Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti Put Scottish Spread Up for Sale

SELLER: Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti
LOCATION: Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire, Scotland
PRICE: offers in excess of £3,800,000 ($5,918,920)
SIZE: 7+ bedrooms, 7 full and 4 half bathrooms/water closets

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Rakish race car driver Dario Franchitti won his third Indy 500 over the weekend and—thanks to the Scottish Snitch—Your Mama learned over the weekend the Italian-named Scotsman and his American actress wife Ashley Judd recently heaved their 485-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands on the market. The asking price on listing information and marketing materials reads "offers in excess of £3,800,000," an amount that Your Mama's currently conversion contraption shows amounts to 5,918,920 U.S. dollars at today's rates.

We're not really sure how to look up property transaction records in Scotland so Your Mama can't be certain about how much exactly Miz Judd and Mister Franchitti shelled out for their Scottish spread called Rednock House but an October 2010 article in The Sun states the comely and currently child-free couple acquired the "200-year-old ruin" in 2004 for about £1,200,000. They spent, according to the same article, an additional £1,500,000 on an extensive restoration and renovation of the property that includes a massive mansion and nearby stable/garage complex. Your Mama hasn't an iota how The Sun knows how much moolah the Judd-Franchitti spent on renovations, but that's what they said. We have no independent knowledge of such but the article also mentions that Miz Judd and Mister Franchitti beat out English musician Liam Gallagher and American pop music icon Madonna for the purchase of the hulking but elegant (if somewhat dour-looking) Georgian-style pile, semi-remotely located about an hour by car outside of Edinburgh.

Listing information does not indicate square footage of the huge and historic manor house but does reveal it spans four floors with more than 20 rooms and includes 20 (or more) fireplaces, 4 reception rooms (plus a trio of sizable main floor foyers and stair halls), 7+ bedrooms and 7 full and (approximately) 4 half bathrooms.

Marketing materials reveal the baronial residence recently underwent a complete restoration and modernization over the last 5 years that included the removal of two Victorian era wings and the addition of all new electrical wiring and insulation, all new plumbing with on-demand hot water throughout, state-of-the-art fire and intruder alarm systems and all-new heating systems that include radiant heat under the stone floors.

Stone pillars stand on either side of the long, private drive that snakes and swirls through woodlands, along Rednock Burn, over a bridge, across the landscaped parklands to the front of the relatively spare and perfectly symmetrical Georgian front façade. A wide set of stone steps flanked by a pair of rapacious-looking iron eagles climb to a Greek Doric columned portico that rather regally surrounds the front door.

Floor plans (above) included with marketing materials reveal the front door opens into an almost perfectly square entrance hall with ornate plasterwork and Caithness stone slab floors that continue in to a spine straightening, triple-height circular vestibule—called a "saloon" in marketing materials—that climaxes architecturally with a domed roof and cupola.

Stately architraves around Regency doors mark entry in to the primary public rooms that include a grandly proportioned, 41-foot long drawing room with fireplace and original wide-plank pine floors and an equally impressive 30-foot long formal dining room. Both rooms have multiple, 20-pane windows set in deep niches that hug the floor and kiss the particularly high ceiling. The adjoining butler's pantry is conveniently equipped with a dumbwaiter that lifts food from the lower level kitchen and nearby service stairs rise to a small butler's sitting room (with fireplace) and descend to the less-formal lower level living quarters.

The Caithness stone slab floors continue into the oldest section of the residence where the main stair hall has a cantilevered stone staircase believed to date to the 17th century. There's a large library (with fireplace) on one side, a slightly smaller study (also with fireplace) on the other and a roomy cloakroom—a.k.a. a powder pooper— outfitted with an original, Victorian era Thomas Crapper "Thunderbox."

The lower ground floor, accessible from the main stair hall as well as the service stairs located in a curved corridor just outside the butler's pantry, hosts the humongous house's informal family quarters that orbit around a circular circulation hall with an 18-foot diameter. A completely modernized, center island kitchen with white Shaker-style cabinetry and butcher block counter tops opens to a family room with fireplace and direct access to the garden through a separate vestibule.

Also downstairs is bedroom-sized wine cellar with vaulted ceiling, a living room size gym (with fireplace), large laundry room and, at the rear of the house, a bedroom with attached bathroom suitable for a live-in domestic as well as a couple of generous storage/service areas.

Did y'all just hear the screeching brakes in Your Mama's head too? We're down and dope with this house—the day-core, on the other hand, is depressingly wan—but did anyone else notice the journey hot food must go to get from the kitchen to the upstairs dining room? In case you missed it let Your Mama recap it for any of y'all who don't read or speak floor plan. Once food leaves the kitchen it must traverse a corner of the family room, cross the 18-foot diameter circular vestibule, enter the gym—gasps heard 'round the globe—and either hike up the stairs to the corridor just outside the dining room or pass through to the laundry room in where the dumb waiter lifts dinner (or whatever) to the butler's pantry above at the simple press of a button or flick of the switch (or whatever). 

About half of the first floor—us Americanos call it the second floor—is given over to three guest/family bedrooms that open off the main stair hall and circular gallery. Each is well-sized and self-contained with a fireplace, walk-in wardrobe and en suite facility. The remainder of the second floor is devoted to an expansive, celebrity-style master suite. In addition to the cavernous, 500-plus square foot bedroom there's a substantial and quite contemporary bathroom with jetted tub for two with rare blue marble surround, a separate glass-enclosed steam shower and a not-particularly-private, all-glass enclosure for the crapper and the bidet. Your Mama can only wish upon a prayer that the glass that wraps the crapper cubby is the space age-y sort of stuff that goes opaque at the flip of a switch or press of a button (or whatever). There are also two, enviably spacious dressing rooms, both bigger than Your Mama's entire master suite and both with fireplaces and over-sized windows. the "his" dressing room has bespoke walnut cabinetry and the "hers" dressing room is custom-fitted with maple cabinetry and has its very own washer and dryer.

The top floor, much of which is tucked up under the eaves and most of which was once-upon-a-time probably used as staff quarters, contains two big-enough bedrooms with fireplaces and en suite facilities, various storage closets, and two more commodious rooms, both with fireplaces and flexible possible utilities. According to the floor plan there are a couple of water closets up there as well.

Outbuildings include a fully renovated and insulated quadrangular complex with stabling for horses, garaging for 10 (or more) cars, various workshops, an office, and what listing information calls a "party room" with separate kitchen, sitting room and bathroom. A nearby stone cottage with 3-4 bedrooms is in need of a redo according to listing information and would probably make a sweet guest house, caretaker's residence or someplace a hunky horse trainer could bed down at night after a day spent working with the resident steeds and stallions.

Also included in the sale, according to marketing materials is Grahamston Farm, an adjoining situation with a refurbished 4 bedroom and 2 bathroom farm house plus additional farm buildings.

Miz Judd and Mister Franchitti also maintain a residence stateside. Their multi-acre rural spread with its restored and expanded, 19th century house in Franklin, TN abuts her mother Naomi's much larger farm and connects over a wooded mountain to her country queen sister Wynona's mansion.

listing photos and floor plan: Knight Frank

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meat Loaf Moves to Texas

BUYER: Michael Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf
PRICE: $1,475,000
SIZE: 5,200 square feet, 4 bedroom, 5.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We apologize in advance for being a bit flat and little slow to get back up in the celebrity real estate saddle after the Memorial Day hiatus, most of which Your Mama spent sauced up on gin & tonics, nursing ailing pooches, watching tomatoes ripen and entertaining the in-laws. We are, needless to day, in need of a holiday from the dead veterans-honoring holiday.

