Friday, November 29, 2013

Annie Lennox Lists in London

SELLER: Annie Lennox
PRICE: £12,000,000
SIZE: 5,131 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We have Our Man in London to thank for sniffing out the open market listing for a Grade II listed terrace house just a few short blocks off Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill nabe that's up for sale with an £12,000,000 price tag and owned by pixie-haired synth-pop/New Wave music pioneer and legend Annie Lennox. (Your Mama's rusty but trusty currency conversion contraption shows that the current guide price—that's U.K. real estate speak for listing price—of £12,000,000 equals $19,581,4000 at today's rates.)

Scotland-born Miz Lennox, for those of y'all who weren't around in the early 1980s, was one-half of the duo Eurythmics. In the 1990s Miz Lennox lit out on a successful solo career and, as best as we can tell from our research on the internets, she's got seven BRIT Awards, three Grammys, and both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for a pop ditty (Into The West) that she co-wrote for The Lord of the Rings. She's also got scads of awards, titles, recognitions for her extensive charity work and international humanitarian efforts.

That Miz Lennox might want to sell her swank house in London isn't such a great surprise since newly wedded rich and/or famous folk often buy a new house to set up home and, in case you missed the gossip glossy reports, 58-year old Miz Lennox recently hitched her love wagon for the third time to Harvard-trained, notably philanthropic, and South Africa-based gynecologist Dr. Mitch Besser.

As far as we can tell, Miz Lennox paid £4.4 million—that's $7,179,830 at today's rates—for the five-floor, Regency terrace house that listing details show was designed by architect and topographical illustrator Thomas Allom and built in 1853.

Online marketing materials (that include a color-coded floor plan) show the double-fronted white stucco residence has 4-5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in 5,131 square feet of interior space that marries original architectural details such as heavy-duty moldings with thoroughly modern fittings and trimmings such as radiant heated floors throughout, a home automation system that controls lighting and a/v equipment, and a camera-equipped security system.

The raised ground floor has impressively high ceilings, espresso-toned wide plank wood floors and elaborate ceiling moldings and window trims. The T-shaped foyer and stair hall open to an unusually spacious powder room, a roomy open-concept center island kitchen/family room, and a separate formal dining room with fireplace, bay window and a fab oval-shaped Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs with multi-colored cushions.

The lower ground floor—that's U.K.-speak for a basement—comprises a wee bedroom for staff or guests, a closet-lined gym, and a small office. There's also a laundry room, kitchenette and tiny three-quarter bathroom. At least two of the rooms open to sub-street level patios, the larger of which provides convenient exterior access to a quartet of storage vaults under the sidewalk.

The first floor—that's the second floor for all us Americanos—has a trio public rooms: sun room with fancy tile floor, a snug/library with marble-manteled fireplace and a baby grand piano, and a roomy drawing room fireplace and with three sets of transom-topped French doors that open to a slender, wrought iron-railed wrap around balcony.

The master suite occupies the entire second floor with super-sized sitting room, cozy bedroom, and, in between, a commodious bathroom with frosted glass windows for privacy, a sitting area, steam-equipped shower stall, and a sleek, two-person soaking tub set right in the middle of the room. Two more generous, if somewhat oddly shaped bedrooms on the uppermost level share a hall bathroom with double sinks, bathtub and separate shower.

Although private outdoor space is somewhat limited to a couple of small balconies and a not particularly private subterranean wrap around patio on the lower ground floor, Miz Lennox's London' digs offers direct access to the communal (yet private) Stanley Gardens South as well as access to the also communal (and also private) gardens of Ladbroke Square.

Your Mama confesses we're not aware of Miz Lennox owning any other property but we'd be somewhat surprised to learn she didn't and we assume without any intel whatsoever to base our supposition that she and her third new Mister—Dr. Besser—maintain a luxury residence in Cape Town (South Africa).

listing photo and floor plan: Pereds

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Timing is everything

Here we have a 2005 GMC Envoy 4.2 Liter engine. The vehicle is fairly clean and has 112,361 miles on it. The complaint is the MIL Lamp is on and is setting a P0017 code. This code indicates an issue between Crankshaft and Camshaft correlation. The truck runs well and the shop owner was hoping there was a reprogramming that would solve this. A quick check of present calibration and available updated calibrations yielded nothing for this code. Time to roll up the sleeves. First step is to look at the code and more importantly code set criteria. While we are at it check for pertinent TSB's.

Here is the code P0017. I love the code set criteria. A calibrated amount. What is a calibrated amount? Time to dig a bit. I look for TSB's and PI's on the OE site.

I come up with this document. A world of information including the specified calibrated amount as well as a wealth of causes for this code. A little background on these engines. They utilize a camshaft actuator or phaser on the front of the exhaust camshaft that is loaded to a neutral/base position. When the PCM wants to actuate this actuator it duty cycles an oil control solenoid that will in turn feed oil to the actuator and in this case will retard the exhaust camshaft. Basically, this operation takes the place of EGR operation and it also improves overall efficiency. Like all engines that utilize this type of design it is very reliant upon proper oil level, viscosity, and pressure.

Here is the front view of the engine. The oil control solenoid is in the head right by the power steering pump. The camshaft sensor is also on the front of the cylinder head right by the upper radiator hose.

Here is a close up of the oil control solenoid. I see plenty of issues with these. They clog up, the portion inside the head gets clogged up and doesn't allow the oil solenoid to do its job properly. Typically, when this happens the vehicle runs really poor at an idle but runs decent raced up. Think of a vehicle with a stuck open EGR valve. This vehicle runs rather well at an idle. Scantool data is only going to give me a small portion of what I need to know. My play is to scope crank and cam sensors.

Well here is Crank sensor on channel 1 in yellow and Cam sensor on channel 2 in Green. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know. This is where it is nice to have a known good. It just so happens that there is another similar vehicle on the lot. This vehicle is running fine and is just in for servicing. Lets take a look at that one and see if we can see any differences.
Hmmm. Waveform interpretation can be daunting at times. I usually zero in on one portion. If you look closely at the crank sensor pattern you will notice a double spike. This is the signature portion of the waveform. The PCM uses this signature pulse to determine piston position. I am going to zero in on that portion of the waveform.

  Notice how the first signature starts after the second trailing portion of the short camshaft sensor pulses and the second signature is on the trailing edge of the second long pulse of the camshaft sensor. Lets look at our suspect pattern.

A definitive difference indeed! Looks like the whole crank pattern is shifted to the left or is the camshaft pattern shifted to the right?

Here is a comparison of the two waveforms. At this point I inform the shop owner of my findings. I tell him definitively that he has a true blue issue with correlation. At this point it could be a stretched timing chain, timing chain alignment, an actuator/phaser not returning to base position, an oiling issue inside the head, an oil control solenoid not operating correctly, etc. I ask the shop owner if he wants me to delve deeper. He refuses citing he has to get approval from customer for more diagnostic time. He was really hoping there was a calibration update to solve this. I advised the shop owner I don't think it is crank endplay or a loose crank bolt. Because I don't see major differences in the amplitude of the crank signal when raced up, etc. Unfortunately, the customer refused more diagnostic time and the vehicle was released. This happens sometimes. What is ironic just last week a buddy of mine called me asking if I had a known good 4.2 liter crank/cam scope pattern that I could send him.

Just a little math here as well. One crankshaft rotation (from signature to signature) took approximately 100ms. That would mean 3.6 degrees per 1ms. The code set was 16.31 degrees which is approximately 4.5ms.  Looking at the bad pattern it is real close to being about 4.5ms out. If memory serves me these cam sprockets have 48 teeth that would yield 15 degrees per tooth. So a tooth out with a little stretch is a possibility here as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

David Koepp Lists Manhattan Townhouse

SELLER: David Koepp
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $9,900,000
SIZE: 5,000(ish) square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 3 full and 1 or maybe to half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A quick spin through some of the newer property listings in New York City turned up a townhouse on the Upper West Side listed for $9.9 million and owned, as per property records, by David Koepp.*

Mister Koepp's name may not ring your Tinseltown bells but he is, to be sure, an notably tall, bespectacled, and unusually successful screenwriter (and director) of action-oriented blockbuster movies such as Jurrasic Park and its sequel The Lost World: Jurrasic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, Panic Room, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Premium Rush. In the mid-Aughts Mister Koepp wrote and executive produced the short-lived network series Hack and, although he briefly backed out of the project in 2012, he penned the upcoming second installment of the Snow White and the Huntsman franchise.

Property records show Mister Koepp and his first wife, artist and occasional actress Rosario Varela, acquired the meticulously maintained and updated 1870s townhouse in January 1999 for $3,250,000. In 2004 Mister Koepp bought out first Missus Koepp and, as far as we know, Mister Koepp remained (and remains) in residence with his second wife, Melissa Thomas.

Current listing details show the urban single family residence, just a few doors off Central Park with interiors by accomplished lady-decorator Fawn Galli, has about 5,000 square feet with 4-5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, two fireplaces, an elevator that serves four of the five floors, a sky-lit laundry room on the top floor, and a multi-level garden.

Floor plans and listing photographs included with digital marketing materials show the raised stoop entry on the parlor floor high ceilings and chevron pattern wood floors. A small vestibule entry links to an over-sized foyer—with butterfly-pattern wallpaper and wall-mounted faux zebra bust—that does double duty as a formal dining room. A small study off the entry vestibule overlooks the sparsely tree-lined street and could be pressed into use as a bedroom if necessary and/or desired. At the rear of the parlor floor the formal living room opens through multi-paned doors to a small balcony with corkscrew staircase that winds down to the garden two floors below.

The ground floor comprises a floor-through, loft-like space with top-quality kitchen with marble counter tops and an adjoining mud room street entrance, a casual dining area, and a roomy family room that, like the formal living room directly above it, also opens to a small balcony that connects via exterior corkscrew staircase to the garden. Although listing details indicate there's a powder room on the ground floor, as far as these boozy-woozy eyeballs can tell from a thorough perusal of the floor plan, there isn't a bathroom on this level so anyone with a need to evacuate must ascend to the vermilion-walled powder room just off the formal dining room or descend to the (English) basement where there's a windowless three-quarter pooper along. Also down in the garden level basement are a large storage room, a small sitting area and a fireplace-equipped media room with built-in entertainment center and direct garden access.

The good-sized garden view master bedroom on the second floor has a dressing room lined with closets and a Jack 'n' Jill type bathroom that is—regretably—shared with the a second, street-facing bedroom. Two more generously proportioned bedrooms on the uppermost floor share a hall bathroom with separate tub and shower.

Property records how Mister Koepp still owns another apartment in modern building on Columbus Avenue that he picked up in August 2002 for $1,575,000 and in March (2011) he and his second missus shelled out $3.85 million for a land-locked mini-estate in the low-key but hideously expensive Hamptons community of Amagansett, NY.

*Mister Koepp's surname, in case any of you want to know, is pronounced kepp.

listing photos and floor plan: Douglas Elliman

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

John Fogerty Buys Hidden Valley Estate

BUYER: John Fogarty
LOCATION: Thousand Oaks, CA
PRICE: $8,950,000
SIZE: 13,053 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Late yesterday afternoon, deep into our second top-shelf gin & tonic (extra lime, please) Your Mama heard word from tireless real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak that guitar legend and veteran rock 'n' roll VIP John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame and fortune, dropped $8,950,000 on a spacious estate in Thousand Oaks, CA, a sprawling and affluent community about 20 miles over the Santa Monica Mountains to the tip of Point Dume in Malibu and just about equidistant between downtown L.A. and Santa Barbara.

Property records show the 20+ acre Thousand Oaks estate was acquired in May (2013) with the very same somewhat oddly-named trust that owns the 13,476 square foot, faux-Tuscan mansion on three gated and landscaped acres in Beverly Hills (Post Office) that Mister Fogerty and his Missus, Julie, had on the market as a whisper listing over the summer (2013) with an asking price of $23.5 million.*

The roomy estate—it looks like the sort of place that would have been given a name, doesn't it?—sits amid an impressive group of similarly sized estates in a small, gated enclave in the Hidden Valley area of Thousand Oaks, the same swanky and bucolic locale where Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi DeGeneres sold their 26-acre horse-oriented compound for nearly $11 million to luxury t-shirt tycoon (and budding real estate baller) James Perse. Listing information described the Fogerty's Thousand Oaks spread as a "Rustic Mediterranean Estate" but we're not exactly sure what's rustic about this extensive estate other than the rolling mountains that surround the otherwise manicured grounds that include vast amoebic swathes of well watered lawn.

The mostly one-level H-shaped residence** was designed, as per digital marketing materials, by North Hollywood-based architect and Mediterranean macmansion specialist Ron Firestone and completed, as per property records we peeped, in 2004. There are seven bedrooms—one more queenly than the next—and 7.5 bathrooms—one more ebulliently garnished that the last—in 13,053 square feet of interior space outfitted, as per listing details, with pecan floors, wood-beamed ceilings, five fireplaces, a 500-bottle wine closet, and remote-controlled window shades and lighting system.

Other features of note include: an irrigation system with a private water well and a 22,000 gallon cistern; a 12-car garage—the seller had a portion of it set up as an—uh—man cave; a salt water swimming pool and spa and a nearby cabana with pool equipment and bathroom. There are at least a couple fountains and at least one of those pergola-folly things fashioned from a domed, wrought iron cap placed carefully atop classical carved stone columns.

To be honest, children, Your Mama does not even have the will power to (dis and/or) discuss this house, either its faux-Old World and liberally pastiched architectural bones or all its baronial decorative opulence and festooned frippery. We are absolutely certain that all the heavily pasamenteried drapery and all the carved and tassled furniture, the tapestries, and bedazzled accessories cost an absolute fortune and we also understand that different people have different visions and versions of what constitutes luxury, good taste, and regal comfort. But, children, the obsessively ornamented day-core seen in the listing photographs of this house just makes Your Mama feel like we need a damn nerve pill. We just feel like, big as the damn place is, we'd suffocate in a house like that. So, rather than go through the torture of a (too) long and over-detailed, pre-holiday hoozy-goozy of a discussion of the house and property, let's let y'all ponder on and opine about the not entirely tongue-in-cheek listing copy Yolanda Yakketyyak wrote for the property:

Have you been wanting a house that speaks to you on an emotional, not simply architectural level?

A house that single-handedly defines America yet deftly blends our diverse cultural heritage into every block and beam? 

A house with an awe-inspiring Feng Shui-ed layout that single-handedly provides you with the courage and the tenacity to take the reigns of your destiny and step out from the shadow of darkness that blankets our generation?

Your prayers have been answered.


Anyways, in addition to their old digs in Beverly Hills (that they would like to sell) and their palatial new piece of the property pie in Thousand Oaks Mister and Missus Fogerty also still own a much more modest, 1,890 square foot house on a twisting, celebrity-lined street in the Beverly Hills Post Office area that they picked up in November 2008 for $1,385,000.

*The Fogerty's Bev Hills mansion, which they appear to have custom built on land they acquired in 2002 for $2.9 million, no longer appears on The Agency's website but, as far as Your Mama can tell, the property has not been sold. Make of that what you will.

**Listing details describe the house as "single level living except" for the "hundreds of feet of storage plus storage facility on the third level under the main floor area" and the "upstairs granny flat or media room that might also be suitable for a live-in domestic or an underachieving adult child.

listing photos: Shawn Cordon for Keller Williams

Monday, November 25, 2013

Did Angie Jolie Buy Fiancée Brad P. A Private Island?

International property gossips have gone hog wild over the rumors and reports (and reports of rumors) that Oscar-nominated actress Angelina Jolie bought her über-famous fiancée, Brad Pitt, a private island on small and scenic Lake Mahopac (NY) with a Frank Lloyd Wright pedigree. So the stories go, the hands on super mommy of six and globe-trotting do-gooder shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of £12.2 million for the 11-ish acre island, an amount that Your Mama's handy-dandy currently conversion contraption indicates amounts to 19,790,600 U.S. dollars, at today's rates.*

However, the daughter of the current owner says all the hullabaloo just ain't true. In fact, the daughter told a local reporter that, as far as she knows, neither Angelina Jolie nor Brad Pitt have ever visited the island. And—let's get real, children—if Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt and/or any of their representatives visited your parents' $20 million private island, don't you think they might have mentioned it?

Petra Island—sometimes Petre Island, is about 50 miles or 15 minutes by helicopter from Midtown Manhattan and is currently owned by retired local sheet metal contract Joseph Massaro who acquired the heart-shaped islet in 1996 for $700,000. At the time of Mister Massaro's purchase the island had only a (rather intriguing) 1,200 square foot cottage (above) designed and built in 1950 by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the island's previous owner, an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi. Mister Lloyd Wright had also designed a much larger, approximately 5,000 square foot main residence for Mister Chahroudi but the plans went unfinished and was the residence realized as Mister Chahroudi wasn't prepared to spend the $50,000 Mister Lloyd Wright estimated for construction.

As part of his 1996 purchase of the island Mister Massarro received Mister Lloyd Wright's renderings and floor plans for the unrealized main residence and subsequently hired architect and Frank Lloyd Wright historian Thomas A. Heinz to complete and execute the unfinished design.

The resulting residence, an angled and muscular mix of concrete, wood, stone and glass was completed in 2008. The result—at least to those not attuned to the nuances of FLW's signature architectural contrivances and conventions—appears much in line with a FLW-designed house: There are wrap-around and cantilevered decks galore; half a dozen monolithic fireplaces, both indoors and out; large if awkwardly shaped public space, not always seamlessly incorporated topography (i.e. boulders); and a ceiling of interlocking triangular skylights; long rows of mahogany-framed glass doors that allow for a smooth integration between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The existing house is not without its critics who scream and stomp their feet that the design is not pure and does not hew closely enough to Frank Lloyd Wright's original intentions and/or architectural conventions. Indeed, to date the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has not certified the house as a Frank Lloyd Wright design, a snub that has long infuriated the current owner who is, technically, only supposed to refer or market the main residence as "inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright."

Whether Miz Jolie and Mister Pitt bought Petra Island—and it appears they did not—they still maintain an international collection of residences that include (but may not be limited to) a multi-residence compound in Los Angeles's Los Feliz area, an oceanfront compound near Santa Barbara (CA), an historic mansion in New Orleans (LA), a rustic spread in Cambodia, and Chateau Miraval, their 1,200-ish acre spread in the Provence region of France.

*Current digital listings for Petra Island don't reveal the asking price but in late 2012 it was widely reported to have a $20,000,000 price tag.

listing photos: Private Islands Online

Snowboarder Shaun White Snags Malibu Mini-Compound

BUYER: Shaun White
SELLER: Mike Fleiss
SIZE: 2,625 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (plus outbuildings)
PRICE: $8,940,000

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama hears from our already holiday merry-making celebrity real estate yenta Yolanda Yakettyyak that high income earning 27-year old two-time Olympic gold medal winning professional snowboarder Shaun White—a.k.a. The Flying Tomato—quietly, through a generically-named trust shelled out $8,940,000 in an off-market deal for a bluff-top mini-compound in the Point Dume area of Malibu, CA.

According to property records, the seller of the Pacific Ocean-view spread was Mike Fleiss, a distant cousin of (in)famous former lady-pimp Heidi Fleiss and a bona fide reality television pooh-bah who created the crazy successful (if depressingly vapid) The Bachelor and The Bachelorette programs. The fairly recently divorced Mister Fleiss and his ex-Missus also owned the the two-parcel property house next door to the one they sold to Mister White, which they unloaded in the fall of 2012 for exactly $6,000,000.*

Not for looking but Your Mama wasn't able to locate a recent listing for the Mister White's new compound-style crib in Malibu and, ipso facto, we're not sure what if any improvements Mister (and ex-Missus) Fleiss did or did not make to the walled and gated, one-plus acre property. However, with a leg up from our always helpful Fairy Godmother in Malibu, we did come up with up a rental listing for the property from way back in 2005 that shows the ranch-style residence was built in the early 1950s and, at the time, had four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in 2,625 square feet plus a separate one bedroom and one bathroom guest house and a detached, 800 square foot office or recreation room. The bluff-top location allows for sweeping coastline views and a long, booty-busting stairway down the steep bluff provide direct, if not exactly relaxing access to a deep and wide stretch of (public) beach.

Some of Mister White's new Malibu neighbors include Owen Wilson and film and television writer/director/producer Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Dirty Sexy Money, and the X-Men franchise)

It was only last August (2012), some of the children may recall, that word slipped down the celebrity gossip grapevine that the fire-tressed snowboarder dropped $3.85 million on a cliff-top house with direct beach access in Encinitas, CA, but, as it turns out the snowboarder maintains a fairly extensive real estate portfolio.

In addition to a Park City, UT, condo and a couple of ho-hum if hardly inexpensive tract houses near San Diego, in Carlsbad, CA, Mister White owns a contemporary, city-view abode in the Hollywood Hills (above) that bought the house in March 2009 for $1.7 million. Your Mama dug up digital evidence that the snow, sand, and real estate loving daredevil put the house out for lease late last year (2012) with an asking price of $10,000 per month.

*Last October (2012) Mister Fleiss paid $9.3 million for Mel and Robyn Gibson's former estate in the star-stocked Serra Retreat enclave in Malibu.

aerial photo (Malibu): Bing
exterior photo (Encintas): Real Living Lifestyles (via Zillow)
exterior photo (Hollywood Hills): The Partners Trust

Friday, November 22, 2013

Did Paul Allen Buy A Big Bay Area Crib?

BUYER: Paul Allen
LOCATION: Atherton, CA
PRICE: $27,000,000
SIZE: 22,005 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 4 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama already knows we're a little late to this particular high-profile property purchase party but we can't resist us a little ditty about a multi-billionaire philanthropist and hardcore real estate baller like Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who—so the scuttlebutt goes—just added a newly constructed, $27 million mansion in the über-affluent Silicon Valley community of Atherton (CA)* to his already substantial residential property portfolio. Or did he?

None of the three property records data bases Your Mama consulted reflect a recent transfer of ownership from Pacific Peninsula Group (P.P.G.)—the upscale architecture and property development concern that purchased the property in question in the last days of 2010 for $5.9 million—but, sho enuf, butter beans, the San Mateo County Assessor's online portal shows the high-priced property recently traded from P.P.G. to a private family trust named after and controlled by Jo Lynn Allen. Jo Lynn Allen, a woman more publicly known as Jody, is Paul Allen's sister. This would suggest to Your Mama—but certainly not prove—that the Atherton spread was acquired not by Mister Allen but rather by his sister and right hand woman.

Miz Allen, along with her brother, co-founded and is the president and CEO of Vulcan Inc., the entity that manages the vast and varied business investments for the Allen family. She also serves as the co-founder and president of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation that oversees much if not all of the philanthropic endeavors of the Allen family and she serves as the president of Vulcan Productions, a documentary and independent feature film production operation with credits that include Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Far from Heaven and Hard Candy.

Your Mama's research on the interweb indicates Miz Allen's primary residence, like her brother's, is on Mercer Island, a prestigious residential island at the south end of Lake Washington, five or seven miles from downtown Seattle. However, six or so months ago the Allens announced their investment arm, Vulcan Capital, planned to open a tech/internet investment office in Palo Alto, CA, the spiritual if not geographic heart of the Silicon Valley. Given that development it's really not so odd or surprising to Your Mama or any other property gossip that either or both of the Allens might opt to buy a considerable and considerably plush home base in the Bay Area. This one, the one bought with a trust in Miz Allen's name, is conveniently just three or four miles from Vulcan Capital's downtown Palo Alto offices. Listen, chickens, what do we really know? For all we know Mister and Miz Allen will share the super-size house in Atherton as a very part-time pied-a-terre. Stranger things have happened. Anyhoodles, poodles...

Tucked privately down a discreet, private driveway on a 1.97 acre flag lot, the decidedly contemporary and approximately 22,000 square foot main house, as per listing details Your Mama dug up on the internets, contains six bedrooms, six full and four half bathrooms, and seven fireplaces. In case any of y'all might be wondering, 22,000 square feet is nearly ten times the size of the average American home. A self-contained, kitchen-equipped guest house next to the backyard swimming pool has two more bedrooms and bathrooms while, attached to the five-car garage, there is what listing details describe as a "House Manager Suite."

This huge and arguably self-indulgent abode may not fit your assiduous personal preferences of architectural purity and perfection but, as far as this property gossip is concerned, it can and should be appreciated—and/or criticized—as a painstakingly concocted, exquisitely crafted, and exceptionally spacious residential monument to extreme wealth and minimalist-minded haute luxury.

The austere yet sumptuously sybaritic, light-filled, and imposingly stately residence does quite happily without florid or frivolous architectural details, i.e. the house lacks any ceiling moldings and makes use of only the simplest of baseboards. Instead, the mansion cleaves to an organic but elegantly astringent and exquisitely discriminating materials palette that includes: wood floors that Your Mama would be surprised to learn are not French oak or some other insanely pricey imported wood; windows and doorways framed in wide but simple strips of teak or some other exotic and rare wood; meticulous mill work that includes a repetitive gridded paneling that pops up throughout the house; and a variety of custom cabinetry styles smartly unified with extra thick slabs of marble or some other wickedly costly stone.

A double-height foyer anchored by a muscular glass and metal stair case leads directly into a voluminous double-height formal living room with a raised hearth fireplace, clerestory windows, and a towering trio of transom-topped windows with a long view framed and funneled by a treed allée of undetermined species. In the formal dining room the (could be off-center) fireplace was elevated to table height and three transom-topped glass doors provide easy access to the extensive entertainment and recreation terrace(s) that runs along the back of the house. Listing photographs also show three more more transom-topped windows in the otherwise fully-paneled library/office that open to the rear terrace.

A long butler's pantry links the formal dining room to the less formal family quarters that—as best as we can tell—includes a snazzy, crisp, and clean-lined kitchen with two central work islands as well as a double-height family room and an adjoining breakfast room with (at least) two walls of rectangular-paned glass.

A fully fitted and finished lower level appears to contain several casual living areas and lounges, at least on of which has an entire wall of frameless glass that opens out to a small terrace and long staircase that ascends grandly to the stone terrace that surrounds the dark bottom swimming pool and inset spa. (The LED lighting installed along the steps the lead up from the pool deck to the lawn lend an interesting graphic touch to the night lighting but, call Your Mama old fashioned—and we've been called so much worse than old fashioned, children, it comes off as a little too Las Vegas for to our personal and possibly persnickety outdoor lighting scheme likes and dislikes.

Whichever Allen—Paul and/or Jody—makes use of the Atherton residence in question will have some very powerful tech industry titans for neighbors: one time Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Hewlitt Packard president and CEO Meg Whitman, veteran Yahoo! executive turned angel investor Farzad Nazem, multi-billionaire financier Charles Schwab, Intuit co-founder Tom Proulx, and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt who—Your Mama heard through the Platinum Triangle gossip grapevine—has been peeping high-priced properties in Los Angeles and even made a (rejected) low-ball offer on a quirky but dignified (and published) Tudor-style pile in Beverly Hills owned by Emmy-winning Tinseltown writer/producer Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace) and his unfortunately-named husband, Erik Hyman, a partner at a high-powered L.A. law firm.


Back in the fall of 2010 Your Mama made an extensive (but not necessarily complete) catalog Mi ofster Allen's rather monumental private residential property portfolio so if any of y'all would like more lengthy discussions of the properties we suggest you go here, here, and/or here but allow us here to be somewhat more brief.

Mister Allen, who owns both the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazer sports teams, has long maintained a massive, waterfront compound on Mercer Island, WA, that comprises at no fewer than nine large residences with at least three that claim direct frontage on Lake Washington. Also up in the Pacific Northwest, Mister Allan owns not just one but two private islands in the San Juan Islands chain.** He built an extensive family camp on one of them and had other, the less developed 292-acre Allan Island, up for sale for the last few years. It's currently listed at $13.5 million.

In Los Angeles, Mister Allen owns an impressive, gated estate in Beverly Hills—it has a funicular-accessed tennis court—as well as The Enchanted Hill, a fabled and much fretted over 24-acre tract of land in the mountains above Beverly Hills where, at one time, he toyed around with building a spectacularly large house. In 2010, like all good real estate ballers with southern California real estate interests, he dropped $25 million for a glassy contemporary on Malibu's swank Carbon Beach***

Since 1993 Mister Allen has owned the 4,000+acre Teton Ridge Ranch outside of Tetonia, ID, and—we're not quite sure when—he paid somewhere about $7.5 million for the historic, water front Thurston Estate in Kailua-Kona, HI, and in New York City, Mister Allen maintains a mansion-sized duplex penthouse atop one of the most expensive and exclusive buildings on Fifth Avenue. He reportedly picked up an 18-room, full-floor spread in 1996 for about $14 million and, in the fall of 2011, quietly forked over $25,000,000 in an off-market deal for a 7-ish room penthouse with extensive terracing that practically hover over Central Park.**** Mister Allen's international holdings are oft reported to include a sizable townhouse in the hoity-toity Holland Park area of London***** as well as a villa in fancy-pants Cap Ferrat in the south of France but we don't much about that.

Feeling over loaded and/or overwhelmed yet?

In addition to his land-based holdings, Mister Allen maintains a world-class collection of WWII aircraft, a fleet of private jets that include a Gulfstream or two and at least one custom-fitted Boeing 757—he recently sold one of 757s to brash, publicity-seeking billionaire Donald Trump, and two ship-sized yachts. His 303-foot long Tatoosh (above) has five decks, accommodates 24 pampered guest in 10-12 staterooms, and requires a crew of around 35. The mega-mansion sized boat is fitted with a French limestone fireplace in the main salon, a swimming pool with adjustable floor depth, a movie theater and two helipads. Although it no longer appears to on the market, the steel-hulled Tatoosh was put up for sale in 2010 with a $125,000,000 price tag.

Gargantuan and elaborately appointed as Tatoosh is, it's kind of yachtsman child's play compared to Octopus, Mister Allen's other and much bigger, 414-foot long superyacht. Octopus, said to cost close to $400,000 a week to operate and features two helicopter landing pads, seven tenders, a few jet skis, and two submarines. Yep, submarines, and one of them can be operated by remote control. There's also a swimming pool, a basketball court, and—for his rock star friends—a state-of-the-art recording studio. The Superyachts website shows Octopus can host 26 guests, carries a crew of 57, loads more than 40,000 gallons of fresh water, and requires about 225,000 gallons of fuel to fill up its greedy gas tanks.******

*Atherton was recently pegged by the folk at Forbes as the most expensive zip code in all of the United States with a stratospheric median home price of $6,665,231.

**Some of the children may recall that Speiden Island, a 516-acre island in the San Juans, is currently owned by another multi-billionaire real estate baller, James "Jim" Jannard.

***Other billionaires and near billionaires who own homes along Carbon Beach include Larry Ellison, David Geffen, Haim Saban, Eli Broad, and recent divorcee Jamie McCourt.

****Other residents of the chi-chi co-operative building include: hedge fund fat cat Daniel Nir and his wife, Jill Braufman, who shelled out $29 million for their mid-floor sprawler in 2007; hedge funder Charles Coleman III and his financial services heiress wife, Stephanie, who paid $36,000,000 in 2008 for a Renzo Mongiardino-designed spread previously owned by socialite Veronica Hearst; and pharmaceutical tycoon Howard Solomon who coughed up $25 million in 2004 for his seventh floor spread. We've been told by a socially connected acquaintance that Texas-based billionaires Sid and Mercedes Bass also maintain a residence in the building but we don't claim any other details about that. Anyhoo....

*****Other Holland Park homeowners include Sir Richard Branson, Simon Cowell and Sir Paul McCartney 

******According to the Automobile Association's fuel gauge website, the average price of premium gas in the U.S. yesterday was $3.57. That means if Mister Allen drove Octopus into his local gas station and paid the average price to fill up the 225,000 gallon tanks it would have cost him $803,250. By Your Mama's rudimentary and rounded off calculations, it would take a minimum wage worker in California, who earns $8.00 an hour, more than 48 years of 40-hour work weeks with no time off for sickness or vacation to earn the equivalent to what it costs Mister Allen to fill up just one of his two mega-yachts with gas.

aerial photo (Mercer Island): Bing
aerial photo (Beverly Hills): Bing
exterior photo (Tatoosh): Fraser Yachts
exterior photo (Octopus): Thorongil via Wikimedia Commons
listing photos (Atherton): Pacific Peninsula Group (via Movoto)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Celebrity Rental: James Perse

In support of and in property gossip solidarity with the hardworking kids at Curbed and their annual "Renter's Week," Your Mama thought we'd have a brief look-see at a handful of homes in the sensationally scenic, punishingly pricey, and celeb-saturated seaside community of Malibu, CA, that are currently available for rent and owned by a high profile Tinseltowner...

Los Angeles fashion scion, fancy t-shirt guru, and lifestyle designer James Perse—he of the artisinally super-luxe, single origin cotton lounge wear whose father, Tommy Perse, owns the perennially haute and brutally expensive shopping emporium Maxfield in West Hollywood—has been much in the property gossip columns the last few months.

In September came word came down the real estate gossip grapevine that he and his Bev Hills-bred wife Brandi Briskman—that's  Brandi with an i, thank you very much—paid $6.69 million to acquire a recently redid Euro-country style estate in the Point Dume area of Malibu.* The next month, October, came the dish about how the photogenically laid back couple shelled out another $10.85 million for a 26-acre horse ranch in the Hidden Valley area near Thousand Oaks they bought from veteran house hoppers Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi DeGeneres.

Now, here we are in November, hurtling towards the winter holidays with alarming speed, and Your Mama digs up digital evidence that Mister Perse and Miz Briskman bathed their recently acquire Point Dume property in Mister Perse's beachy but chic and expensively minimalist signature style and hoisted it back on the market as a partially furnished rental at a rate of $25,000 per month.

Listing details show the gated estate includes an approximately 7,000 square foot residence with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, at least three fireplaces, and a series of interconnected living spaces with wood floors and metal-framed French doors that link to the outdoor living areas. We spied in listing photos a party-sized formal living room, a simple but generous dining room, a roomy game room (with an Old-School ping pong table), and a country-style center island eat-in kitchen with butler's pantry and adjoining den. Somewhere, as per marketing materials, there's a library/study and an art studio, and separate guest/staff quarters.

The back of the house spills out to a trellis-shaded terrace that gives way to a liberally watered, essentially flat, tree-ringed, and soccer pitch-sized lawn. A simple, rectangular swimming pool, spa and sunbathing terrace sits far enough from the house that the lazy will more likely tuck around a nearby tree to relinquish their liquids rather than hump across the vast lawn to make use of the facilities back to the house. Listing details suggest the lucky, deep-pocketed renters will be able to make use of the property's deeded beach rights and keys to the gorgeous and private Little Dume Beach.

*The seller of the Point Dume spread was Dave Matthews Band bass player Stefan Lessard and the obviously very rich Mister Perse and his wife already own a glassy contemporary a couple thousand feet away as the crow flies that they surreptitiously purchased in late 2010 for $16 million and is all but next door to Barbra Streisand's cliff-top compound.

listing photos: Coldwell Banker

Celebrity Rental: Eric Gold and Marcy Kaplan

In support of and in property gossip solidarity with the hardworking kids at Curbed and their annual "Renter's Week," Your Mama thought we'd have a brief look-see at a handful of homes in the sensationally scenic, punishingly pricey, and celeb-saturated seaside community of Malibu, CA, that are currently available for rent and owned by a high profile Tinseltowner...

Television, movie, and musical producer—and talent manager, Eric Gold (Scary Movie, The Wayans Brothers) and actress/writer/producer Marcy Kaplan (The Pre Nup) have their late 1960's Buff & Hensman-designed ocean front spread on sandy La Costa beach up for rent at $75,000 per month.*

Current listing information and other online resources show the 4,300 square foot house was once owned by music legend Berry Gordy and now has casual yet ever-so-costly and smoothly sophisticated interior day-core by L.A.-based lady decorators Elizabeth Barondes and Kelly Morris.

A spacious, open-plan living area has extra-wide plank pale yellow-blond wood floors, a fireplace, a library nook (with backgammon table), and, tucked up behind the dining area, a marble-countered galley kitchen. Glass panels slip into the walls to merge the indoor living area with a glass-railed sea- and beach-view deck for sunbathers, ciggy and doobie smokers, gin and tonic enjoyer, sunset watcher, and star-gazers.

The house claims 60 feet of prime beach frontage and there are three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in the main house, one the well-appointed master, another a children's room with trundle-equipped bunk beds that sleep six. A detached casita that opens off the front courtyard between the house and garage offers another bedroom and bathroom perfectly suite to fornicating and/or flatulent house guests.

Property records indicate Miz Kaplan and Mister Gold purchased their Malibu getaway for exactly $9,000,000 in November of 2009 and their in-town residence, a 9,200+ square foot Gothic Tudor-style mansion behind security gates and privacy hedges in the flats of Beverly Hills, in May 2006 for $8.8 million.

*Listing details ask for interested parties to ring the real estate agent for winter pricing, which Your Mama imagines could be somewhat less than $75,000 per month but what do we really know, right?

listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews

Celebrity Rental: Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber

In support of and in property gossip solidarity with the hardworking kids at Curbed and their annual "Renter's Week," Your Mama thought we'd have a brief look-see at a handful of homes in the sensationally scenic, punishingly pricey, and celeb-saturated seaside community of Malibu, CA, that are currently available for rent and owned by a high profile Tinseltowner...

Cindy Crawford—a 47-yeard supermodel glamazon who looks downright sickening in a recent photo shoot for V Magazine—and her beau-hunky former model turned restaurateur husband Rande Gerber have had a real estate foot hold in Malibu. Their main Malibu residence is an ocean front compound that clings to a steep hillside but, since 1998, they've also owned another, much more modest ocean front residence on a sandy stretch of sand between El Matador State Beach and the quickly disappearing Broad Beach. They paid, as per property records, $1.85 million for the upgraded and well-maintained semi-Spanish-style beach house and currently have it up for lease as a long-term furnished rental at $19,500 per month.

Current digital marketing materials reveal the beach-front house sits down a shared but private and gated street and has 3-4 bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,413 square feet that also includes an main living area that opens through numerous wood-framed sliding glass doors to a glass-railed deck with direct beach access and contemplative views up and down the sand and surf.

listing photos: Coldwell Banker