Monday, April 30, 2012

Electro-pop Pioneer Gary Numan Sells U.K. Country House and Decamps to Santa Monica (CA)

SELLER: Gary Numan
LOCATION: Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex, UK
PIRCE: £995,000
SIZE: 3,789 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: There are scads of a-listers and pop stars currently making waves amongst all the celebrity real estate gossip columns. Take for example Katy Perry's (alleged) recent sale of the New York City duplex love nest she briefly shared with soon-to-be ex-husband Russell Brand and Mister Barry Manilow re-listing his ocean front contemporary in Malibu, CA at a $6,995,000 price tag after first listing it in early 2009 at the substantially higher $12,600,000.

Your Mama opts instead this morning to turn away from the cavalcade of reality tee-vee stars and high-polish Tinseltown celebs and dip into our own well of musical nostalgia in order to discuss the arguably influential if somewhat esoteric music industry touchstone Gary Numan who, we learned via a covert communique received over the weekend from I.M. Alittlebirdie, owns a house in the English countryside currently on the market with an asking price of £995,000.

(A quick consultation with Your Mama's currency conversion contraption shows the £995,000 guide price for Mister Numan's small estate, situated about 1.5 hours drive from Buckingham Palace in bucolic Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex, converts to $1,617,770 at today's rates.

Mister Numan—née Webb—may not have a recognizable name like more current music industry heavy hitters Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and still-spooky Marilyn Manson, who both cite Mister Numan as an influence, but once upon a time the peculiar musician was an important pioneer in the post-punk electro-pop genre that bubbled up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Commercially the oddly mannered, angsty, aloof and somewhat otherworldly Mister Numan—who may or may not have some shade of Asperger's Syndrom—was, in reality, a bit of a one or two-hit-wonder but his hard-driving yet ethereal, synthesizer-based compilations were unquestionably part of what was then a sub-pop-cultural zeitgeist and he continues to make critically acclaimed if not exactly commercially successful industrial-edged music.

Surely even some of the children under 40 recognize his 1979 number one hit Cars, a swooping and swooning ditty that sounds to Your Mama like the noise plastic would make if plastic could make noise and—believe it or not—sometimes pops up on the shuffle of Your Mama's iMagiggythingamabob.

As a slight aside: Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor is an on-the-record appreciator of Mister Numan's contribution to the music scene and at least once in 2009 Mister Numan made a surprise appearance on stage with NIN to perform a suped-up and soul-shaking version of Cars. Have mercy, butter beans, we could watch Mister Reznor work that tambourine all damn day long but that's a bit T.M.I. and of zero consequence to the matter at hand, isn't it?

Anyhoo, listing information and marketing materials forwarded by I.M. Alittlebirdie indicate the two story (plus attic) residence sits on 7.6 gated, partially sylvan acres and contains 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in 3,789 square feet of interior space all of which is depicted in listing photographs (and a 2007 article in The Independent) as marinated in an idiosyncratically monochromatic and corporeal color spectrum that meanders from blood red to fleshy coral to straight-up Pepto-Bismal pink.

Don't misjudge Your Mama's sass and flabbergast about Mister Numan's color choices because we are hardly opposed to the color pink as a decorative option. Any of of our many b.f.f.s who used to visit Your Mama back in the olden days when we occupied a just-about-dirt-cheap, rent-stabilized two-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of New York can verify there was a large wall behind a ticky-tacky, $2 gas stove in our postage stamp-sized kitchen that was for many years painted a particularly saccharine and not-quite-right shade of bubble gum pink. It was rather fetching if a tad bit alarming but worked, we thought, because it such a small dose. That said, any and every day of the damn week we'd much prefer to look at pictures of this unquestionably quirky and deeply personal innards-hued country house in the U.K. than a wrist-slittingly banal, all-beige, faux-Tuscan/mock-Med mcmansion in some upscale, cookie cutter gated development in some upscale, cookie cutter suburban enclave.

Of course, the furniture and slightly sinister, quasi-Gothic day-core will go with Mister Numan, his wife Gemma and their three unusually named daughters Raven, Persia and Echo whence they vacate the premises. And, of course, the pink-, salmon- and tomato-colored walls can be quickly painted to any color more suited to the new owner's preferences. Less easy (and more costly) to change is the structure itself, a U-shaped residence originally built in the 1920s, later expanded according to listing information and dubbed Weavers Cottage.

The pink stucco and cedar-shingled cottage-style exterior gives way to a double-height reception hall/foyer with wood floors and a curved, floating staircase lined with swords of one sort or another. The fleshy pink walls and ceiling make a lurid if amusing backdrop for a mix-and-match group of potted plants and flowers that include the exact kind of fresh cut lilies that remind Your Mama of funerals. Tucked under the stairs stands an unexpectedly friendly-looking taxidermy white Alaskan timber wolf.

A set of double doors connect to a spacious but uncomfortably low-ceiling drawing room with multiple seating areas, a hulking brick fireplace with a massive maw of a fire box, and a bank of multi-mullioned French doors that open to the south-facing terrace tucked into the shallow courtyard of the U-shaped house.

Beyond the drawing room (and up a few steps up) there's a storage closet, small study and a second sitting room/den with hot pink short shag wall-to-wall carpeting, rich red walls and (low) ceiling, tapestry-like drapery, a couple of wall-mounted bas reliefs of Buddha (or some other Thai or Hindu god we can't identify), and a most-unusual, riveted leather and velvet brocade sectional sofa in soft shades of blood and cooked tongue.

A surprisingly wee formal dining room furnished with carved wood dining set that looks straight out of The Lord of the Rings connects the principal drawing room to the eat-in country kitchen painted pretty close to the same chalky pink color of—you got it—Pepto-Bismol and equipped with Indian slate tile on the floor, polished butcher block counter tops, a deep farmhouse sink, and a two-oven Aga range set into a deep, brick-lined niche. An adjoining boot/laundry room allows for easy access to the backyard and barbecue.

The gracefully curved staircase in the foyer ascends to a second floor gallery that over looks the foyer and leads and off of which open the three, unspeakably narrow three guest/family bedrooms that share a windowed hall bathroom with free-standing soaking tub/shower. At the far end of the hall, set best for privacy from the other three bedrooms, the bi-level master suite encompasses a dressing area, walk-in closet and bedroom area described by Mister Numan in The Independent in 2007 as "very calm and relaxing" with dark red walls, "lots of low glitter lights," and "a huge Louis XIV bed that dominates the space."

A narrow, hidden staircase climbs up to a garret-like attic space with what appear to be a couple of sky lights. The floor plan included with various online listings and marketing materials labels the space a "games room" but would certainly be suitable for use as storage or living space for a live-in domestic.

A wide, stone terrace extends off the back of the house and overlooks the bucolic gardens and grounds that encompass, according to listing information, sweeping expanses of lawn bordered by mature trees and thick, sylvan woodland, formal gardens, some fruit trees, a picturesque stream spanned by a wood bridge that connects to several paddock and various ponds.

Although in 2007 Mister Numan told The Independent he "...could never live in a city. There's too much noise—I'm too vulnerable and it's too unpredictable. You are very much at the mercy of other people. When I have space and peace, I can think and write." He seems to have changed his mind about that because, shortly after the devastating London riots in August 2011, rumors and reports began to circulate Mister Numan—somewhat reclusive, a little xenophobic, and socio-politically Libertarian-like—planned to decamp to the sunny streets of notoriously politically correct but not exactly rural Santa Monica, CA, an often traffic-jammed Los Angeles beach community he described last year to the U.K.'s Daily Record through rose-tinted glasses as "not having one bit of trouble and not one surly or aggressive person there." Your Mama suggests Mister Numan visit the Santa Monica pier on any sunny weekend—lots of volatile looking young people—or try to snag one of those obscenely puny parking spots behind Santa Monica Seafood on any Saturday at noon and he'll see just how aggressive and surly a Prius-driving Santa Monican can really be. Seriously.