At some point during the still-a-bit-fuzzy-in-our-mind weekend we received a short communique from The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial that Michael Lee Aday—much better known as the comfort food-named actor and hard rock musician Meat Loaf—bought new digs in an affluent and fairly new development in the scenically stunning Hill Country just to the west of Austin, TX. At first Your Mama wondered why Mister Meat Loaf and the missus would relocate to Austin. Not that there's anything wrong with Austin we just didn't catch the connection until we learned from our research that Mister Meat Loaf was born and bred in Dallas. He's a Texan and once a Texan perhaps always a Texan.

Anyhoo, property records reveal in mid-March (2012) Mister Meat Loaf and his missus Deborah Gillespie—using the same trust in which their previous crib in Calabasas, CA was held—spent $1,475,000 to acquire a newly constructed, hacienda-style contemporary on a slightly elevated, 1.1 acre knoll with long and lovely southern vistas over the rolling, oak tree carpeted hills.

Listing information indicates the rambling, single-story residence measures about 5,200 square feet with 4-5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. Listing information also shows construction was completed in 2012 and that the house was built with weather and fire resistant materials, energy efficient systems and environmentally sensitive doodads and gewgaws such as a rainwater collection situation.

The long, gated driveway curves up to a motor court around which the low-slung, red tile roofed residence and attached two-car garage angles itself. Plans included with marketing materials we cajoled up out of the internets call for an additional, detached two car garage opposite the house that may (or may not) be convertible according to community guidelines to a guest house, recording facility, Pilates studio or what have y'all.

The angled and unusually-shaped residence has a somewhat unorthodox layout that leaves the two primary public spaces with flexible (if somewhat vague) purposes. Sable marble tile floors in the foyer extend into an intimately-scaled space (with mantel-free fireplace) optimally utilized as a "formal" sitting/living room or a "formal" dining room.

The sable marble floors continue into a much larger, flexi-use space with two entire walls of Bauhaus-ian, almost-floor-to-ceiling windows fitted with EZ clean glass, whatever that is. The bigger room, with a bit of built in cabinetry and shelving along one wall, could be used as an over-sized "formal" dining room, a living/family room or an informal, combination living/dining area.

The larger flexi-use space opens, loft-like to the cook- and family-friendly eat-in kitchen well equipped with medium-grade stainless steel appliances, granite and marble counter tops, a double-wide center work-island with snack counter and window-lined breakfast nook with wide Hill Country view.

The master suite, well-placed for maximum privacy from other inhabitants of the house, occupies its own wing off the front foyer with a large walk-in closet and attached bathroom with double sinks, soaking tub, separate shower, enclosed cubicle for the crapper and heated marble floors. Clear at the opposite end of the house two of the three additional guest/family bedrooms open directly to the back yard while all three have a walk-in closet and private facility.

Off the lengthy, zig-zaggy corridor that connects the public rooms with the service areas and guest/family bedrooms, a den/study/office/library could be utilized as a formal dining room but the attached walk-in closet and private pooper make it far more suitable as a full-time sleeping chamber for a family member, a guest suite, or domestic quarters.

Almost every room in the house opens to or looks out over the back yard hemmed in and defined by a low-stone wall constructed of locally sourced stones. A lofty dining/lounging ramada stands adjacent to a plunge-sized swimming pool set into the craggy canopies of the properties numerous and ancient-looking oak trees.

The gated, master-planned development features a number of residents (and their guests) only amenities that include a community center that can be reserves for parties and other events; outdoor grilling facilities; a resort-style swimming pool; a couple of ponds stocked for easy-fishing; a children's playground with sport court; and 80 (or so) acres of nature preserve laced with stone pathways for strolling, bird-watching and jogging. For all that, according to listing information, homeowner association dues run $125 per month.

Mister and Missus Meat Loaf had their David Dalton-decorated suburban (mc)mansion near Calabasas, CA photographed for the April 2008 issue of Architectural Digest. A little more than two years later, as do many celebrities who have their private homes featured in the high-gloss property porn publication, Mister and Missus Meat loaf pushed their Calabasas crib on the open market with a $3,200,00 price tag. Your Mama (dissed and) discussed the 7,142 square foot Spanish-style casa in spring 2011 and property records indicate the 7 bedroom and 7 bathroom mansion, situated in a small and upscale, gated development just off Mulholland Highway, sold for $3,065,000 in late May 2011.

listing photos: Dara & Associates via Redfin

P.S. We'd like to wish a heartfelt happy birfday our boozy, spandex-sporting b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau. She may be a boiling cauldron of turmoil and trouble who frequently puts Your Mama's life in danger but she's a treasure worth every single minute we've ever spent holding her wig up out of the terlit.

Friday, May 25, 2012

End of Week Pick Up: Georges Marciano

SELLER: Georges Marciano
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $24,500,000
SIZE: 19,590 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: This one's for all the children out there who relish in a tetch of schadenfreude with their high-cost real estate scuttlebutt.

All the international property gossips' tongues have been wagging this week over the Beverly Hills (CA) estate of legally and financially embattled businessman Georges Marciano popping up on the open market as part of a bankruptcy sale with an asking price of $24,500,000.

Mister Marciano made the bulk of fortune as one of the co-founding brothers of the wildly successful Guess clothing company. He's the man most often credited with creating the company's iconic—and still-relevant if not fully fresh—boobs-and-bombshell-meets-noir-film advertising aesthetic that successfully branded the company in the 1980s with glamazon supermodels like Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith.

He cashed out his nearly quarter-billion dollar stake in the company in 1993 and invested in various (commercial) real estate enterprises including the Bank of America tower in downtown Beverly Hills, sold in 2005 for about $135,000,000. He lived large and spent big. He shelled out more than sixteen million bucks on a 84-plus carat diamond (now called The Chloe Diamond after his daughter) and amassed a vast collection of contemporary art. The ubiquitous, roofless tour vans that put-put around the Platinum Triangle on every day of the week would frequently pause out front of the gates so gawkers could catch a glimpse through the gates of the fleet of Ferraris maintained by Mister Marciano and frequently lined up in an orderly row in the driveway in the front of his big ol' beast of a house in Beverly Hills he bought in October 1988 for an unknown (but no doubt substantial) amount of moolah.

Alas, the mighty sometimes fall. Sometimes they cut the noses off their own faces and sometimes, depending on one's point of view, they have their proverbial legs chopped off at the knees.

Several years ago, in the aftermath of a bitter 2004 divorce, an increasingly erratic Mister Marciano filed suit against a group of former employees whom he accused of looting money, wines and artwork. The suit back fired big time. Not only did forensic accounting not show any financial misconduct on the part of the former employees, the accused group counter sued for libel and won a staggering $425,000,000 judgement against Mister Marciano who shockingly and inexplicably made a silly run for the California governorship while all this was going down.

Mister Marciano, legally on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars, went on the lamb for a little bit. In a 2009 article in the L.A. Times Mister Marciano's spokeswoman claimed she herself did not know where he was living. He eventually popped up in Montreal where he opened a LHotel, a boutique hotel in Old Montreal filled to the rafters with the blue chip artwork that used to fill his Beverly Hills mansion.

Even before his ruinously costly legal imbroglio, Mister Marciano wanted to sell his grand, Italian-style pile in Beverly Hills. It was listed for six months in 2005 and again in January 2007 when it appeared on the open market with an asking price of $28,000,000.

In the early days of 2012 Your Mama heard through the Platinum Triangle real estate gossip grapevine the estate was being shopped off-market with a $32,000,000 price tag. With no takers at that sky-high price the property was officially put on the open market last week with a much lower price tag of $24,500,000. Listing information and previous reports on the matter reveal the property is being sold on behalf of Mister Marciano as part of involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings related to the aforementioned, nearly half billion dollar judgement.

