Bruce Makowsky Flipping Out in Beverly Hills

SELLER: Bruce Makowsky and Kathy Van Zeeland
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $19,950,000
SIZE: 12,500 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen, chickens, we’re feeling a little bored with the usual celebrity real estate fare today so instead of going down that route we’re going with a long ditty about a couple of L.A.-based real estate ballers. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Like in many places across the county, if y’all haven’t heard, the Los Angeles real estate market is once again white hot. The Agency‘s recently released Agency Report for the second quarter of 2013 indicates sales volumes of prime properties in Los Angeles have pretty much returned to their heady, pre-bubble burst peaks in 2005. We’ll let economists and consumers decide if this is a good thing.

If we choose to look—and Your Mama often chooses to look—we have to look no further than a couple of L.A.-based real estate ballers named Bruce Makowsky and Kathy Van Zeeland to illustrate the almost rabid optimism that currently prevails at the electrified tippy-top end of the market in Los Angeles in general and, in particular, the rarefied zip codes that compose the so-called Platinum Triangle (90210, 90077 and 90024).

Mister Makowsky and Miz Van Zeeland—married, they are—have earned bucket fulls of money peddling mountains of mid-priced handbags, shoes and accessories on QVC. The designing duo have utilized their fortune to amass a sizable property portfolio that Your Mama tabulated is valued at more than $90,000,000, based on what property records show were paid for a (at least) half dozen luxury residences in Beverly Hills and Malibu.

Unlike some deep pocketed people who maintain half a dozen (or more) houses around the world for their private use, Mister M. and Miz V.Z. seem to use their high-priced mansion purchases as investments. As far as we know the Makowsky-Van Zeelands’ primary residence is a 25,000 square foot faux-Tuscan beast in Beverly Park where they also own two smaller but still huge mansions that periodically pop up for rent. Your Mama was told by someone who tends to know these things that one of them—a 12,000 square foot number of indistinguishable architectural style listed on the open market last year for $100,000 per month—was leased in the near past by the very same Uzbeki heiress who (allegedly) coughed up $32.75 million for a 48,000 square foot Mohamed Hadid-developed mega-mansion directly across from the ever-fab Beverly Hills Hotel. In June 2012 Mister M and Miz V.Z. forked over $17.2 million for comedian Martin Lawrence’s 16,000 square foot Beverly Park mansion that they quickly put up for lease at a mind numbing rate of $200,000 per month. Our entirely unscientific research indicates Mister M. and Miz V.Z. still own the one previously leased by the Uzbeki heiress but some sleuthing by Yolanda Yakketyyak turned up evidence that they sold the old Martin Lawrence house in mid-June (2013) for $24 million, more than six million buck more than they paid for the place a year before.

Anyhoo, let’s (finally) get on back to the big ol’ mansion in the Beverly Ridge development they bought last year for $11.725 million and flipped back on the market for $19.95 million, shall we?

The liberally pastiched behemoth was erected in 2005 on a 1.99 acre lot with sweeping views over the scrubby hills and dales of Franklin Canyon. There are, as per current listing details, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms in 12,500 square feet that have been fully fitted and kitted with a whole slew of modern conveniences and luxuries hidden behind a cacophony of Old World-ish details and high-priced materials: onyx counter tops, more fireplaces with (possibly antique) carved stone mantelpieces than a person can shake a stick at, antique doors imported from Spain, tiles imported from Morocco, and reclaimed barn wood brought in from New Hampshire.

Monthly homeowners dues—these pay for the community’s street maintenance, security services, and etc.—run $2,400 per month according to marketing materials we found online. A few quick calculations on Your Mama’s bejewled abacus shows that’s about what a full-time minimum wage worker in California earns in a month but it is most certainly but a pittance to the sorts of people who can afford to buy and maintain a house with a price tag of nearly twenty millions dollars.

As with a couple of their Beverly Park estates, soon after Mister M. and Miz V.Z. purchased the Beverly Ridge estate that’s now back up for sale, they offered  it up for lease in May 2012 at $85,000 per month. It was leased out a few months later for an unknown amount of time to an unknown rich person for, as per intel we dug up online, $75,000 per month.


