the opulent (but arguably banal) Rancho Palos Verdes, CA (mc)mansion that brassy and sassy billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump and his former supermodel wife Melania Knauss recently unloaded for $7,150,000.
While seven and some million is a high price to pay for a house by any standard, Mister Trump first listed the squat mock-Med manse back in June 2010 with an asking price of $12,000,000. A few flicks of the well worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows the buyer–an as yet unnamed owner of an obviously successful shipping concern–negotiated a rather stunning 40% discount from the original asking price.

The recently completed residence, situated in a small enclave of home sites adjacent to the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, was custom built by Mister Trump on a short cul-de-sac where there does not currently appear to be any other homes built. That means, natch, the new owners of ex-Casa Trump will be inundated with construction noise and dust once the economy picks up enough enough that the sorts of people with the desire and dough to live in a Donald Trump-designed enclave in Rancho Palos Verdes start spending big to buy vacant lots on which to build ocean view (mc)mansions filled to the gills with wine cellars, panic rooms, private pilates studios, and studio apartment-sized walk-in closets and dressing rooms.

Listing information for the former Trump property shows the Italianate-ish mansion was built in 2010, measures around 11,000 square feet and includes 5 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. A walled and gated courtyard entry leads to a columned portico where the front door opens into a marble-floored entry.

The marble floors–sandy beige with mud brown marble inset border–continues into the step-down formal living and dining areas separated by a quartet of stone Tuscan-style columns. Both spaces open through large sliding doors to the courtyard around which the rear of the house wraps. A library/office space has built-in bookshelves, narrow arched windows, raised corner fireplace with marble chimney breast and a black lacquer and gold kidney-bean shaped desk and a swiveling office chair upholstered in gold tufted leather.

The capacious kitchen has marble floors, an hippo-sized octagonal center island with vegetable sink, dark raised panel cabinetry (that may or may not be mahogany), and a spectacular copper exhaust hood over the commercial sized and styled range. An angled snack counter separates the kitchen from a breakfast area with ocean view and a family room with dark wood floors, fireplace, and multiple French doors plus a bank of sliding glass doors that join the room to a pergola-shaded dining terrace that overlooks the swimming pool, back yard and Pacific Ocean.

The mansion's lower level–"flooded w/ natural light" as per listing information–offers garage parking for up to four cars, a game room with wood floors, fireplace and saloon-sized booze bar, a glassed-in temperature-controlled wine cellar, and shower rooms for rinsing off the chlorine, sand and salt.

The wide stone terraces that extend off the back of the house tumble down to a golf-course green expanse of grass that stretches out towards the bluff that tumbles precariously and dramatically down to the roiling surf. There does not appear to be direct access to the beach from the property short of a person just flinging themselves over and down the cliff-like bluff.

More listing photographs, if any of y'all dare and can bear them, can be seen over on Curbed.

Although Trump National Golf Course is next door, a fact that makes the location of this mansion convenient, he reportedly maintains a residence up the coast in Beverly Hills, CA where he will shack up when on the west coast. Iffin Your Mama is being honest–and we always are–we'd freely confess we know zip, zilch and nada about said residence in Bev Hills.

What we do know based on intel provided by Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills is that in July 2008 Mister Trump paid $10,350,000 for a 10,442 square foot center hall Colonial across the street and around the corner from the Beverly Hills Hotel. A year to the day later–as per Redfin–the property popped up on to the open market with an asking price of $12,000,000. Twenty seven days later–again as per Redfin–the 6 bedroom and 6.5 bathroom mansion was sold to a corporate entity for $9,500,000.

listing photos: Keller Williams Realty

Weekend Tidbit: Mukesh Ambani

 Despite earlier reports he had, new media reports claim Indian gajillionaire Mukesh Ambani–estimated net worth $27 billion–has not, in fact, moved into the colossal and controversial, 27-story cantilevered tower he built in the vast city of Mumbai as his family's private residence. Most reports say Antillaor Antilia depending on where one lookscost the polyester, petrochemical, and petroleum über-tycoon upwards of a billion bucks to design, build and decorate.

Whatever it cost, a new report in The Old Gray Lady states Mister and Missus Ambani occasionally entertain at Antilla but when the party's over they typically return to Sea Wind, a customized 14-story tower-mansion in Mumbai where they've lived for years and reportedly share with their three children, his mother and his estranged younger brother (and fellow billionaire) Anil Ambani.