Designed and built in 1927 by Robert D. Farquhar, the palatial palazzo has been home to a number of Hollywood hot shots including Showbiz pioneer Harry Cohn, the famously tyrannical co-founder of Columbia Pictures. Mister Cohn reportedly sold the estate to powerful Tinseltown talent agent Johnny Hyde who, while in his mid-70s, took a Svengali-like personal and professional interest in Marilyn Monroe.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, we were recently told by a Britnni Britannica, a gal pal with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical homes in Los Angeles, the grand mansion was owned by 1960s and 70s ears talk show host Mike Douglas who allowed the house to be photographed for Architectural Digest. Miss Britannica and another historically-minded gal pal Helen A. Hightower told also us the house itself—not the finishes and day-core but the architecture and layout—are almost identical to that of Owlwood, the legendary Holmby Hills mansion formerly owned by Tony Curtis and Cher and now owned by the widow of mortgage industry billionaire and diplomat Roland Arnall.

Current listing information shows Mister Marciano's estate spans 2.05 high-profile acres in an especially desirable pocket of Beverly Hills where, should one choose, it's just a short one (long) block walk to Your Mama's favorite (if hideously expensive) luncheon spot in Los Angeles, The Beverly Hills Hotel.

 Listing information shows the fairly well monumental mansion measures a massive but not-quite-mega 19,590 square feet with 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. The master bedroom alone has a paneled sitting room (with fireplace and high gloss ebonized wood floors, shown above), over-sized bedroom, private study and his and her bathrooms. Other interior spaces include an entrance hall with high-gloss black and white checkerboard marble floor, a double-height foyer wrapped with a star-style staircase, formal living and dining rooms, paneled library, billiard/game room, a room for playing cards, family room, two kitchens and—natch—a screening room.  

The extensive, fully-landscaped grounds and gardens have various terraces and balconies, pathways and wide stone staircases that join the multi-level backyard areas that include a vast, sloping lawn; double-gated stone-driveway and motor court; swimming pool and spa with convenient cabana; sunken tennis court with viewing pavilion; and two guest houses accessible through their own, separate, gated motor court.

A very few minutes research on the interweb turned up easily accessible public records that indicate Mister Marciano's currently for sale estate may not be the only Beverly Hills mansion he owns. In June 2005 a limited liability company directly linked to (but not necessarily controlled by) Mister Marciano paid $7,475,000 to acquire a gated, 1.19 acre Sunset Boulevard estate with an 8,000-plus square foot mansion, swimming pool, tennis court and extensive gardens.

Just about two years before that a limited liability company also directly linked to (but not necessarily controlled by) Mister Marciano paid $6,500,000 for the 1.44 acre, triple-gated Sunset Boulevard estate immediately next door. That property has an even bigger 11,000-plus square foot, L-shaped residence with 9 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, a swimming pool, pool cabana, and tennis court. Your Mama has been told a bazillion times that rapper turned mogul Fifty Cent used to lease the estate but we can't really vouch for the truth of that rumor.

Mister Marciano remains in a pitched legal battle to hang on to whatever assets he can, including property and possessions seized in Canada as a result of the California court order. We're not sure what constitutes winning or losing in a situation like this but in February of this year a Canadian court ruled to hold a number of his assets seized in Canada for "safekeeping" until "the high court rules on the validity of a massive seizure of Marciano assets in Montreal to conform to a California court order."

With the number of high-priced residential real estate sales in high gear it's probably a good time to sell the property at a decent price. Then again, Your Mama don't know a this from a that so we'll leave the sale price speculations to the professionals and the otherwise opinioned. 

listing photos: Nick Springett for Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills North

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood Buys and Buys Again

BUYER: Dave Haywood
LOCATION: Nashville, TN
PRICE: $2,100,000
SIZE: 6,750 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Last week we picked apart the recent real estate activities of Lady Antebellum lead singer Charles Kelley who recently upgraded his living situation in Nashville, TN. Now comes word, via The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial that another of pop-country phenom's three co-founding members has also been in the mood to snatch up some star-style NashVegas real estate.

In early February 2011 frequently touring Mister Haywood paid $329,000 for a modest and low-maintenance condo in a fairly new mixed-used complex located in the burgeoning shopping and dining mecca in downtown Nashville called The Gulch.

Listing information Your Mama coaxed up out of the dark underbelly of the interweb shows the mid-floor, tower unit has 1 bedroom (plus den) and 1 bathroom in a fairly compact 942(ish) square feet of interior space. Listing photos from the time of the sale show polished concrete floors throughout; a stacked washer and dryer; an unexpectedly large closet/dressing room; and an open plan living/dining/kitchen with long wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors that open to a balcony just about big enough for two or three people to stand around, shoot the shit and smoke.

Half a year after Mister Haywood signed all the necessary documents to acquire his compact condo in The Gulch he went and got himself engaged to a music industry executive gal pal he'd been friendly with for about five years, so the story goes. They were married in mid-April 2012, just about six weeks after he/they dropped $2,100,000 on a much larger, family-type spread on a quiet cul-de-sac in leafy Belle Meade, TN, an upscale community southwest of downtown Nashville.

Belle Meade is a quiet place—we understand from well-heeled locals—but it certainly claims its fair share of high-profile homeowners who include Nashville native turned Tinseltown queen Reese Witherspoon; 80s lady K.T. Oslin; former vice president and climate change advocate Al Gore; country couple Vince Gill and Amy Grant; HCA heir and former Republican Senator Bill Frist; and King of Leon's Jared Followill, just to name a few.

Listing information shows Mister and Missus Haywood's new, French-ish, kinda-Tudor-style mansion was built in 2002, sits on a shy, mostly landscaped acre and has 6,750 square feet spread out over three floors with a total of 4-5 bedrooms and 6 full and 2 half bathrooms.

A curving driveway sweeps past a two-car parking pad at the front of the mansion and curls down and back around to a small, lower level motor court at the side of the house with attached two-car garage. A short set of stone steps an a brief walk across an elevated, stone terrace leads to the front door discreetly tucked into a shallow porch at a crook in the tepidly baronial, taupe stucco structure.

The mansion's main public spaces orbit around the wood-floored center foyer and adjoining stair hall. The formal living room has a carved stone fireplace and two walls of floor-to-ceiling built-in book cases while the formal dining room has a uniform row of three very narrow, arched windows that open to the aforementioned front terrace. A more casual, double-height Great Room—we hate that term but that's what it's called in listing information—has a second fireplace with carved wood mantelpiece and wide bank of multi-mullioned windows that extend almost all the way to the floor and provide an elevated view over the back yard that slopes gently down and away from the house towards a thick stand of trees.

Both the dining room and the (so-called) Great Room have direct access to the spacious, cook-, party- and family-friendly center island eat-in kitchen outfitted with antiqued white cabinets; glass-fronted uppers, some sort of expensive-looking, stone counter top material; two-stool snack bar; warming drawers, ice makers and all the other accoutrement customarily found in a luxuriously equipped multi-million dollar mansion's kitchen; and a wide, semi-circular breakfast area lined with windows that overlook the backyard.

Two guest/family bedrooms with separate en suite facilities on the second floor share shared den and game room convertible to bedroom. Double doors in the formal living room connect to the main-floor master suite appointed with nearly identical his and her bathrooms and a fourth bedroom on the lower level has a private attached bathroom and direct access to the backyard. There's also a second den (with third fireplace) on the lower level that opens through a pair of French doors to a wide stone terrace that extends off the full-width of the back of the house.

Stone steps descend from the stone entertainment terrace to a grassy lower terrace with pergola structure off to one side. A few more steps lead down to a lightly tree-dotted and slightly sloped soccer pitch-sized grass patch ringed by a thicket of mature trees.

Now, children, have some sense and recognize the listing photos show the house decorated by the seller and does not (necessarily) reflect the decorative taste(s) of Mister and/or Missus Haywood.