If the space desiring and security-minded Mister Numan does decide to decamp to Santa Monica, Your Mama regrets to inform him he may be hard pressed to find a property suitable to his needs and desires, at least one anywhere near the same price range as the East Sussex spread he's currently listed at what amounts to just over $1.6 million. There are, according to Trulia, a paltry handful of properties priced under two million (American) dollars in the much coveted (and shockingly expensive 90402 zip code that encompasses the number streets north of Montana Avenue and down into the leafy lanes of the scenic Santa Monica and Rustic Canyons.

listing photos and floor plan: Strutt & Parker

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shoe Tycoon Sells Villa Stella to Former Ambassabor (And A Few Other Related Things)

listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International

SELLER: Lisa and Donald J. Pliner
BUYER: Trudy and Paul Cejas
LOCATION: Miami Beach, FL
PRICE: $14,325,000
SIZE: 10,160 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We really can't say what their future real estate plans may be but it appears to Your Mama that shoe and accessories tycoon Donald J. Pliner and his co-executive creative director wife Lisa in the mood to lighten their luxury property portfolio.

Last June (2011) they quickly unloaded a mid-floor condo in a full-service high-rise building on Los Angeles' Wilshire Boulevard—more on that later—and this month, after at least a year on the market, the casually- but expensively-dressed, high-gloss couple sold their Miami Beach, FL mansion for $14,325,000 to Cuban-born/Miami-based businessman Paul Cejas, a famously close crony of both Bill & Hill Clinton and the former ambassador to Belgium.

Property records show Mister and Missus Pliner paid $11,800,000 for their essentially Moroccan-style estate on Miami Beach's star-stocked Star Island in October 2004, the same year, it turns out, Mister P. was inducted into the Footwear News Hall of Fame.

When the good people at Luxist discussed Mister and Missus Pliner's casually opulent mansion in March 2011, Villa Stella, as the property is dubbed, was listed with what we now know in hind-sight to be a rather rose-colored price tag of $24,000,000. We're not sure what the last asking price put on Villa Stella was but a few quick clicks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus reveals, in the end, Mister and Missus Pliner opted to hack an eye-popping 40% off their original asking price in order to get the deal done with Mister and Missus Cejas.

Mister Pliner, back in his good-lookin' youth, owned a few high-end retail shops in Beverly Hills, CA before launching his an eponymous product line that now encompasses shoes, handbags, and accessories. A number of years ago Mister Pliner branched out into accoutrement for pooches called BabyDoll Pliner, after the Pliner family's fluffy white Maltese named—you got it—BabyDoll Pliner. Supermodel slender wife Lisa Pliner works side-by-side with Mister P. and, according to the company's website, inserts her "artist's vision into the designs, colors and textures" of each new collection. We're not sure which of these two first thought this was a good idea.

Anyhoo, the undeniably successful shoe sellers purchased Villa Stella—a sort of Moroccan-Italianate mish-mash built in 2000 and painted a daring, chalky azure—from a couple sur-named Ifergane. In 2005, after the property was damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, Mister and Missus Pliner saw fit to file a lawsuit against the Iferganes that asserted they were victims of fraud because, the Pliners claimed, the Iferganes sold them Villa Stella without, as is legally required, disclosing that some of the windows (allegedly) leaked. Natch, the Iferganes lawyered up and got busy with their brass legal tacks. At least one article on the lawsuit reveals the Iferganes had previously leased the property to both Gordon Sumner—a.k.a. Sting—and Denzel Washington, neither of whom reported any leaky windows; Neither did a local real estate agent who showed the house 50 times, including during rain storms. Long story short the Pliner's lawsuit was tossed out—or whatever the legal term is—in spring 2008 as a "sham."
Gigantic driveway gates with lattice-like iron grill work set into a massive Moroccan keyhole-shaped arch part to reveal a short, double-height arched tunnel that connects through to a party-sized motor court paved with bricks painstakingly laid in a herringbone pattern. Listing information claims upwards of 15 cars can be parked in the motor court plus 8 more can be stashed in the various detached and attached garages, at least two of which are luxuriously air conditioned.

Another extra-tall Moroccan arch with glass and iron grill work doors open to the mansion's airy foyer defined by a shiny inlaid tile floor, a series of extraordinarily high archways, a number of carved wood columns, and a gigantic glass-topped table thick with framed family photographs.

Various listings we dug up online indicate the interiors have high-end finishes that include Venetian stucco walls, imported limestone and Brazilian cherry floors, and lofty ceilings that in the main living room soar upwards of 30 feet to a dome that took south Florida-based muralist Yves Lanthier six months to hand paint. The easy-breezy (and probably very expensive) day-core feels like a colorful mash-up of African safari meets Moroccan souk meets Balinese seaside resort mixed with some New-Age American southwest and medium dose of South Beach boo-teek hotel sprinkled on the top.

In addition to the cavernous main living room with it's hand painted dome, the Pliner cum Cejas mansion on Star Island has a banquet hall-sized dining room with arched windows and an elk antler chandelier, a library, and a billiard room.

Listing information shows the house has 5 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms. Downstairs there is a staff room (with bath) and garden-view guest suite while upstairs there are two guest/family chambers plus and capacious master suite with chunky, stenciled wood beams across the soaring ceiling. At leaston of the his and her bathrooms is outfitted with glinting floors and counter tops inlaid with glinting semi-precious stones, a multiple head shower, heated towel racks, and a lipstick red whirlpool tub. Did y'all get that? A lipstick red whirlpool tub. We. Are. Speechless. Did anyone know such a thing even existed before today?

Your Mama didn't find any mention of closet space or dressing rooms in any of the (online) listings we perused, but it's probably pretty safe to assume these two footwear and accessory designers fashioned custom closets and dressing rooms for their master suite that may (or may not) include necessities like bejeweled sandal cabinets, retractable purse racks, and beaded men's slipper drawers, not to mention a state-of-the-art, automated computer system that catalogs every shoe, shirt, every everything and tracks when said shoes, shirt, handbags, or any anything gets worn.

A window-enclosed rooftop conservatory—accessed, we think but can not say for sure, by a slender spiral staircase, has views over the mansion rooftops of Star Island to Miami proper and over the sparkly Biscayne Bay towards the apartment towers that line the western shore of South Beach.

Lush, tropical landscaping and a wide herringbone pattern brick terrace encircles a dy-no-mite, keyhole-shaped saltwater swimming pool and nearby spa. At the bay's edge an octagonal open-air pavilion shades a built-in barbecue center/wet bar and lounge and an L-shaped deep-water dock extends into Biscayne Bay from the 100-foot bulk headed waterfront.

The Pliner cum Cejas spread sits just down and around from Star Island estates owned by Sean Combs (a.k.a. P. Diddle, Daddy Puffer or Diddy Don't or whatever), the Queen of Latin Pop Gloria Estefan, and lip-flapping comedienne Rosie O'Donnell who hoisted her 11 bedroom and 12.5 crapper compound on the market a few weeks ago with an asking price of $19,500,000. Shaquille O'Neal sold his Star Island mansion in June 2009 for $16,000,000 to Russian multi-billionaire Vladislav Doronin, otherwise known as Naomi Campbell's unusually handsome, decidedly beau-hunky, and technically still married man-friend who embarked on a full-scale renovation of every square inch of the mansion and grounds.

Previous to buying the Star Island estate they just sold to Paul Cejas, Mister and Missus Pliner maintained a Bal Harbour penthouse condo at the so-called Majestic Tower bought in August 1999 for $100,000 and sold in May 2005 for $2,400,000.

photos: Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills North

In June 2011, as we touched upon earlier, Mister and Missus Pliner sold a 2 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom condo at The Remington along the tower-lined Wilshire Corridor in Los Angeles, CA (building shown above). Property records and other online documentation shows Mister and Missus Pliner purchased the 2,400-ish square foot condo in September 2002 for $1,350,000, listed it in March 2011 for $1,695,000 and sold it within a month for $1,350,000 to Irvin and Joan Levy of Houston and Dallas, Texas.

