Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pierce Brosan Goes Mano-a-Mano with Eroding Beach in the Bu

There's trouble in paradise if one's idea of paradise is the freakishly expensive strip of sand known as Broad Beach in Malibu, CA. Broad Beach has for decades been lined with beach bungalows and ocean front mansions, many owned by rich and famous folks, showbiz executives, and a slew of west coast-based Wall Street types.

One of Broad Beach's newest mansions, now just about finished, was built for and is owned by smoldering Irish-born movie star Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!, The Thomas Crown Affair and half a dozen money makers from the James Bond film franchise) and his second wife, former actress/tee-vee presenter/activist Keely Shaye Smith.

We're not sure why the gossips at X17 reported earlier in the week that Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith paid a bone shattering $45,000,000 for the two-parcel ocean front spread because the admittedly somewhat vague online records we peeped indicate they acquired the property in March 2000 for $5,100,000.

Whatever the case, the existing house was razed (or at least significantly dismantled) and replaced by a gigantic, just about completed U-shaped Balinese-inspired mansion with ocean side swimming pool and detached guest/pool house.

Unfortunately for Mister Brosnan, Missus Shaye Smith and the many of the other well-heeled (but probably bare-footed) Broad Beach home owners, the shoreline has eroded and diminished significantly over the last 10 or so years. In order to protect their newly built residence, Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith, as well as numerous other residents along Broad Beach, erected a ghastly but necessary tall wall of sandbags to hold the advancing ocean at bay. More recently home owners along Broad Beach spent boo coo bucks to construct an an even more unsightly and permanent rock revetment between their homes and thundering surf.

Fortunately for him and his, Mister Brosnan's just about completed crib has a swimming pool but should he or any of his children and/or guests desire to stroll along the shoreline or bob around in the ocean, they must first make a grisly, knee scraping scramble over the revetment.

Some of the other property owners who share the same stretch of eroding shoreline as the Brosnans include Tinseltown types such as Steven Spielberg (who leased his contemporary Craftsman-style compound last summer to David and Victoria Beckham for $150,000 per month), Mike Ovitz, Dustin Hoffman, Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, and a slew of high-flying financiers and real estate developers who include Mark Attanasio, George Novogroder, Edward Roski Jr., tool tycoon Eric Smidt, and former shipbuilding mogul turned investor Burton Borman whose 10,000-plus square foot Frank Gehry-designed digs on Broad Beach include, of all luxuries, a lighted and sunken ocean side tennis court.

This is not the first Broad Beach area home Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye-Smith Brosnan have owned. In fact, the environmentally concerned couple have long resided in Malibu in a Mediterranean style hillside house that sits much closer to busy and loud Pacific Coast Highway than the beach. In June 2010 Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye-Smith Brosnan listed their 3,412 square foot hillside house with an asking price of $3,900,000. Just a few days before Christmas, eighteen months after first being listed, several price chops that brought the final asking price to $2,790,000, and at least one failed escrow the two-story, 3 bedroom, 3.25 bathroom and 4 fireplace Brosnan/Shaye Smith abode has been sold to a non-celebrity for an undisclosed price We heard through the Malibu celebrity real estate gossip grapevine but can't confirm it went for $2,650,000.

Property records indicate Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith also own at least one home near the scenic Hanalei and Wainiha bays on the star-studded Hawaiian island of Kauai.

aerial photo: X17

Friday, December 30, 2011

Marina Abramović Lists Modern Minded Manhattan Loft

SELLER: Marina Abramović
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $3,495,000
SIZE: (approximately) 3,000 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: 'Tis the end of the year (and a travel day to boot) so much to the chagrin of some, we're sure, Your Mama's gonna to take the low road today and dredge up a wee piece of New York City art world celebrity real estate that we didn't stop to (dis or) discuss earlier in the year, namely the very spare SoHo loft performance art pioneer Marina Abramović first heaved and hoisted on to the market in January (2011) with an asking price of $3,750,000. By May the price had dropped to $3,375,000 and in mid-August it was taken off the market until late September when it reappeared with a mysteriously higher (and current) price tag of $3,495,000.

The raven-tressed and Serbian by birth Miz Abramović, who apparently once described herself as the "Grandmother of Performance Art," has been making decidedly intense, sometimes obtuse, often enigmatic and frequently controversial performance-based artwork for more than three decades. Art-minded types probably already know and recall that from mid-March to the tail end of May 2010 the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan held a comprehensive retrospective of her work that included the punishing 736.5 hour extended performance of The Artist is Present during which Miz Abramović, weirdly regal in a floor-length blue or red wizard-like outfit and a sloppy side pony braid, sat silent, all but immobile at a small table set up in the airy atrium of the museum where spectators, one at a time, sat in an opposite chair for as long or short amount of time as they wished. The artist and the sitter(s) simply stared at each other, a quiet and painfully self-conscious yet terrifically dynamic exercise that produced a variety of (sometimes emotional) responses from participants, some who returned several and even many times. Your Mama did not sit with Miz Abramović during her epic performance but we do know a number who did. Most said they were mesmerized and unexpectedly moved and the others thought it was a silly waste of time.

Anyhoo, property records are a bit vague for Miz Abramović's SoHo spread, but previous reports about the apartment indicate she acquired the approximately 3,000 square foot full-floor loft sometime in 2001 for around $1,500,000. Current monthly maintenance charges run $2,269 per month).

The sixty-something year old avant garde art star later and somewhat recently had the apartment overhauled from top to bottom by New York-based architect Dennis Wedlick. A 2010 article in the New York Times states that Miz Abramović provided Mister Wedlick 4 months and three-quarters of a million clams to re-work the loft in to its present condition, a light-filled minimalist urban retreat with direct (manually operated) elevator access and gleaming gallery white walls juxtaposed with very purposeful and vibrant bursts of color. An interior structure compactly and cost-effectively encloses a variety of the apartment's plumbing and service areas into a single, permeable and semi-transparent 325-ish square foot interior volume that contains a fitted dressing room in the master bedroom, a half bathroom off the long, window-lined entrance gallery, a luxurious but utilitarian master bathroom, and a wee but well-equipped galley style kitchen. The outer wall of the translucent light box-like structure is lined with aluminum framed frosted glass panels that swing open or twist close to reveal or conceal the inner areas as desired or necessary.

About half the approximately 3,000 square foot spread encompasses a prairie-like living and dining area with 11-foot (or so) ceiling, 13 over-sized windows that run in perfect sequence around two walls, an acre of white-washed hardwood floors, and an extensive lighting system. Listing photos show the vast, sun-bleached space divided into three distinct areas: a lounge with low-slung Euro-style contemporary and mid-century modern furnishings; a dining area near the kitchen; and an open space outfitted with little more than a personal (and trendy) Pilates machine.

Certainly Miz Abramović has a studio space where she exercises her creative impulses but Your Mama imagines Miz Abramović might sometimes instruct her team of hipster assistants and minimum wage booty kissers to push all the low-slung Patricia Urquiola-designed Lowseat sofas up against the walls when she's feeling in the mood to interpretive dance or wants to rehearse one of her mind and body challenging performance pieces that have made her rich and famous, or at least famous in the Art World, caps intended.

The galley style kitchen, small as it may be, packs an ocular punch with top-of-the-line Euro-style appliances, custom fabricated polished concrete counter tops, and lacquered turquoise and apple green flat-fronted cabinetry. We're certain many if not most of the children will poo-poo the eye-popping color scheme in the kitchen but Your Mama, an out-and-out sucker for bright and/or shiny things, happens to think it's the bees knees in contemporary kitchen design.

A coat closet and larger storage closet flank a door that leads to the building's interior stair hall and helps to define a bookshelf-lined office nook nestled in next to a series of sliding panels that disappear completely into the wall when fully opened to reveal the apartment's lone bedroom, a sizable multi-windowed room with commodious walk-in closet, even larger custom-fitted dressing room, and master bathroom that offers top quality Thassos marble tile floors and walls, two cast concrete sinks on a cornflower blue pedestal, a separate cast concrete soaking tub and opaque glass panels that slide open to reveal the terlit and bee-day and large shower enclosure with pebble tile flooring.