The boys from the band aren't the only ones who have (fairly) recently bought properties. Turns out in late 2010 the lead lady in Lady Antebellum—that would be Hillary Scott who recently hitched her romance wagon to Love and Theft drummer Chris Tyrell—spent $725,000 to buy a relatively humble, completely renovated and expanded 4 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom bungalow with loft-like open plan interiors in Nashville's West End neighborhood.

listing photos: Showcase Photographers for Worth Properties

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Afternoon Tidbit: Oprah Winfrey

Real estate reporter (and former celebrity property gossip) Bob Goldsborough at The Chicago Tribune revealed today in his Elite Street column that daytime chat show hostess and media mogul Oprah Winfrey has put one of her Chicago condominiums up for sale with a $2,800,000 price tag.

Not only did Miz Winfrey pay $5,600,000 for the full-floor, lake-view spread in Chicago's upscale Streeterville 'hood in 2006, she never even moved in, put it out for lease last year at fifteen grand a month and now she's willing to take a multi-million dollar loss just to get rid of the damn thing.

The new and current price means that even if someone comes along and pays the billionairess the full $2,800,000 asking price, she's still facing a $2,800,000 loss not counting carrying costs, taxes, maintenance charges and real estate fees. Not that she can't afford such a loss, but still a multi-million dollar loss is a mulit-million dollar loss even if it is just couch-cushion change for a billionaire like Miz Winfrey.

Your Mama has dissed and discussed the 13-room sprawler that spreads out over 4,607 square feet on the sixth floor of a beauteous Beaux Arts building. Iffin yer innerested in our thoughts about the apartment you can go here (with photographs and floor plan) and/or here and/or here.

Miz Winfrey has long-owned a multi-unit combination duplex atop Water Tower Place in Chicago but since her television network (OWN) is headquartered in Los Angeles she accordingly spends more and more of her time farther west at The Promised Land, her 40-acre estate in Montecito (CA) and her farm in Hawaii.

Your Mama imagines if the lady can indeed make this network of hers work for the long haul she'll snatch up a private and pricey bolt hole in Los Angeles where she can stay when she doesn't feel like shacking up in a 5-star hotel or commuting back and forth to The Promised Land via chauffeured car or helicopter. We shall see, kittens, we shall see.

listing photo:

Joan Collins Re-Lists Manhattan Pied-a-Terre

SELLER: Joan Collins
LOCATON: New York City, NY
PRICE: $2,200,000
SIZE: 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Today, dontchyall know, is the 79th birthday of still-globe-trotting actress, author and Showbiz icon Joan Collins. In honor of her birthday—and belatedly for her 2010 award-winning, star turn in the short film FETISH—Your Mama thought we'd take a quick look see at the New York City pied-a-terre she recently put back on the market with an asking price of $2,200,000.

Miz Collins—often carefully painted up like a geisha or like no body's bizness, depending on one's point of view of these things—has been successfully shakin' her classically-trained money maker on stages, screens and tee-vees since the early 1950s. Although quite capable of nuanced character portrayal Miz Collins is arguably and may forever be most famous for her long-running boob-toob role as the filthy rich, Nat Sherman-smoking, one-dimensional villainess Alexis Colby on the iconically campy tee-vee program Dynasty.

The wildly successful night time soap story ran throughout the 1980s when women of a certain upper class and status dripped with diamonds at all times of day, wore shoulder padded and waist-nipping power suits that gave them imposing silhouettes, and lacquered their bubbled hair into armor-like helmets capable of deflecting even the sharpest of underhanded compliments from the other lunching ladies. Her character Alexis Colby—and to a certain extent she herself in real life (as well as her less-couth sister Jackie)—exemplified this sartorial trend that took on and whole-heartedly embraced a very artificial-looking notion of what constitutes chic-ness and glamor for jet-setting socialites.

Anyhoo, this is not, celebrity real estate aficionados may recall, the first time at the New York City real estate rodeo for Miz Collins who was born and bred in England but has been a citizen of the world with four far-flung residences. In May 2011 The Daily Mail quoted an article in Hello! magazine in which Miz Collins is quoted saying, "Many people have said to us, 'how on earth can you afford to keep four homes?' And the fact is, in this day and age, we can't." Now children. Use your noggins and don't jump to ugly conclusions about Miz Collins financial affairs. Just because Diva told Hello! she can no longer afford to keep four multi-million dollar private residences around the world doesn't mean she can't well afford to keep three. Okay?

The high-gloss septuagenarian—who emphatically claimed in mid-2010 in she hadn't fallen down vanity's slippery slope of Botox or plastic surgery—has had her Midtown Manhattan pied-a-terre on the market on and off for both lease and sale at a variety of different prices since 2008 when it first popped up for rent at $15,000 per month. The price was quickly lowered to $12,000 and 5 or six weeks later dropped again to $10,000.

In March 2011 her three-unit, three-exposure, combo co-operative at The Dorchester—a mid-rise, white-brick, post-war wart of a building just two blocks from Tiffany's flag ship shop on Fifth Avenue—was put up for sale at $2,895,000. Alas, no takers even though the price was repeatedly chipped away at until February 2012 when it was $2,200,000 and taken off the market.

In late 2011 Miz Collins and her real estates team went a little creative with their real estate efforts and offered her already combined crib as a package with the almost 2,000 square foot apartment next door, a two-unit combo owned by someone else. The opening asking price for the whole kit-'n'-kaboodle was $4,775,000, a number that fell to $3,950,000 before it dropped off the market in late March 2012.

That's all a long way around to mid-April (2012) when Miz Collins re-listed her unwanted Manhattan roost with a familiar asking price of $2,200,000. Listing information (and the floor plan included with it, below) shows the approximately 2,200 square foot apartment has separate but adjoining living and dining rooms with over-sized windows; a puny, windowless kitchen stuck in the middle of the apartment; two, well-separated bedrooms plus a den convertible to a third; and 3 compact bathrooms, only one of which has an actual window.

Current listing information, which identifies Miz Collins as the owner, describes the apartment as "a soignée sanctuary high above the city's frenetic din." First of all, it's on the 8th floor and anyone who has ever lived in New York City knows you're hardly above the city's "din" on the 8th floor and in Midtown the 8th floor is unlikely to provide much in the way of a city view. Secondly, it's just not soignée, at least not as shown in listing photographs. Sure, the dining room is spacious and some of Miz Collin's things have a downtown-ish and once-again trendily au courant 1980s sleekness but the apartment itself is a fairly-ordinary and painfully featureless post-war snoozer with a slightly gawky layout—check out the confusing O-shaped entry hall—at least three different wood floor patterns and a lot of mirrored surfaces that unfortunately only reflect the numerous featureless features of the apartment.

The "formal" living room—shown furnished in listing photographs with a spare and vexing collection of comestibles that, along with other eye-crossing choices, include a zebra-stripe sofa and foot stool—connects through an extra-wide opening to the "formal" dining room where one entire, long wall is mirrored from the baseboard to almost the ceiling.

The NY Daily News ran additional photos of the Miz Collins's apartment that show a black lacquer and mirrored pedestal with a too cliché orchid on top standing against the wall in the corridor just outside the clean-looking but decidedly-dated, all-white galley kitchen fitted with—you got it—a mirrored back splash.

Behind the dining room a long, narrow den—convertible to a bedroom—doesn't appear in listing photos to have a single mirror but does have tomato red paint on the walls, white paint on the ceiling and a complete wall of built-in bookshelves with entertainment center.

In the master bedroom, Miz Collins (and her nice-gay or lady decorator) swapped the mirror motif for a sea of matching toile-like fabric used to create custom bed dressings, wall coverings and curtain swaggery. The lacquered white dressing table (with tilting mirror), side tables and credenza-thing are, quite simply, unspeakable.

The window-free master bathroom was, not surprisingly, given a glitzy, Art Deco decorative over-note with fully-mirrored cabinetry and walls mirrored from about the waist up that run just about all the way around the tiny room. This is a fun house-y space that could far-too-easily turn into a house of infinitely-reflected horrors with a single naked person brushing his teeth or trimming her nose hairs. Think about that next time you consider installing wrap-around mirrors in your bathroom.