Paul Cejas and wife Trudy, the buyers of Mister and Missus Pliner's fantasy land on Star Island, are frequently mentioned in the real estate gossip columns in south Florida and New York City where in May 2010 they sold a 10-room apartment in at the hoity-toity and high-toned 834 Fifth Avenue. The buyer, Swiss security ink mogul Maurice Amon, paid $15,000,000 for the spacious two bedroom and 3.5 bathroom unit that includes an two additional (and tiny staff) bedrooms with shared bathroom tucked up behind the kitchen.

photos and floor plan: Prudential Douglas Elliman

A few months later they went on to spend $5,601,000 on an 11th floor apartment at the supah-swank Carlyle House. The park view apartment has—or had at the time of the sale—a private elevator landing, marble foyer, and sunken living room with 13-foot ceiling, corner fireplace, and elaborate wedding-cake moldings. The floor plan included with listing information also indicates a formal dining room, paneled library, windowed kitchen with laundry facilities, and a master bedroom with three walk-in closets and a dressing room plus. There's an additional guest suite with private bathroom plus a prison cell-sized staff room with closet-sized attached bathroom. Residents/owners of apartments at Carlyle House pay exceedingly high monthly maintenance—$6,011 per month for the Cejas unit, according to listing information at the time of the sale—that in addition to all the usual white glove services (porters, doormen, security, etc) provides access to the the hotel's fitness center, spa, room and laundry services.

photo: Bing

Mister and Missus Cejas have already off-loaded their old Miami-area estate, a 2.71 acre water front spread on insanely exclusive and punishingly expensive Indian Creek Island (above). The buyer, idiosyncratic, transcendental meditating hedge fund honcho Edward S. Lampert, paid somewhere near $40,000,000 for the property, so the property gossip goes, that includes a coral-colored, custom-built 17,000 square foot Italian mansion with 7 bedrooms, a reflecting pool and an arrival court.

photo: Bing

Mister Lampert, in case anyone might be curious, resides in a large mansion on a fully landscaped waterfront parcel (above) in Greenwich's über-fancy Belle Haven enclave where his neighbors include Her Highness Diana Ross and slew of other financial fat cats like Paul Tudor Jones, Peter Briger Jr., Israel Englandeer and Ray Dalio who heads up Bridgewater Associates, one of the if not the largest hedge fund in the world.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Former Mattel CEO Jill Barad (Re-)Lists Barbie-free Sunset Boulevard Mansion

SELLER: Jill and Thomas Barad
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA (Brentwood)
PRICE: $11,250,000
SIZE: 9,393 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: This may be the mansion Barbie built but there is, as far as Your Mama's boozy peepers can see, nary a narrow-waisted Barbie doll to be seen anywhere on the premises. We do spy a cigar store Indian and a profusion of other dolls, statuettes, portraits and figurines but not even a whisper of Barbie or Barbie-ness except maybe for the tiger-stripe stair runner in the foyer and the wall-to-wall leopard print carpeting in the game/exercise room.

Then again, this house, recently (re-)listed at $11,250,000, is in Los Angeles where it's hardly unusual for animal prints and fabrics to be used as an interior decoratin' mo-teef in large and traditionally opulent high end abodes in or near the Platinum Triangle.

Could be the mansion's owner Jill Barad long ago put that Barbie business to bed and we're just barking up the wrong and long-dead tree in order for a cheap and easy angle. Could be, yes, but onward we press none-the-less.

Missus Barad, herself once a bit of a brunette bombshell glamor puss, dontcha know, worked her way up the corporate ladder at Barbie maker Mattel, ignoring the proverbial glass ceiling all the way. In 1997 she became the Chanel-suited powerhouse CEO known for her keen ability to spot, package and monetize fast-moving trends in popular culture. Alas, her tenure at the top of the multi-national toy-making conglomerate came to a quick and abrupt end when she resigned in early 2000. The previous year, it seems, Missus Barad green-lighted the $3.5 billion acquisition of a company that hemorrhaged money at a (reported) rate of $700,000 to a million dollars a day and Mattel's stock price quickly plummeted more than 65%. The shareholders and board tend not to like when things like this happen and Missus Barad was ushered out the door, but not before she was politely and generously granted a fat severance package (reportedly) worth $50,000,000.

We're not exactly sure what Missus Barad has been up to the last dozen or so years since her tenure as at the top of Mattel went up in smoke. We seriously doubt a go-getter like Missus Barad would, but she certainly could afford to sit around and eat bon bons all day with her husband and kids. At least that's probably what we'd do with a fifty million dollar post-firing payout: sit around, talk on the phone, pick at our hideously callused heels and eat bon bons by the pool.

This isn't the first time Missus Barad and her Mister—very part-time movie producer Thomas K. Barad (Crazy People in 1990 and Open Window in 2006have attempted to ride the bronco at this particular real estate rodeo. In June 2010 they briefly listed their Sunset Boulevard mansion at an unknown asking price and in February 2011 it was re-listed at $12,900,000 then quickly de-listed after a price cut in June (2011). In early March (2012) the property popped back up with its current price tag of $11,250,000.

Property records aren't as thorough as we might hope but at least one database we perused shows Mister and Missus Barad spent $725,000 for the property over the summer of 1987. It's not clear if at the time of the sale the 24,119 square foot parcel had an existing house. What is more clear, based on various online listings and property records, the existing mansion was built in 1991 or 1992.

In March 1998, Mister and Missus Barad dropped $1,500,000 for the two northeasterly adjacent parcels, 24,389 and 11,326 square feet respectively. The additional lots brought their entire Bel Air-adjacent spread up to 1.37 acres. Tucked behind a high hedge between the house and the half-acre(ish) flat lawn next door Your Mama spots a construction trailer, both an eyesore and hint that Mister and Missus Barad may (or may not) have planned to further develop the undeveloped parcels in such a way as to seamlessly combine the three contiguous parcels into one cohesive estate that jives with the existing, carefully landscaped grounds that surround the residence.

Listing information shows the mock-Med mansion, set above a screaming s-curve of Sunset Boulevard and all but hidden by a gorgeous chorus line of jacaranda trees and wrought iron driveway gates, was designed by architect Steve Giannetti, measures a stately 9,393 square feet and contains 6 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, including a multi-level master wing with sitting room marble bathroom where a soaking tub is set into a shelf in set into a wide bay lined with squashed-looking windows.

A center foyer impresses guest and FedEx delivery people alike with it's marble tile floor, capacious double-height ceiling and loopy, wave-like pattern of the wrought iron banisters. The essentially conventional lay out provides for all the customary and expected, well-proportioned rooms such as formal living and dining rooms, and a fairly formal library/den with glossy wood paneled walls, built-in book cases, Parquet de Versailles-style hardwood floors, wedding-caked coffered ceiling, 19th century French fireplace mantel, and a flat screen tee-vee tucked up into a niche above the two-seat wet bar.

Slightly less formal is a family room with carved stone fireplace and high arched French doors and a little more less formal still is an especially spacious, mixed-use game/exercise room with shallow vaulted ceiling and window-lined (and curtain swagged) nook perfect for a bridge or poker table. There's plenty of room in the middle and around the edges for a big, brown sofa, a fringe-pocketed pool table with—much to Your Mama's flabbergast—a bunch of crap stowed underneath on a tarp or blanket, a pair of old-school console video games, and a variety of exercise contraptions that may (or may not) be a treadmill, stair-stepper and/or—dear Jeezis!—and elliptical thingamajig.

