Posts Tagged ‘Let’s’

The Real Estalker – Let’s Talk About Rihanna, Shall We?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Several weeks ago there were a couple of tongue wagging reports that international pop music superstar Rihanna, née Robin Fenty, moved into The Fortress, an industrial-edged and aggressively contemporary and much discussed concrete and glass edifice high above the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. And she has, according to several of Your Mama’s better connected sources.

Your Mama first (dissed and) discussed the lasciviously muscular and almost cathedral-like residence back in January 2009 when, after nearly two years on the market with a exceedingly optimistic original asking price of $ 14.995 million, it was sold by (unfortunately named) energy drink entrepreneur Russ Weiner for exactly $ 8,000,000 to then 29-year old DJ and producer Val Kolton.

A little more than two years later Mister Kolton put the illustrious property, perched prominently a private .6 acre promontory with 270-degree views that sweep across the whole of the Los Angeles basin and often poo-pooed by highly opinionated armchair architecture critics, back up for sale with an also wildly optimistic $ 12 million asking price. The price eventually tumbled to $ 8.595 million before Mister Kolton managed to unload the white elephant at a nearly million dollar loss, not counting carrying costs, improvements, and etc., in October 2012 to a still unidentified buyer for $ 7,212,500.

Listing details from when The Fortress was last available for purchase show there are a total of 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms including a second floor city view master suite with dual bathrooms and a curvaceously walled dressing room plus a detached guest house above the garage with two bedrooms and at least one bathroom.

Other features of note include a 60-foot long, double-height entrance gallery with glass panel roof, several seating nooks, a fireplace and a floating, glass-tread staircase that Your Mama would find terrifying and terrifically difficult to navigate after a few gin and tonics. Along the rear of the residence there’s a double-height formal living room traversed overhead by a glass-floored bridge, a much cozier den with built-in entertainment unit, and a double-height library/billiard room.

A couple steps up from the dining room there’s an impressive all-stainless steel center island kitchen designed by Porsche Design Group that Your Mama and our eagle-eyed housegurl Svetlana both agree must be a time-consuming and murderous endeavor to keep finger print free or at least reasonably finger print free. Listing details we dug up also indicate there’s a spacious screening room with built-in booze bar and candy counter and a fully equipped fitness room filled with angry looking contraptions that Your Mama’s fat ass would have no idea how to use.

Outdoor spaces include a gated motor court between the main house and the guest house, a small grassy side yard with unobstructed city views and a koi pond, and, out the rear of the residence, a slender swimming pool and attached 12-person spa that together form a shape luridly similar to the male anatomy.

We have no idea how long Miss Riri plans to reside in The Fortress but iffin we were the betting type—and we’re not—we’d bet both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, the itchy-footed Barbadian will soon move on to another rented residence because, although she’s one of the highest earning entertainers on the planet, she doesn’t seem to stay anywhere very long typically prefers to rent rather than buy.*

Late 2012 brought an avalanche of reports in the tabs, gossip glossies and property gossip columns that stated the Barbadian singer purchased an approximately 11,000 square foot contemporary in the affluent and somewhat staid, hence unlikely seaside community of Pacific Palisades for $ 11.9. However, children, a two minute search of public records reveals the property is actually owned by a corporation easily linked to the same non-famous fellow who purchased the property in 2004 for $ 1.32 and custom built the luxuriously appointed (if woefully specious) residence. **

Last fall, after one too many intruders managed to find their way onto the above mentioned Pac Pal property, Riri packed up her designer duds and hightailed it to New York City where she reportedly rented a $ 39,000 per month duplex penthouse in SoHo. Listing details and previous reports indicate the sun flooded penthouse was had been listed for $ 14.6 million and has four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in 4,660 square feet of interior space and a 2,400 square foot private terrace.

It was around the time she decamped L.A. for The Big Apple that word got out that Miss Riri had (allegedly) paid around $ 21.8 million for a 10,000-ish square foot townhouse villa with in Barbados that she’d leased the previous summer (2012) for an unknown amount of money. (Your Mama can not confirm or deny whether Miss Riri actually bought the super-luxe five bedroom and five bathroom or not because we really just don’t know but it certainly makes sense she’s set down some real estate roots in her homeland.)

