Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did Y'all See...

...that Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi have re-listed their southern California horse ranch with a new, improved and much lower $10,995,000 asking price? Well they did.

Your Mama previously discussed—at length, as per usual—the Sapphic couple's equestrian compound so, rather than go over it all again with a fine-toothed celebrity real estate gossip's comb, suffice to say...

Missus Degeneres and de Rossi picked up their horsey haven in the swanky Hidden Valley area near Thousand Oaks in June 2009 for about $8.5 million. They first attempted to unload the bucolic retreat about two years later with an asking price of $16,500,000. The asking price eventually dropped to $14,900,000 before it was taken off the open market in the fall of 2011.

The 26-acre, multi-residence ranch property has eight fully updated and upgraded farmhouse-style cottages all decked out and done up in a rustic kind of contemporary day-core featured in a recent issue of Elle Decor. There's also, as per listing details and other online resources, a ranch office, a couple of barns converted to art studios/entertainment spaces, a screened yoga pavilion, a tree house, a tennis court, extensive equestrian facilities (hay barn, stables, riding rings, and etc.), and—y'all can bet—a state of the art security system. Altogether, according to listing details, the property encompasses eight bedrooms,10.5 bathrooms, and (at least) 4 fireplaces spread throughout the various residences and outbuildings.

Last year the property-mad pair sold their celebrity pedigreed compound above Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills for nearly $40 million to squeaky clean media mogul Ryan Seacrest and paid $17.4 million for an 8,000-ish square foot Hal Leavitt-designed mid-century modern in the lower Trousdale Estates area of Beverly Hills that had previously been owned by maximalist lady-decorator Kelly Wearstler.

They currently own a modest condominium in Beverly Hills —presumably purchased for staff or family—that's up for sale at $899,000 and just a few months ago it was revealed they spent a spectacular $26,500,000 to acquire a 13-acre estate in tony Toro Canyon near Montecito, CA with a pristine 10,500 square foot 1920s Tuscan-style villa that had been painstakingly restored by high-brow decorator John Saladino as his private residence.*

*Mister Saladino sold the estate for $16,500,000 in March 2012 to a Kiwi couple who, apparently, flipped less than a year later at a tremendous ten million dollar profit to Missus Degeneres and de Rossi.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty

Kristin Cavallari Leases Big Winnetka Mansion

WHO: Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari
LOCATION: Winnetka, IL
PRICE: $10,000 per month
SIZE: 6,718 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The long-legged blond at Trulia Luxe Living offers a quick peek at the $10,000 per month Winnetka, IL mansion in to which television personality (and shoe designer) Kristin Cavallari and her well-compensated professional pigskinner husband, Jay Cutler, recently moved.

As a veteran reality television denizen Miz Cavallari is a funny, new-fangled sort of celebrity who's really more famous for being famous than she is for any actual professional accomplishments. As a blond and tanned teen in the mid-Aughts she starred—if that's what it's called—on the pioneering reality television program Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. She subsequently replaced her former Laguna Beach cast mate Lauren Conrad in the fifth season of the (allegedly) semi-scripted show The Hills and in 2011 Miz Cavallari showed up on Dancing With The Stars. (She was eliminated in the early rounds.) The 26-year old Showbizzer—that's what she is, right?—occasionally lands a small acting role (The Middle, CSI: NY, Wild Cherry) and every now and then she pops up as a guest judge on a reality show competition (America's Next Top Model, Cupcake Wars). She also lends her name—and presumably whatever expertise she has—to an eponymous line of high-heeled shoes produced by the folks at Chinese Laundry.

Since 2009 Mister Cutler has been the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, a plum job that will reportedly pay him nearly $8.5 million for the upcoming season, his fifth and final season under his expiring contract with the Bears. The couple were married in Nashville last month (June, 2013), nearly a year after they made boy child that was born—out of wedlock traditional family enthusiasts will note—in August 2012. Anyhoo...

According to listing details the stately, stone-faced Euro-style villa has five bedrooms and six full and three half bathrooms in 6,718 square feet plus a finished basement that adds another (approximately) 1,500 square feet of living space.

A graceful circular driveway arcs up to the front door that opens in to a grand—or maybe it's grandiose—double height foyer with inlaid marble floor and a curvaceous floating staircase. There are formal living and and dining room, the former with a fireplace and hardwood floors, plus a wood-paneled library and a family room, the latter with a fireplace. There's also a combination kitchen/den that features a fireplace surmounted by a flat screen t.v., a massive center work island with short snack bar, and a breakfast area in front of a curved wall of glass. (Oh, look, Here's the newlyweds having their picture taken in the kitchen with one of the people from People.)

We're not exactly sure where Miz Cavallari lived before moving to Winnetka in January (2013) but Mister Cutler reportedly lived in a three bedroom condo on Chicago's North Side he rented for $6,500 per month.

listing photos: Urban Real Estate (via Trulia Luxe Living)

Your Mama Hears...