Listen chickens, Rule No. 77 in Your Mama's Big Book of Decoratin' Dos and Don'ts is quite explicit when it informs and educates those who absolutely must have exercise equipment in their home than it must be kept in a separate room or other space tucked way from every other living area of the house. Let's get real, babies, no one with any dignity or a single shred of style thinks it's cute to have a medicine ball in the breakfast room, a stationary bicycle shoved up next to the bed in the guest bedroom, or a set a free weights in the god damn dining room. That's because, of course, it ain't cute.

Anyhoo, current listings we've seen on the interweb don't include a single photograph of the kitchen, not usually a very good sign when it comes to the condition or quality of the cookery. Usually if it's not pictured it's because it could knock the wart off a witch with its ugly. However, do note listing information describes the kitchen as "gourmet...with Sub-Zero, Viking and Thermadore appliances," which sounds pretty nice even though we'd bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly it's not done up in a manner that matches our own admittedly opinionated and narrow tastes.

The backyard isn't exactly tiny but not particularly big either with a long terrace that runs between the back of the house and a plush, deep-pile carpet of bright green lawn. At one corner of the lawn there appears to Your Mama to be a topiary in the shape of a big ol' lion. Yes, that's right, a topiary lion just outside and in full view of the paneled library/den. How very whimsical and ornamentally aristocratic is that? Anyhoo, an elevated circular spa set into a semi-circular limestone niche anchors one end of the lawn and an octagonal open-air pavilion with built-in barbecue station the other. The especially long and narrow swimming pool nestles into the thickly planted slope behind the house that's held back by a substantial, curved limestone retaining wall festooned with a handful of carved stone lion's head fountains that dribble and spit water into the pool in an arched and most elegant fashion.

We have no idea if Missus Barad maintains a private museum and/or secret stash of rare Barbies in a temperature controlled vault secured by retina scan and only accessible through a hidden panel in the master bathroom but wouldn't that be absolutely mortifying and magnificent at the same time if she did? A kind of awful blessing that would, we think, make so many feel so much better about their anemic retirement plans and faux-Baroque bathroom vanity cabinets bought on sale last year at Costco? Think about it...

listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International, some via Move

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Art and Design Writer Sue Hostetler Lists High In Alphabet City

SELLER: Sue Hostetler and Jon Diamond
LOCATION: New York City, NY (East Village)
PRICE: $8,500,000
SIZE: 6,500 (or so) square feet, 3-4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: As we have uncountable times in the five years since we began our little online endeavor, today Your Mama brings y'all a discussion about a New York City residence first brought to our attention by dear, sweet Hot Chocolate, one of our unofficial (and unpaid) aide de camps who frequently sends along links to interesting properties—mainly in New York City—that sometimes turn out to be owned by a celebrity, socialite, big business baron or some other sort of deep-pocketed and residentially blessed, high-profile person.

Today we're gonna peep and poke around a substantial, contemporary, townhouse-type condominium in Manhattan's once burned out and drug infested now boho-chic and family friendly East Village. The residence in question, boldly listed at $8,500,000, takes up the first four floors a nearly-new, six-story, two-unit building custom-designed and -built for its current owners writer/editrix extraordinaire Sue Hostetler and husband Jon Diamond, described in at least one print publication as a bi-coastal media CEO and entrepreneur.

Property records show Miz Hostetler and Mister Diamond acquired the downtown property in May 2008 for $3,500,000. At the time of their purchase, the narrow Alphabet City parcel, just a couple doors down from the still-kinda-grungy but terribly-trendy Avenue B, was commercially zoned and occupied by a single story warehouse-type building that housed a construction company.

Miz Hostetler and Mister Diamond did whatever one does in New York City to get the property re-zoned for residential use and quickly erected a two-family structure with a nearly featureless façade and—Huzzah, huzzah, hoo-ray!—a much coveted, private 1-car garage. The lower four floors comprise a townhouse-type residence for Miz H. and Mister D's own use and the upper two floors contain a duplex penthouse reportedly designed by developer/designers Bob and Cortney Novogratz.

The duplex penthouse, with direct elevator access on the sixth floor and 1,200 square foot Ipe wood roof deck, spans (approximately) 2,700 square feet according to listing information from the time of the sale. The penthouse was first put on the open market in March 2010 for $3,750,000 and sold fairly quickly in August of the same year for, according to property records we peeped, $3,027,375. The buyers were Oscar Proust and Colleen Goujjane, owners of famed, candle lit West Village eatery One If By Land, Two If By Sea, frequently referred to in the medias one the most romantic restaurants in New York City.

On the 19th of April, Miz Gould Keil at the New York Post reported in her Gimme Shelter column that house hunting celebrity couple Rachel Weisz and Danial Craig toured Miz Hostetler's four-floor townhouse unit and—lo and behold—the very next day the vertically-oriented condo was officially listed on the open market with its current eye-popping $8,500,000 price tag.

A pair of almsot-identical wood doors flank a wider wood door that lifts open—no doubt with the heralding of angels—to reveal an exceptionally rare for Manhattan single car private garage. The door to the left of the garage acts as a separate (and private) entrance to Miz Hostetler's townhouse unit and the door to the right opens into the building's common lobby with stairs and elevator to access the upper levels of the townhouse as well all the way up to the duplex penthouse on the 5th and 6th floors.

A half flight of stairs descends from the two-chamber, ground floor foyer with its adjacent half pooper into a cavernous, semi-subterranean, 1,000-plus square foot "great room" with Italian Renaissance-style wood-burning fireplace and poured and epoxied concrete floors. The lofty 18-foot ceiling has a coffered wood ceiling adds a vital hint of patina and was custom crafted, according to listing information, by the very same artisan responsible for the mill work at the Gramercy Hotel's celebrity-stocked Rose Bar. Ain't that fain-cee!

A central switchback staircase connects all four floors and divides the parlor floor living spaces in to a street-facing dining room with sleek fireplace and a spacious eat-in kitchen with stainless steel cabinetry, poured concrete slab counter tops, and top-grade integrated appliances including a cappuccino maker. A full wall of floor-to-ceiling wood-framed windows in the kitchen fold back accordion-like to a nearly 1,000 square foot back yard with, according to the floor plan, an outdoor fireplace.

The master suite spreads luxuriously across the entire third floor with entry vestibule, full-width bedroom with tree-top view, and his and her walk-in closets/dressing rooms. The over-sized, spa-style bathroom with sassy, geometric Moroccan tile flooring has dual sinks, soaking tub, over-sized steam shower and separate cubicle for the crapper hidden, as per marketing materials, behind Parisian Art-Deco privacy glass, whatever that is.

The flexi-use fourth floor has a large, full-width bedroom at the front used by the occupant, according to listing information, as an office/den with black and white horizontal striped wall treatment. A sensational suite at the back of the fourth floor encompasses a private corridor, full-width bedroom, separate play room, walk-in closet, and private bathroom sheathed in Bisazza glass tiles. The play room could be converted to a separate bedroom and listing information—the "brokerbabble" as the kids at Curbed call it—states the good-sized laundry room adjacent to the bedroom/office/den could "easily become and additional full bathroom if so desired!"

While Your Mama's opinion ain't nuthin' but hot air, we find the townhouse condo's featured day-core a mite stale and surprisingly flat despite the thick vein of—dare we say—Novogratzian high-glitz whimsy that runs throughout (see dining room and master bathroom).

Then again, what do we know compared to owner Sue Hostetler, an unquestionably beaver busy gal on the professional go with an eye for art, day-core and other pretty and pricey things. She currently sits atop the editorial masthead of the high-gloss Art Basel Miami Beach magazine and she doubles down with a monthly column called The Aesthete for pan-Arab (English language) luxury lifestyle magazine Bespoke. Previously she was the National Shelter & Design Editor of Niche Media (Gotham, LA Confidential, Hamptons, Ocean Drive, at etc.) where she wrote (and wrote and wrote) glowing house porn articles about the glittering homes of the rich and famous. For a brief moment late in the last decade Miz Hostetler hosted a show on Plum Television which showcased extraordinary residences the country and she's authored a trio of coffee table-type books (Majestic Metropolitan Living, Hip Hollywood Homes and Oceans). Is this beotch tryin' to make Your Mama feel inadequate?