In February of this year (2014), for her 26th birthday, the often touring seven-time Grammy winning entertainer was reported to have leased a nearly 19,000 square foot chalet in the celebrity-approved ski haven of Aspen, CO. Some of the features of the massive pseudo-chalet encompasses 7 bedrooms, 11, bathrooms, a 40-foot tall foyer, a five-car garage (with turntable), two elevators, and tennis court with adjacent clubhouse. The house, a short walk into downtown Aspen, is currently listed for $ 45 million.

NOTE: The children ought to keep in mind that listing photos of The Fortress are from the time the house last sold and may or may not reflect the home’s current state of decorative affairs.

*Miss Riri spent $ 6.9 million on a newly constructed, 8500+ square foot contemporary in Beverly Hills in September 2009. Just about two years later Miss Riri filed a lawsuit against the property developers that claimed the house was riddled with design and construction defects that allowed water to enter and damage the interior areas. We don’t know what became of the lawsuit—and, frankly, we don’t much care—but property records show Miss Riri sold the property at a punishing loss, in late 2011, for $ 5,030,000. In September of 2012 the current owners, presumably after fixing whatever defects allegedly ailed the property, re-listed the property for $ 9.95 million. After (at least) two failed escrows, the property remains on the open market with a much lower asking price of $ 7.995 million.

**Not long after Riri packed her bags the house went up for lease at $ 65,000 per month and in late March (2014) the property popped up for sale on the open market with a $ 14.995 million price tag.

listing photos (Los Angeles, The Fortress): The Partners Trust
listing photos (New York): Town Residential (via Streeteasy)
listing photos (Barbardos): Chesterton International
listing photos (Aspen): Joshua & Co.
The Real Estalker

The Real Estalker – Let’s Talk Tori (Spelling) For a Minute

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Ever since Tinseltown scion Tori Spelling* left her first husband for the then also married actor Dean McDermott their lives have been a topsy-turvy whirlwind of highly publicized pregnancies, vapid if reasonably popular reality television programs, salacious tabloid rumors and reports of eating disorders and tight financial circumstances, and several multi-million dollar real estate deals gone sour.

Tori married Dean in 2006 and together they have owned or leased more than half a dozen homes all over the western areas of Los Angeles. In February 2008 the couple coughed up $ 2.275 million for a 3,300 square foot house in the affluent Little Holmby ‘hood between Century City and Westwood. They sold the house in December (2008) for $ 2.3 million. Several months earlier they spent $ 2.945 million for a six bedroom mock-Med macmansion just north of Ventura Boulevard in Encino that they had professionally decorated and sold, in December 2011, for $ 2.5 million. Two quick clicks on Your Mama’s bejeweled abacus shows that comes to a pocketbook punishing $ 445,000 loss not counting carrying costs, improvements, and real estate fees.

The rapidly procreating pair may (or may not) have been in a hurry to sell in Encino because, on a bit of a lark, in the fall of 2011 they paid $ 2.4 million for a 1.73 acre spread in the celebrity-popular Point Dume area of Malibu. They added organic gardens and a chicken coop (and whatever else). Alas, they immediately caught a classic case of The Celebrity Real Estate Fickle and sold the Malibu mini-farm just a year later for just $ 2,177,000, a smaller but still brutal $ 233,000 loss that came quick on the heels of their near half million dollar loss in Encino.

From Malibu the Spelling-McDermotts moved to Thousand Oaks where they leased—for somewhere close to $ 15,000 per month—a lavish and sprawling, 9,000-ish square foot, single-story manse with six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms in the affluent and guard gated Sherwood Country Club. We’re not sure exactly how long the Spelling-McDermotts shacked up in Thousand Oaks but we do know that sometime in the recent past the family decamped back to Encino where, according to Your Mama’s sources and other resources, they leased a chunky, faux-timbered mock-Tudor macmansion on a cul-de-sac above the Encino Reservoir last listed for lease at $ 10,500 per month.

Just before Christmas the gossip glossies blared with (no doubt devastating) reports that in early December, while in Canada promoting Chopped Canada, 47-year old Mister McDermott stepped out on 40-year old Miz Spelling with a 28- year old gal who told Us that Mister McDermott told her his marriage was sexless. (Good grief.) None-the-less, our long-time informant, Mirakle Mike—a man who tends to reliably know something about these sorts of things—told us that the couple are still shacked up together in their new rental in Encino although there are fairly recent gossip glossy reports that Dean hasn’t been seen around much lately.