Listing information indicates a second bedroom can be "easily added" without compromising the overall expansiveness of the loft by sectioning off a small portion of the main living space.

In addition to her sparely done loft in downtown Manhattan, Miz Abramović also owns a semi-rural retreat in out-of-the-way Malden Bridge, NY she acquired in March 2007, according to property records, for $1,350,00. The star-shaped residence's original architect Dennis Wedlick was quickly commissioned by Miz Abramović and given 8 weeks and a quarter million dollars to "strip the house bare," paint the ceilings white, refinish the wood floors, remove various columns that cluttered up the space and relocate the driveway to the rear of the residence because, according to Miz Abramović, "Americans like to park their cars in front of the house. This is unacceptable. A car should be parked out behind the barn." It was her positive experience with Mister Wedlick in Malden Bridge that prompted her to re-hire the smart architect to, as mentioned above, re-work her downtown digs.

listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby's International Realty

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In Style Bigwig and Project Accessory Judge Sells Downtown Digs

SELLER: Ariel Foxman
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $949,000
SIZE: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: As anyone who knows Your Mama will probably ruefully and woefully attest, we love us a reality television program. We can't help it. So many of them cater to the trailer trash that runs in trace amounts in our decidedly not-blue blood and with this genetic sickness we will test drive just about any old reality tee-vee turd ball that comes along. Of course, we don't keep watching most reality programs. After all, just how many episodes of a morbidly over-weight dance teacher who screams and wags her luridly manicured fingers at the neurotic mothers of the talented tweenage girls she teaches to tap and grind can a person take, you know?

Being unfortunately inclined towards reality teev-vee, it didn't even occur to Your Mama not to tune in for the first few episodes of the first season of Project Accessory, a recent if not quite full term off-spring of supermodel Heidi Klum's boob-toob gold mine Project Runway. Much to our own surprise we worked our way through the entire first season and saw the winner crowned (or whatever) but our inner jury remains in a hostile flux about the continued watchability of future seasons. Not only is Molly Sims–no offense to the tall darlin'–a pale facsimile of Miz Klum's accented camp but a fair number of the contestants were not particularly compelling which would be okay if they made compelling cuffs, handbags and belly chains but, alas...

But we digress. One of the regular judges on Project Accessory's first season was a compact-looking, chisel-chinned, droopy-eyed and well-pressed young(ish) gentleman named Ariel Foxman, the honcho editor at celebrity-focused magazine InStyle and the sartorial-minded son of Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman.

Previous to sitting atop the mast head at InStyle Mister Foxman headed up the thankfully defunct Condé Nast men's shopping guide Cargo. It was during his years at Cargo, in the mid-Aughts, that the New York Observer reported and revealed in April 2006 that Mister Foxman received (and did other favored editors, editrixes and executives at Condé Nast) some sort of mortgage assistance in 2005 when he purchased what was then described in the Observer as an "oversized one-bedroom spread that had listed for $625,000."

As it turns out Mister Foxman paid handsomely for his co-operative apartment located a momentary stroll to the insanely chic or, depending on your view of the 'hood's gentrification, jump-the-shark sheek collision of the West Village and the Meatpacking District, a once stinky, out of the way corner of Manhattan where the streets literally ran with animal blood and now transformed in to an upscale and urbane shopping and dining district dense with fancy-schmancy eateries, high-cost hotels and private clubs, emergent and established art galleries, a glassy Apple store and scads of designer boo-teeks.

The fine folks at StreetEasy and Property Shark both show Mister Foxman, in February 2005, actually paid $695,000 for his fifth floor, three-exposure, 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom apartment in the well regarded Art Deco-style Abingdon Court building. That price, according to Your Mama's bejeweled abacus, is more than ten percent over the asking price.

Mister Foxman briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to sell his West Village one bedroom over the summer of 2009 when he heaved it on the market with a $995,000 price tag. For unknown reasons, Mister Foxman quickly caught a classic case of The Real Estate Fickle and de-listed his stylish downtown bachelor pad just three weeks later.

Fast forward to July of this year (2011) when Mister Foxman once again listed his fully updated and contemporized pre-war one bedroom bolthole with a $995,000 price tag. Three weeks later the co-op crib went to contract–that's like escrow for all the west coasters–but that deal soon swirled down the real estate terlit as some deals do and by late September the apartment was back on the market, again at $995,000. A week later the price dropped to $949,000 and about three weeks after that the apartment was once again put into contract. Mazel Tov! and ¡Buena Suerte!

Listing information for Mister Foxman's apartment doesn't indicate the square footage but we guesstimate it's a generous but far from huge 800 or maybe 850 square feet. What listing information does reveal is that the three exposures are to the north, west and east and that the monthly maintenance cost for the full-service building runs a not insignificant $1,205 per month.

The apartment opens, as do many decent-sized one bedroom pre-war one bedroom apartments in Manhattan, directly into a large foyer that could, if the occupant so chose, do double duty as an intimate (if essentially windowless) dining room. The deep ebony wood floors and crisp white walls in the foyer extend into the step-down corner living room with excellent windows on two walls and just enough floor space to accommodate a proper seating lounge/tee-vee nook and a dining area just large enough for six to sit for a take-out from Fatty Crab. Generally speaking Mister Foxman's tailored but contemporary clean-lined day-core is lovely except for that upsetting pair of two-toned armchairs that flank the wall-mounted flat screen tee vee and the credenza below it. Probably they were bought at Wyeth or on 1st Dibs for as much as a Fiat 500 but we just don't get it.

The galley-style kitchen isn't large by any stretch but it more than adequate for Manhattan where many residents rarely cook has a window and is fully upgraded with plenty of counter space for laying out the hors d'oeuvres and booze bottles, dark and sleek flat-fronted Euro-style lower cabinets for hiding ugly pots and pans, and open shelves above the white counter tops for displaying daily dishes. Mister Foxman (or his nice-gay or lady decorator) slathered the rear wall of the kitchen, a wall complicated with a radiator and a large but off-center window, in a patterned wallpaper that looks like some sort of winter time forest scene, a naked birch trees in the snow sort of thing. We're still torn up by the notion of wallpaper in general and this wallpaper in particular. We want to like it but we're afraid to commit and worry about it's trendiness despite the fact it's been in decorative resurgence for more than 10 years.

Anyhoo, Mister Foxman (or, again, his nice-gay or lady decorator) opted for an abstract pattern wallpaper in his boo-dwar where the long wall behind his Nakashima-esque bed frame is sheathed in a somewhat dizzying but not unpleasant vertical striped wall covering in repeating shades of blue. The bedroom benefits from two closets–or one long one with two doors as shown on the floor plan–and windows on two walls that encourage cross ventilation.

Listing photographs do not show the one bathroom but does describe it as "Deco" which means either the original Art Deco-era bathroom has been retained (and presumably restored) or an all new "Deco" style facility was installed to replace the original one.

We really haven't any idea where Mister Foxman might go now that his one bedroom and one bathroom co-op in the West Village is–knock on wood–about to be sold but given that's he's now the honcho of a huge celebrity-culture driven magazine and a judge on a reality television program Your Mama imagines he might feel he wants a second bedroom (and maybe even a second bathroom) so his overnight house guests don't have to bed down on an air mattress in the living room anymore.

listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Producer Randy Barbato Lists Hollywood House

SELLER: Randy Barbato
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,649,000
SIZE: 2,512 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (plus guest house)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It was only a few weeks ago alterna-super-producer Fenton Bailey put a $1,649,000 price tag on his historic and nicely provenanced Arts and Crafts bungalow in the Hollywood Heights area of Los Angeles, CA, built in the early 1920s by Hollywood's first art director Wilfred Buckland.

This week Mister Bailey's long-time b.f.f. and producing partner at World of Wonder Productions Randy Barbato pushed his own historic 1925 Spanish style hillside mini-compound on the market, also and in what may or may not be a coincidence, with a $1,649,000 price tag.