Anyhoodles poodles, previous to building the East Village two-family Miz Hostetler and hubby lived in a 3,000 square foot loft in a classic cast-iron building in the heart of SoHo they bought in May 2006 for $3,750,000. They engaged the services of Los Angeles turned New York City- and Paris-based designer Valerie Pasquiou who had previously worked over the L.A. homes of Showbizzers like Lisa Kudrow, Sharon Stone, film producer Mary Parent, motion picture literary agent Bob Bookman, and k.d. lang.

The 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom Hostetler-Diamond loft was photographed in 2007 for the defunct shelter publication Metropolitan Home, now archived with Elle Decor. This was just about the very same time they flipped the newly decorated SoHo loft back on the market with an asking price of $5,100,000. Over the course of a year, the asking price slipped in small increments to $4,750,000. Property records show the loft sold in May 2008 for its full asking price to John Wotowicz, an investment manager or something, and Virginia Lebermann, known in the art world as the co-founder of Texas-based contemporary arts foundation Ballroom Marfa.

We're not sure why Miz Hostetler and Mister Diamond have opted to sell their custom-created townhouse condo in the East Village nor do we know how their enormously successful team of Real Estates arrived at the eight and a half million dollar asking price that puts it at the apex of the East Village real estate food chain. It is, by a double-wide $2,000,000 margin according to our research on Streeteasy, the most expensive East Village residence of any type (condo, co-op, townhouse, multi-family) currently on the open market with the exception of a pair of side-by-side (but not yet joined), mid-19th century era townhouses on East 10th Street that combined come to almost 8,500 square feet and are listed together for $12,950,000.

With that in mind, Your Mama imagines—but does not predict—Miz Hostetler's townhouse condo in still-rough-around-the-edges Alphabet City may (or may not) be a tough sell at the sky-high price of $8,500,000 even with the private one car garage for which Your Mama imagines most street-parking Manhattanites would probably do the most unspeakable things. Trust Your Mama on that, children. We parked and hopscotched an old but trusty Saab 900S on the streets of the East Village for more years than we can count and we know of what we speak about the absolute desirability and value of that-there garage.

 listing photos and floor plan: Town Real Estate

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Back: Meg Ryan Re-lists Bel Air Mansion

SELLER: Meg RyanLOCATION: Los Angeles, CA (Bel Air)
PRICE: $11,400,000

SIZE: 6,877 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Brace yourselves, butter beans, because Meg Ryan's Los Angeles, CA mansion has popped back up on the open market for the 5th time since 1997 with a new, improved and much lower asking price of $11,400,000.

After first shopping it around off-market to folks like Mister and Missus Ben Affleck and British quasi-expats Mister and Missus Victoria Beckham, Miz Ryan had the drop-dead gorgeous Spanish-style casa on the open market from late-October 2008 until early January 2009 with an optimistic asking price of $19,500,000

In the fall of the same year (2009) Miz Ryan briefly re-listed the residence at $14,200,000 and the following fall (2010) put it out for lease at a mouth-drying $40,000 per month. Eventually, we first learned from from well-connected Tinseltowner Kenny Kissintell, Oscar winner and historic architecture buff Diane Keaton came along and rented Miz Ryan's meticulously updated, upgraded and maintained Bel Air mansion at an unknown amount of monthly remuneration.

The trout-pouted (former) rom-com queen—she's barely worked in The Big Bizness of Show since 2009 and, hence, ripe for a come back—seems to spend a great deal of time in New York City where she's often spotted around town with middle-aged rock star John Mellencamp. In fall 2010 Miz Ryan was reported to have signed a one-year lease for an approximately $25,000 per month rental in the Jean Nouvel-designed tower at 40 Mercer Street but we can't confirm or deny that tidbit nor do we know if she's moved on or signed an extension on the (alleged) lease. She owns a secluded residence near the quaint community of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard she picked up in early 2004 for $2,270,000 and had photographed for the glossy pages of Elle Decor's June 2010 issue.

Back in Bel Air, Miz Ryan's privately situated estate, tucked into a hair pin curve in one of Bel Air's most posh pockets, sits surrounded by mansions and estates owned by a plethora of high-profile peeps who include Academy Award-winning legend Clint Eastwood, television super-producer Darren Star (who had his newly remodeled residence photographed for the March 2012 issue of Architectural Digest), Showbiz icon Robert Redford and, right next door to Miz Ryan's place, the Richard Neutra-designed Brown-Sidney House now owed and extensively restored/renovated by fashion world superstar turned film producer Tom Ford, he-rah of the squinty-eyed smolder.

Property records show Miz Ryan procured her Bel Air mansion in October 2000 when she paid $8,500,000 for the multi-winged, two-story mansion that current listing information indicates was built in 1931 andmeasures 6,877 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms plus additional living/sleeping quarters in a detached guest house near the swimming pool.

Interior spaces includes a step-down formal living room with fireplace, formal dining room, two family rooms, separate bar room, second floor screening room, and eat-in kitchen with commercial-style appliances and a massive center work island.

The museum quality renovation features dark hardwood floors, hand-stenciled and painted ceilings, vintage tiles, wrought iron details, dozens of archways, and French doors that spill out to various patios and loggias that give way to flat lawns, shaded terraces, a dining ramada with antique wood ceiling, and a small free-form swimming pool nestled into a lower terrace with stacked stone retaining wall. 

Your Mama has discussed Miz Ryan's no-longer-wanted Bel Air pad on several previous occasions so if you're interested in more prattling and pontificating head over here and here.

exterior aerial photo: Pacific Coast News
listing photos: Prudential California / Brentwood

Townhouse Tuesday: Jack and Alison Schneider

SELLERS: Jack and Alison Schneider
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $33,500,000
SIZE: 13,048 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 5 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Several days ago one of our unofficial (and unpaid) aide de camps—that would be dear, sweet Hot Chocolate—thoughfully forwarded Your Mama a link to a real knee-buckler of a New York City townhouse recently hoisted on the market with a hardly unheard of but none-the-less ear-piercing price tag of $33,500,000.

A quick peep and poke around the public property records informed Your Mama the decked-out, dazzling and done-done-done townhouse, desirably located just off Fifth Avenue on East 75th Street, belongs to a (possibly former) hedge fund manager named Jack Schneider and his wife Alison Schneider (née Cayne) who paid $8,250,000 for the the urban and urbane mansion in January 2002.

Missus Schneider, dontchyall know, was born into great Wall Street privilege as the daughter of now-fallen and much-loathed Wall Street fat cat Jimmy Cayne, the former CEO of once mighty and now-shuttered investment bank Bear Stearns. The children may recall that Daddy Cayne literally played bridge in Detroit while his professional (and proverbial) Rome burned to the ground in the magnificent mortgage meltdown and economic crisis of 2007-08. At one point Mister Cayne was worth more than a billion and a half bucks; Today he's considerably less rich but nowhere near poor. As far as we can tell, Daddy Cayne and Missus Cayne still own a pair of adjacent apartments at The Plaza that overlook Central Park, total 3,092 square feet, and were bought in early 2008 for, according to Streeteasy, a combined $28,244,559.