Listing details Your Mama managed to conjure up out of the internets show the rabidly ersatz two-story residence contains six bedrooms and seven bathrooms in just over 6,600 square feet of undeniably “luxurious” but depressingly uninspired interior space. Listen, children. Contrary to popular opinion Your Mama does not like to cast decorative aspersions like rice at a wedding. But, hunnies, let’s be honest. Miz Spelling’s team of nice-gay and/or lady decorators can gussy this place up at great expense with some dernier cri wallpaper and au courant curtains but—to paraphrase a pithy pal who shall remain nameless— you can put a Chanel suit on a pig but you still only got a pig in a godawful expensive luncheon outfit, you know? Anyways…

Digital marketing materials Your Mama peeped and perused indicate the house has—as one can most assuredly count on in a house of this size and cost in this location—a grandiose, double-height foyer with an attention grabbing medallion pattern inlaid marble floor and a depressingly cliché, 1980s-era prom picture perfect curved staircase.

The step-down formal living room has medium-toned hardwood floors, a ceiling crossed with a bunch of skinny little wood beams, and a gawky (and probably cast concrete) corner fireplace. The adjacent formal dining room can comfortably seat 16, according to marketing materials, and also has skinny wood beams on the ceiling and medium-toned wood on the floor.

The floors switch to stone tile (or possibly faux-stone porcelain tiles) in the family-sized center island kitchen and adjoining breakfast area. The two-toned cabinets have double raised panel doors and lots of carved detailing, the granite counter tops have rounded three-tiered edges, and the appliances are all high-quality stainless steel. The nearby family room has several sets of glass doors that lead out to the backyard entertainment and recreation spaces and a separate game room does double duty as a nine-seat home theater with 110-inch drop down screen plus a fridge-equipped wet bar shoved uncomfortably up into the corner on an elevated seating platform next to a row of theater style recliner lounges.

The spacious, second floor master suite has a vaulted and beamed ceiling, elaborate drapery systems that involve valances, shades and curtains, lots of built-in cabinetry, and wall-to-wall carpeting the color of wet sand. There’s also a fitted, bedroom-sized walk-in closet/dressing room and a huge bathroom that veers perilously close to hideous with a super-sized step-up soaking tub set into a wide, windowed bay trimmed in pleated and swagged light camel-colored fabric panels that puddle uselessly around the tub where they’re sure to occasionally fall into the bubble bath or otherwise be soaked by water sploshing up over the bathtub’s rim. Anyways…

The rear facade is so redonkulously unspeakable it’s hysterical and looks a little too much to Your Mama like a budget-friendly motel in Solvang, CA. The good-sized and mostly flat backyard wraps around the house and includes a half court basketball court and a fair-sized patch of grass where perhaps Miz Spelling will install an elaborate jungle gym for her quartet of toddlers and tots, and an open air poolside cabana.

For what it’s worth, Your Mama found online evidence the house was listed for sale on the open market as recently as April 2012 for $ 2.4 million, reduced from it’s original $ 2.6 million ask. But, of course, even if they can afford it—and we really have no idea if they could or could not—it is Your Mama’s unsolicited and utterly meaningless opinion that given the current hurly-burley of their all-to-public personal lives and their costly previous real estate failures it would hardly make sense for the McDermott-Spellings to splash out another couple million bucks for a house.

*If somehow you don’t know, Tori Spelling is the eldest child and only daughter of deceased television supermogul Aaron Spelling and his still-living widow, Candy. Miz Spelling—we’re talking Tori here—grew up in a civic center-sized house in the hoity-toity Holmby Hills area that her parents custom built with creature comforts such as a barber shop, a bowling alley, and a doll museum. The Widda Spelling sold the 56,000 square foot megamansion—which they ever-so-modestly dubbed The Manor—a couple years ago to preposterously pampered 20-something year old Formula One racing heiress Petra Ecclestone for $ 85 million. Mister Spelling passed in 2006 and (in)famously left the vast majority of his estimated $ 300 million estate to his wife while Tori and her younger brother each reportedly received less than a million dollars. (Tori herself says it was $ 800,000.)

listing photos: John Aaroe Group
The Real Estalker

Curbed – The Climate: Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Los Angeles Is Not a Desert

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

2012.07_chinatown.jpg

Los Angeles is a desert community. Beneath this building, beneath every street there’s a desert. Without water the dust will rise up and cover us as though we’d never existed!” Yeah, forget that, everyone, it’s Chinatown (Mayor Bagby ginning up some water-based furor, specifically). Over at KCET, environmental writer Chris Clarke is here to remind us that Los Angeles is not a desert–the city and its surroundings have a Mediterranean climate, according to “the most commonly used system of climate classification, the Köppen system.” Which must be how we get those nice avocados and lemons. Clarke writes that part of the confusion is the changing definition of “desert,” which once meant “any land that had no forest cover” (e.g., Nebraska).