One possibility put forth by various people who may or may not know what they're talking about is that Mister Ambani might be bothered by the intense criticism he has faced for building such and expensive, visible, and blatantly ostentatious monument to his extreme wealth in a city like Mumbai where, according to The New York Times, "more than half the population lives in slums."

Another possibility, first put forth back in May (2011) in the English-language newspaper DNA who quoted "sources in the know," is that the 570-foot tall tower-residence does not currently conform to various Vastu Shastra principles; In simple terms a kind of philosophy for construction and day-core not so different from Feng Shui, only for Hindus. The short DNA report did say that Mister and Missus Ambani have consulted their family pandit–a scholar, expert or temple priest–to assist in the remedy of the situation.

Or maybe, just maybe, Mister and Missus Ambani have found that Antilla, with it's (rumored and reported) lobby entrance with 9 elevator banks, 3 helipads, six-floor parking garage with private service station, snow-making room, 50-seat movie theater, fitness club, behemoth ballroom, and hanging gardens, is simply too big and fancy for a family of five.

photo: Cool Pictures | Cool Stuff

Friday, October 21, 2011

Actor Jake Weber Lists 1959 Fickett-Designed Digs

SELLER: Jake Weber
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,575,000
SIZE: 3,500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Call Your Mama a tired ol' real estate cliché if you want–we've certainly been called worse–but Your Mama just cain't resist us a privately-situated mid-century modern residence in a (semi-) secluded canyon setting in southern California. With that peg in our architectural groove comes a recently over-hauled home in Los Angeles' boho-chic Laurel Canyon originally designed in 1959 by prolific but mostly under-the-radar mid-century modern architect Edward Fickett and hoisted on the market this week with an asking price of $2,575,000.

Property records show the glassy residence was last purchased through a trust in November 2009 for $1,800,000. The trust's trustee is well-known amongst all us celebrity real estate gossips to work with celebrities and other high profile showbiz types of all stripes and accolades. Naturally, our celebrity real estate intuition piqued by the property records, we did some asking around. We had to wait overnight for the dish but finally heard from our inexplicably and impeccably well-informed friend and informant Lucy Spillerguts who identified the property owner as London-born and Julliard-trained film, television and stage actor Jake Weber (Medium, Dawn of the Dead, Meet Joe Black). Mister Weber, as far as we know and can surmise from a few minutes research on the interweb, shacks up with long-term lady-pal and baby momma Liz Carey, a cat walker turned rock 'n' roll wife–she was once married to Oasis' Alan White–turned comedic actress turned designer of pricey handbags.

Apropos of nothing real estate related, as a young boy Mister Weber led a nomadic and exotic (not to mention criminal) life. Multiple reports in various places reveal he sometimes operated as a mule for his race car driving drug dealer daddy. When just a wee lad of 7 or so, he spent some time at the opulent Villa Nellcote in the south of France where he rolled joints for The Rolling Stones while they recorded their 1972 album Exile on Main St. Your Mama perhaps reveals too much here, but we can't help but feel a certain simpatico of experience with Mister Weber. We may not have rolled joints for The Rolling Stones–wouldn't that have been marvelous?–but we did on occasion unwittingly schlep dope around for our wealthy, Mercedes-driving drug dealer step-grandmuhmaw when we were just hip high to an economics professor. 'Tis true, puppies, but anyhoo, moving along...

Listing information for Mister Weber's Ficket-designed crib in Laurel Canyon shows it's newly remodeled, sits at the tail end of a gated drive, and encompasses around 3,500 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.

The L-shaped living/dining area has raw hardwood floors with a barely there matte finish and gallery-white walls perfect for displaying artwork. An asymmetrical marble fireplace and hearth anchors the living area where Mister Fickett conjured up an especially operatic moment with the origami-esque, vaulted and sky lit ceiling. A full wall of single-paned glass towers over the living area and allows a seamless visual transition from the interior of the house, across the backyard to the precariously-steep and thickly-planted hillside into which the .8 acre property is tucked.

The somewhat spare day-core projects a simple but comfortable vibe with lots of casual but pedigreed pieces that offer enough era appropriateness to be deferential to the residence's original mid-century design but new-fangled and off-kilter enough as not to appear overly obsequious or simpering.

Your Mama, in fact, rather appreciates the trio of organically-shaped George Nelson pendant lights that come together as a make-shift chandelier in the living area and inject a vital smidgen of The Femme into the otherwise angular and mostly masculine day-core. We do worry, however, that an hallucinogenic substance ingesting guest might stumble through the living room in the middle of the night, see the collection of curvy, saucer-like fixtures float perfectly still and silent against the soft moonlight and mis-imagine them as a space ship armada.