The last Your Mama knew, back in mid-January (2013), lavender-tressed rock-n-roll scion and Fashion Police panelist Kelly Osbourne was shacked up in a rental apartment at the Empire West complex in West Hollywood (CA) where her across the hall neighbor was—as per her own tweets—glam rocking American Idol season 8 runner up Adam Lambert.

Although it was widely reported back in April (2013) that the 28 year old celebrity fashion commentator had moved to a house—she tweeted about it, natch—the "news" went over Your Mama's head and under our celebrity real estate radar. Yesterday, however, we heard word from our trusted tattletale Lucy Spillerguts who told us that the semi-secretly engaged Miss Osbourne rented a gated mini-estate in the Post Office area of Beverly Hills (CA) that was last—and somewhat infamously—leased by promising starlet turned tabloid train wreck Lindsay Lohan.

That's right, children, Miss Osbourne and her vegan chef fiancée, Matthew Mosshart,* are living in unmarried sin in Lindsay Lohan's real estate sloppy seconds. ¡Escándalo!

Miss Osbourne rented as opposed to purchased the Bev Hills (Post Office) pad according to Lucy Spillerguts and property records Your Mama peeped do indeed show the residence in question has been owned since May 2006 by a generically named corporation easily linked to a couple of successful real estate brokers in Boca Raton, FL.

We can't be completely sure of the exact amount Miss Osbourne forks over for rent but we did find evidence online that shows the property was listed for lease at $10,450 per month and suggests it was leased at $10,000 per month, about $1,500 a month more per month than Miss Lohan was reported to have paid.

The Georgian-Colonial house sits high and private up a long, impressively gated driveway** on 1.5 mostly sloped and scrubby canyon acres. Listing details Your Mama dug up show the 2,509 square foot house was originally built in 1937 and is currently configured with three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. There are hardwood floors and several sets of French doors in both the living and dining rooms and the center island kitchen has stainless steel appliances, Carrara marble counter tops, and an adjoining bay-windowed breakfast room/den with slate tile floors.

Two guest/family bedrooms with medium brown hardwood floors share a hall bathroom while the sun-splashed master suite—the one she had did over by Kathy Ireland on Million Dollar Decorator and then didn't show up for the final filming because she'd been in a car accident or arrested or something like that—has much lighter wood floors that may or may not be white oak. There's also a fireplace, a large private terrace accessible through a full wall of French doors, and a fitted walk-in closet/dressing room. The attached master bathroom has a two-sink vanity, a jetted tub and separate glass-enclosed steam-equipped shower, and both a toilet and a bidet for rinsing the naughty bits.

Outdoor spaces includes a basket weave pattern red brick courtyard with fountain—or maybe it's a koi pond with a fountain—and a built-in barbecue station. Somewhat awkwardly off the front of the house there's a partly cantilevered deck with view of Century City and around the side there's a curved swimming pool and spa tucked into the steep hillside that rises behind the house..

Listing details from earlier this year (2013) make some hay about how the house was previously home to "many high profile individuals." Besides rehabbing (again) Miss Lohan—and now several time rehabbed Miss Osbourne—the only notable names Your Mama could easily connect to the property (via the Movieland Directory) are Showbiz power player Sherry Lansing and western movie writer Jack Lait, Jr., the son of legendary writer/journalist Jack Lait.

In other Osbourne family real estate news: We hear Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne have vacated the stunning Spanish hacienda-style house on Walden Drive in Beverly Hills, (CA) they'd been leasing from one of the Platinum Triangles most successful real estate agents because the property quietly sold for $5,264,000 in mid-June (2013) to—so says Lucy Spillerguts—90-year old billionaire Sumner Redstone's 42 year old gal pal, fashion and media entrepreneur Sydney Holland.

*In case you didn't already know or might care, Matthew Mosshart is the younger brother of musician/singer Alison "VV" Mosshart who fronts The Kills with model Kate Moss's hubbie Jamie "Hotel" Hince. So the stories go Miss Osbourne and Mister Mosshart met at the Moss-Hince nuptials in July 2011. Miss Mosshart—just f.yi.—is also an official member of the hard charging blues rock back The Dead Weather with Jack White of White Stripes fame. 

**Incidentally, Miss Osbourne's new rental home shares the long and impressively gated driveway with a much larger estate that Canadian financier/mining tycoon turned film and television executive Frank Giustra bought in June 2011 for $7 million from supermodel/reality show presenter-producer Heidi Klum and her ex-husband Seal.

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bruce Makowsky Flipping Out in Beverly Hills

SELLER: Bruce Makowsky and Kathy Van Zeeland
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $19,950,000
SIZE: 12,500 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen, chickens, we're feeling a little bored with the usual celebrity real estate fare today so instead of going down that route we're going with a long ditty about a couple of L.A.-based real estate ballers. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Like in many places across the county, if y'all haven't heard, the Los Angeles real estate market is once again white hot. The Agency's recently released Agency Report for the second quarter of 2013 indicates sales volumes of prime properties in Los Angeles have pretty much returned to their heady, pre-bubble burst peaks in 2005. We'll let economists and consumers decide if this is a good thing.