The current definition is hard to pin down but is generally centered on extremes: “periods of drought, high temperatures, saline soils, or a combination of several such factors.” LA is actually pretty predictable (and yes, East Coasters, we have seasons): “The chaparral plants have adapted ways to survive periodic fires, and now and then they have to put those skills to use. But the toyons in the hills predictably survive the predictable dry seasons, the bunchgrasses set seed in anticipation of wet autumns that almost always come, and marine layer fogs reliably cool the city in June when actual deserts start to climb above triple-digit temperatures.”

In a rejected LA Times op-ed from 2003 (which Clarke refers to), history professor Ralph Schaffer wrote that the paper published a story in 1888 saying that LA had “a plentiful supply of water in our mountains and valleys to irrigate every acre of land that needs irrigation, and for every other purpose to sustain many millions of people.” So how did the desert myth become so pervasive? (The LAT, for instance, frequently refers to LA as a desert now.) It really was, to some extent, all that Chinatown stuff: in the 1880s, the Times reprinted a San Francisco newspaper story referring to SoCal’s “‘primeval condition of wilderness and desert,’ abandoning it to ‘the lizard, horned toad and burning sun.’” According to Schaffer, “Otis knew a winning argument when he read one. He resurrected it two decades later to coax voters into supporting the Owens Valley aqueduct bonds.”
· Los Angeles Is Not a Desert. Stop Calling It One. [KCET]
· L.A. is not a desert [LAObserved]

Curbed LA

The Real Estalker – Let’s Talk About Bunny Mellon’s Property Portfolio: Part I

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

SELLER: Wayne L. and (Janet) Lea Berman
LOCATION: Washington, D.C.
PRICE: $ 20,000,000
SIZE: 13,000 square feet (give or take), 4-8 bedrooms (depending on what one counts as a bedroom), 6 (or 7) full and 2 (or three) half bathrooms.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Thanks to a virtual leg up from friendly informant Lil’ Debbie Doesdeecee we’ve come to learn that an impressively pedigreed Washington, D.C. mansion once owned by somewhat reclusive centenarian socialite, philanthropist, and accomplished horticulture autodidact Rachel Lambert Mellon—otherwise known as Bunny Mellon—has popped up on the market with a muscular price tag of 20,000,000 dangling chads.

Marketing materials provided to Your Mama by Lil’ Debbie reveals the distinguished and hulking 13,000-or-so square foot red brick Georgian mansion was designed by architect Nathan C. Wyeth, built in 1930 and for nearly six decades housed a portion of the “legendary art collection” of the above mentioned Miz Mellon and her now-deceased thoroughbred racehorse-minded banking heir and prolific philanthropist hubby Paul Mellon. Mister Wyeth, for those who do not recognize the name, once worked for the esteemed Carrere & Hastings firm and is perhaps best known as the man who designed the first Oval Office for President William Howard Taft in 1909.

Public property records we peeped reveal the meticulously maintained mansion is currently owned (and presumably occupied) by a couple of heavy hitting politicos: Republican power player and hyper-influential lobbyist Wayne L. Berman and his wife Lea, the one-time Chief of Staff for former V.P. Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne and the former Social Secretary and Special Assistant to the President under George W. Bush. Property records show the political power pair paid $ 4,836,000 for the imposing and essentially symmetrical residence in the last days of 2001.

Current listing information and a quick perusal of the floor plan included with marketing materials (above) indicates the house stands four floors above ground (plus a small basement with laundry facility) and contains 20-plus rooms (depending on what one counts as a rooms), 7 fireplaces, several staircases, one elevator and an attached (front-facing) two-car garage with direct entry to the service stair hall on the entrance level.

Listing information presents the palatial abode as having 6 bedrooms and 6 full and 2 half bathrooms. However, depending on which rooms get counted or pressed into use at bedrooms, Your Mama’s calculations suggest there 4 bedroom suites appropriate for owners, family and guests and another 4-7 rooms that could be suitable for for use as bedrooms by less favored family members and guests and/or a handful of live-in domestic staff.

On the entry level, an inverted cross-shaped reception hall has a fireplace, seating niches and ample room for party guests to mill around and sip champers and high balls. Two walk-in coat closets off the reception hall ensure plenty of coat hanging space for cold-weather gatherings and a wide stair case winds up to the main level living and entertaining areas.

In addition to a study just off the reception hall, the floor plan shows the mansion’s street entrance level includes three adjacent rooms marked on the floor plan as offices (each with window and closet), a fourth and larger room on the opposite side of the house behind the garage marked as an office and currently used—we think— as an exercise room, plus a long and narrow wine cellar and a total of 2.5 bathrooms.

We’re not sure how the huge house was configured at the time Mister and Missus Mellon maintained the mansion as a private museum space—they apparently lived in another mansion next door—but the main floor’s current floor plan allows for ballroom-scaled formal living room (with fireplace) and adjoining sitting room that stretches 43-or-so feet from the front clear through to the rear of the house. There’s also a banquet hall-sized formal dining room (with fireplace) listing information indicates can accommodate 40 diners at one time and next door to that a less formal morning room/den. An up-to-date chef-friendly kitchen offers a butler’s pantry, walk-in linen and silver storage closet, access to the backyard via that service stairs, and an adjacent office with wrap-around built-in desk. One compact (but blessedly well ventilated) half bath tucked under the stairs serves the entire floor.

A paneled library/family (with fireplace) on the second floor separates three family bedrooms (each with private en suite facility) from the vast master suite with entry vestibule (for privacy) 400-ish square foot corner bedroom (with fireplace), a pair of fitted walk-in closets. The attached master bathroom measures by our unscientific estimation around 250 square feet with twin sinks, a soaking tub that sticks out in to the center of the room like a penis-shaped peninsula, a private terlit cubby, and separate marble-tiled and double-headed shower.

A luggage room—yes, that’s right a luggage room—has built in shelving and cabinets for stashing, well, luggage, and upstairs in the partially-finished attic space there are two more storage storage rooms with built-in cabinets. Also tucked up under the eaves with dormer windows are three flexi-use rooms and one bathroom that—it is our humble and entirely meaningless opinion—would make for an almost-luxurious 2 bedroom staff suite with separate sitting room.

The back of the Mellon cum Berman manse opens up to a deep, lushly landscaped and essentially symmetrical English-style garden and terrace that overlooks the roof top and chimney stacks of the drop-dead-dee-voon Sir Edwin Lutyen-designed British Embassy.

As fascinating and well-connected as Mister and Missus Berman appear to be and as richly textured and layered as their day-core may be—there is the most amazing leopard print wall-to-wall carpeting in the master bathroom—as out ho-hum and dry-as-toast headline suggest it’s really the sober and aristocratic mansion’s previous owner Bunny Mellon and her recent and numerous real estate activities that have captured Your Mama’s admittedly single-minded attentions.

Interested kittens should stay tuned for Part II when Your Mama will discuss Miz Mellon’s recent actions to significantly decrease the size of her fat property portfolio that includes (or currently included) high-maintenance residences and estates in Paris (France), Nantucket and Cape Cod (Osterville), Antigua, New York City, and perfectly pastoral, equestrian-oriented and very upscale Upperville, Virginia where she reigns supreme over the unquestionably epic 4,000-or-so acre Oak Spring Farm.

listing photos and floor plan: TTR / Sotheby’s International Realty

The Real Estalker

The Real Estalker – Let’s Talk About Bunny Mellon’s Property Portfolio: Part II

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Earlier today Your Mama discussed at some length a substantial and very serious Washington, D.C. mansion once owned by the somewhat reclusive heiress and socialite Rachel Lambert Mellon—otherwise known as Bunny Mellon—and now owned by a couple of influential Republican Party power players who recently put it on the market with a sky-high asking price of $ 20,000,000. The red brick behemoth, securely situated among a dense assortment of well-guarded embassies, sits conveniently close enough to Bill & Hill Clinton’s very stately D.C. digs to send out a domestic down to borrow a cup of sugar on even the rainiest of rainy days.

For more than sixty years Bunny Mellon and her banking heir/horseman/philanthropist husband Paul Mellon—who went to meet his maker in 1999 at the ripe old age of 91—did not reside in the massive capital crib themselves but rather used the regal residence to house a portion of their extensive art collection. According to marketing materials Your Mama perused, the prodigiously rich and well-connected Mister and Missus Mellon actually lived in another equally if not more palatial pad directly next door.

Owning enormous side by side mansions in one of the most exclusive (and secure) enclaves in the U.S. may sound strange to anyone who isn’t filthy stinking rich but such are the sometimes and almost inexplicably profligate real estate ways of luxuriously cosseted and profoundly wealthy Americans of a certain ilk such as Mister and Missus Mellon. He, dontcha was an heir to what was then one America’s greatest banking and industrialist fortunes and she too is an heiress to a pile of money built on razors and Listerine who became a close confidant and unofficial aide de camp to Jackie Kennedy Onassis during and after her years in the White House.

102 year old Miz Mellon’s primary residence has long been and by all accounts remains Oak Spring Farms in high-nosed and equine-friendly Upperville, Virginia where she lives—nearly blind but still a swimmer and regular practitioner of Pilates who, according to Vanity Fair (August 2010), occasionally receives visitors like Bette Midler—in low-key and high-minded splendor in a rambling, H. Page Cross-designed cottage-style abode she and her Mister built in 1955 and moved in to after deciding the estate’s much more grand William Adams Delano-designed red brick Georgian mansion was, well, too grand.

Before we get further in to Miz Mellon’s residential real estate holdings, let’s digress into a little background and light dish on Miz Mellon herself, shall we?

No doubt much to her privacy-craving chagrin, Miz Mellon has been much in the news the last few years for her six (or so) million dollar contributions to former Senator and disgraced Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards who’s up to his perfectly combed hair in a boiling vat of hot legal water and currently stands accused of siphoning a couple million of Miz Mellon’s contributions off to support and clam up his former mistress and baby momma Rielle Hunter. Remember that tangled scandal of deceit and intrigue? Lowerd have mercy.

Anyhoo, if and however Miz Mellon’s name may (or may not) be tarnished for her icky (and alleged) sugar momma-like association with the dastardly John Edwards, the almost devilishly discreet grande dame will go down in the (blue-blood) history books as a formidable and accomplished woman of storied elegance and style; Her entire wardrobe—from tennis hats to her servants’ uniforms, again according to Vanity Fair—were designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga until he died (in 1972) at which point the making of Madam’s habiliments were taken up in a private atelier at Maison Givenchy. Imagine that, a private atelier at Mason Givenchy. Has anyone ever told the children the super rich lead very different lives than even the average multi-millionaire? Well, they do.

Miz Mellon, despite being to the manor born, is and always was more than a well-dressed deb turned hoity-toity high society doyenne. The encyclopedic autodidact is not only respected collector of top flight artworks from Corot to Rothko and an expert in the decorative arts but, most notably, is a celebrated and accomplished gardener and horticulturist. In addition to maintaining a strict and watchful eye over the smallest details of her numerous, vast and exhaustively conceived gardens at Oak Spring Farms (and etc.), in her heyday she also did up a garden or two for fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy, designed and oversaw the installation of the White House Rose Garden (as well as the East Garden), and she was called upon—so the story goes—to organize the flowers for the post-assassination funeral services of President John F. “Jack” Kennedy in 1963.

Miz Mellon may have long ago sold the red brick Georgian mansion in D.C. that once housed part of her and her hubby’s probably priceless art collection, but the frequently referenced article in Vanity Fair (August 2010) states the almost-never-seen-on-the-social-scene centenarian (then) owned more than half a dozen apartments, mansions and estates in Washington, D.C., Paris, New York City, Antigua, Nantucket, Cape Cod, and Upperville, Virginia where she holds down the family seat on the impeccable and unquestionably epic 4,000-or-so acre Oak Spring Farm.* Miz Mellon, like so many other multi-millionaires, billionaires and gajillionaires, commutes between her various residences via her private jet which lands on her private, mile long runway at Oak Spring Farms.

*At least one report online called in 2,000 (or so) acres and not 4,000. Make of that what y’all will.

Miz Mellon and her distinguished and beloved gardens at Oak Spring Farmsphotographed in all their springtime glory for the aforementioned Vanity Fair profile and intervieware reported to be attended to by a staff of 120. No, children, Your Mama’s weary and boozy fingertips did not erroneously add a one or a zero. Miz Mellon actually—or, at least reportedly—employs 120 (or so) people at Oak Spring Farms, an almost unimaginably high number that does not take into account the extensive staff she no doubt carries on her extensive payroll to take care of her various other posh and punishingly expensive to maintain residences up and down the eastern seaboard.

The publicity-eschewing Miz Mellon reportedly sold off a pair of apartments in Paris a couple years ago but—true confession—Your Mama doesn’t know a damn thing about the properties it was reported she owns on Nantucket or in Washington, D.C. What we do know is that over the last few years Miz Mellon has downsized significantly in New York City and recently listed both her 26-acre waterfront compound on Cape Cod with an asking price of $ 28,740,000 and hoisted her family’s 27-acre bay-front spread on the Caribbean island of Antigua on the market with a $ 14,500,000 price tag.

Although property records indicate Miz Mellon still owns a pair of small condo cribs in New York City’s Essex House building on Central Park South (now called Residences at Jumeirah Essex) bought in 2007 or ’08, she not-entirely-quietly unloaded a pair of townhouses on East 70th Street several years ago.

Photo: Stribling via New York Observer

In 2005, Miz Mellon put 40-foot wide townhouse on East 70th Street on the market with an asking price of $ 26,500,000. The 9,400-plus square foot, 5-plus story faux-French Provincial-type townhouse (above) was custom built in 1965 by Mister Mellon and at the time of the sale included two master suites, 3 additional guest/family bedrooms, five staff rooms, and an unusually large and well-tended 1,600 square foot garden. The asking price eventually dropped to $ 24,500,000 and the pristine townhouse was purchased the following year for $ 22,500,000 by Irish businessman Tony White who sold his previous townhouse—located directly across the street—to much-lauded filmmaker Woody Allen.

photo: Stribling via Habitually Chic

In August 2009 Miz Mellon sold a second townhouse, also on East 70th Street (above), for $ 13,500,000 to —so it was reported in the New York Observer—Morgan Stanley executive John J. Mack and his wife Christy. Miz Mellon reportedly used the 30-foot wide and 9,475 square foot limestone mansion, designed as a carriage house by C.P.H. Gilbert just after the turn of the 20th century, as a very posh storage space, car garage and housing for her friend and on-staff interior decorator Bruce Budd who had his private living quarters in the townhouse photographed for an unknown issue of World of Interiors. (Photos and townhouse floor plan here.)

listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty

In early 2012 Miz Mellon (and her team of advisers) put a $ 28,740,000 asking price on her Cape Cod compound that spans 26.78 waterfront acres with nearly 1,000 feet of shore front on the Seapuit River that looks clear over undeveloped Sampson’s Island to the Nantucket Sound. Mister and Miz Mellon purchased the first of the many-parcel property in the 1940s.

Listing information shows the property occupies a private and secured peninsula with a 6,893 square foot Cape Cod-style main house with separate guest and staff quarters. A short walk (or golf cart ride) away from the main house are a detached art studio, several greenhouses, and a beach-front cottage all surrounded by broad lawns, well tended gardens and orchards, a tennis court, bulk-headed shoreline with seasonal dock, and private beach.

Property records indicate Miz Mellon also owns another three-parcel estate just around the bend that the Barnstable County Tax Man indicates spans 7.44 waterfront acres, includes a 5,000-plus square foot main house with 7 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms plus an additional 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom residence and a barn. The property does note appear to be on the (open) market and is perhaps (or perhaps not) occupied (or used) by one of her two children or two step-children.

listing photos: JHR Caribbean Real Estate

A couple months after her Cape Cod compound popped up on the (open) market the property gossip gals at The Wall Street Journal revealed the Mellon family’s long-time, British-Colonial style waterfront compound on the Caribbean island of Antigua was also put on the market with an asking price of $ 14,500,000.

Miz and Mister Mellon pieced the mostly au naturally landscaped property together starting in the mid-1950s and it currently, as per listing information includes, a considerable main residence with a double master bedroom, “orchid nursery,” and alfresco living and dining options. There’s also a separate three-bedroom guesthouse, “music house,” staff residence, and multiple outbuildings that include greenhouses and a “substantial” pool house with kitchen and changing rooms.

The breezy but formally arranged day-core is exactly what Your Mama would expect to find in the Antigua getaway of a cultured old money American family; Think lots of sea-salty wicker things, canopied beds with mosquito netting, and comfortably worn painted wood floors.

Located in the exclusive Mill Reef Club, the perfectly private property offers a vegetable garden, citrus orchard and tropically verdant hillside that slopes down towards the the pinks sands of Antigua’s famously scenic and fancy-pants Half Moon Bay.