Missus Schneider (née Cayne) caused a bit of a stink of her own in late January 2007 when she was quoted in The Old Grey Lady herself, The New York Times. At the time there was a bit of a brouhaha and kerfuffle going doing at the exclusive and (shockingly) expensive pre-school at The 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side where tuition ranges from $13,500 to $27,150 per year...for pre-school. The school's director had recently sent out a letter that requested parents who send and pick up their kids in chauffeur driven cars not tie up the street with unnecessary idling. The letter went on to bizarrely threaten parents that failure to follow the new no-idling rule could, as per The Times, "hinder their children's chances of getting into the kindergarten of their choice." Missus Schneider, bless her heart, was cattily pointed out by another parent at the school as someone who sends and picks up her kids in a chauffeur-driven car. When queried about the letter by The Times reporter Missus Schneider said, ''I got the letter, but I don't really have any feelings about it one way or the other. It's kind of boring. It's about cars and parking." In other words, Madam S. don't give a shit. 
Anyhoo, Your Mama thought Mister and Missus Schneider's titanic and totally remodeled townhouse might knock the real estate socks off some of even the most jaded of the children and put it on our list of properties to discuss. Alas, we were once again, like with the Lea Michele business earlier today, beat to the blogging punch by those ever-industrious kids at Curbed who briefly discussed the townhouse yesterday. Never-the-less...

At the time Mister and Missus Schneider bought their own high-toned, (approximately) 25-foot wide townhouse, then just an empty shell, the 1920s limestone mansion measured, according to online documentation we espied, 9,759 square feet. The house, originally built in 1872 with the existing and restored limestone façade added in 1917, underwent after a three-year renovation in the early- to mid-Aughts overseen by accomplished architect Peter Pennoyer and equally accomplished lady decorator Victoria Hagen. The architecturally elegant and smack-you-across-the-face sophisticated seven story (plus cellar and sub-cellar) French Empire-, Neoclassical or maybe Beaux Arts-style pile now weighs in, according to current listing information, at a substantially more considerable 13,048 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 5 full and 5 half bathrooms, at least 6 fireplaces, 4 interior staircases, and a staff suite in the cellar comprised of kitchen/dining room and two small but windowed bedrooms, each with private facility.

The remarkably efficient, thoughtfully resolved and fully custom floor plan (above) includes public and service entrances—pretty much right next to each other—a convenient bicycle and coat room just off the entry vestibule, a marble-floored foyer with fireplace, a jaw-dropping elliptical staircase that winds from the ground to the fifth floor, and an multi-passenger elevator that serves all seven above-ground floors as well as the cellar and sub-cellar.

The grand, impress-the-guests front foyer connects to the central stair hall and adjoining walk-in coat room and discreet half bathroom for party guests. Beyond that, a colossal, nearly all-white center island kitchen at the ass-end of the ground floor has a marble counter tops, top-grade appliances, a windowed breakfast area, and a punishingly pee-wee family room barely if at all bigger than the master bathroom. A convenient dumb waiter connects and a corkscrew staircase off the family room curls up to a kitchen-sized butler's pantry and formal dining room. The dark chocolate-stained herringbone pattern hardwood floors in the dining room extend into the extra-wide center stair landing and on into the formal living room outfitted with a fireplace, white walls for displaying art, wedding cake moldings, and a row of street-facing windows that stretch almost to the floor and the ceiling.

A men's clubby, wood-paneled library with fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases and adjacent half pooper shares the third floor with the master bedroom complete with, entry vestibule, one bathroom and two, custom-fitted dressing rooms. The fourth floor was configured with a stair landing sitting area, one large guest/family bedroom with attached private bathroom and two too-narrow bedrooms (for a house of this magnitude) that share one hall bathroom.

The fifth floor, according to the floor plan, was given over almost entirely to the pursuits and (often noisy) activities of the Schneider off-spring with family room, children's library, two bathrooms, and play room/art studio lined with floor to ceiling storage and shelving and used by Mister and Missus Schneider, we think, as a bedroom. Our imperious house gurl Svetlana pointed out there's also a second laundry room on the fifth floor as well as another, larger laundry facility in the cellar.

A sixth floor exercise room has an adjacent half bathroom—but not, it seems, a steam shower or sauna—and the airy penthouse level operates and a refined, adult-oriented media/music room with fireplace, sky light, wet bar and access to an exterior staircase that descends half a level to a roof terrace tucked up behind the ornate parapets.

Listing information also indicates the townhouse is equipped with a top-of-the-line security system—natch—plus as state-of-the-art Crestron system controls the audio, visual, temperature, telephone and lighting systems (including electronically operated shades) throughout the house via convenient touch pads.

Property records reveal Mister and Missus Schneider also own a waterfront residence adjacnet to the Fenwick Golf Club in Old Saybrook, CT that they acquired in September 2008 for $4,232,000.

exterior photo: Property Shark
listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran

Glee Gal Lea Michele Buys Hollywood Bungalow

BUYER: Lea Michele
SELLER: Norman Jean Roy
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,400,000
SIZE: 1,805 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: No doubt a result of too much late night and early morning gin, Your Mama seems to be well behind the celebrity real estate 8-ball this week. We are just now getting to the modestly-sized and fully-updated and upgraded if hardly inexpensive Los Angeles, CA bungalow purchased last week by Glee gal Lea Michele for $1,400,000 and already much discussed by just about every celebrity and property gossip across the globe. 

Miss Michele is most probably widely known by tee-vee watching tweens, teens and gays for her downright committed portrayal of enormously talented, wildly insecure and insufferably ambitious singing dervish Rachel Barry on Glee, a plum role for which she was nominated for an Emmy in 2010 and reportedly earns about $40-45,000 per episode. Howevuh, puppies, before the 25-year old Bronx-born brunette went Hollywood and rocketed to boob-toob super stardom in 2009 she was a bone fide Broadway sensation with prominent roles in highly acclaimed musical productions like Les Misérables, Ragtime, Fiddler on the Roof and the sensationally successful rock-musical Spring Awakening.

Like her 23-year old Glee co-star Kevin McHale—he's the one who scoots around in a wheelchair but in real life is not confined to a wheelchair—who just laid out $1,025,000 for a glassy and re-worked mid-century modern in the Hollywood Hills and Twilighter Anna Kendrik who recently spent a smidgen over a million bucks on a newly renovated contemporary above L.A.'s quintessentially L.A. Beachwood Canyon 'hood, Miss Michele smartly and humbly opted for a more prudently priced (and sized) residence rather than go berserk and drop a few million on a flashy (and high-maintenance) real estate monument to her new-found financial prowess.

Listen, we wish Miss Michele all future success but—let's get real kittens—Hollywood ain't nuthin' if not a cautionary tale about the easy come and easy go of fame and fortune built on the shifting sands of Show Business. Sometimes young actors peak early and fade into oblivion young. Just think of all those kids on Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place back in the 1990s. Sure, some went on to big time careers and glossy magazine covers. But others, well, not so much.

Anyhoo, eagle-eyed (and sober) children may recognize Miz Michele's new crib as the very same high-hedged and electronically-gated property situated in a centrally-located and celebrity-friendly area of Hollywood known as Sunset Square and owned by celebrity picture taker Norman Jean Roy. Your Mama discussed Mister Roy's now Miss Michele's domestic digs in mid-March (2012) when he listed the property on the open market with an asking price of $1,395,000.

Property records and listing information shows the single-story, mid-block bungalow was originally built in 1920 and measures in at 1,805 square feet with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, an office (or potential 3rd bedroom), L-shaped living/dining/den area with fireplace and French doors, well-equipped galley-style kitchen, and a bespoke master bathroom with steam shower.

A vine-draped trellis shades a dining deck with built-in barbecue station that extends off the back of the house and steps down to a compact, hedge-girdled back yard with paver-stone parking pad, detached two-car garage with loft storage area, and a plunge-sized solar-heated saltwater swimming pool sunk into a lush patch of unnaturally green grass.

Miss Michele, according to property records and previous reports, paid five grand over Mister Roy's asking price, an indication—but not, of course, proof—she may have faced a bit of competition during the negotiations to acquire the modernized and well-maintained bungalow.