If we choose to look—and Your Mama often chooses to look—we have to look no further than a couple of L.A.-based real estate ballers named Bruce Makowsky and Kathy Van Zeeland to illustrate the almost rabid optimism that currently prevails at the electrified tippy-top end of the market in Los Angeles in general and, in particular, the rarefied zip codes that compose the so-called Platinum Triangle (90210, 90077 and 90024).

Mister Makowsky and Miz Van Zeeland—married, they are—have earned bucket fulls of money peddling mountains of mid-priced handbags, shoes and accessories on QVC. The designing duo have utilized their fortune to amass a sizable property portfolio that Your Mama tabulated is valued at more than $90,000,000, based on what property records show were paid for a (at least) half dozen luxury residences in Beverly Hills and Malibu.

Unlike some deep pocketed people who maintain half a dozen (or more) houses around the world for their private use, Mister M. and Miz V.Z. seem to use their high-priced mansion purchases as investments. As far as we know the Makowsky-Van Zeelands' primary residence is a 25,000 square foot faux-Tuscan beast in Beverly Park where they also own two smaller but still huge mansions that periodically pop up for rent. Your Mama was told by someone who tends to know these things that one of them—a 12,000 square foot number of indistinguishable architectural style listed on the open market last year for $100,000 per month—was leased in the near past by the very same Uzbeki heiress who (allegedly) coughed up $32.75 million for a 48,000 square foot Mohamed Hadid-developed mega-mansion directly across from the ever-fab Beverly Hills Hotel. In June 2012 Mister M and Miz V.Z. forked over $17.2 million for comedian Martin Lawrence's 16,000 square foot Beverly Park mansion that they quickly put up for lease at a mind numbing rate of $200,000 per month. Our entirely unscientific research indicates Mister M. and Miz V.Z. still own the one previously leased by the Uzbeki heiress but some sleuthing by Yolanda Yakketyyak turned up evidence that they sold the old Martin Lawrence house in mid-June (2013) for $24 million, more than six million buck more than they paid for the place a year before.

Anyhoo, let's (finally) get on back to the big ol' mansion in the Beverly Ridge development they bought last year for $11.725 million and flipped back on the market for $19.95 million, shall we?

The liberally pastiched behemoth was erected in 2005 on a 1.99 acre lot with sweeping views over the scrubby hills and dales of Franklin Canyon. There are, as per current listing details, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms in 12,500 square feet that have been fully fitted and kitted with a whole slew of modern conveniences and luxuries hidden behind a cacophony of Old World-ish details and high-priced materials: onyx counter tops, more fireplaces with (possibly antique) carved stone mantelpieces than a person can shake a stick at, antique doors imported from Spain, tiles imported from Morocco, and reclaimed barn wood brought in from New Hampshire.

Monthly homeowners dues—these pay for the community's street maintenance, security services, and etc.—run $2,400 per month according to marketing materials we found online. A few quick calculations on Your Mama's bejewled abacus shows that's about what a full-time minimum wage worker in California earns in a month but it is most certainly but a pittance to the sorts of people who can afford to buy and maintain a house with a price tag of nearly twenty millions dollars.

As with a couple of their Beverly Park estates, soon after Mister M. and Miz V.Z. purchased the Beverly Ridge estate that's now back up for sale, they offered  it up for lease in May 2012 at $85,000 per month. It was leased out a few months later for an unknown amount of time to an unknown rich person for, as per intel we dug up online, $75,000 per month.

A careful perusal of past and present listing photographs suggests to Your Mama that Mister M. and Miz V.Z. didn't make many changes to the mansion's lavish interior spaces. Indeed, current listing photographs show some of the very same furniture and decorative accoutrement as was shown in listing photos from the time of their purchase. Curious that, but, you know, make of this what y'all will.

Mister M. and Miz V.Z. did, however, make a number of significant alterations and additions to the exterior areas of the estate as is shown in a YouTube video (above) that tracks the construction of the exterior upgrades. At the front, a multi-tiered fountain was added and, at the back, a pergola-type structure was built to define an outdoor living room/lounge. Custom awnings shade an adjoining, newly built barbecue station and snack bar and over at the edge of the yard, where the amorphous edge of the flat lawn abruptly changes to a scrubby and steep down slope, an organically-shaped negative edge swimming pool with inset spa was installed. Below the pool, an all-new, sun-soaked deck juts dramatically out over the  rugged canyon.

Your Mama, who does not know a snake from the grass, has no idea how much was spent on the exterior improvements but clearly Mister M., Miz V.Z., and whomever their advisers on such matters are feel that the improvements and increasingly electrified market justifies a hair-curling $8,225,000 elevation in value in just over a year's time. The market will bear witness to that optimism but, in the meantime, Your Mama wonders what the children think.

Earlier in our (long) discussion Your Mama mentioned that the Makowsky-Van Zeelands were in the process of constructing a mega-mansion in the hills above the Sunset Strip. Last August (2012) a corporate entity that our research shows and our sources swear is connected to Mister Makowsky paid $12,650,000 for a low-slung residence at the tail end of N. Hillcrest Drive in Beverly Hills.

Very quickly the existing, nearly 7,000 square foot house was razed to make way for, according to a video on the YouTube that Yolanda Yakketyyak dug up, a dramatic, 21,000 square foot mega-mansion with curvilinear roof lines and a curved, negative edge swimming pool that, given the lot's promontory siting, gives way to an honest-to-goodness panoramic view over Los Angeles. The children will note the digital imagery shows a fire channel runs the full length of the pool next to a sunbathing shelf. Maybe we're just old fashioned but Your Mama does not relish the idea of having to hoist our fat ass over a fire channel every time we want to skinny dip, you know?

If their real estate history is to repeat itself we should see the massive modern mega-mansion Mister M and Miz V.Z. are building on N. Hillcrest come up for lease when it's complete with a mind-numbing monthly rate. But, of course, what do we know? Could by Mister Makowsky and Miz Van Zeeland will occupy the premises themselves. Or maybe they'll put it up for sale with an asking price that will send shivers down the spines of everybody but the (lucky) few who belong to the world's increasingly wealthy ultra-rich micro-minority. We shall see, puppies, we shall see.

UPDATE (LATER SAME DAY): Yesterday the long-legged blond gal at Trulia Luxe Living reported that former NFL defensive end turned morning chat show co-host Michael Strahan is in the process of flipping a fixer upper mansion in prime Bel Air for $11,000,000, $3.1 million more than he paid for the 1926 Mediterranean tear down last May (2012). (Mister Strahan reportedly made few if any improvements to the property.) That in and of itself is newsworthy in the world of celebrity real estate and, conveniently, illustrates once again just how electrified the high-end market in Los Angeles is.

Well, buckle your safety belts, butter beans, because a magnificent real estate coinkydink has just been dropped in Your Mama's fat lap: We can't prove it since no transaction records have yet to be recorded but we've just heard from a well connected source—let's call her Belle Aire—who snitched to Your Mama that the previously unidentified buyer of Mister Strahan's fixer up in Bel Air is none other than Mister Bruce Makowsky. Tah-duh!

listing photos: Coldwell Banker
video (Beverly Ridge): Roman James Design + Build via YouTube
video (Hillcrest): Roman James Design + Build via YouTube

Monday, July 29, 2013

UPDATE: Mary Hart and Burt Sugarman

If the children will put on their thinking caps they might recall that early this year Your Mama passed along some Platinum Triangle real estate scuttlebutt about pioneer celebrity journalist Mary Hart and television and movie producer Burt Sugarman floating their Trousdale Estates mansion as an off-market pocket listing with an asking price in the $37-39 million dollar range.

Two weeks ago, we heard from a couple of well-connected tattletales– Charlie Chitchatter and Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air—who both snitched that the unconfirmed word around town was that the Sugarman-Hart home went for a bit more than $30 million to an sick-rich Saudi.

Well, puppies, property records now show the property actually traded for $27,000,000 and a hardcore real estate yenta we know—that would be Yolanda Yakketyyak—swears on her teased and lacquered helmet hair that the buyer is indeed a wealthy and well-connected Saudi sheikh. According to Yolanda, the buyer is a former Special Secretary to the late Crown Price Sultan of Saudi Arabia whose $50,000 per month rental residence above L.A.'s Sunset Strip was burglarized last April and who recently shelled out $28 million dollars for the long-delayed James Hotel site at the western tail the Sunset Strip.

Your Mama has not idea what the new owner's plans for the 11,000+ square foot mansion that property records show has six bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, three fireplaces and a gated motor court with covered parking for five cars but we'd bet both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, that a very expensive and comprehensive security system will be installed toot de suite.

*As it turns out, the Luca Colombo-designed residence that was leased by the sheikh in question and burglarized last year has just popped back up on the open market with an asking price of $10,900,000.

aerial photo: Bing

A Little Monday Mish Mash: John Fogerty

The long-legged blond at Trulia Luxe Living let the cat out of the bag about veteran musician and virtuoso guitarist John Fogerty quietly floating his big ol' mansion in Beverly Hills (CA) as an off-market listing with a big ol' asking price of $23.5 million.

Digital marketing materials shows the "masterfully executed Tuscan estate" sits behind imposing gates on three landscaped acres in a small gated enclave near the famously steroidal guard-gated Beverly Park community.

Mister Fogerty's hulking, 16,000 square foot mansion has, according to listing information, a double height foyer with circular staircase, a double barrel vaulted gallery, grand entertaining spaces including a home theater, double height family room and a walk-in wine room.

Listing details show a total of 9 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms including a massive master suite with dual closets and bathrooms, a junior master suite with private den, four more family/guest suites and a staff suite off the kitchen plus a separate guesthouse with an additional bedroom and bathroom.

The canyon view property also features an circular driveway with a tiered fountain in the center, an internal motor court, numerous loggias, patios and terraces, outdoor cooking and dining spaces, broad, flat lawns with play house and play structure, and a mosaic tiled swimming pool and spa.

listing photos: The Agency

A Little Monday Mish Mash: Kim and Kanye

Did y'all hear that new parents Kanye West and Kim Kardashian plan to install a Swarovski crystal encrusted refrigerator, four gold plated toilets—at a cost of more than $750,000, and more than a million dollars worth of custom-crafted mattresses in the 9,000 square foot mock-Med Bel Air macmansion they bought earlier this year for $9 million?

Holy smokes! Gold plated crappers? Is there anything, children, more decoratively douchey than a gold plated toilet? Yep. Four gold plated toilets. Puh-leeze.

listing photo: Nelson Shelton & Associates

A Little Monday Mish Mash: Rosie O'Donnell

Comedienne Rosie O'Donnell hardly qualifies for food stamps. The lady is most assuredly rich by an any standard. However, the entrepreneurial entertainer and outspoken social commentator certainly brings home less bacon than she did in her Showbiz salad days of yore and this may (or may not) have something to do with her mad rush to shrink her once bulging real estate portfolio.

In June (2013) she sold her water front estate on Miami Beach's illustrious Star Island for $16.5 to real estate investors David and Linda Frankel, the latter, Your Mama learned from a socially connected acquaintance, being broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer's older sister. Anyhoo...

A few weeks ago, much to the surprise of this jaded property gossip, the opinionated blogger who often writes in a poetry format flipped a deluxe duplex penthouse in New York City's Greenwich Village on the market for $10,950,000 only a year after she bought it for $8,095,000. (So the stories go, American fashion icon Michael Kors recently had a wee look-see at the 3,200 square foot spread even though he already owns a West Village penthouse with a huge terrace.)

Now comes word down the celebrity real estate gossip grapevine via the fine folk at Zillow that Miz O'Donnell has hoisted her Midtown Manhattan pied-a-terre at The Platinum for $2.25 million. Miz O'Donnell acquired the 22nd floor two bedroom and 2.5 bathroom corner crib, as per property records, back in 2008 for $2,005,000.

Miz O'Donnell still owns a five-residence compound set right on the Hudson River in Nyack, NY that she acquired between 2001 and 2008 for a total of $8,605,000.

listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran

Friday, July 26, 2013

Google's Eric Schmidt's Manhattan Penthouse

BUYER: Eric Schmidt
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $11,500,000
SIZE: 6,009 square feet,

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Yesterday, the industrious peeps who pen the Page Six column at The New York Post printed and posted a juicy ditty about the apparently quite active romantic life of Eric Schmidt, the middle-aged and technically still married multi-billionaire executive chairman of Google.

Mister Schmidt's long-time wife, Wendy, was interviewed for an August 2012 profile in The New York Times and she pretty much confirmed the eons-old Silicon Valley scuttlebutt about her and Mister Schmidt living separate lives. She lives primarily on Nantucket (MA) and he, when not gallivanting the globe, more than 3,000 miles away in the affluent Bay Area community of Atherton (CA). They meet up, apparently, when their busy schedules allow. He, she told the Times, flies in for brief visits and she typically spends some time at the family compound in Atherton in during the winter.

Of course, the rules and regulations of Mister and Missus Schmidt's long-distance marriage ain't nobody's bizness but for years now gossip columns have run occasional tidbits about Mister Schmidt's dalliances with various women who are not his wife. He's most recently been spotted around town with Vietnamese concert pianist Cho-San Nguyen who was formerly affianced to television and film producer Brian Grazer. In September 2012 Page Six reported that Mister Schmidt had a "complicated" relationship with "New Yorker Lisa Shields, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations" who, so the stories go, he dated for a couple of years, and in July 2011 the naughty gossips at Gawker named two other former lady friends of the high-tech Lothario.

Adding dish to the dirt about Mister Schmidt's extra-marital lady-chasing ways, yesterday's article in The Post went on to tittle-tattle that earlier this summer Mister Schmidt (allegedly) "asked his aides to find alluring female companions to 'decorate his yacht,'" a sleek 195-footer with a gym that converts to a disco that he snatched up in 2009 for $72.3 million and makes available for charter at a rate of $399,000 per week.

Anyhoodles, poodles, fascinating as Mister Schmidt's romantic life may be to the hoi polloi it's his real estate that really interest Your Mama and yesterday's Post article happened to mentioned that Mister Schmidt owns a "sprawling $15 million penthouse" in New York City's Flatiron District that "was featured as the glamorous crash pad for Shia La Beouf's character in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Well, you coulda knocked this property gossip out cold with a dead fish. We certainly recall when that apartment was on the market but we had no idea it had been bought by Mister Schmidt. It took Your Mama about 7.2 seconds to call up property records (and other online resources) that show in July 2011 an ambiguously named corporate concern coughed up $14.6 million to acquire the duplex penthouse identified in The Post as Mister Schmidt's "sprawling $15 million penthouse."

Listing details from the time of Mister Schmidt's purchase show the penthouse spans just over 6,000 square feet of interior space with about 3,300 square feet of outdoor space. Those may be normal numbers in upscale, macmansion-lined suburbs across the country but in the middle of Manhattan they add up to unusually gigantic.

We don't know if Mister Schmidt has reconfigured or otherwise altered the penthouse since his purchase two years ago but The Post says he's "spent millions" having the place soundproofed because, according to the paper's source, "he 'doesn't sleep well.'" What we do know is that at the time of the purchase the lower level of the duplex had a vast, open-plan main living/dining/kitchen space anchored by a gigantic fireplace with imposing carved stone mantel and behind the main living areas were three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Listing photos show a floating staircase ascended to an upper level lounge area with another half bathroom and a—glory be!—a walk-in wet bar. Sliding glass windows and French doors on three walls open the lounge area to an unusually roomy and fully planted/landscaped wrap around roof terrace with and unobstructed, head on view of the Empire State Building. Also upstairs at the time of Mister Schmidt's purchase was the master suite, complete with a fireplace, good-sized walk-in closet/dressing room, and a compartmentalized bathroom slathered in limestone.

Other notable features in place at the time of Mister Schmidt's purchase include a private elevator—a must have feature according to The Post's source—a small media room just off the main living/dining/kitchen area, a stacked washer and dryer in a tiny closet next to the powder pooper, and a fully integrated indoor/outdoor sound system. Common charges were shown on the 2011 listing at $2,300 per month, a remarkably minimal amount for an apartment of this size. The low monthly charges probably have something to do with the fact that the building does not have a doorman, another feature—or lack thereof—that The Post's source claimed was important to Mister Schmidt.

Mister Schmidt purchased the property, according to property records from Richard M. Weissman, an obviously wealthy fella identified by Vanity Fair as a financier who's Dartmouth College's all time 16th leading rusher, whatever that means. Since the listing photos are from the time Mister Schmidt acquired the penthouse from Mister Weissman, and the decor—if it can be called that—reflects the taste—if it can be called that—of the seller and not the buyer. We don't know canned corn from chaise lounge, of course, but doesn't it seem fairly safe to assume Mister Schmidt engaged the expensive services of a nice-gay or lady decorator to do up his Flatiron penthouse in a manner befitting a Digital Age baron with a net worth estimated by Forbes to be in excess of $8 billion?

In addition to his New York penthouse Mister Schmidt maintains a small but impressive portfolio of private residences that include a stunning George Washington Smith-designed casa on more than four acres in Montecito, CA that he bought for $20 million in September 2007 from house hopping comedienne/chat show hostess Ellen Degeneres and her horse lovin' lady-mate Portia de Rossi.

Mister and Missus Schmidt's primary family compound in Atherton (CA) currently comprises three gated and secured parcels that add up to just about 3.5 mostly manicured acres. The first parcel was purchased in mid-1990  for $2,000,000 and has, according to the San Mateo County Tax Man, a 4,800+ square foot house with 5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. A second, adjacent parcel (with a smaller 3,170 residence) was acquired in March 2000 for $2,150,000 and the third parcel was picked up in May 2007 for $3,870,000.

In the late 1990s Mister and Missus Schmidt bought a big house on the scenic island of Nantucket. The imposing residence, set behind 10-foot privacy hedges, is where Missus Schmidt lives most of the time and sits on the same swanky stretch of road as a number of other notable folk including Arie Kopelman—the former CEO of Chanel and Drew Barrymore's father-in-law, venture capitalist Julius Jensen III, luxury mail order catalog mogul turned Tony-winning Broadway producer Roger Horchow, and Frank Avellino, a financier heavily invovled in feeding funds to Wall Street scoundrel Bernie Madoff.

listing photos and floor plan: Aligned Real Estate

Thursday, July 25, 2013

UPDATE: Steven Cohen

Investigation, shmestigation! Indictment? Bah!

Notoriously secretive hedge fund fat cat Steve Cohen refuses to let a pesky little investigation by The Feds—or a $616 million settlement—drag him down or put the brakes on a monumental spending spree. Last year the multi-billionaire allegedly spent around $120 million on a quartet of bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse and in March (2013) the conspicuous consumer shelled out more than $150 million to acquire a storied Picasso painting from casino tycoon Steve Wynn.

Ludicrously expensive art is hardly, however, the only thing Mister Cohen likes to acquire; Property gossips like Your Mama also know him to be a seasoned real estate baller. In December (2012) Mister Cohen shelled out $38.8 million for a 10,000 square foot townhouse-type condo in New York City's far West Village and, just this month, he forked over another $24.3 million for a 9,600 square foot triplex maisonette just four short blocks to the north and two blocks east. Presumably Mister Cohen et famille will use the triplex as a pied-a-terre until renovations are complete on the townhouse.

Looming criminal charges for securities and wire fraud faced by Mister Cohen sensationally successful SAC Capital* also didn't stop the famously profligate financier from spending big on a prime, ocean front estate on East Hampton's fashionable and freakishly pricey Further Lane.

In late March, citing a source with insider information, the Old Gray Lady herself reported that Mister Cohen had reached an agreement to pay $60 million for a 6.5 acre ocean front estate with tennis court, swimming pool, detached two-car garage, and a 10,000 square foot three-story residence fitted and kitted with, according to listing details (via The New York Times), "High ceilings, antique oak and limestone floors, barn-style double-height family room, media room, large oceanview master suite plus six additional bedrooms."

Well, butter beans, dontcha know that we've received a covert communique from our own insider—let's call her Debbie Doesthehamptons—who snitched to Your Mama that word on the swanky real estate street in the hoity-toity Hamptons is that there were at least two parties who bid on the clearly coveted estate and, as a result, the property actually sold—as in the sale price recorded with the Suffolk County land records—for $62,500,000, $2.5 million more than asking. Bam!

The deluxe digs were reported in The New York Times to have previously been owned by investment banker Robert B. McKeon who killed himself last September (2012) in his home in Darien, CT, and property records reveal Mister Cohen's new Further Lane estate is flanked by a pair of equally substantial estates. To the west is an ocean front estate owned by Johnson & Johnson heir James "Jimmie" Johnson, the father of two-time Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and social commentator Jamie Johnson, and to the east there's the multi-winged sprawler on about 18 acres that's now owned by landscape architect Andrew Gordon who, after a contentious legal battle, inherited it from his hard drinking but very rich man-friend, deceased financier Christopher H. Browne.

Clearly Mister Cohen and, by extension, his second wife, Alexandra, are serious real estate ballers and as such their property portfolio overflows with half a dozen (or more) high-cost and high-maintenance residences including a 2.1 acre, land-locked estate on Further Lane estate that they picked up in the spring of 2007 for just over $18 million. That's right, Mister Cohen now owns two Further Lane estates. Listing details from the time of the purchase indicate the shingled, multi-gambreled cottage has 9 bedrooms and 9 full and 2 half bathrooms in about 9,000 square feet. While it's not ocean front—it sits behind the much more grand ocean front estate of another hedge funder, James Chanos—it does have access to the beach by way of a semi-private path. We have no inside intel on what the Cohen couple plan to do with this property.

In New York City, in addition to their two recently acquired West Village residences, Mister and Missus Cohen own a 9,000-ish square foot high floor duplex at the One Beacon Court complex in Midtown that they snatched up in 2005 for about $24,000,000 and pushed on the open market a few months ago with an astronomical $115 million price tag. And let's not forget, puppies, their 35,000-ish square foot mega-mansion on 14 manicured acres in Greenwich, CT that was bought in June 1998 for $14,800,000 (above) or the 4.5 acre estate next door they scooped up in June 2006 for $5,000,000.

Told y'all he's a baller. And make no mistake, children, even if the U.S. government shuts down Mister Cohen's money minting hedge fund, he and the missus prolly ain't gonna be clippin' coupons or skimping on swanky vacations. Your Mama imagines that, quite to the contrary, no matter what happens to Mister Cohen and his fund he'll manage to retain a substantial private fortune that will most certainly allow him to own and maintain his current portfolio in perpetuity. But then again what do we know?

*The United States filed the expected and hotly anticipated 41-page indictment against SAC Capital earlier today that, when all is said and done, Time magazine speculated could effectively end Mister Cohen's illustrious and lucrative career. Mister Cohen has denied any charges of wrongdoing, natch, and most reports indicate the multi-billionaire will not likely be personally charged. Even if he was to be charged his lawyers let the government know that if he is charged he would plead The Fifth, so...

aerial photos (East Hampton and Greenwich): Bing

Update: Dr. Terry and Heather Dubrow

BUYERS: Terry and Heather Dubrow
LOCATION: Newport Coast, CA
PRICE: $4,180,000 (for the lot)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In early February (2013) Your Mama let the cat out of the bag about how Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOOC) season 7 addition Heather Paige Kent Dubrow and top Orange County plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow quietly sold their Newport Coast, CA mansion in an off-market deal for $16,450,000. So the story goes, Dr. and Missus Dubrow weren't actively looking to sell but one day "someone basically knocked on the door" with an unexpected offer they simply couldn't refuse.*

Your Mama didn't than have an inkling of what their future real estate plans might be but on one of the recent episodes of RHOOC Dr. Dubrow took his smoky voiced missus—and a film crew, natch—to a bare, pancake flat lot high above Newport Coast where they dreamily discussed their plans to build a bigger and better mansion than the 15,000 square foot one they just sold in the posh Pelican Crest community.

Property records and other resources Your Mama dug up on the internets show the couple paid $4,1800,000 for the .98 acre parcel and our research indicates the lot, located at the tail end of a cul-de-sac in a gated enclave in the guard-gated Crystal Cove community, was bought in the couples' own names. According to the Dubrows—who reveal the following on camera and in interviews—the lot can accommodate a 17,000 square foot house with a roof height of 35 feet, and has a better bird's eye view over Newport Harbor than their current house so, as Dr. Missus Dubrow told All About the Real Housewives, they'll "get more twinkly lights at night."

A couple days ago Dr. Missus Dubrow uploaded an image of a scale model of the Italianate villa they're building on the property but at this point we don't have any details except that it will likely have five or more bedrooms on the second floor since one of the—ahem—issues they had with their Pelican Crest mansion was that there are only four bedrooms up stairs and with four kids they need at least five.

Lest there be any question of what Dr. and Missus Dubrow's new pile might be worth when it's finished: Just a couple doors down, a recently completed 10,850 square foot mansion with 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 3 half bathrooms, and an 8 car garage—listing details described it as a "French influenced estate," whatever that means—sold in mid-May (2013) for $12,000,000. A couple of rudimentary calculations on our bejeweled abacus shows that works out to a cost of $1,106 for each and very square foot. If Dr. and Missus Dubrow built a 17,000 square foot house of equal quality, the $1,106 per square foot figure would bring the comparative value of their new digs up to $18,802,000.

While Dr. and Missus Dubrow build the next incarnation of their dream house in Crystal Cove they've rented a smaller house in a beach community with a private beach.

*Gawd. We should all be so damn lucky, right? If some fool wants to walk up on Your Mama's front door and make us an offer we can't refuse for our abode we say, "Bring it on, Beeotchuh. And hurry!" Anyhoo...

photo: Heather Dubrow (via Instagram)

VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes, at Mallory Park

The Weather was much better for this years VMCC 1000 Bikes Festival but pretty hot for sketching. I spent most of my time in the sprint bike tent in the paddock to avoid getting sunstroke, which I still got from sketching outside after 3pm! In other news the event was packed full of bikes as usual, more modern entries than normal, not sure why? There was still plenty to see and loads of interesting folks to chat to. If you haven't been before it's well worth it as you'll always see something new as there are many motorcycle clubs in attendance and couple that with an auto jumble, trials riding on Saturday and Sprint racing on Sunday oh and star riders racing each other on the track, this year Agostini and John McGuinness went head to head! What more could you ask for?

Manx Superior

(ink & watercolour)
Built using a Brough engine that was raced in the 60's and a Norton Manx Frame and gearbox this Manx Superior certainly caught the eyes of a lot of people. 
You can see it's a genuine Manx frame from the large loop at the back, coupling this with a late J.A.P. twin it makes this a very well though out machine. The man behind the bike is Ewan Cameron who has a real fascination with JAP Motors.

Always love these back to back Mags.

"The Ironing Board" Velocette MOV Special

 (ink sketch)
Apparently not much is known about this sprint bike. The current owners estimate that it was originally made in the late 60's early 70's due to it having a metal flake paint job. The heart of the bike is a Velocette MOV engine which has had a later alloy barrel from a 350 Velo MAC added by chopping it down to shorten the stroke.

1956 Supercharged Harley KHK Special

  (ink sketch)
A Harley KHK is a rare bike in the first place but to supercharge it and take it to Bonneville is even Better. Patrick Delli has put a lot of work into this bike and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he beats his last record of 107mph on the flats this year. 107mph is not bad for this bike as 119mph is the record for it's class. The bike runs 2 Magnetos and a supercharger and uses Methanol. Last time out a Bonneville the bike wasn't even finished before it left, and it took a week of work in the states to get it ready. This time the bike is ready before shipping so, bon chance Patrick!

 Racstus 125 Bantam Racer

 (ink sketch)
Built by Chris Newport in the early 60's the Rastus was campaigned by Chris from '63 - 76. The bike was based around a combination of a D3 Bantam frame and an EMC Puch which Chris had previously raced. The engine is a 125 with a central plug Todd head with a Gardener Carb and SU Float. Chris recons it has done 100mph in the past, not bad for a 125.

Here's the obligatory extra spot shots.... 

 Rick Parkington's Georgeous Rex Acme
 Voyager Lineup
not sure what this is but I like it. 
Barnfind HRD on the Bonhams Stand
 Lovely AJS 650 with Watsonian Sidecar
Rudge Racer, this was at Mallory last year but is good enough to get featured twice
 Norman Autocycle on the NACC stand 
 AJS Trials
Another Norman for sale in the Autojumble