The Real Estalker

The Real Estalker – Let’s Pause…

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

…for a wee gander a some serious SoCal architectural gorgeous, shall we?

The Schwimmer Residence, designed by innovative and experimental architect John Lautner and set into four desirable hillside acres high above Benedict Canyon in the 90210, was commissioned and built in 1982 by a Dr. Alden Schwimmer and his interior designer wife Nina.

Doctor and Missus Schwimmer sold the castle-inspired house—Lautner reportedly described it as a “horizontal castle”—in 1998 to former fashion designer Harriet Selling-Canepa who renovated and updated the house and, property records indicate, sold it off for an unknown amount of money in January 2009 to L.A.-based real estate executive Fred Droesch who currently has the eye-popping and iconic crib up for lease at $ 35,000 per month.

Situated well above the tree tops for picture perfect panoramic canyon and city views, the architecturally taut and nature-minded house hugs the hillside with its gentle curved shape, measures around 6,000 square feet, and contains, according to listing information, 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.

The main living areas include a voluminous open-plan living/dining area with fab stone floor, two massive stone fireplaces, wood-framed glass doors that connect to cantilevered terrace and runs along the back of the house, and a soaring, high-drama, rib-like wood ceiling with curved rafters. A more intimately scaled den—also with soaring, high-drama, rib-like wood ceiling with curved rafters—has herringbone patterned wood floors, a second massive stone fireplace and built-in bookshelves and desk space.

A series of hollowed out turrets made of Bouquet Canyon Stone solidly anchor the cantilevered two-story structure and serve a variety of purposes. One is a wet bar, another is a pantry, a couple house bathrooms and storage spaces and the one in the master bedroom functions as a pee-in-your-pants perfect sky lit shower enclosure.

Certainly Miter Lautner’s Schwimmer Residence hasn’t been maintained as a time capsule or museum piece, a fact some architectural purists will surely point out and poo-poo. Any number of alterations (improvements and upgrades) and have been made such as in the very airy, center island kitchen outfitted with sleek wood cabinets we suspect may not be original to the house and high-grade appliances that include full-sized, side-by-side fridge and freezers that are most definitely not original to the house.

Alterations aside, we are in unrequited and deep real estate lust-love with this house. Although it seems utterly preposterous to anyone frugally inclined like Your Mama to spend $ 35,000 a month on rent even if you can well afford to spend $ 35,000 a month on rent, were Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter ever to be in the position to pay $ 35,000 a month to rent a house—and we don’t expect to ever be—we would be powerfully tempted by this house.

Some of the larger nearby estates are now owned by the somewhat mysterious Igor Greensberg whose mega-mansion rivals those in Beverly Park in both size and opulence and Dr. Phil McGraw.who dropped $ 29,816,500 for his 16,000-plus square foot mansion around the corner in July 2010. At the bottom of The Schwimmer Residence’s hair pin-like gated driveway is the famous (and sadly bulldozed) Falcon Lair, a stunning Spanish style residence built in the 1920s by silent film stud Rudy Valentino and owed for nearly 50 years by American heiress Doris Duke. And just down the hill a bit more is the property where Charles Manson’s minions murdered a handful of people including Sharon Tate in 1969. That property is now owned by sitcom writer/producer Jeff Franklin (Laverne & Shirly, Full House).

The ever-industrious kids at Curbed toured The Schwimmer Residence last summer and posted a couple dozen drool worthy photos that show other parts of the house not shown here that include a red-carpeted spiral staircase, the most decadent and dee-voon laundry room Your Mama and our imperious house gurl Svetlana have ever seen, and a sensually serpentine entry lined with curvaceous Richard Serra-like Bouquet Canyon Stone walls.

listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty

The Real Estalker

Curbed – Video Interlude: For It’s a Wonderful Life Day, Let’s Honor the BHHS Swim-Gym

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Today marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the release of the beloved classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The City Council has declared it It’s a Wonderful Life day and a ceremony, attended by members of director Frank Capra’s family, as well as actor Jimmy Hawkins, who played George and Mary’s youngest child, Tommy, was held at Capra’s Walk of Fame star this morning in honor of the occasion. Here at Curbed, we’d like to commemorate the day with a look at one of the film’s most memorable scenes, which was shot in Beverly Hills High School’s glorious swim-gym, designed as a New Deal project in 1939 by Stiles O. Clements.
· Hollywood ceremony marks ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’s’ 65th anniversary [Daily News]

Curbed LA