The Emmy-nominated Misters Barbato and Bailey co-founded and co-operate one of the finest and funkiest production houses in Tinseltown that creates and produces a long list of reality television shows and documentary-type movies both mainstream and somewhat subversive. They are the people responsible for boob-toob fare such as Million Dollar Listing, Becoming Chaz (and Being Chaz), RuPaul's Drag Race, and silver screen things like Party Monster, and the ever-popular, unexpectedly touching and simply lashtacular The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Property records show handsome Mister Barbato, who like and with Mister Bailey sprang forth in a hail of rainbow sprinkles from the bowels of NYU and the decadent downtown Manhattan underground club scene in the mid-1980s, purchased his discreetly situated, masculine edged, and glamour-tinged hillside house above Hollywood in May 2003 for $1,113,500.

Current listing information indicates the two-story main house, perched privately well above the tail end of a sleepy cul-de-sac (with easy freeway access) in the Hollywood Dell 'hood, encompasses a relatively modest 2,512 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. A wee but voluminous detached guest suite, atop the street-level garage and divided from the main house by a narrow brick courtyard, offers an additional living/sleeping space and one more three-quarter pooper.

A stingy vestibule is all that separates the front door from the damn near baronial living room that extends 30-feet in the long direction and benefits from beautifully well-worn wide plank wood floors, coved ceiling, and a wide arched windows and French doors on three of its four walls. The day-core is both cutting edge and ironically referential and conducive to both civilized and uncivilized cocktail parties, particularly the sorts of parties where nobody would notice or mind if Your Mama slipped off our metallic gold sneaker to run our stubby toes over that pale burgundy rug that looks like it might be silk or some other synthetic yet sumptuous fiber.

A short corridor off the living room connects to the main entertainment terrace at the rear of the house and provides for a welcomed modicum of privacy for a pin thin but decadently done powder pooper with luscious carved marble sink and small carpet in front of the crapper woven with one of pop art star Andy Warhol's famous soup can paintings, in this instance tomato rice flavor.

A shallow but wide pointed arch joins the living room the just about square dining room where Mister Barbato (or his decorator A.J. Bernard or maybe some other nice-gay or lady decorator) wisely installed a massive circular dining room table. The ceiling is coved, the floors laid with shiny pavers set at a 45-degree angle to the room, and a wide row of French doors that open to the slim courtyard that separates the main house from the detached guest suite with laundry facilities.

The 45-degree angle shiny paver tiles extend into and through the generous eat-in kitchen daring makes use of both sleek modern cabinetry and old-timey country kitchen type cabinetry unified with a pale, cement-colored grey paint. The appliances are high-grade and stainless steel, hefty rough-hewn wood beams cross the ceiling in rapid succession, a bistro-ish vertical stripe curtain charmingly hides a section of the lower cabinets near the sink and dishwasher–we'd imagine the refuse and recycling bins are in there–and a vintage work table with vintage lab stool runs down the center of the room for food prep and service, snack and/or booze ingestion, and cozy kitchen confidentials with pals.

An archway in the kitchen, which can be closed off with curtains instead of doors, leads into the intimately scaled family room with gleaming paver tiles on the floor, heavy and rough-hewn beams across the ceiling, a comfy looking velvet upholstered and down-filled sofa, a wall-mounted flat screen tee-vee, and French doors that open, rather dangerously for anyone boozed up or otherwise intoxicated, to a narrow strip of brick terrace that girdles the plunge-sized swimming pool.

A tight, enclosed staircase curls up from the dining room to an architecturally dramatic landing (not pictured here) where two impressively sized guest/family bedrooms (above, lower left and right) share a fully-renovated bathroom Jack-and-Jill style bathroom. Listing photos suggest Mister Barbato utilizes one of the guest/family bedrooms as a home office/library (above, lower right) as it's lined with bookshelves, filled with contemporary art and objet, and furnished with a plaid curtains, a distressed leather club chair, and a desk that looks too damn tiny to do anything besides sit at and talk on the phone.

The sufficient but hardly huge master suite (above, top left and right) offers Mister Barbato a manly (or "manly") but elegant retreat for slumber and love making that includes magnificent mahogany floor-to-ceiling built-in wardrobes with an integrated dresser and gorjus arched French doors that link to a private terrace with an over the tree tops canyon view. The attached bathroom (above, top right) is average sized but remodeled on an above average manner with a masculine mix of modern details (frameless glass shower enclosure) with the vibe of a vintage haberdashery or upscale barber shop (dark wood paneling).

Listing information and online marketing materials state Mister Barbato has put somewhere around $400,000 into upgrades and renovations that include but are not limited to renovation of master bedroom and both upstairs bathrooms (as well as the detached guest suite crapper), the restoration and re-tiling of various patios and terraces, and the smart addition of an adjoining parcel of land that brings the total property size to approximately three-fifths of an acre (25,197 square feet as per listing information).

Outdoor lounging and entertaining areas are many in the thickly and thoughtfully landscaped backyard areas comprised of copious courtyards, numerous patios, and various pathways that zig zag up, down and around the terraced hillside that rises steeply from the back of the house. The gardens and terraces are, by our humble and meaningless opinion, impeccable. We wouldn't change a single drought tolerant anything. We are however, concerned about the squeezy plunge pool. We do love a plunge pool–we are most definitely not a size queen when it comes to cement ponds–so the two- or maybe three-person pool isn't an issue at all. However, anyone who knows Your Mama knows we do love us a big bottle of booze so, natch, it's the balance beam thin strip of terrace that surrounds the pool that has us most concerned. We'd surely be loathe to spend the time and energy to walk around and through the house to get from the living room to the back terrace but the reality is we don't have the best equilibrium when sauced up on the hooch and, too, we do so hate to get wet when we're drunk. 'Tis a quandary for sure but thankfully we're not in the market for a new house.

Anyhoo, the detached guest suite (above), which y'all will recall sits above the street level garage and across a small courtyard from the main house, includes a bedroom area with vaulted ceiling and a wall of quasi-rugged reclaimed wood paneling and arched windows with cul-de-sac view. There's also a truly tiny closet, a tight but well-equipped three-quarter bathroom, laundry facilities, and a tight corkscrew stair that winds down to the garage. Only a gossamer curtain separates the sleeping area from the laundry area and the spiral staircase (over which hangs various yard care implements such as a rake), which means unless the curtain is drawn you're sleeping in the garden shed/laundry room, a fancy laundry room/garden shed but a laundry/garden shed room none-the-less. Our imperious and sometimes openly hostile house gurl Svetlana would have a conniption over the set up. Beehawtcha will sleep in a room adjacent to the laundry room but she will not, under any circumstances except drunkenness, sleep in the laundry room.

One presumes both Mister Barbato and Bailey plan to move on to bigger and better digs in Los Angeles but we haven't any inside intel as to where they plan to lay their heads and host holiday parties next. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Von Dutch Tycoon Tonny Sorensen Lists L.A. Crib

SELLER: Tonny Sorensen
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $6,900,000
SIZE: 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Once upon a time, in the not so distant fashion past, every celebrity-oriented blog and gossip glossy regularly featured photographs of Von Dutch trucker hat wearing celebs who included Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Nic Cage, Sheryl Crow, Beyoncé, and Ashton Kutcher who was pretty much the poster boy for the trucker hat trend that had reached both its zenith and nadir by the mid-Aughts.

From the heads of celebrities the Von Dutch trucker hat found its way to the mall-walking masses and became much favored head wear by many of the same sorts of people who, without a shred of irony, succumbed to sartorial absurdities such as bedazzled Ed Hardy t-shirts and pastel-colored velour lounge outfits with the word "JUICY" emblazoned the ass.

We can, in all sincerity and truthfulness, say that neither Your Mama nor the Dr. Cooter–or anyone we know for that matter–fell prey to the Von Dutch millinery mania that became so feverish, over-hyped and over-exposed that some stylistas and fashionistas began to refer snidely to the brand as "Von Douche."