Mis Michele's new abode sits in the very same neck of the Hollywood woods as homes owned by Tinseltowners like Academy Award-winning filmmaker Dustin Lance Black (purchased fall 2010 for $1,455,000), inestimable actress and activist Sally Struthers (purchased February 1991 for $762,500), and stylish actress Selma Blair (listed earlier this year for $1,780,000 and no longer on the open market). Reality queen turned clothing designer Lauren Conrad's Sunset Square residence is currently in escrow with an asking price of  $2,100,000 and Nip/Tuck actor Dylan Walsh and his estranged wife Joanna Going recently sold their former family home in the 'hood for $1,425,000 to writer Deborah Schoeneman and her husband Josh Groban.

Having nothing at all to do with Miss Michele's recent real estate activities...Miz Schoeneman once wrote features for the real estate section of The New York Observer as well as contributes or contributed to other publications and websites that include (but are not limited to) New York Magazine, The New York Times, Angeleno and The Huffington Post. She penned a 2006 novel about celebrity gossips called 4% Famous and currently writes for the Judd Apatow-produced tee-vee show Girls. Incidentally and also of no consequence to anything related to Miss Michele, Miz Schoeneman's bio photo on her website shows her sitting pretty in a tufted pink leather booth at The Madonna Inn, a fabulously campy and famously garish hotel-motel in San Luis Obispo (CA) where Your Mama occasionally likes to eat and drink with our elementary school pals Bee-bah and The Chicken. Miz Schoeneman's husband Josh Groban is not, in case anyone might be curious, the singer Josh Groban but rather the Josh Groban who is a senior advisor to California governor Jerry Brown.

But we digress...

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty / Los Feliz

Monday, April 23, 2012

English Actress Julia Ormond Lists L.A. Lair

SELLER: Julia Ormond
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA (Brentwood)
PRICE: $2,875,000
SIZE: 2,842 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Earlier today the long-legged blond gal at Trulia Luxe Living beat Your Mama to the celebrity real estate punch with her short report on The Los Angeles, CA residence English actress Julia Ormond (most recently seen in My Week With Marilyn) put on the market this week with a $2,875,000 price tag

Miz Ormond, born into a well-to-do family, launched into near-superstardom in the mid-1990s with much lauded and applauded roles in Legends of the Fall, First Night, and Sabrina. She was then and unfairly sometimes called "The Next Julia Roberts" by the entertainment media, which just seems ridiculous because what the devil does that even mean? Anyhoo, since then her Showbiz star has shined less brightly but not due to a shortage of well-regarded roles on television and in films such as The Baby of Mâcon, Inland Empire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Che, and the HBO movie Temple Grandin for which she took home an Emmy.

Property records show Miz Ormond purchased her pretty pad in the low-key but decidedly-affluent Los Angeles enclave of Brentwood in June 1999, just about the height of her professional salad days. The busy beavers at Blockshopper show she she paid $1,563,000 for the south of Sunset Boulevard property located a conveniently short stroll from the laid-back but very chi-chi shopping and dining complex known as The Brentwood Country Mart. The purchase came right about the time she married her now-ex-second husband, advertising executive and political activist Jon Rubin, co-founder of the non-partisan non-profit organization Rock the Vote.
Miz Ormond's Mediterranean meets Monterey Colonial-style crib was originally built in 1928 and measures 2,842 square feet according to the L.A. County Tax Man—listing information conspicuously does not show the square footage—and contains 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms according to listing information.

The two-story house sits a bit closer to the very narrow street—a hedge lined and tree-shaded lane, really—than one might ordinarily hope in a nearly three million dollar house that weighs in under 3,000 square feet. It also, however, sits privately behind a thorny tangle of fuchsia bougainvillea that straddles a tall privacy fence that girdles a gated, brick-paved entry courtyard thick with vines and potted plants.

Primary living and entertaining spaces include a living room with fireplace, sun-soaked dining room with deep bay window, a home office with outdoor access, and L-shaped eat-in galley-style kitchen with built-in breakfast banquette and an adjoining family room with wood-beamed ceiling, built-in bookshelves (filled with actual books), over-sized multi-mullioned windows and, curiously, faded denim blue walls.

Gallery white walls and rich, espresso-colored hardwood floors throughout most of the house act as a neutral and high-contrast canvas for Miz Ormond's elegantly casual and more than a little Shabby Chic day-core that snaps, crackles and pops with snippets and swatches of bright colors: There is a row of vermilion poppies on the mantel over the fireplace in the nearly all white living room; The table at the built-in breakfast banquette in the kitchen is the color of sunshine; One of the secondary bedrooms has hot pink window treatments and a single, yolk-yellow decorative pillow on the otherwise all-white bed.

The master bedroom, comprised of private office/sitting room, bedroom with fireplace, and remodeled bathroom, opens out to a private deck that sits amid the tree tops. Other rooms open to covered balconies at the front and rear of the residence and the backyard steps down the sloped parcel and includes secluded-feeling tree-shaded terrace for dining and lounging has an outdoor fireplace.

listing photos: Prudential California / Brentwood

According to...

...the people at People, Gossip Girl queen bee Blake Lively and lantern-jawed actor Ryan Reynolds—who met on the set of The Green Lantern film by most tabloid accounts dating for just six (or so) months—have purchased a country house hideaway in exceedingly affluent and beauteously bucolic Bedford, NY.

Not that Miss Lively or Mister Reynolds give a God damn rat's ass what Your Mama thinks but, seriously? Six months of dating and these two, who were also seen last November both together and separately looking at luxury apartments in New York City, have (allegedly) acquired a roughly two million dollar country house together? Pleeze.

We recognize beautiful Miss Lively and good-lookin' Mister Reynolds are thick in the turgid and humid blush of a new romance and we can certainly understand their (presumed) desire for a little privacy and grass where they can let their freak flags fly and pooches run hog wild. But come now. They have more sense than to buy a house together at this early juncture in their young relationship, don't they? Someone please tell Your Mama it's Miss Lively who desired a country spread and her current beau Mister Reynolds is simply along for the ride. Otherwise, as our cynical and boozy but sometimes wise b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau often says, "This will only end in tears."

A few of the other high-profile property owners in the general vicinity of Bedford include Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Lena Olin and Glenn Close, booze heir Matthew Bronfman, and money men George Soros, James Dinan and Leon Black.

We're not exactly sure where New York City-based Miss Lively lives—somewhere in the West Village, reported—but we do know that Mister Reynolds continues to own a modest, ranch-style residence in the star-studded Outpost Estates 'hood in Los Angeles that he bought in October 2007 for $1,715,000 and  had on and off the market since 2009. It was last listed in the fall of 2011 with an asking price of $1,599,000.

Mister Reynolds and his ex-wife Scarlett Johansson recently sold The Wong House, a low-slung Buff & Hensman-designed domicile in Los Angele's Los Feliz area they picked up in August 2010 just before they split for $2,900,000 and listed in early 2012 for $3,650,000. As of today, the 2 bedroom and 3 bathroom mid-century modern is in escrow for an unknown price.

P.S. Your Mama don't yet have any details on the house (allegedly) bought by Miss Lively and/or Mister Reynolds so don't bother to ask, thank you.

Monday Morsel: Ricky Martin Unloads in Miami

SELLER: Ricky Martin
PRICE: $10,600,000
SIZE: 9,491 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 8 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It only took (close to) five long years but bon bon-shakin' Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin has finally unloaded his big bay-front mansion in Miami Beach, FL for $10,600,000.

Much tatted Mister Martin purchased the hulking house in May 2005 for $10,000,000 and—and far as we can tell—first put it on the (open) market during the summer of 2007 with an asking price of $16,900,000. At least one report in The Miami Herald shows the price tag went as high as $19,500,000 (in 2008) and listing information we coaxed out of the internets indicates the waterfront mansion was last listed in mid-April with a $12,500,000.

Celebrity gossip juggernaut TMZ reported in early December last that Miami-lovin' megastars Jay-Z and Beyoncé toured Mister Martin's not exactly humble abode but so far there isn't any proof we've seen that suggests they are the new owners. More like they new owner is a professional athlete or wealthy businessperson. We shall see.