Listing information shows Miz Collin's New York apartment carries monthly common charges of $2,915 that add to the pet-friendly building's community pot that pays for the white-glove services that include full-time doormen, concierge, package-room people and laundry facilities. Although we can't confirm Your Mama imagines the housekeeping services provided by the building cost extra.

Miz Collins and her much (much) younger theater producer fifth husband Percy Gibson maintain three other residences including a 3 bedroom and 3 bathroom, high-floor condo at the star-studded Sierra Towers building in Los Angeles purchased in December 2007 for $2,700,000.

Mister and Missus Collins-Gibson also keep a secluded villa high in the mountains of La Croix-Valmer, not so far from the impossibly haute (and kinda vulgar) yachting stop of St. Tropez in the south of France, as well as a sizable flat in London's uppity Belgravia area. A kindly gent we'll call Tom Collins—no relation to Miz Collins—helpfully pointed us in to multi-page article from 2010 in—surprise!—Hello! magazine chock full of photos of the centrally-located London apartment she's owned 20 (or so years). Your Mama might label the day-core as an elegant example of nouveau landed gentry meets Tinseltown and she herself described it as, "cosy," and "traditional English, but with a touch of 18th-century French." Y'all can call it what you will.

listing photos and floor plan: Core

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Your Mama Also Hears...

...that one of Tinseltown's top talent agents is about to sell his conveniently located, two-lot estate in the flats of Beverly Hills to a writer/producer/director who fairly recently rocketed to Hollywood hotshot status with a soon-to-be-three film franchise that, do date, has worldwide box office receipts in excess of a billion dollars.

The property, just a couple painstakingly-manicured blocks from downtown Beverly Hills, was being shopped off-market, we're told, by one of Tinseltown's leading real estate ladies and we hear the deal will go down for around seventeen. We don't recommend anyone quote that number like it's the damn gospel though because it's just some real estate scuttlebutt that landed in our inbox thanks to Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills.

The seller, powerful and uncommonly laid-back in the the sharp-elbowed professional water he swims, bought the multi-structure mini-compound in 2006 for $16,500,000. At that time the not-quite-an-acre estate had a fully restored and expanded 1926 Wallace Neff-designed main house with 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms—or 8 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms, depending on where online one peeps—plus a large guest house, detached studio and separate pool cabana.

The various, (mostly) red tile-roofed structures set at the estate's edges are knitted together with a patchwork of broad terraces, boxwood-lined lawns and pathways, formal gardens and a long, gated driveway that runs along the side of the main house to the rear of the property.

Property records don't yet reflect a transfer but two long-time sources who both operate at the tippy-top of the Platinum Triangle real estate world both fingered the newly very rich filmmaker as the next owner of the seasoned and well-maintained estate.

We know this one's just gonna be interesting to Angelenos, but any guesses?

Your Mama Hears...

...there's a big deal going down in the low-key but high-fallutin' seaside community of Montecito, CA.

A well-connected real estate mover and shaker—let's call him Spencer Spillinbeans—recently tattled to Your Mama that an exceptionally sumptuous estate immediately next door to Oprah Winfrey's even more aristocratic Promised Land is about to be sold for somewhere near its knee-buckling $52,000,000 asking price.

Property records show the sprawling spread in question is currently owned by Pennsylvania-based Ayn Rand acolyte and professional sports and entertainment tycoon Ed Snider who appears from property records we peeped to have owned the refined but (still quietly) showy estate since at least the mid-1990s.

In addition to his Montecito getaway, thrice-divorced Mister Snider's private residential real estate holdings include (but may not be limited to) an estate in Bryn Mawr, PA anchored—as per the Montgomery County Tax Man—by a 30 room mega-mansion with 13 terlits sitting on more than 20 (mostly landscaped) acres and a multi-acre, multi-residence family compound on scenic Cobbosseecontee Lake in Monmouth, ME. In April 2008 Mister Snider coughed up $7,340,000 for a high-floor, 2 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom condo at 15 Central Park West that he quickly flipped four months later for—are you sitting down for this?—$12,400,000, an astonishing $5,060,000 profit in just four short months.

Anyhoo, listing information available online for Mister Snider's grandiose but genteel and obviously very high-maintenance Montecito estate is slim-slim-slim. There are not—that we could find—any descriptions or details about the extensive grounds or clearly colossal Mediterranean manse. Just about all Your Mama can tell the children for sure about the property is that it encompasses two, gently sloped ocean-view parcels that span a combined 7.37 (mostly landscaped) acres.

Listing photographs shows the hulking mansion's day-core veers towards seriously sumptuous and very correct (if too stiff and traditional for our particular decorative tastes) and aerial imagery available through the computer reveal the baronial grounds have an especially long, gated, hedge-lined and tree-shaded driveway; a suburban 7-11 parking lot-sized motor court with additional (staff) parking adjacent to the garages; vast and expensively green terraced lawns; multiple water features including a monumentally-scaled T-shaped body of water with fountain; a tennis court and adjacent sport; a small cottage tucked into a secluded corner perfect for housing out-of-town guests or live-in domestic staff; and a swimming pool complex with adjacent pool cabana for relaxing, mixing cocktails, taking care of life's ugly evacuation rituals and having a late afternoon massage administered firmly by a house-calling masseur named something sufficiently exotic-sounding like Sven or Reinaldo or maybe Sithembile.

Property records and other online documentation Your Mama perused don't yet show a transfer of ownership but our always impeccably informed source Spencer Spillinbeans snitched the new owners of Mister Snider's sprawling trophy estate will be Chicago-based pharmaceutical industry bigwig Jack McGinley and his wife Julie.

Keep in mind kitten-caboodles, this is just a little high-end real estate rumor and gossip right now but, when all y'all read all about it in the property gossip columns in big and legit newspapers, remember they heard about it from Your Mama just like you did.

Anyhoodles poodles, our unnecessary bitterness aside, what is not just rumor and gossip is that until very recently the very rich Mister and Missus McGinley owned another significant (if less epic) estate in Montecito, literally just a couple of driveways away.

In 2006 Mister McGinley and the missus paid $7,000,000 for Constantia, an approximately 3.5 acre estate with a nearly 10,000 square foot, architecturally authentic South African Cape Dutch-style mansion designed by Chicago architect Ambrose Cramer and built in 1930 for Chicago-based meatpacking industry executive Arthur Meeker and his wife Grace. Eventually the idiosyncratic-for-its-locale-mansion and its Lockwood de Forest Jr.-designed grounds landed in the philanthropic hands of Stewart and Katherine Abercrombie who are said to have hosted the Dalai Lama on the property and who—we read on Curbed—had the house photographed for a 1979 issue of Architectural Digest.

Mister and Missus McGinley gave the entire property a complete face lift, a real tear it all up and take it down to the studs sort of thing to update, upgrade, restore and renovate every inch of the grounds and residence. For reasons beyond our knowledge or understanding, Mister and Missus McGinley soon caught a case of The Real Estate Fickle and have had the post-rehab Constantia on and off the market since at least 2009. Listing information we dug up out of the interweb indicates the 9,771 square foot mansion has 6 bedrooms and 9 terlits divided up in 4 full and 5 half bathrooms and was last on the (open) market earlier this year with an asking price of $17,500,000 and sold, according to property records, in April for $16,800,000 to a limited liability corporation that links directly back to a posh pad in Los Angeles' Holmby Hills enclave owned by Colony Capital Principal Justin Chang. Make of that connection what you will.