A short wall of glass sliders in the "formal" dining area connects to a partially-canopied dining deck and, on the opposite wall, a double-wide pocket door leads to a den/family room outfitted with a giant wall-mounted flat scree tee-vee over an Eames storage unit, an elephant gray sectional sofa, and a single vibrant fuchsia colored Arne Jacobson Swan chair for a welcomed twist of the decorative nipple. At the far end of the room there's an off-center raised fireplace with white painted chimney breast flanked by identical honey-comb inspired shelving units. Alas, because the fireplace is off-center the identical shelving units just make the whole thing look wonky. Instead of balance they actually enhance the catty-wompiness of the room's slightly awkward architecture. For what it's worth–and it ain't worth a god damn nickel–Your Mama recommends ripping those things off the wall and custom building simple, open shelves into the niche to the left of the fireplace and doing something else entirely with the wall space other side, say a small console table with photos and table lamp.

Beyond the dining room, the crisp and clean-lined kitchen offers a center work island with vegetable sink and snack counter, gleaming white flat-fronted cabinetry, grey slab counter tops, high-grade commercial-style appliances, a trio of windows with hillside view, and sliding glass doors that lead out to a dining deck partially shaded by a series of over-lapping canvas canopies.

At least one of the family/guest bedrooms accesses the backyard through a bank of sliding glass doors as does the master bedroom that–like the living room room–has a dramatically pitched and vaulted ceiling that culminates in vast planes of windows and sliding doors that overlook and connect to the backyard.

A dining, entertaining, and sunbathing deck hugs the interior corner of the house and at the same time wraps itself around the classic kidney-shaped swimming pool, itself girdled by flag stone coping. Beyond the swimming pool, a thick carpet of what appears to be well-watered grass provides the perfect spot for a pair of pooches like our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly to skedaddle around and do their dirty business.

Your Mama read on Mister Weber's baby-momma's website that the family live out in Malibu but other than that, chickens, we know nothing of their beach digs.

listing photos: Westside Estate Agency

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dennis Quaid Lists Montana Ranch and Puts Los Angeles Compound in Escrow

SELLER: Dennis Quaid
LOCATION: Emigrant, MT
PRICE: $14,000,000
SIZE: (approximately 418 acres) 5,300 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms (main house)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Children, please forgive Your Mama our tardiness to this particular party. We are, regrettably, still nursing and moving molasses-like through one of those perfectly pesky 72 hour hangovers brought on in epic fashion by the rather prodigious amounts of gin (and et cetera) we imbibed and partook during our 6-day stay with boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau up in the City by the Bay. Y'all know how the vacay cliché goes; Sometimes a person arrives home from one vacation in dire need of another to recuperate.

Anyhoodles poodles, today we're going to ruminate on the recent real estate activities of much in-demand movie star Dennis Quaid who not only has a Los Angeles, CA compound listed for sale at $10,000,000–more on that later–but also recently pushed his rustically luxurious camp in rural Montana on the market with a $14,000,000 price tag.

In a stroke of delightful celebrity real estate kismet, Mister Quaid stars in the current and probably un-wise remake of Footloose with model/actress Andie MacDowell who Your Mama discussed yesterday due her heaving and ho-ing her towering neo-Tudor near Asheville, NC on the market with an asking price of $4,500,000.

We're not exactly sure when ex-Mister Meg Ryan, now married to real estate agent third wife Kimberly (Buffington) Quaid, purchased the first piece of his rural Montana real estate pie. One reports says it was about 25 years ago, the Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial show it as April 1995, and a peep and a poke around the property records suggests to Your Mama it might have been in the late 1980s. Whatever the case, the ruggedly handsome Mister Quaid has for quite some time held a sizable foothold in Montana's picturesque Paradise Valley area near the itty-bitty communities of Emigrant and Pray, about 15 or 20 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.

Mister Quaid reportedly purchased a portion of his approximately 418-acre scenic spread from film and television character actor Warren Oates (Gunsmoke, In the Heat of the Night, The Wild Bunch). Additional acquisitions were made from from talented but often combative Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia). Mister Quaid and his current wife were married in an intimate and low-key sunset ceremony on the property in July 2004.

Listing information and other reports show the main house at the Quaid's Montana compound, a rambling bi-winged stone- and log-built residence, was built in 2000, measures 5,315 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and a soaring 8-sided rotunda entry constructed of stacked stone and lined with French doors and door ways that lead to the various areas of the house.

Generous interior living spaces include a cavernous living room with massive stone fireplace, vaulted ceiling with narrow wood beams, partially paneled walls, a bank of floor-to-ceiling French doors and windows, and wonderfully worn wide-plank wood floors salvaged from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Although the lightly but smartly decorated room has a de rigueur flat screen tee-vee mounted awkwardly to the wall, the somewhat spare and airy space conjures up for Your Mama cozy and stimulating cable tee-vee free evenings occupied with conversation, billiards, backgammon, books, and old-timey sing-a-longs 'round a slightly out of tune piano.

The dee-vine reclaimed wood floors continue in to the window-lined dining room where an oak picnic-type trestle table and benches came from a nearby cabin formerly owned and occupied by Mister Peckinpah and now owned by Mister Quaid. A stone doorway connects to the capacious kitchen complete with colossal stone fireplace, over-sized center island, double-height ceiling with exposed beams, and high-grade commercial-style appliances. Yes, children, we too see the nefarious and dreaded restaurant-sized pot rack that drips with heavy pots and pans that look to Your Mama like they ache (and aim) to unexpectedly drop heavily down on the hands of an unsuspecting eater or drinker who dares to scoot up to the snack counter below.

A stone-walled and wood-ceilinged family room has a long row of French doors for that provide view of and access to the surrounding wilderness that pushes up against the house. A casual dining area in the wood-floored family room is set apart with a flag stone inset and a sitting area with day-dreamy view of the dramatic mountains is done up with a mixy-matchy hodge-podge of wicker furniture lined with a successfully mixy-matchy collection of cushions and pillows. Notice, children, the deft hand of the decorator who smartly restrained and unified the color palette of the upholstered pieces, a little trick o' the eye that tones down the potential cacophony created with the use of variously patterned fabrics.

The insanely delicious antique wide-plank wood floors extend into the master suite where the walls are log-constructed, the ceiling is vaulted, and the bed was bought from–somewhat oddly and as per Architectural Digest–actress Sandra Bullock. Anyhoo, French doors join the bedroom to a big bathroom where a vintage trough sink with three spigots was custom-fitted in to a built-in cabinetry topped by a thick slab of wood. The rustic looking but hardly rustic bathroom also includes a free-standing soaking tub set into a window-wrapped bay where the windows actually dip far enough towards the floor to allow a bather to ponder the all but untamed surrounding pastures, forests and mountains.
In addition to the casual and cozy main house, the Quaid compound also includes four guest cottages that range from bunk-housey to rather luxurious (some shown above). There are also, as per marketing materials, a ranch manager's residence and, natch, horse facilities that Mister Quaid told Architectural Digest in 2005 are situated far enough from the main house to keep any equine odor from infecting the air space in and around it.

Many of the rooms open to various patios, decks and terraces, one of which has a built-in barbecue for summertime grillin' and chillin'. Cherry red Adirondack chairs placed around the decks and terraces pop against the bucolically evocative scenery. The secluded recreational ranch encompasses, as per listing information, two miles of creek frontage, two ponds, historic gold mines, horseback riding trails, and a private planetarium where Mister Quaid, an apparent astrology buff, can see the stars.
Back in Los Angeles Mister and Missus Quaid own a luxurious farmette in the affluent and semi-rural-seeming Mandeville Canyon area between the upscale communities of Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. In March 2011 they hoisted the 1.96-acre horse-friendly estate in the Mandeville Canyon area of Los Angeles on the market with an asking price of $16,900,000. By September the price had tumbled to $10,000,000 and this week, as per Redfin, the privately situated property was put in escrow.

Listing information shows the property contains an 8,400 square foot faux-French Country-style main house with 8 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms plus a 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom staff suite over the garage converted to a home fitness facility. A separate guest house and studio measures 2,158 square feet, according to listing information, and includes a living/dining room, full kitchen, den/office with fireplace and built-in bookshelves, and at least one bedroom and bathroom. For the property's hooved residents there is a small barn, corral and a private trail that connects directly to equine-friendly Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Mister and Missus Quaid, who reportedly want to swap their Montana ranch for a house in Hawaii, live primarily in Austin, TX where property records and other online real estate resources show they paid $5,312,500 for an 11,103 square foot lake front mansion with 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 4 half bathrooms that was at one time listed with a very substantially higher asking price of $12,500,000.

listing photos (Emigrant): Glacier Sotheby's International Realty
listing photos (Los Angeles): Westside Estate Agency