The Von Dutch label, which bloomed out of the southern California custom and vintage car subculture, was not created by but was foisted on the world by Danish-born arts- and (pop) culture-minded entrepreneur Tonny Sorensen who in invested in and became CEO of the Von Dutch apparel label sometime around the turn of the century.

The Von Dutch label was sold to multi-national footwear and apparel conglomerate Groupe Royer in 2009 and Mister Sorensen has moved on to other ventures that include the creative networking and brand building site Planet illogica and California Christiana Republic whose sole product seems to be the so-called OneZ, an utterly mortifying pajama-like garment that bears a striking similarity to the fleecy and freaky Forever Lazy.

But we digress. Fascinatin' as it all may be it is not, after all, Mister Sorensen's psychically cataclysmic clothing products we are here to discuss but rather the sleek Beverly Hills, CA house he's quietly put up for sale with an asking price of $6,900,000.

Property records reveal Mister Sorensen acquired the crescent-shaped crib in February 2004 for $4,100,000 and listing information states the single-story 4 bedroom and 5 bathroom residence was subsequently and completely remodeled. Listing information doesn't indicate the square footage but the Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the house was originally built in 1961 and measures in at a considerable but far from gargantuan 4,990 square feet.

A gated motor court at the front of the property parks upwards of 20 cars for parties and other charity events and a shallow moat runs along the front of the house where the front door opens into a spacious open plan living room with bleached (or otherwise almost white) hardwood floors, a bank of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that connect to the backyard entertainment areas, and a double-sided fireplace flanked by floor-to-ceiling book cases and display shelves.

The living room bleeds seamlessly into a glass-walled formal dining room with a possibly but probably not-vintage Verner Panton Globe Pendant light and the dining room, which does double duty as a home office in listing photos, in turn opens into an airy and very contemporary eat-in kitchen complete with long center island, cantilevered snack counter, sleek flat-fronted Euro-style cabinetry, over-sized windows with garden and city views, and a full complement of super-slick, high-cost Euro-style stainless steel appliances.

Since they're not shown in any of the listing photos we have access to, we can't say a damn thing about the three family/guest bedrooms or any of the 5 bathrooms. Listing images do show a sizable, architecturally pared down master bedroom with its full wall of floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that open to the swimming pool area and double-sided fireplace. The over-sized firebox opens on the other side to the living room which allows anyone in the living room to look directly into the master bedroom, a serious concern to anyone concerned their full-time house gurl or weekend house guest might want to sneak a peek at their private bedroom activities.

The slim backyard wraps around and hugs the back of the house and is divided into various areas that include a dining terrace, small grass patch for the pooches, and a swimming pool surrounded by a narrow strip of decking. The ground falls away beyond the swimming pool and allows for lovely if not particularly amazing city lights view over the shrubbery and tree tops that pepper the down slope.

The Trousdale Estates 'hood, soon to be gabbed about in all its louche, mid-century modern glory in an upcoming book by Steven Price, has long been home to oodles of Tinseltown luminaries and some of Mister Sorensen's nearest neighbors include 4-time Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman (Young Adult, Up In The Air, Juno)

The trendy (and quite pricey) Trousdale Estates neighborhood, soon to be gabbed about in all its mid-century modern glory in an upcoming book by Steven Price, has long been appealing to Tinseltown types and indeed Mister Sorensen's sleek next in the hills sits sugar borrowing distance from 4-time Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman (Young Adult, Up In The Air, Juno).

Property records show that in June 2010 Mister Sorensen dropped $1,200,000 to purchase a rugged, rustic, and semi-remote ranch spread in Three Rivers, CA (above) that encompasses more than 600 acres, borders the Sequoia National Park, has nearly a mile of frontage on the south fork of the Kaweah River, offers stunning and staggering views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, and includes a perfectly ordinary (and even dumpy) 1,650 square foot residence with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a detached four-car garage perfect for stashing and storing a sliver of Mister Sorensen's extensive vintage car collection.

listing photos (Beverly Hills): Westside Estate Agency 
listing photos (Three Rivers): Century 21 Three Rivers

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Few Links to Keep Y'all Busy For the Holidays

photo: Your Mama

Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Festivus, Whatever) from Your Mama, the Dr. Cooter, our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly, and our mean ol' pussy Sugar.

Your Mama thought some of the children might need or want a brief escape their familial holiday psychodramas so below are a few links to keep y'all busy and distracted.

photo: Villa World

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that rumored to be on the rocks Tinseltown married couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith have quietly sold their 7-acre spread with it's plantation style residence (above) that overlooks Secret Beach near Hanalei on the island of Kauai in Hawaii for $20,000,000, $6,500,000 more than they paid two year ago.

As shown above, recently engaged pop superstar Britney Spears liberally festooned her newly leased mansion in Thousand Oaks, CA with bazillions of twinkling Christmas lights and a rather disturbing number of lighted holiday inflatables.

listing photo: The Levin Group

Hollywood heiress and reality television star Tori Spelling sold her big mansion in Encino and dropped $2,400,000 on a much more modestly scaled (if still quite pricey) ranch house in the Point Dume area of Malibu (above).

And, finally, just in case some of y'all might be boozed up on egg nog and/or artificially mellowed out with Mary Jane or a big fat nerve pill we bring you something deliciously syrupy and disturbingly maudlin courtesy of our boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau who sent out this this little video ditty of the incomparable (and barely conscious) Petty Lee as her digital Christmas card.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rose McGowan Snags Hollywood Hills House

BUYER: Rose McGowan
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,390,000
SIZE: 2,927 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In mid-August sex-pottish small and silver screen actress Rose McGowan (Red Sonja, Conan the Barbarian, Charmed) charmingly regaled chat show ho-stess Chelsea Handler with her recent and high-larious (if costly) tales of real estate woe.

In early 2011 Miss McGowan put her historic residence in Los Angeles' Los Feliz area on the market with an asking price of $1,849,000. She'd decided to move, she told Miz Handler, because she
suffered severe allergies brought on, she thought, by something in the house. She'd spent, according to Miss McGowan, seventeen thousand bucks trying to clean the duct work (etc.) but turns out she wasn't allergic to anything in the ducts or bowels of the house but rather to her easily swapped out down pillows.

Alas, by the time she figured out she was allergic to down she'd already (and inadvertently) fed a bunch of real estate professionals pot brownies–her assistant left them on the kitchen counter during an open house–and sold her house for at a loss in late May for $1,775,000 to music manager Scott Rodger whose client roster includes (or has included) superstars like Paul McCartney, Björk, and Arcade Fire.

Miss McGowan, raised in a hippy-dippy religious cult in Italy and Oregon, told Miss Handler she hated her new house and that she actually tried to buy her old house in Los Feliz back but Mister Rodger wanted "a lot more money" for the quirky and well-patinated 4 bedroom and 2.75 bathroom abode that Miss McGowan purchased in July 2004 for $1,850,000.

We felt for likable Miss McGowan but quickly forgot about her real estate plight until yesterday when the statuesque blond gal who puts together the celebrity real estate stuff at Trulia Luxe revealed Miss McGowan slammed down $1,390,000 on the last day of November for a mid-century modern-ish residence in the Hollywood Hills that lacks any and all the vintage charm of her beloved but lost Los Feliz home.

Since the transaction for her new mid-century modern-ish digs high atop Nichols Canyon was recorded several months after Miss McGowan told Miss Handler how much she hated her new house we just can't be sure if this house is the same house she bought and hates or if this is a third house for which–one hopes–she harbors a greater appreciation than the one she told Miss Handler made her cry.

Whatever the case, property records and listing information shows Miss McGowan's newest house in the Hollywood Hills, a collection of boxy volumes joined by a towering curtain wall of glass that signifies the front entry, measures 2,927 square feet over two floors with a total of 4 bedrooms and 3 or 3.5 bathrooms depending on where in the listing one looks.