So turns and churns the increasingly electric ultra-high-end real estate markets around the world and just to keep that particular pump primed, Your Mama hears through the Platinum Triangle real estate grapevine that a Hancock Park mansion owned by a sit-com star will soon be sold to another celeb and we also heard someone else just paid close to $30,000,000 for a long-vacant and woefully neglected compound on a plum, private hilltop in Bel Air.

listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International
listing photos (Constantia): Village Properties Realty

Monday, May 21, 2012

Josh Hutcherson Buys Tree House in Tinseltown

BUYER: Josh Hutcherson
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,500,000
SIZE: 1,861 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Nineteen year old tween and teen heartthrob Josh Hutcherson—now appearing in the disturbing and dystopian film (franchise) The Hunger Games—may not yet be old enough to imbibe booze on the legal up and up but the Kentucky born and bred Showbiz up-and-comer's already got the dough-re-mi to drop $2,500,000 on a sexy, gated and well-secured crib tucked into a star-studded pocket L.A.'s Hollywood Hills.

Young Mister Hutcherson has toiled in Tinseltown since he was just knee high to Tom Cruise's knee with roles big and small in almost three dozen films and television programs. In addition to his starring role in the aforementioned The Hunger Games franchise, J-Hutch's long resume includes (but is far from limited to) RV, Bridge to Terabithia and at least two Oscar-nominated movies, American Splendor and the more recent The Kids Are All Right.

We first heard the scuttlebutt about Mister Hutcherson's real estate activities late last week from a source who identified his (or her) self as Terry Tellsitall. Property records do show a transaction, just as T.T. told us they would, but they show the property acquired through a trust. We immediately picked up our bedraggled princess phone and dialed our superlatively plugged-in pal Lucy Spillerguts who quickly seconded Terry's celebrity real estate motion. All y'all can make of that chain of events what you will.

Mister Hutcherson's newly acquired, teenage bachelor pad in Los Angeles is well known in real estate circles as The Tree House due to its sylvan roost in a thick sycamore grove near the tippy top of Laurel Canyon. The 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom house is even better known in celebrity real estate circles for its rapid succession of famous owners. More on that in a moment.

Listing information doesn't list the square footage of the relatively compact but airy interior spaces—the Los Angeles County Tax Man puts it at 1,861 square feet—but does make some hay about the 2,500 square feet of seamless outdoor living space outfitted with an "incredible movie lounge, dining/barbecue space, and multiple seating areas perched in the trees" plus integrated sound, projection and security systems.

Interior features include polished concrete floors, a living room with fireplace and pitched wood ceiling and a dining room with vaulted wood-beamed ceiling and over-sized glass doors that merge the room with the the exterior living areas. The narrowness of the sleek, galley kitchen gets off-set by a high-pitched wood-beamed ceiling with clerestory windows and wood-framed glass doors. At least one of the two bathrooms has an over-sized shower with built-in bench and two huge panels of glass that probably make for a fine showering experience except for when Juan the gardener shows up unexpectedly at shower time.

Now then, let's jump back to the low-key but high-quality residence's celebrity history. The house—a small California ranch originally built in 1951 and discreetly-sited on .43 hillside acres set well below the street behind remote-controlled gates and a high fence that may (or may not) fry a fingertip were anyone be moronic enough to try to put a fingertip on them—was one of several contiguous properties owned in the mid-Aughts by real estate serial compound-creating comedienne cum chat show queen Ellen DeGeneres.

As a slight but amusing celebrity real estate aside...Miz Degeneres bought the centerpiece of her current compound in Beverly Hills—the one Ryan Seacrest just snatched up for $37M—from Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick in 2007 for nearly $30,000,000. In April 2003, according to property records, she purchased the centerpiece of her former compound atop Laurel Canyon from the same Mister Mutchnick for an undisclosed amount. She sold off the Laurel Canyon compound in parts with the main house and grounds going in 2006 to SNL alum turned money minting movie star Will Ferrell for an undisclosed amount. (It was last listed for $9,900,000.)

Anyhoo, Miz DeGeneres acquired The Tree House in March 2004 from flamboyant and now deceased furniture designer Guy Levalley Chaddock. She paid $1,275,000 for the tree-shrouded residence.

A quickie face-lift that gave the classically Californian ranch a distinctly Zen-modern make-over was followed by the swift onset of what we call The Real Estate Fickle and Miz DeGeneres flipped The Tree House in April 2005 to noted film poster designer and producer David Weissman who coughed up, according to property records we peeped, $2,100,000.

Mister Weissman also quickly caught a case of The Real Estate Fickle and in June 2006 sold The Tree House for $2,300,000 to a trust known to be affiliated with Australian actor Heath Ledger, at that time shacked up with girlfriend, baby momma and three-time Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams. In January 2008 Mister Ledger tragically turned up dead of a drug overdose in a rented loft apartment in downtown New York City and six months later the executors of Mister Ledger's estate sold The Tree House for $2,500,000 to a Miami (FL)-based concern connected to a man named Gerardo Celasco. As it turns out, that happens to be the very same name accomplished equestrian and volleyball player turned tight-bodied actor Adrian Bellani (Passions, Moneyball, RPM Miami) was born with.

Mister Celasco/Bellani, also quickly stricken with screaming case of The Real Estate Fickle, first attempted to sell The Tree House just four months after signing on the deed's dotted line. In September 2011 Your Mama discussed the property when it was (re-)listed for $2,995,000. A couple of price cuts followed and in February of this year (2012) it briefly popped back up on the market with a $2,595,000 price tag before young Mister Hutcherson came along and snapped it up for $2,500,000.

Given it's frequent turnover of high-profile owners, anyone want to guess how long young Mister Hutcherson hangs on to his new house before he too catches an incurable case of The Real Estate Fickle?

Several years ago, when Mister Hutcherson was just 16, he opened the doors to his family's primary residence in Union, KY for the Cribs cameras. At that point he was holed up in a bedroom in the basement where custom-built, floor-to-ceiling shelves stored and displayed his rather extensive sneaker collection.

Mister Celasco/Bellani, as a final aside, also owns the 2,267 square foot house next door to The Tree House he bought from—you got it—Ellen DeGeneres back in September 2007 for $1,995,000. Although the updated and upgraded 1964 contemporary was on the (open) market in both 2009 and 2010, property records show the chisel-chinned Mister Celasco/Bellani still owns the property.

listing photos: Rodeo Realty

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Terry Semel Lists Malibu Compound for Fifty Million

SELLERS: Terry and Jane Semel
PRICE: $50,000,000
SIZE: 10,317 square feet, 9 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A little weekend birdie came chirp-chirpin' along late last night to tell us former chairman/co-CEO of Warner Bros. and exceedingly well-compensated former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel and his wife Jane have heaved and hoed their oceanfront compound in Malibu, CA on the market with an elephantine $50,000,000 price tag.

We're not quite sure exactly when or for how much Mister and Missus Semel bought their beach properties. What we do know is the multi-structure, post-modernist compound was designed and built in the early-1990s for the Showbiz bigwig turned tech industry tycoon by East Coast-based architect Michael Graves. The Semel compound comprises three separate but architecturally-related structures: a bulky, two story main house; a tall and thin, barrel-vaulted screening room; and a somewhat low-slung, two-story guest/pool house.

Listing information shows the two-parcel property encompasses .73 very valuable acres with 151 bulk-headed feet of frontage on Carbon Beach, colloquially called Billionaire's Beach for the number of billionaires who maintain homes on what is arguably Malibu's most desirable and expensive stretch of sand. The three post-modern pavilions combined measure 10,317 square feet, as per listing information, and between them contain a total of 9 bedrooms and an unlucky 13 bathrooms.When we mentioned to our highly superstitious house gurl Svetlana that Mister and Missus Semel's Malibu compound has 13 bathrooms she let out a screech that curled our toes and self-assuredly said, "Well no wonder those people are selling!" Anyhoo....

Parking can be an major issue in Malibu—there's just not enough of it really—and Mister and Missus Semel's spread offers an unusual and coveted amount of off-street parking for up to 9 cars, according to listing information. In addition to a narrow strip wedged between the guest house and often traffic-clogged Pacific Coast Highway, a pair of discreet gates set into a tall, concrete privacy wall swing open to a compact, tree-shaded motor court in front of the main house with an attached two-car garage.

Mister Graves—the architect—made a decidedly (melo)dramatic statement with a voluminous, rotunda entry (above, top left and right) that soars three stories high with a sky light overhead and inlaid wood flooring under foot. A series of port hole-like openings with wavy metal railings run around the second floor gallery and provide a no-so-subtle nautical nod property's the sea-side location.

A glimpsed ocean view pulls residents and visitors through the show-stopping rotunda entry to an especially spacious (if decoratively ho-hum) living/dining room (above, bottom left and right) that grandly spans the full width of the main pavilion. There's a fireplace in the living area, very pale blond wood floors throughout, a shallow coffered ceiling and two wall lined with banks of French doors that open on one side to an ocean view veranda.

The adjoining, tile-floored eat-in kitchen (above) looks to be equipped all the necessary appliances (including a pair of dishwashers) but looks to Your Mama a bit wee for a house of this magnitude. Listing information indicates the compound contains a staff suite and we'd bet both our long bodied bitches it's just steps from the kitchen.

The impossibly pale blond wood floors in the living room show up again in the second floor master suite that has an over-scale circular window and French doors that connect to a covered veranda that runs the full-length of the main house. The attached bathroom has his and her sinks, a party-sized jetted tub, and glass and steel shower cubicle with ocean view and multiple shower heads.

As best as Your Mama can tell from listing information and photographs the free-standing middle pavilion—which may or may not have interior access to the main pavilion—contains only a den/screening room topped with a soaring, copper-roofed barrel-vaulted ceiling punctuated with a series of very post-modern circular windows. The wide-screen drops from a soffit in the ceiling at the touch of a button and half a dozen (or more) French doors open the slender but airy, bi-level room to the grassy beach-side backyard. We'd be shocked if the screening room pavilion did not have a wet bar/kitchenette and/or a bathroom but we have no specific knowledge of such.

Beyond the screening room, a two story guest/pool house has a spacious sitting area with wet bar (and pool table) and three bedrooms each with attached bathroom. One of the two downstairs bedrooms is used by Mister and Missus Semel as a half-assed fitness room with only a paltry few pieces of exercise equipment and the lone upstairs bedroom open through a long row of windows to a private sunbathing terrace tucked up behind the cornice.

Just outside the guest/pool house a heated, rectangular pool with inset spa and stone coping was simply sunk into a broad swathe of well-watered and bright green lawn that stretches out toward a low hedge atop the bulkhead that sets the house slightly above sand-level and thwarts the prying eyes of looky-looing beach goers.

Some of Mister and Missus Semel's nearest neighbors in Malibu include hotelier/restaurateur Peter Morton (who has a Richard Meier-designed compound) and entertainment industry mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg (who has a Gwathmey Siegel-designed compound). Some of y'all may think fifty million is a bold and optimistic asking price but immediately next door is the traditional (but architecturally insignificant) 12,785 square foot beach-manse formerly owned by now-deceased philanthropist Nancy Riorden Daly and sold in October 2010 to an unknown buyer for $36,969,000.

Other Richie Riches and Richettes who own property on Carbon Beach include filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer; Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; media billionaire David Geffen; media investor Haim Saban; home builder and art world kingpin Eli Broad, Canadian media baron Gerry Schwartz who knocked down two ocean front houses to build his Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse; and bitterly divorced Jamie McCourt who owns a John Lautner-designed place she and her ex bought from Courtney Cox in July 2007 for $27,250,000 and the itty-bitty beach shack next door she and ex-hubby Frank bought the following year for $18,975,000. Then, of course, there's real estate baller Larry Ellison who owns at least $150,000,000 worth of Malibu real estate including at least half a dozen houses on Carbon Beach.

Like many of the most well-heeled homeowners on Carbon Beach, Mister and Missus Semel maintain primary residences in the Platinum Triangle (Bel Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills). Between July 1982 and October 2003 Mister and Missus Semel assembled a 2.75 acre three-parcel estate in prime lower East Gate Bel Air. Sometime in the mid-Aughts they began a full-scale renovation/expansion that appears to have been recently completed.

Like in Malibu, in Bel Air Mister and Missus Semel are surrounded by show business bigwigs and other high profile types who include, just to name a few: divorcing actress Debra Messing; producer and music executive Freddy DeMann; real estate executive David P. Margulies; philanthropist Lynn Booth, widow of L.A. Times muckety-muck Franklin Otis Booth Jr.; and entertainment industry power player Michael Eisner.

In December 2011 the Semels sold a nearly 9,000 square foot mansion in Beverly Hills they bought in June 2005 for $8,300,000 in which to live during the renovation/construction of their big new crib in Bel Air.

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland and Partners Trust

Friday, May 18, 2012

Live Just Exactly Like Celine Dion

SELLER: Celine Dion and René Angélil
LOCATION: Ile Gagon, Laval, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
PRICE: $29,655,500 (Canadian)
SIZE: approximately 24,000 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to a kind Canuck we'll call Jeremy Justthoughtyoushouldknow Your Mama has come to understand that booming song stylist Celine Dion and her husband-manager René Angélil have put their unabashedly baronial private island estate on the suburban outskirts of Montreal on the market with an asking price of $29,655,500. That's $29,655,500, Canadian.

A quick few clicks on Your Mama's currency conversion contraption indicates that's $29,248,900 (American), £18,428,200, €22,995,700 and—just in case—₯7,835,790,000.

We're not sure when Mister and Missus Dion acquired the 19-ish acre island retreat, but listing information indicates the imposing, four-floor stone mega-hoose was, "custom built in 2001 by one of the worlds most illustrious entertainers and her family." Listing information goes on to show the approximately 24,000 square foot French Normandy-style chateau contains total of 6 bedrooms and 6 full and 3 half bathrooms, just enough terlits to require employment of a part-time terlit-gurl.

Miz Dion and Mister Angélil may not actually be members of the royal family but their aspirations to live like they are seem quite clear to Your Mama's boozy eyeballs from the downright palatial, high school gym-sized entrance hall complete with soaring, double-height ceiling; heavy-duty moldings and towering pilasters; inlaid marble floors; and a monumentally-scaled, high-drama staircase that wraps around the room and up to a second floor gallery.

Can any one else besides Your Mama perfectly envision Dolly Parton coming down that winding staircase in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and/or Celine Dion gliding down in a beaded frock, pounding on her chest and belting out that swooning and ballooning theme song to Titanic?

Public rooms are many and include, according to listing information, a large formal living room with floor-to-ceiling windows on two opposite walls and a ceiling partially and, in our meaningless opinion, unwisely painted like a cloudy sky; a banquet hall-like formal dining room that seats 18; wood-paneled library and family room with fireplaces and built-ins; a sun room; and elongated office completely paneled with some sort of expensive-looking burled wood and lined with built-in display cabinets where Miz Dion may (or may not) stash her 5 Grammys, 12 World Music Awards, 7 American Music Awards, 7 Billboard Music Awards and on and on and on....

The kitchen, colossal and decidedly dramatic, has dark wood cabinets with La Cornue insets and plenty of carved corbels and other details; three Chevy-sized, floating work islands; a pair of menacing pot racks dripping with copper pots; some sort of old-timey espresso making contraption that probably cost more than your car; a very chic and expensive La Cornue range; and beige marble floors set on the bias with black market insets. It looks like the sort of kitchen two chefs, three sous chefs and one minimum wage dish washer could concurrently and comfortably work.

The master suite—more aptly described perhaps as a multi-pronged complex—somewhat curiously comprises his and her master bedroom suites. We're not talking separate bathing and dressing facilities like in an ordinary mega-mansion, we're talking connected but completely separate his and her suites, each with "sumptuous ensuite bathrooms, spacious walk-in closets, Juliette balconies and oversized doors and windows overlooking the water."

