SELLER: Anthony “Tony” and Jeanne Pritzker
BUYER: Wolfgang Puck and Gelila Assefa Puck
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 12,289 square feet, 8 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In late 2011 or early 2012—we’re not exactly sure—multi-billionaire private equity tycoon and Hyatt Hotels heir Anthony “Tony” Pritzker and his wife, Jeanne, moved with their half dozen progeny to a freshly finished and very contemporary, boutique hotel-sized mega-mansion prominently sited on a high promontory above the hoity-toity Holmby Hills ‘hood n L.A.’s Bel Air area.*
The Pritzker family didn’t have far to schlep their stuff since their old house happens to be on an abutting property just below their new house. During construction, a dirt path zig-zagged down in to the ravine behind the old house and up the hillside below the new one. They could have, iffin they’d been so inclined, hauled all their personal belongings from the old to the new house by burro.
No longer in need of their old mansion, in May 2012 Mister and Missus Pritzker pushed their old house—a 1930s Mediterranean villa dubbed Villa les Violettes—on the market with an in-hindsight much too rosy asking price of $21,990,000. Your Mama turned up digital evidence that suggests the asking price was lowered in slivered amounts an astonishing 18 times before the property was taken off the market in March 2013 and quickly re-listed with an asking price of $16,495,000.
Finally, according to both Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air and Peter Propertyseller, along came sixty-something year old Austrian-born celebrity chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and his stunningly beautiful (and much younger) third wife, Ethiopian-born high-end handbag designer and philanthropist Gelila Assefa Puck** who forked over, as per property records, $14,000,000 for walled and gated estate.
We have no idea how much Mister and Missus Pritzker spent on upkeep, upgrades and carrying costs, of course, but even though the fourteen million clam sale price is almost eight million less than they originally wanted it’s still a decent if not exactly spectacular return on their investment since records show they acquired the property in August 2001 for $9,500,00.
Listing details show the mansion was originally built in 1938 on an up-sloping 1.24 acre parcel at the tail end of a long, snaking driveway that opens up to a motor court the size of a 7-11 parking lot where, right in the middle, each of the Pritzkers pressed their hand prints in concrete around an inset tile compass (or clock or whatever it is). At it’s tallest, the house stands two stories atop a three-bay five-car garage and encompasses 12,289 square feet with a total of eight bedrooms and eleven bathrooms.
This Pritzker cum Puck mansion is certainly not for the glutially undeveloped as it’s a long, wide and butt-bustingly grand flight of steps from the motor court to the double front doors that open into a lime-stone-floored foyer that cuts all the way through the house and opens through glass doors to the backyard entertainment and recreation areas. The ballroom-sized formal living room has intricately inlaid parquet flooring, elegant fifteen-foot ceilings, and a fireplace mantelpiece that’s likely an imported antique and probably cost as much as a Mercedes but, none-the-less, looks to Your Mama—quite frankly—far too insubstantial for a room of this magnitude. A double-height library with wrought iron-railed second level book storage gallery also connects through glass doors to the backyard and a somewhat petite-looking formal dining room has chatoyant silver paint (or maybe silver leaf) on the walls.
A lengthy, limestone galleria—and we’re talking limestone on the floor and the walls, children—links the public rooms and the main stair hall with it’s sweeping circular staircase to a large and less formal den where a deep, window-lined bay holds a breakfast table and wood-framed glass doors allow for direct access to a loggia that runs along the rear of the residence and overlooks the swimming pool.
The adjacent center island kitchen is certainly spacious and well-equipped with high-grade commercial-style appliances and slab marble counter tops but—if we may say so—it looks a bit worse for the wear and more like the domain of a hired chef than a cozy, family-oriented kitchen. That’s probably neither here nor there, however, since Your Mama would bet both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, that the kitchen (and service areas) will get a soup-to-nuts overhaul that conforms to the exact specifications of Mister Puck.
Even less formal and more family and kid friendly are a billiard lounge over the garage (with awning-shaded Juliet balcony) and a series of rooms in the garage-level basement that includes a rather make-shift-looking screening room with large screen projection system and an expansive (and rather brown) family room with built-in bar and—inexplicably—two different types of paver tiles that collide in the most decoratively unholy fashion right in the center of the room where it can’t be missed by anyone but the blind. Anyhoo…
In addition to the six or seven en suite guest/family bedrooms there’s a superstar-sized second floor master suite comprised of sitting room (with fireplace) and bedroom (with two Juliet balconies from which one can see the hulking roof of the Pritzker’s new mega-mansion). A mirrored boudoir for the lady of the house leads to extensive closets and dual bathrooms, hers in white with green marble accents and his with more masculine chocolate brown marble accents.
The vine-encrusted rear façade gives way to a 3,500-ish square foot terrace that spans the full width of the house, wraps around three sides of the swimming pool and spa and extends away from the house towards the ravine that runs along the rear of the property.
The multi-winged manse is ringed by a handful of of loggias and (sometimes awning-shaded) patios. The one of the den and kitchen end of the house has a fountain and, back up on the second floor, a second-floor loggia lounge over-looks the motor court and is outfitted with a marble mantel fireplace plus ceiling-mounted heaters and a sturdy-looking stone balustrade topped by a series of stone arches held up by spiral, carved stone (or maybe cast concrete) columns. At the front of the property, where it’s fencing enclosure is a bit too visible from the gated driveway entrance, a sunken, lighted and chain link fence-enclosed tennis court is overlooked by a shady viewing pavilion.
As far as we know, Mister and Missus Puck will move to their big new digs in Bel Air from a walled, gated, high-hedged and comparatively modest 4,725 square foot Spanish-style home in The Flats of Beverly Hills, near the West Hollywood border, that property records and other online resources show Mister Puck picked up in June 2003 for $3,675,000.
And, for the curious, in addition to their titanic new house, the Pritzkers maintain a multi-residence compound in the Topanga (CA), in the rugged mountains above Malibu, part of which they only recently acquired, in June (2013) for $2.7 million, from Emmy-winning reality television pioneer Johnathan Murray, producer of everything from The Real World to The Simple Life to Keeping Up with the Kardashians to Project Runway.
*An early 2012 article about the increasing proliferation of newly built mega-mansions in the Wall Street Journal describes the Pritzker’s glassy new mansion as having “a two-level basement with amenities including a game room, bowling alley, bar and media library. Above ground, there’s a gym with changing rooms, his-and-hers offices, an arts-and-crafts room and a hairdressing area. Other buildings on the property, including a detached recreation room and a guest house, bring the total square footage of the compound to just over 53,000 square feet.” Another article from March 2012 states that the Pritzker’s new pad “offers panoramic views from downtown to the Santa Monica Bay and has a hefty 72 kilowatts of solar power, geothermal cooling, and state-of-the-art energy-efficient lighting and climate control.”
**It’s not clear to Your Mama if Missus Puck still designs high-end handbags (or custom couture gowns or anything else) but her so-called Paris Collection of hand bags, which made its debut in 2006, were hand-crafted in South Africa with exotic hides like springbok, ostrich and crocodile.
listing photos: Everett Fenton Gidley for Westside Estate Agency