The airy, double-height entry–punished in listing photos with a fleshy color we hope Miss McGowan has the good sense to let her nice, gay decorator fix–has a floating switchback staircase with steel supports and concrete treads. The stairs lead to the second floor where the home's primary living areas are located and where the ceilings are lower than most will find optimal, the floors a combination of polished concrete, medium-brown hardwood and taupe wall-to-wall carpeting, and the kitchen and bathrooms recently remodeled with a crisp, clean-lined cabinetry and sleek modern hardware.

A chunky, stone tile-encrusted and somewhat awkwardly located double-sided fireplace warms both the "formal" living and dining rooms. The living room, spacious enough to easily accommodate a grand piano, opens to the broad backyard terrace through a not-quite-wide-enough bank of wood-framed glass doors and the dining room has a custom designed built-in floating corner buffet and another not-quite-wide-enough bank of wood-framed glass doors that open to the backyard terrace.

A wide opening that can be closed off by a some flimsy beige curtains joins the dining room to the contemporary center-island kitchen complete with custom cabinetry (some white lacquer some walnut), a bevy of medium-grade stainless steel appliances, black granite counter tops (or some other sort of solid surface), and a double-stack of open shelving on either side of the commercial-style range and exhaust hood most suitable for the display of cookery knick-knacks, daily use dish wear, and extensive collection of dry herbs and spices.

The property, nestled into a steep up slope, encompasses just over a quarter acre of land but most of it is unusable, or at least unused. At the front there's little more than a short driveway that connects the street to the conveniently direct entry two-car garage, an extra-wide set of entry steps, and a raised planting bed full of drought tolerant plants. At the back outdoor space is somewhat limited to a wide stamped concrete terrace where a nipple-high rough-to-touch stacked stone wall keeps the hillside at bay and a cozy covered section provides a welcome an shady respite from the scorching summer sunshine.

Given Miss McGowan's previous homes–that would be the historic Spanish is Los Feliz and before that an historic Spanish in the Whitley Heights' hood just above Hollywood, this lackluster (but not un-fixable) 1964 contemporary seems a strange residential shoe for her to wear. Iffin we didn't know any different–and, really, we don't–we'd think this is the house that made Miss McGowan cry As far as Your Mama is concerned it's not nearly private enough, lacks historic character and desperately needs the expensive talents of a nice, gay decorator to squeeze some stylish blood from this real estate turnip.

listing photos: Michael Andrew McNamara Photography for Prudential California Realty / Beverly Hills

Decorating Duo Roman And Williams List NYC Loft

SELLERS: Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $3,500,000
SIZE: Unknown square footage, 1-2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen chickens, not only are we feeling icky with a seriously sour vodka belly we've got various gifts to wrap, holiday bags to pack, an insurance company to argue with, and a couple of pooches to wrangle, not to mention our mean ol' pussy Sugar to deal with. Plus we've got our foodie friend Flower coming in from New York this afternoon, which means there's linens to launder, rugs to vacuum, a terlit or two to scrub and, finally, a reservation at Farmshop in Santa Monica that will require a nerve pill and pitched battle with sluggish rush hour cross-town traffic.

What we really need is the day off but rather than leave the children unexpectedly high and dry today, we've got a couple of celebrity real estate quickies. Let's start with the done done done–if not likely to everyone's liking–New York City loft apartment of Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, otherwise known as the hot hot hot designer/decorating duo of Roman and Williams.

Mister Alesch and Miz Standefer, former movie set designers, probably won't be household names for many tabloid and gossip glossy readers but anyone who has picked up a shelter publication in the last 5 or 8 years certainly knows exactly who they are. In addition to putting their special stamp on a number of du jour New York City hotels (Ace, The Standard, the lobby of the Royalton, the upcoming Willow on West 57th Street) and several dernier cri downtown eateries (Lyon, The Dutch) that cater to well-employed hipsters and other self-consciously cool types, Roman and Williams have done up posh private residences for scads of big shit showbizzers such as Kate Hudson, Gwynnie Paltrow and Chris Martin, and Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor for whom Mister Alesch and Miz Standefer have worked over at least four homes including the Los Angeles, CA mansion they recently sold to chisel-chinned actor and model dater Jason Statham.

Mister Alesch and Miz Standefer first listed their narrow, full-floor loft in NYC's once nitty gritty now impossibly chic and upscale NoHo nabe in early-July 2010 with a $3,500,000 asking price. The loft listing was discussed at that time by the EV Grieve blog and soon after by the kids at Curbed. Listing information indicates the price tag, which remains at $3,500,000, includes the furniture, curios, collectables and other assorted curated ephemera for which Roman and Williams are well known and which has been for the better part of the last ten years–for better and/or worse–their decorative calling card.

Property records are a big vague, we're afraid, but it looks to Your Mama like Miz Standefer and Mister Alesch scooped up the full floor loft in the white hot (and arguably over-gentrified) neighborhood sometime in 2005 for an undisclosed purchase price.

Listing information doesn't indicate the square footage but does show the slim fourth floor space as having 14 windows, four exposures with open southern and eastern views, direct elevator entry, 2 bedrooms, and just one bathroom. While it's true there's just one, albeit it exquisitely done bathroom, and it's obvious the "master" bedroom is tucked in to the rear of the loft with a walk-in closet, it's a bit of a stretch to call that fish bowl-like interior library a bedroom. Certainly it'll do in a pinch with an overnight guest who doesn't have pockets deep enough to shack up for the weekend at the nearby, terribly sheek and celebrity-stocked Bowery Hotel but without a damn closet or proper window to the outside it's an out-and-out punishment to make someone occupy the small, book-filled space as a full-time bedroom.

We haven't time to really dig into the curio-filled, idiosyncratic, and sumptuously moody day-core but we will say it's  many-layered things are lovely to look. However, as picture perfect (and decoratively up to date) as this loft may be the high-gloss ebony wood floor makes this a real challenge to anyone who might have dogs and/or wear shoes in the house. It would only take about a month for Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly to have those mirror-like jet black floors scratched up like an agitated toddler stuck in a stickery bougainvillea bush. We're also not too keen on the double glass doors in the (otherwise windowless) bathroom. We just prefer a more opaque assurance of privacy in the pooper, especially one that opens (wide) to public areas of the loft.

The married designer-decorators' for sale residence happens to be in the same pin-thin building where in May 2005, according to property records, much lauded and accomplished interior designer Bill Sofield sold a loft unit for $1,250,000 to tee-vee and movie actor (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Oz, Jurassic Park) and Tony-wining Broadway star BD Wong (M. Butterfly).

Your Mama really has no intel whatsoever about where Mister Alesch and Miz Standefer plan to set up house next though we'd bet a pony it's someplace nearby but significantly larger. What we do know is that the design world darlings also own a modestly-sized 2-bedroom cottage (above) just a short skip to the ocean in Montauk (NY) they bought, as per property records, in February 2006 for $1,400,000 and was featured in (and photographed for) the New York Times last year.

listing photos (New York City): Stribling
interior photos (Montauk): Roman and Williams

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Zynga Tycoon Mark Pincus Lists Two, Sells One: Part II

SELLER: Mark and Alison Pincus
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
PRICE: $8,900,000
SIZE: unknown square footage, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Sometime in 2009, the quickly getting wildly and filthy stinking rich Mark Pincus and his online retailing wife Ali(son) were in the real estate mood for something more substantial and much more expensive than the (as of today just about sold) starter crib in San Francisco's Cole Valley 'hood Your Mama dissed and discussed earlier in the day and last listed at $1,970,00.

Property records show in November 2009 Mister and Missus Pincus splashed out $8,100,000 to purchase the four-plus floor mansion smack in the heart of the very upscale and old money* enclave of Presidio Heights situated a bit southwest of the posh Pacific Heights 'hood in the few few leafy blocks immediately to the south of The Presidio.

The folks at real estate juggernaut Zillow speculated last week that Mister and Missus Pincus may never have actually occupied their Presidio Heights mansion and that safety issues–specifically related to a crazy-talking former stripper and filmmaker lady from Russia–in part prompted the Digital Age honchos to seek less accessible, more private and, ultimately, more secure residential circumstances. Online listing resources indicate the Pincus's Presidio Heights pad was pushed on the open market about a week before Halloween (2011) with a (still current) asking price of $8,900,000.

Current listing information shows towering house, set well back and up away from the street behind and above a two-car street level garage and secure gated entry, was originally built in 1937 and has clearly been recently and extensively updated, upgraded and modernized in a manner that befits a budding tech tycoon like Mark Pincus and his entrepreneurial design maven wife Ali(son).

No square footage is offered with listing information which does show the house has a total of 6 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, a count that includes a lower level staff suite. Two full flights of stairs between the street and the front door will likely turn off the lazy and/or glutially underdeveloped multi-millionaires who may otherwise appreciate the opulent but casual and quite colorful residence.

The foyer's old-school elegance as exampled by the black and white checked marble floor and the shimmering silver- (or maybe platinum-) leaf ceiling is offset with a mish-mash of potted plants and flowers and walls that glisten with vivacious high-gloss grass green paint. The formal living room with dark wood floors, wood burning fireplace and terrace access takes a more subtle peach-y palette while the formal dining room strikes a minimalist pose with eight metallic bamboo Chippendale-style chairs with deep blue velvet seats that surround a gigantic distressed dining table, a melodramatic all-white chandelier, a striking (if not particularly compelling) contemporary artwork or two, and a dramatic wall of curved and multi-paned floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors that open to the (mostly) symmetrical , painstakingly tailored, and (mostly private back yard.

The over-sized country-style center-island kitchen/family room has a white and glass-fronted custom cabinetry, vibrant lemon yellow subway tile back splashes, highest quality (and integrated) appliances, marble counter tops and a snack counter that separates the cooking area from the lounge and breakfast areas set into a full wall of curved and multi-paned windows and French doors like in the formal dining room that open directly to the backyard entertainment spaces.

The bedroom level encompasses four family bedrooms and a sizable garden-view master suite (below, top left and right)) with sitting area, Juliet balcony, fireplace (with flat-screen tee-vee mounted above), built in book and photo display shelves, and a decidedly feminine bathroom with barely there all-glass shower enclosure, two sink vanity with marble counter top and matching beveled mirrors, and a oval soaking tub that sits under an oval skylight.

Larger and even less formal family/media quarters and bedroom-sized wine-cellar on the lower level (below, top left and right) open out to the terrace space at the front of the house over the garage and a full-floor penthouse/attic level finished as sitting room (with fireplace) and office area with giant circular window (above, bottom right), perhaps the best vantage point in the house for a view over The Presidio towards the muscular tips of the Golden Gate Bridge.

A shallow stone terrace steps down a small grass patch resident pooches and other domestic animals will appreciate. A stone apron surrounds the lawn area that is in turn surrounded by a privacy promoting thicket of well trimmed bushes, hedges and trees. A wrought iron-railed stair runs along one side of the yard and connects to the lower and service areas of the house. Presumably this is how Juan the gardener gets the lawnmower and hedge clippers from his truck to the back yard.

*Old money is a relative term people, so before all you Euro-royals, Burke's Peerage snobs, and blue-blooded Mayflower descendants get all snippy and self-righteous about how old money simply does not exist in California, we ask that you hold your sassy tongues and recognize that Your Mama means old money as it relates to specifically to San Francisco's oldest, wealthiest and most discreet residents. Oh-kaahy?

listing photos:Sotheby's International Realty

Zynga Tycoon Mark Pincus Lists Two, Sells One

SELLERS: Mark and Alison Pincus
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
PRICE: $1,970,000
SIZE: 2,875 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just in case any of the children somehow missed the many discussions in all the other property gossip blogs and websites that previously discussed the following matters...

It was already a week ago now that the ever-industrious kids at Curbed in San Francisco revealed Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus and his design maven lady-mate Ali(son) Pincus had not just one but two multi-million dollar properties in San Francisco listed on the open market.

The fast-moving, sometimes controversial, and much-hyped–some might say over-hyped–Zynga makes (annoyingly addictive) digital games for smart phones and social networking sites like Facebook. Just about anyone over the age of two and under the age of 50 has probably been sucked in by a Zynga-made game such as CityVille, Mafia Wars, and the Scrabble-like Words With Friends, the very game that recently got actor Alec Baldwin in a ridiculous brouhaha with American Airlines. Anyone who reads the newspaper (and/or receives the news and "news" from any other media outlet) surely knows by now that last week Mister Pincus lucratively (but not, arguably, entirely successfully) took his four-year old Zynga public with a stratospheric 8.5 billion dollar market capitalization that has more than a few people wondering if Dot Com Bubble Number Two (or Three) might have already and somewhat quietly crept up on its zenith.

Ali(son) Pincus, a foodie and "digital media veteran" according to her corporate bio, is the co-founder and Chief Partnership Officer of One Kings Lane, a curated and by-invitation-only online retailer of home day-core that sells colorful decorative doo-dads and hoo-has that look pretty much like just about everything pictured in listing photographs of both the Pincus's San Francisco properties.

The larger of the two Pincus properties, which we'll address later, is a five-story mansion with a tech tycoon-sized asking price of $8,900,000. The other, a (too) highly-stylized and completely-contemporized spin on a classic 1940s San Francisco bungalow, was first listed in late September 2011 at $2,189,000 and endured a price chop in early November to $1,970,000. According to listing information on the real estate juggernaut Redfin, a purchase is "pending."

Property records indicate Mister and Missus Pincus will likely, depending on the final sale price, take a substantial loss on the property. They bought the attached house in the quiet and upscale Cole Valley 'hood in August 2005 for $2,850,000. A couple quick flicks of the busy beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that's $880,000 more than the current $1,970,000 price tag not counting carrying costs, renovation expenses and real estate fees.

The three-story Cole Valley crib, situated on a fairly steep street in a quiet and frequently foggy enclave in the shadows of Mt. Sutro and Twin Peaks, was originally built in 1940 and totally modernized in more recent years. Current listing information shows there are a total of 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in 2,875 square feet however a closer inspection of the floor plan provided with online marketing materials (above) shows in its current configurations there are, really, only two practical bedrooms, a smallish one awkwardly situated just off the kitchen and the penthouse level master suite.

At the street/entry level an actual driveway that will park one car stretches past a tiny front yard of precisely clipped boxwood bushes to a single car garage with smoked glass and aluminum doors, direct entry to the house, a small bay perfect for refuse and recycling bins, and an exercise wall, whatever that is. We don't probably care to exercise in the garage–or anywhere else for that matter–but we certainly understand the highly desired and rare urban luxury of both a private driveway and an enclosed garage space. That's two off-street parking spaces, puppies, in a city where just about anyone, even a well dressed woman, a shaggy bearded Burner, or a naked queen in the Castro, will shank a sumbitch over a long-term parking spot in one of the tightly packed residential neighborhoods that make up the center of The City.

Anyhoo, a long corridor links the foyer to the garage and to the rear end of the lowest level of the house that includes a laundry room large enough to garner the approval of our not-easy-to-please house gurl Svetlana, full but windowless bathroom (above lower left with horizontal chartreuse-striped walls and disharmonious white marble tile work), and a sizable, unconventionally-shaped room that opens through wide banks of windows and French doors to a small deck with sunken spa. Listing photos show the room (above lower right) inexplicably doing double duty as both a guest bedroom and a family room outfitted with built-in entertainment niche and ceiling-mounted projection television system with wide screen that magically drops from the ceiling at the touch of a button. To each their own–and even though we think this house is totally and completely staged from the One Kings Road warehouse–it seems counter-intuitive to put a bedroom set in with the family room stuff and it seems unrealistic that most homeowners/occupiers of a near-two million dollar home in San Francisco would devote this much prime interior real estate to a guest room in a large but hardly huge house.

The open plan main living and entertaining spaces on the second floor stretch from the front clear through to the back of the house and have the blondest of blond wood floors throughout. A triangular reading nook protrudes from the living area in to the surrounding tree tops and a fireplace anchors the room with inset flat screen mounted above the firebox and a bevy of built-in book shelves, display cases, and storage cabinets on either side.

The "formal" dining area at the center of the living/dining/kitchen space has a built in buffet that also functions as a guard rail for the stair and opens directly into the well-equipped u-plan kitchen complete with built-in breakfast banquette covered in an impractical white leather. Or, at least we think it's leather. It could be pleather or perhaps some other sort of high-cost/low-maintenance artificial material. We don't know and listing information isn't specific. Sleek, steely blue-grey flat-fronted cabinets topped with what looks like marble (but may be another material entirely) ring the sky-lit kitchen that's finished with a glimmery, high-glam black tile back splash, vintage-style pendant light, and good quality stainless steel appliances that include a four-burner baby Viking-brand range with commercial-style hood.

Just off the kitchen, behind where the refrigerator is situated, a short hall connects to the smallish but adequate if not-optimally located bedroom with street view and smallish but adequate closet. Missus Pincus pulled out all her decorative stops in the separate three-quarter hall/guest bathroom designed and styled with a glass enclosed shower, high-gloss black and frosted glass vanity cabinets, ebony counter tops, and walls sheathed in lurid, lustrous and decidedly decadent jet black faux-crocodile skin wallpaper. It's not a statement Your Mama would make but we suspect there are untold numbers who pee with glee over this sort of thing.

A glass-railed floating staircase climbs from the living/dining area to the third floor, an light-filled, window-lined space entirely devoted to the master suite (above) and complete with commodious bedroom. A curvaceous, wave-like arched wood ceiling opens the room up to long banks of over-sized windows that provide panoramic northern-plus views that encompasses distant but knee buckling glimpses of the famously vermilion towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately the master bedroom's view of the Golden Gate is over the disturbingly eye-level and alarmingly-close roof top terrace and access walkway that clings to the top of the neighbors house. Yes puppies, this means as long as the electronically-controlled shades in the Pincus pad are not drawn, the neighbor and/or any of their guests could, at any time of day or night, climb the steps to their roof terrace and in one direction take in a quintessential San Francisco view of the Golden Gate Bridge and in the opposite look directly and unmistakably into the whites of your damn eyes while you do the usually private things people do in their bedrooms: sleep, dress, fight and fornicate.

This egregious and obvious lack of privacy in the master bedroom, however, did not deter a buyer since, as already mentioned, the property is in escrow. The master suite also includes a walk-in closet and a small but airy and almost all white bathroom with pitched ceiling, separate terlit cubby with window, surprisingly small shower stall, and an entire wall of windows and sliding doors that open to one of the master bedroom's two private terraces. Anxious privacy seekers may find some relief in that the lower portion of the window in the shower and the sliding glass doors in the main part of the bathroom were frosted, obscuring everything below the shoulders or thereabouts.

Back on the main/middle floor a slim cantilevered deck off the living room/reading nook narrows over to a spiral staircase that curls tightly down to the aforementioned wee deck with sunken spa that extends off the lower level media room/bedroom. The fully fenced and landscaped low-maintenance backyard, undeniably generous for San Francisco or any other urban center, steps down from the spa deck to a meandering dining patio joined by stepping stones to second, cochlear terrace with fire pit ringed with a towering stand of bamboo, a couple of slender white birches and a trio of dignified redwood trees.

Stay tuned chickadoodles, we'll shortly have more about Mister and Missus Pincus' much larger and more grand but stylistically similar mansion in Presidio Heights 'hood currently and since late October 2011 listed at $8,900,000.

listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby's International Realty

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

UPDATE: Sandy Weill

 Your Mama suggests the children sit down and swaller a nerve pill because several reports from (reputable) New York City real estate gossip columns claim that very controversial former Citigroup CEO Sanford "Sandy" Weill sold–for the full asking price–the opulent New York City penthouse he slung on the open market with much hullabaloo just over a month ago with a glass shattering $88,000,000 price tag and a very public promise to donate the sale proceeds to unspecified philanthropic causes.

The first reports out of the New York Observer on Sunday pinned the prodigious purchase atop limestone sheathed 15 Central Park West on Russian chemist turned multi-billionaire potash potentate Dmitry Rybolovlev, a man who sold his multi-pronged fertilizer concern last year for around $6,500,000,000 and is said to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 9.5 billion bucks.

The folks at Forbes quickly followed up with an important (and flabbergasting) clarification: The Weill spread, 6,744 square feet of immaculate interior space with a wide terrace that wraps around three sides of the apartment with drop dead park and city views, was not actually purchased by Mister Rybolovlev but rather Ekaterina Rybolovleva, his horse-minded 22-year old second daughter, reportedly a resident of Monaco, a student at an unnamed U.S. University, and a competitive equestrian.

Forbes actually received a statement from young Miss Rybolovleva's representative(s) who revealed the barely legal heiress "plans to stay in the apartment when visiting New York." That's right, "when visiting." This pampered whippersnapper–a college student, mind y'all–just dropped a record breaking $88,000,000 on a god damn pied à terre.

This news comes on the heels of the $85,000,000 purchase of The Manor, showbiz widow Candy Spelling's severely bloated behemoth in Los Angeles acquired earlier in the year by 22-year old London-based Formula One racing heiress (and out-and-out real estate size queen) Petra Ecclestone. Doth we spot a budding real estate trend, children? College-aged scions with multiple part-time residences around the world that each cost more than the GDP of any number of nations in sub-Saharan Africa? Have mercy.

Whether an emerging real estate trend or not Your Mama smells a back story to the Rybolovlev(a) acquisition that we suspect has less to do with one globe-trotting über-heiress with a thing for pricey pieds à terre trying to outdo another globe-trotting über-heiress with a thing for pricey pieds à terre than it does an exceedingly wealthy international businessman managing his vast fortune in a manner advantageous to his jam-packed pocketbook and swollen real estate portfolio.

We don't know a roller coaster from a dirt clod but we can imagine this pricey procurement could be a good thing for Mister Rybolovlev's tax situation, an easy place to park a substantial amount of cash or possibly have something to do with the ongoing divorce battle with his soon to be ex-wife Elena who has requested the Swiss courts grant her half of everything he's got including the keys and deed to Maison La Amitie, the grotesquely opulent, 33,000 square foot ocean front residence in Palm Beach, FL for which Mister Rybolovlev paid Donald Trump $95,000,000 in cold hard cash back in the summer of 2008.

Mister Weill and his wife Joan coughed up $43,687,750–or $42,405,000 depending on where one looks–for the Robert A.M. Stern designed and Mica Ertegun decorated penthouse at 15 Central Park West back in August 2007. At the time it was one of the highest amounts paid per square foot for a private residence in Manhattan. The single-level, mansion-sized penthouse carries, according to listing information we peeped, monthly maintenance fees and taxes that total $13,824.

A few quick flicks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that Mister Weill now has $44,312,250–or $45,595,000–less capital gains and no-doubt substantial real estate fees to donate to the charity or charities of his choice.

As far as we know Mister and Missus Weill continue to own and maintain a much smaller apartment on a much lower floor at 15 Central Park West, a significant estate in big money Greenwich, CT, a camp in the Adirondacks, and a nearly 400 acre spread in Sonoma, CA they scooped up in October 2010 for (a reported) $31,000,000.

floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens

Monday, December 19, 2011

Barbi Benton Lists Los Angeles Dream House

SELLERS: Barbi Benton and  George Gradow
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $11,950,00,000
SIZE: 11,608 square feet,

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: While hanging around Your Mama's momma Goose's crib over the weekend we honed in on a sizable estate high in the mountains above Los Angeles' Bel Air 'hood that's been on and off the market for quite some time and is currently listed with an asking price of $11,950,000. The contemporary compound, according to property records and other online resources, is owned by former Playboy model-slash-(h)actress Barbi Benton and mobile home park mogul George Gradow.

Miz Benton, now a bit of a high-camp icon, hasn't really been relevant in the entertainment industry for decades. Her brunette-haired salad days were, of course, the 1970s and 80s when she several times appeared with her naughty bits out in the glossy pages of Playboy and lived for nearly 10 years in unmarried sin with soft-porn purveyor Hugh Hefner. Not surprisingly, she was a dewy 19 and he a Viagra-free 43 when they hooked up. Missus Gradow-Benton–née Klein–eventually parlayed her nekkid modeling in to a regular role as a hayseed on Hee Haw, went on to a pretty forgettable career as a country music singer, and later became a staple on both Love Boat and Fantasy Island, where b- and c-list showbizzers went to make a few pennies and sunset their lackluster careers. Settle down now. We're not trying to be awful and snide. We don't make the rules in Tinseltown, we just calls 'em as we sees them. Anyhoo, not long after Miss Benton and Mister Hefner went splitsville she married the much more conventional real estate tycoon George Gradow whose claim to fame–or, rather, infamy–came many years later in the early-Naughts when he was convicted and sent to a federal pokey after he fessed up to doctoring financial documents in an effort to defraud and mislead the I.R.S.

After they married in the late 1970s Miz Benton and Mister Gradow shacked up in high style on a gated, privately situated six-acre estate in sleepy (and somewhat staid) Pasadena, CA with a quarter-mile long palm tree-lined driveway, massive multi-winged mansion, rolling lawns dotted with mature specimen trees, and the requisite swimming pool and tennis court. Property records show the couple sold the estate in mid-1990 for $3,700,000.

We're not quite sure where the couple bedded down in Los Angeles between when they sold their Pasadena palace in 1990 and 2003 or '04 when they bought a big-ass modern mansion just off legendary Mulholland Drive high above the natty and nabob-y Bel Air 'hood. Property records are a bit vague but as best as Your Mama can tell Mister and Missus Gradow acquired the star-style compound through a corporate entity in either late 2003 for $7,000,000 or in March 2004 (through a corporate entity) for an undisclosed amount.

The Gradows have actually had the property on and off the market several times at various prices since September 2008–shortly after Mister Gradow was released from federal prison–when it landed with a dull thud on the open market with an asking price of $17,500,000. Redfin reveals the 2.75 acre estate was last heaved on to the open market in mid-July 2011 with an asking price of $11,950,000. In early October the price dropped to $10,950,000 but two months later, in late November, the price inexplicably jumped back up to its current $11,950,000.

The gated compound runs along the precipitous ridge of a private promontory with an almost entirely unobstructed view from downtown over Hollywood and Beverly Hills, past the towers of Century City and across the flat expanse of the West Side until it abruptly dead ends into the Pacific Ocean. A giant roof top terrace actually provides even more comprehensive 360-degree views that tackle and taken in the San Fernando Valley.

The Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the boxy, collection-filled main manse has 4 bedroom and 7 bathrooms in 11,608 square feet while current listing information shows 15,270 square feet with a total of 8 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. In addition to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the main house, the larger figures encompass (but do not fully account for) the detached 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom guest house and the separate 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom staff residence.

We're not sure who designed the all-white and all but unadorned residential structure, built in 1990 according to tax records and listing information, but first impressions upon arrival to the front motor court makes Your Mama think it might be an male architect who operates–or operated–in the same architectural vein as minimal minded modern masters–or "masters" depending on your proclivities, preferences and points of view–like 1984 Pritzker Prize winner Richard Meier.

An opening in a vast white wall connects the front motor court to a more intimate rear motor court with 3-car attached garage. All-glass front doors set into the winter-white front façade swing open to a capacious double-height entrance hall with stone tiles on the floor, twin staircases on opposite ends of the room that meet in an arched second-floor balcony, and a woozy-making ceiling with sculptural, dog bone-shaped detail. The airy cream-colored space leads into a decidedly voluminous "formal" living room with fireplace that has more in common size-wise with a hotel lobby than it does most ordinary peoples' living rooms. Towering place anchor and define various sitting areas and natural light floods the room through a checkerboard pattern skylight. Like in the entry and throughout the entire house, the couples considerable and sometimes visually cacophonous art and crafts collections hang on the walls, stand on the floor, and pepper the flat sufaces.

Other rooms that pinwheel off the main living room include a library with fireplace ringed by high-shine paneling and built-in bookshelves, a separate room equipped with full-sized and fully stocked u-shaped bar, a banquet hall-like dining room that seats 32 diners at four seriously high-gloss burled wood dining tables, and a tee-vee nook with built in cabinetry and entertainment center and an entire wall of glass that opens to a long allée that connects the main house to the swimming pool and spa and beyond that a self-contained pool/guest house. Normally we discuss a bit of the day-core but we can not bear to to approach the haphazard "screen" of potted plants that separates the main living room from the tee-vee nook nor will we touch with a ten foot pole that mortifying quintet of cawkee-colored electrified recliner-loungers.

The eat-in kitchen has a generous breakfast area lined with mirrored Biedermeier-style cabinetry, French doors with city views and dining terrace access, and an L-shaped center island with a snack bar at one end and a second but elevated snack bar at the other. The gleaming, finely tailored upper and lower cabinets have entirely flat fronts and lack hardware, the counter tops are a lustrous flecked  ebony, and the appliances up-to-date and high end.

At least one of the guest/family bedrooms is furnished with intricately painted Mexican folk art furniture and has walls and ceilings completely covered in a hand painted cloud pattern we find so cockamamie and egregious we fail to find a pithy remark.

The master bedroom, larger than Your Mama's entire house it seems, encompasses a conference hall-sized space with party-friendly sitting area, two fireplaces, half a dozen or more gigantic square windows to take in the rugged canyons and sparkling lights, curving walls that swoop in to embrace the bed, and a set of relatively prosaic French doors that access a private terrace. There are dual streamline moderne-tinged bathrooms with black granite (or some other fancy black stone) detailing and at least one, boutique-y dressing room lined with glass fronted closets for protecting but still displaying clothing and footwear.

Back on the main floor, several rooms open out to multiple terraces with canyon and city views and an entire wall of glass in the tee-vee nook disappears into the walls and opens the room to a long, up lit allée carpeted with thick lawn and lined with trimmed shrubbery and partially shaded by a variety of well-tended, mature specimen trees. The lawn gives way to the stone (or maybe it's stamped concrete) terrace that surrounds the sunken spa and swimming pool. Beyond the swimming pool a guest house/pool pavilion has building-wide set of steps that climb from the pool deck to an open air covered porch.

The Benton-Gradow's Bel Air spread sits between Usra Major, the angular and melodramatic former Wilt Chamberlain mansion, and a 9,951 square foot residence once- and long-owned by now-deceased poster babe Farrah Fawcett and currently held in the luxury property portfolio of international superstar-new mommy-songstress Mariah Carey and her man-mate Nick Cannon.

Mister Gradow and Miz Benton have long split their time between Tinseltown compound and Aspen, CO where in the late 1980s they custom built an ultra-contemporary (approximately) 25,000 square foot mega-mansion they dubbed the Copper Palace (above). The house, located on 40 pristine acres in the snazzy Starwood enclave overlooking the Roaring Fork Valley, was designed by organically-minded and wildly imaginative Albuquerque-based architect Bart Prince. The truly one-of-a-kind house, which looks almost nothing like what most people think of when they think of a house, encompasses a handful of dramatically cantilevered pods that contain 6 bedrooms suites (including a mirrored master with circular bed that rotates 360-degrees at the touch of a button), a family kitchen plus an industrial-scaled catering one too, a disco with disco ball, a domed, multi-colored screening room, gym and massage rooms, and his and her indoor lap pools. Miz Benton and Mister Gradow's nearest neighbor in Aspen is Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia who some years ago had his hotel-sized ski house on the market with an asking price of $135,000,000.

In the spring of 2001 Miz Benton and Mister Gradow unsuccessfully attempted to unload their futuristic hillside house with an asking price of $25,000,000. The house did not sell but they do offer the property up as a vacation rental for an undisclosed amount of money.

listing photos (Los Angeles): Rodeo Realty
listing photos (Aspen): Aspen Holiday Homes