Real Estate Newsletter: ‘Homeless Billionaire’ Wins Historic Estate

Welcome back to the real estate newsletter. There’s a strange new trend lately: More and more iconic Southern California estates are being auctioned off.

It’s a real estate story as old as time: a developer shoots for the stars with an overly ambitious project and accumulates millions in debt on the property. But now they are forced to sell them at foreclosure auction to offset the debt.

Two of those incidents made headlines for the week, and one broke the record for the most expensive house ever sold at auction. Known as the Hearst Estate, the famous mansion linked to William Randolph Hearst was once listed for $ 195 million but ended up being sold to the highest bidder in a Los Angeles courthouse after the owner, the lawyer Leonard Ross, had accumulated about $ 50 million in debt on the property. The highest bidder turned out to be “homeless billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, a think tank founder who earned his nickname with his jet-set lifestyle and permanent lack of skill.

The other house up for auction is a little more infamous. This is Mohamed Hadid’s 30,000 square foot mega-mansion nicknamed “Starship Enterprise” by angry neighbors who feared the code-breaking structure would slide up the hill and crush the houses below. A judge has ordered its demolition in 2019, and the land it stands on will be auctioned on October 1. It’s a top notch piece of land, so place your bids now.

Another notable home, Beverly Crest’s Bella Vista, has found a notable owner: “Charlie’s Angels” director McG. He bought it for $ 14.7 million from actress Donna Scott, the widow of the late “Top Gun” director Tony Scott.

William Randolph Hearst passed 70 years ago, but still dominated several titles this week. The Herald Examiner Building he built over a century ago in downtown Los Angeles for his journal has been restored to public life and counts Arizona State University among its tenants.

The other commercial real estate scoop of the week came to Hollywood, where developers applied for a $ 500 million skyscraper on Sunset Boulevard called the Star. Spanning 22 floors, the bubble-shaped glass world would include four levels of gardens and a funicular to a rooftop restaurant. Photos alone are worth a click – or even a subscription to the LA Times.

While keeping up to date with the latest news, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

The billionaire is the highest bidder for the Hearst estate

Investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen is one of the richest men in the world.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Real estate investor Nicolas Berggruen just shelled out $ 63.1 million for the Hearst estate in Beverly Hills, winning the prized property in a more competitive bankruptcy auction than some had anticipated.

On Tuesday, think tank co-founder Berggruen Institute beat five other bidders at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and the US Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles in a lively auction that lasted about 45 minutes.

Twenty-four people – the bidders as well as lawyers and agents – gathered in the courtroom, and a few others watched the action on a screen in an overflow room, said Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates , which held the registration on the domain.

The auction started at $ 48 million, $ 1 million more than Berggruen’s initial bid, which was accepted by the seller, sparking a Chapter 7 bankruptcy sale at auction.

Hadid’s mega-mansion will be up for auction

The unfinished mansion at 901 Strada Vecchia Road in Bel-Air is shown in 2017.

The unfinished mansion at 901 Strada Vecchia Road in Bel-Air is shown in 2017.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

“This house will last forever,” developer Mohamed Hadid once said of his 30,000 square foot mega-mansion perched in the hills of Bel-Air. “Bel-Air will fall before that. “

An LA County court disagreed in 2019, declaring the massive, unfinished structure a “danger to the public” and ordering its demolition. Now the infamous Strada Vecchia Road estate will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The auction is the latest and possibly the last chapter in a saga that stretches back several years and is filled with criminal charges, government investigations and fierce battles in court.

Famous filmmaker buys house with celebrity past

1920s estate

The 1920s estate features a main house, two cottages, a bungalow, and a two-story guesthouse set amidst fountains and koi ponds.

(Christophe Amitrano / CS8)

In one of Beverly Crest’s biggest deals so far this year, director Joseph McGinty Nichol, better known as McG, paid $ 14.7 million for the iconic Bella Vista estate. He bought it from actress Donna Scott.

The sale ends a six-year marketing journey for the 95-year-old Spanish villa. It first went on sale in 2015 for $ 42.5 million with seven acres of land. In the absence of lessees, the price and the area of ​​the land were regularly reduced; it recently listed earlier this year for $ 15.5 million on an acre.

It is a natural landing place for McG, director of the films “Charlie’s Angels”, “We Are Marshall” and “Terminator Salvation”. Since the house was built in 1926, a parade of actors and filmmakers from different periods of cinema has lived there.

New life for the Herald Examiner building

Michael Fischer walks past the Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Michael Fischer, senior vice president of Georgetown Real Estate, walks past the Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The historic building that publishing titan William Randolph Hearst built for his Los Angeles newspaper over a century ago has been restored to public life as the booming development of its downtown neighborhood brings new apartments, hotels and offices, writes Roger Vincent.

Completed in 1914 on South Broadway, the Herald Examiner Building was the first collaboration between Hearst and architect Julia Morgan, who went on to design her lavish grounds of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. The newspaper closed in 1989 and the property has become a filming location for crime shows, sitcoms and movies.

New York developer Georgetown Co. bought a stake in architectural gem from Hearst Corp. in 2015 and partnered with the newspaper chain on an $ 80 million project to redevelop the building into offices for rent and restaurants on the ground floor, said Michael Fischer, a senior vice president at Georgetown who oversaw the project.

Arizona State University moved in as an office tenant last month and now has room to train up to 500 students per day, said Maria Anguiano, senior vice president of corporate strategies.

22-story glass bubble slated for Hollywood

Artist's impression of the Star Hollywood skyscraper project

An artist rendering shows the proposed $ 500 million Hollywood skyscraper, the Star, which would include a streetcar leading to a rooftop restaurant.

(MAD Architects)

The developers on Thursday filed a request with the city of Los Angeles to build what they hope will be a visually stunning $ 500 million skyscraper on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood called the Star, writes Roger Vincent.

The proposed 22-story glass office tower would create its own bubble-shaped world with garden levels open to the elements on the 10th and 17th floors and an enclosed landscaped roof with a restaurant, all served by a funicular that goes up and down. the sides of the tower.

It is a creation of MAD Architects, a Chinese architectural firm known for its daring designs like the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, under construction near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which evokes the fantastic “Star Wars” empire of director George Lucas.

Architect Ma Yansong called the building’s winding shape “very sculptural,” reminiscent of a sunrise “or a sunset,” he said with a laugh. “It’s on Sunset Boulevard.”

What we read

For the first time in more than a year, US home sales are down, MarketWatch reports. Prices continue to rise, but slowing sales could be an indicator of a cooling in the market.

In 2016, golf course communities were doing so badly that developers were donating the courses to national parks for the tax break. The pandemic changed everything, however, with millions of people trying golf for the first time and many ending up buying properties on the Links. Bloomberg has the story.

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