The lady's suite—that would be C.D.'s innermost domestic sanctum—has a bedroom with canopy bed; separate, double-height boo-dwar; a "vaulted marble shower"; and a soaking tub set privately in a wrought iron railed loft overlooking the boo-dwar. We'd stake our fat ass that Miz Dion's "ultimate walk-in closet" is bigger than Your Mama and The Dr. Cooter's entire house.

The 2-bedroom children's wing contains a separate contempo-styled den (above, upper left) with "integrated media components and custom hi-lacquers built-ins." A "spacious guest suite" and fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment are tucked up under the roof on the third floor and down in the basement there's a wood-paneled games room (above, upper right) with built-in wet bar and stone-vaulted wine cellar with tasting room (above, bottom left).

Stone terraces and balconies extend off all sides of multi-winged megamansion and most take advantage of the all-around water views and "natural forested environment." Set well away from the main house there's an in-ground swimming pool with nearby pool house "equipped with its own kitchen and built-in grill." Although listing information doesn't specify, we imagine (and hope) the pool house also has a changing room and bathroom or two otherwise you know at least some of the pool users would tuck behind a tree for a tinkle before they'd make the trek across the lawn to the main house.

The private island, accessible only by helicopter or gated bridge, is wired to the gills for sure with fully integrated sound, satellite and lighting systems and a high-tech "surveillance system throughout within and around the house."

Marketing materials state the price includes "almost all of its contents" including "all the furniture (most antiques); artwork; decorative accessories; Persian rugs; linens; china; glassware; flatware and more (a full list will be provided to the prospective purchasers)."

That means, of course, that some person with somewhere close to thirty million dollars can live out their fantasy of living exactly like Celine Dion. That's all fine and fantastic and we imagine there are bajillions of Celine Dion fans (and fanatics) that would choke a defenseless animal for the opportunity to touch her hem or own a tiny piece of Miz Dion's decorative opulence. But, seriously, how many people with thirty million to spend on a fully-furnished and high-maintenance mega-mansion in suburban Montreal do the children think there really are? We're not knocking Montreal. We think it's a fantastic city. We're just sayin'...

 Marketing materials also include a YouTube accessible video of the property appropriately set to operatic music. 

Mister and Missus Dion reportedly plan to look for another house in their native Canada but circumstances have them spending more time at their homes in the United States. Since the early 2000s Miz Dion has had a seriously lucrative gig singing her heart out at some casino-resort in Las Vegas where she and her Mister own a 2(ish)-acre, three-parcel estate that backs up to a golf course in an upscale, gated development in Henderson near Lake Las Vegas.

The first two parcels were purchased, according to property records we peeped, in two separate transactions in 2002 and 2003 for a combined $6,231,256. The slightly smaller .75 acre parcel has a gated, single-story mansion with 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms in just more than 6,600 square feet; swimming pool, and deep shaded terraces. The larger, .79-acre parcel has an almost 2,000 square foot structure of undetermined utility set in a large large area and a gated, tennis court-sized parking pad with 4-car carport. Just last month (April 2012) Miz Dion and Mister Angélil added to their desert spread with the $150,000 shelled out to buy an adjacent, .55 acre vacant lot.

It wasn't so long ago Miz Dion and Mister Angélil were cat nip with all the property gossips and mouthy real estate magpies over the water park-like swimming pool they installed on their multi-acre, ocean front compound in Hobe Sound, FL that also, baller style, has a separate, very simply rectangular swimming pool on the ocean side of the house.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty
aerial photo (Montreal): Bing 
aerial photo (Hobe Sound): Pacific Coast News

Phil Donahue and That Girl List Westport Estate

SELLER: Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas
LOCATION: Westport, CT
PRICE: $27,500,000
SIZE: 8,617 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We first caught wind of this a couple weeks ago from Westport Willie but didn't have any meat on the matter until yesterday when both Westport Willie and Westport Wanda let us know iconic former chat show pioneer Phil Donahue and That Girl wife Marlo Thomas heaved their very East Coast-y waterfront estate in Westport, CT on the open market with an asking price of $27,500,000.

Property records we peeped aren't entirely clear but it appears to Your Mama that Mister Donahue and Miz Thomas picked up the two (or more) parcels that make up their now-for-sale estate in February 2006 for an undisclosed amount of dough.

Listing information is somewhat slim on the details but does indicate the Donahue-Thomas's waterfront spread spans 6.56 acres and has a gated, 420-foot long driveway that cuts through the sylvan property and leads to front and rear motor courts where there's garage space for 4 cars. The main house, an 8,716 square foot cedar-shingled rambler built brand new in 2007, has 5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathrooms and at least 3 fireplaces. An octagonal guest structure up near the entry gates houses a fitness facility and a gazebo down by the water's edge is probably a nice place to sit back with a big bag of penny candy and a Percival Everett novel.

Other amenities listed on marketing materials include an elevator, security system, wet bar, multi-zoned heating and cooling systems, skylight(s), 9-plus-foot ceilings, office/computer room, partly finished full basement and second floor master suite with fireplace, hardwood floors, walk-in closet, whirlpool tub and vaulted ceiling. Taxes are shown on listing information at a mouth-drying $211,330 per year.

Mister Donahue and Miz Thomas used to live in the 17-room Tudor-style mansion next door which they sold to financial and political worlds mover and shaker Herbert M. Allison Jr. in spring 2006 for, according to property records and previous reports, $25,000,000.

Other residents of the swanky seaside lane include Harvey Weinstein, billionaire hedge funder Marc Lasry, legally embattled financier Rajat Gupta, and controversial radio shock-jock Don Imus who's had his waterfront mansion on and off the market for years with asking prices as high as $30,000,000 and as low as it's current price tag of $19,900,000.

listing photos: Nicholas Fingelly Real Estate

The Big Deals Keep Rolling In...

Buckle your real estate safety belts, butter beans...

On the heels of knee-buckling news that legally blind casino tycoon Steve Wynn dropped a staggering $70,000,000 on an almost 11,000 square foot duplex spread on New York City's swank Central Park South comes new news about an as-yet unidentified buyer agreeing to pay between ninety and $100,000,000 for the not-yet-finished, nearly 11,000 square foot duplex penthouse that sprawls across the 89th and 90th floors of One57, a gleaming 1,000-foot tall tower going up at 157 West 57th Street designed by Moroccan-born and Paris-based architect (and 1994 Pritzker Prize winner) Christian de Portzamparc.

The Midtown tower's developer Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Corporation, told The New York Times the penthouse was not sold to someone from Russia, the Ukraine or "'any other part of the former  Soviet Union.'" He went on to hint the obviously very rich buyer is "'someone that people would recognize'" and plans to use the penthouse as a private residence for his "'very nice family.'"

Little is known about the two-floor penthouse—the developer has kept most of the details of the building's larger units out of the press—but is said to have a "grand salon" with 23-foot ceilings and extraordinarily 360-degree views.

Mister Barnett further expounded that a different buyer, a foreign buyer, was earlier this year interested in combining a 13,500 square foot lower floor duplex (with separate solarium) with another full floor apartment that would have brought the total size to around 20,000 square feet. Alas, the deal fell through but the developer said but that stomach-churner of deal would have been worth between $100-150 million.

Even with all the humongous deals that have gone done recently in New York—the $88 million purchase at 15 Central Park West by Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, the $52.5 million dollar deal at 740 Park and Mister Wynn's $70 million real estate bauble atop the Ritz Carlton—the numbers still pale in comparison to London where, as noted in the New York Post, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov reportedly paid somewhere around $230 million for his palatial pied-a-terre at the punishingly pricey One Hyde Park.
Maybe the buyer at One57 is one of those very young and very rich Ecclestone heiresses who have been snatching up exorbitantly high-priced properties in both London and Los Angeles over the last couple of years and were rather reverently profiled in The Wall Street Journal this morning? We doubt it but stranger things have happened.

How's that taste with your morning coffee?