A careful perusal of past and present listing photographs suggests to Your Mama that Mister M. and Miz V.Z. didn’t make many changes to the mansion’s lavish interior spaces. Indeed, current listing photographs show some of the very same furniture and decorative accoutrement as was shown in listing photos from the time of their purchase. Curious that, but, you know, make of this what y’all will.

Mister M. and Miz V.Z. did, however, make a number of significant alterations and additions to the exterior areas of the estate as is shown in a YouTube video (above) that tracks the construction of the exterior upgrades. At the front, a multi-tiered fountain was added and, at the back, a pergola-type structure was built to define an outdoor living room/lounge. Custom awnings shade an adjoining, newly built barbecue station and snack bar and over at the edge of the yard, where the amorphous edge of the flat lawn abruptly changes to a scrubby and steep down slope, an organically-shaped negative edge swimming pool with inset spa was installed. Below the pool, an all-new, sun-soaked deck juts dramatically out over the  rugged canyon.

Your Mama, who does not know a snake from the grass, has no idea how much was spent on the exterior improvements but clearly Mister M., Miz V.Z., and whomever their advisers on such matters are feel that the improvements and increasingly electrified market justifies a hair-curling $8,225,000 elevation in value in just over a year’s time. The market will bear witness to that optimism but, in the meantime, Your Mama wonders what the children think.

Earlier in our (long) discussion Your Mama mentioned that the Makowsky-Van Zeelands were in the process of constructing a mega-mansion in the hills above the Sunset Strip. Last August (2012) a corporate entity that our research shows and our sources swear is connected to Mister Makowsky paid $12,650,000 for a low-slung residence at the tail end of N. Hillcrest Drive in Beverly Hills.


Very quickly the existing, nearly 7,000 square foot house was razed to make way for, according to a video on the YouTube that Yolanda Yakketyyak dug up, a dramatic, 21,000 square foot mega-mansion with curvilinear roof lines and a curved, negative edge swimming pool that, given the lot’s promontory siting, gives way to an honest-to-goodness panoramic view over Los Angeles. The children will note the digital imagery shows a fire channel runs the full length of the pool next to a sunbathing shelf. Maybe we’re just old fashioned but Your Mama does not relish the idea of having to hoist our fat ass over a fire channel every time we want to skinny dip, you know?

If their real estate history is to repeat itself we should see the massive modern mega-mansion Mister M and Miz V.Z. are building on N. Hillcrest come up for lease when it’s complete with a mind-numbing monthly rate. But, of course, what do we know? Could by Mister Makowsky and Miz Van Zeeland will occupy the premises themselves. Or maybe they’ll put it up for sale with an asking price that will send shivers down the spines of everybody but the (lucky) few who belong to the world’s increasingly wealthy ultra-rich micro-minority. We shall see, puppies, we shall see.

UPDATE (LATER SAME DAY): Yesterday the long-legged blond gal at Trulia Luxe Living reported that former NFL defensive end turned morning chat show co-host Michael Strahan is in the process of flipping a fixer upper mansion in prime Bel Air for $11,000,000, $3.1 million more than he paid for the 1926 Mediterranean tear down last May (2012). (Mister Strahan reportedly made few if any improvements to the property.) That in and of itself is newsworthy in the world of celebrity real estate and, conveniently, illustrates once again just how electrified the high-end market in Los Angeles is.

Well, buckle your safety belts, butter beans, because a magnificent real estate coinkydink has just been dropped in Your Mama’s fat lap: We can’t prove it since no transaction records have yet to be recorded but we’ve just heard from a well connected source—let’s call her Belle Aire—who snitched to Your Mama that the previously unidentified buyer of Mister Strahan’s fixer up in Bel Air is none other than Mister Bruce Makowsky. Tah-duh!

listing photos: Coldwell Banker
video (Beverly Ridge): Roman James Design + Build via YouTube
video (Hillcrest): Roman James Design + Build via YouTube

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