Anyhoo, listing information and property records indicate the gated Mediterranean was built in 2004, measures a gigantic but hardly gargantuan 9,491 (or 9,165) square feet with 7 bedrooms and 8 full and 2 half bathrooms plus separate guest quarters located across the center motor court from the main house.

Stone and wood floors run throughout the very grown up and architecturally detailed residence that includes intricately articulated ceilings, carved stone columns and fireplaces, and an almost alarming number of archways and arched windows, many of which suck up the glittery, northwesterly bay views. Iffin we were the betting sort—and we're absolutely not—we'd wager both our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that listing photos show the posh pad entirely staged and the very spare, Armani Casa-like day-core is not a complete representation of Mister Martin's full decorative magilla.

A second floor loggia looks down on the heated, dark-bottomed swimming pool, spa and sunbathing terraces, over the private boat dock and across the Biscayne Bay. The gated residence fronts swank North Bay Road near homes owned by Barry Gibb and a couple of professional basketball dribblers we've never heard of (Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh).

As it turns out, this ain't the first North Bay Road residence Mister Martin has owned or the only mansion in south Florida he's sold in the last year. Oh, no children, he's been riding in this particular real estate rodeo since at least March 2001 when the hot-bodied daddy of twin toddlers paid $6,400,000 for a 7,000-plus square foot mansion on North Bay Road that he sold in May 2005 for $10,600,000.

In April 2007, just about the same time he put his house on North Bay Road mansion on the market—the one that's just sold for $10,600,000—Mister Martin dropped a mouth drying $16,250,000 on a second south Florida mansion 10 or 12 miles up the coast, this one a nearly 10,000 square foot Mediterranean iwith 4-5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. By the end of the year, perhaps stricken with a wicked case of The Celebrity Real Estate Fickle, he'd flipped the property back on the market with a substantially higher asking price of $22,500,000. There are reports on the interweb that say Mister Martin sold the house last September (2011) for just $6,300,000, a toe curling ten million less than he paid, not counting carrying costs, improvements and real estate fees. Howevuh, no disrespect to any of our real estate gossip compadres but property records Your Mama peeped show the ocean front mansion still owned by the same limited liability company (allegedly connected to Mister Martin) that acquired the property in 2007. We also, for what it's worth to any of y'all, find lots of online listings that show the property actively for sale on the open market with an asking price of $17,900,000.

Mister Martin, who contrary to some reports did not marry his physically fit stockbrocker man-friend Carlos Gonzalez Abella in January (2012) in New York City, currently sings his beau-hunky heart out in the Broadway revival of Evita in The Big Apple where he's oft reported by property gossips to own a 2,637 square foot loft-like condo-crib with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in an impossibly chic downtown building developed by Ian Schrager and designed by Pritzker-prize winning Swiss archistars Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron.

Mister Martin continues to own a substantial residence in Dorado, Puerto Rico (where the American Rockefellers once owned a vacation compound) as well as—so the celebrity real estate rumors go—a casa in Madrid and a private island hideaway in Rio de Janeiro.

listing photos: EWM Realtors International

Friday, April 20, 2012

Minimal Minded Fabien Baron Re-Lists SoHo Loft

SELLER: Fabien Baron
LOCATION: New York City (SoHo), NY
PRICE: $8,500,000
SIZE: 4,171 square feet, 3-4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We are not, we know, the first property gossip to discuss the New York City loft-condo recently re-listed by art director/publishing pasha/creative force Fabien Baron, but none-the-less thought it might be fun for the kids to wrap up this scorcher of a Friday with a peek and a poke around Mister Baron's almost masochistically minimalist loft located in an 1895 Beaux Arts-style building in the SoHo 'hood.

The 25-time FiFi award winning Mister Baron may not be a household name for tabloid readers and hardcore entertainment news junkies but the always au courant Frenchman has cut a deep and wide swathe through the high-glam and arty-farty edges of the advertising, design, publishing, and marketing milieux. He currently tops the editorial masthead at Interview magazine and previously toiled creatively for publications that include French Vogue, Arena Homme, and Harper's Bazaar. He's also had his fingers in lucrative creation of a number of top-selling fragrances including Madonna's Truth or Dare. Mister Baron also, some of the older children may recall, designed Madge's then-quite-controversial coffee table book Sex in 1992.

The creative industry kingpin first and unsuccessfully attempted to unload his very and even shockingly spare loft in June 2010 when it popped up on the market for six months (or so) with an asking price of $7,450,000. It's now back on the market at $8,400,000 and carries with it, according to listing information, hefty-hefty-hefty taxes and common charges that ring up to $6,698 per month. Records show Mister Baron bought the unusually large loft way back in late 2007 for just $1,522,500 so—by Your Mama's less-than-reliable mental calculations—unless he's mortgaged the place without mercy Mister Baron stands to make a small fortune from the sale of his SoHo loft even if he opts to accept substantially less than the current asking price.

Listing information indicates the 4,171 square foot, full-floor loft was stripped down and given an über-minimalist re-do by much-published smart architect Deborah Berke who used just six basic but deluxe materials for the finishes: walnut, oak, white-colored glass, plaster, stainless steel, and Manhattan black schist, a dark, garnet-flecked stone.

Other noteworthy design conceits noted in listing information and marketing materials include unembellished floating cabinets and shelves, discreet metallic slivers for light switches, and electrical outlets hidden beneath planks of the hardwood floors that were laboriously rift-sawn to reinforce the horizontal linearity of the clean-lined loft.

The punctilious floor plan included with listing and marketing materials shows a prairie-like main living/dining/cooking space that measures 31-feet wide by nearly 59 feet long by 10'6" high with 7 windows on two walls. Two boxy forms, one that extends to the ceiling, anchor the effective but not exact center area of the vast room and contain the high-grade (and all but hidden) kitchen appliances and utilities.

A small office with built-in walnut desk and shelves off the living area has a convenient separate entrance that allows the owner/resident to accept visitors without having them fall down in flabbergast at the sheer magnitude of the severely and spectacularly spartan main living space.

What could easily be opened up to one large bedroom at the extreme rear of the loft is now divided into a pair of identically-sized sleep areas (with closets) that connect to a small, shared play/sitting area. Another small bedroom marked maid's room on the floor plan houses a squeezy laundry closet and shares the hall bathroom with the other two guest/family sleeping chambers.  

The over-sized master bedroom has almost one entire wall of floor-to-ceiling white glass and another complete wall of custom-designed built-in closets with walnut door panels. The attached, nicely windowed, and compartmentalized bathroom has a separate cubby for the crapper (and bidet) and a wet room with shower and separate tub carved from a half-ton chunk of Manhattan black schist.

Listen kittens, iffin we had almost $8,500,000 clams to spend on a New York City apartment Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter—who will not likely ever have $8.5 million clams to spend on anything—would not, we can assure anyone who might care, spend it on a loft in SoHo without a single square inch of private outdoor space. For that amount of money we would most certainly require at least a small terrace where our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly could sunbathe and we could barbecue and grow tomatoes. Neither would we nor could we ever live comfortably in such brutally minimal and monochromatic circumstances as Mister Baron's loft without going plum berserk. That does not mean, however, we don't drool like a hungry dog over this, dare we say, poetic and magnificently rigorous example of architectural hyper-austerity that makes a striking and radically subdued juxtaposition to the thrilling but near-constant urban chaos of New York City.

Mister Fabien's building mates include a slew of merely rich as well as a number of other urbane and high-profile peeps who include boo-teek hotelier Andre Balazs, fashion heiress/ Emmy winning producer Marci Klein (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock), and Bon Jovi front man Jon Bon Jovi who paid 24 million bucks for his jaw-dropping duplex penthouse in 2007 and was rumored to have quietly shopped last fall (2011) for around $45,000,000.

exterior photo: Property Shark
interior photos and floor plan: Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate