Friday, August 16, 2013

Your Mama Hears...

...that Leonardo DiCaprio is on the hunt for some new, A-lister style digs. And we are not, children, speaking of his increasingly exhaustive and well documented search in New York City where he's been spotted several times this summer shopping for a pricey pied-a-terre in the 15-30 million dollar range.* It seems the model-dating superstar might also like to upgrade his residential circumstances in his home base of Los Angeles where, according to our trusted and well-placed informant Peter Propertyseller, the three time Oscar nominee made an under the radar offer for—buckle your real estate safety belts, butter beans—embattled multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch's secluded estate high in the mountains above Beverly Hills.

Peter Propertyseller snitched to Your Mama that the octogenarian media tycoon, in the process of getting what is sure to be a stunningly expensive divorce from his third wife, 37-years younger Wendi Deng, has floated his spectacularly sited estate on the down low with an asking price of around $35,000,000. No word on what Mister DiCaprio offered Mister Murdoch for the property or the status of said offer but our Mister Propertyseller told us word on the Platinum Triangle street is that powerful parties have not (and may not) come to terms.

Property records suggest Mister Murdoch and his fierce third missus purchased the multi-acre estate in July 2004 for $13,000,000 but given that Mister Murdoch has been associated with the property since the 1990s Your Mama makes the (possibly foolish and inaccurate) assumption that the 2004 purchase was arranged so that Mister and third Missus Murdoch could buy second Missus Murdoch, Anna, out of whatever ownership she retained in the property after their 1999 divorce.**

The main house, a sensational semi-circular affair approached by a long gated driveway, was designed by West Coast starchitect Wallace Neff and built in 1926 for silent film director Fred Niblo and silver screen actress Enid Bennett. The Los Angeles County Tax Man indicates the house has a total of 11 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms in 8,651 square feet of space.

The existing estate is comprised of three parcels that encompass, buy Your Mama's rudimentary calculations, 4.4 acres. Since we've never been invited to any of the Murdoch's shindigs or dinner parties we can't be sure of the house's current layout. An old and not terribly crisply rendered floor plan for the main floor of the main residence that Your Mama scared up here shows the idiosyncratic residence, which bends beautifully around a central circular motor court, was designed with a compact entry vestibule—a feature we love and wish were incorporated in more of the newly built (mac)mansions—and an elegant, pill-shaped reception hall larger than most people's living rooms.

Both the step-down formal living room (with fireplace) and an adjoining library opened to a walled courtyard that appears in aerial imagery to have been enclosed, perhaps as some sort of sun porch or—as rich people like to call them—a solarium. A sinuous hall snaked around the library to what was originally designed as a deliciously secluded guest bedroom and bathroom that would also make for a fab home office or art studio.

On the opposite side of the house there's a pill-shaped stair hall that connects the reception hall to the service wing and a commodious formal dining room that leads out to a loggia that overlooks a plaza-sized terrace and swimming pool.

The extensive service wing was designed with a kitchen-sized butler's pantry, a slightly larger actual kitchen with walk-in pantry, a bedroom-sized mud room, and a staff wing with two bedrooms and a shared hall bathroom. A narrow carriage way between the central motor court and the rear motor court divides the main house from a two car garage and additional staff/guest quarters with at least two more bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a compact kitchen.

Mister DiCaprio, in case y'all don't know, needs another high-maintenance residence in Los Angeles like he needs a raging case of the crabs. The popular and talented actor's primary residence is a custom-designed contemporary house behind secure gates high above the Sunset Strip. The children may recall this is the house where he ran afoul of his neighbors to the rear who made a legal stink about how the construction of Mister DiCaprio's at-home half-court basketball court destabilized or encroached on or otherwise compromised their property. The suit was dismissed. Anyways, Mister DiCap also owns the much more traditional house immediately next door that some years ago was leased by Spiderman actor Tobey Maguire and is now home, we've been told but can't confirm, to his mother, Irmelin.

In addition to his two Sunset Strip homes, Mister DiCap also owns a hillside house in the hip and trendy Silver Lake area bought in 1999 for $769,000 and two beach front properties in Malibu including a three house compound in the famed Colony community that's currently up for sale with an $18.9 million price tag, reduced from it's original $23 million asking price.

As one would presume a multi-billionaire might, Mister Murdoch has traditionally maintained a fat property portfolio. He reportedly added to his real estate pile a few months ago when he plunked down an as yet undisclosed amount for a functional vineyard/winery property in the western reaches of L.A.'s tony Bel Air area that was last listed for $29.5 million but he otherwise seems to be more inclined over the last few years to lighten his considerable real estate load.

Property records indicate that few years ago Mister Murdoch sold a pair of adjacent (and probably adjoining) penthouse apartments in Washington, D.C. for $1.3 million, in 2010 he sold three large parcels of ranch land up in the Carmel Valley in California's scenic Monterey County for an unknown amount, and in the fall of 2011 he sold Rosehearty—an historic 4.46 acre estate on New York's Long Island—for $9.5 million. (Fun fact #1: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly leased Rosehearty for $100,000 for one month in 2010 when filming Miz Jolie's action-flick Salt.)

Presumably Mister (and soon-to-be third ex-Missus Murdoch) kept—or keep—residences in London and Australia—about which Your Mama knows zilch—and, although we can't vouch for their veracity, back in the mid-Aughts it was reported by a slew of international property gossips that the globe-trotting couple snagged a courtyard style residence in Beijing.

The large livin' media mogul's real estate crown jewel is a 20-room, mansion-sized triplex penthouse in New York City atop one of Fifth Avenue's most prestigious buildings that he and soon-to-be third ex-Missus Murdoch acquired in 2004 for a staggering and then record breaking $44,000,000. The 8,000-ish square foot trophy penthouse, formerly owned by philanthropist and American "royal" Laurance Rockefeller, underwent extensive renovations said to include the installation of a $400,000 home gym set up.

(Fun Fact #2: Mister and third Missus Murdoch once owned a 9,300+ square foot Christian Liaigre designed triplex penthouse at 141 Prince Streeet that, the children may recall was recently bought and quickly sold at a multi-million dollar loss by philanthropic tech tycoon Ted Waitt, the same fella who just shelled out a giant sum of money for one of Megan Ellison's very contemporary houses in L.A.'s Bird Streets area.)

*The lady property gossip at the New York Post has repeatedly discussed some of the penthouses and townhouses that Mister DiCaprio has toured including a $30 million Renaissance style townhouse mansion on East 74th Street and a $14.9 million dollar Gramercy Park duplex penthouse (in the same building where Karl Lagerfeld once owned a swank spread he never actually occupied) as well as some swanky spaces in Nolita and SoHo.

**Second ex-Missus Murdoch was frequently reported to have received as much as $1.7 billion as her settlement but that figure is now in some dispute. At least one Murdoch family chronicler and unauthorized biographer says, as reported in the Hollywood Reporter, that number is wildly exaggerated and that second-Missus Murdoch actually negotiated a deal that gave her "$100 million, with the added stipulation that her three children, plus one she raised from Rupert's previous marriage, would inherit News Corp upon his death." The agreement was re-negotiated after Mister Murdoch, then in his early 70s, produced a couple of girl children with his third wife, Wendi Deng. Oh what a tangled web these multi-billionaires weave, right?

aerial photo: Bing
floor plan: Moule & Polyzoides (via Eye on Design)


Anonymous said...

Wallace Neff had a thing for crescent-shaped houses. That Italian Renaissance villa on Bellagio is another majestic example.

Anonymous said...

It was - just a matter of time. However, I hoped for at least some kind of listing and the possibility of seeing at least a few ground-level photos. Bing Maps has some nice updated pics of the LA area.

Oh, well.

Perhaps Mike Carrillo will photograph it and it will be splashed across Daily Mail's pages.

P. S. Does anybody know what si that thing being erected at 671 Siena Way? It seems the house changed contractor from Finton to Sebastian, and it intrigues me.

WrteStufLA said...

If you google the phrase "Fred Niblo residence beverly hills" (Niblo was the original owner of Murdoch's house), then browse the results, you'll find a few more exterior photographs, mainly from tinted postcards created soon after the house's construction.

The Swan said...

Niblo leased the house for years to Kathryn Hepburn who enjoyed the Rose Garden which is still intact...all overlooking the Canyon that at one time included FALCON LAIR on the other ridge. Neff's home he designed for writer Marion Thompson home was at the end of demolished by Paul Allen unfortunately! We are talking Golden Age of Beverly Hills Architecture and Hollywood History.

Jules Stein purchased from San Simeon warehouse the Garden Room/Sunroom which overlooks the grounds and installed it with Checkerboard marble time floor...this is a True Jewel. Stein also took the original Columns from Marion Davies Santa Monica Beachhouse facade and incorporated them into the MCA Headquarters on Burton Way designed by Paul Williams. They are still standing in the garden as a Hemicycle colonnade.

Neff was taken with the Villa Guilia in Rome, with its Hemicycle facade of the Casino by Vignola - he used this design several times to great effect!

Anonymous said...

that house in the picture is / was David Murdoch's

Justin said...

Love this post, really informative and interesting - Thanks mama.

Anonymous said...

wasn't this house also owned by Dolly Green?

bentley said...

Anon 4:45 - Dolly Green owned 10539 Bellagio.

Anonymous said...

This house became Anna Murdoch's house for quite awhile after her divorce from Rupert. The drive up to this house has always been one of my least favorite in 90210. Just an awful winding and always dirty drive. But now, you do get to at least drive by the relatively new Pritzker estate which is mind-blowing. And you drive by the long-time white modern home of long-time AD editor-in-chief Paige Reinse. Leonardo does seem to like dead end streets though - given his current main Birds residence (opposite end of Dr. Dre coincidentally)

Anonymous: no, the pictured house is not David Murdoch's house - you thinking of David Murdock of Dole Foods in Bel Air?

Wallace Ridge

Rosco Mare said...

@ The Swan: You are correct about the sun room being installed by the Steins...and other things mentioned in your comment.

Jules and Doris Stein bought this remarkable estate, named Misty Mountain, from cash-strapped Fred Niblo in the mid-1940s. They furnished it with beautiful authentic, and very good reproduction English furniture. They also built the pool on the upper terrace. For a generation, this house was ground zero for West Coast A-list entertaining.

Rupert and Anna Murdoch purchased the estate and a lot of its contents, including some of Doris' clothing left in closets, in 1984 after Doris passed away. (Jules passed away in 1981.)

The house was later carefully refurbished by Murdoch who slightly lowered the elevation of the circular motor court and removed the neatly clipped foliage that covered the front facade of the house.

PropMart said...
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