SELLER: Eric and Susan Smidt
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
SIZE: 11,204 square feet (main house), 10 bedrooms, 17.5 bathrooms (total)
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In early 2005 discount tool tycoon Eric Smidt—not to be confused, butter beans, with similarly named Google gajillionaire Eric Schmidt*—paid $39,352,500 for a fabled Beverly Hills estate known ’round the world—or at least throughout Tinseltown—as The Knoll.** Mister Smidt and his wife, Susan, quickly embarked on a recently completed an full-scale, down-to-the-studs renovation of the entire property so it comes as no surprise to this property gossip—as we first heard from eagle-eyed informant Bella d’Ball—that they’ve (finally and) quietly pushed their old compound in the guard-gated Beverly Park development up for sale with an official asking price of $45,000,000.***
As best as Your Mama can tell for a careful parse of the property records Mister Smidt and his wife, Susan, acquired the two parcels that make up their five acre Beverly Park estate in two separate transactions. In July 1995 they paid former professional ice hockey hunk Wayne Gretzky an unknown sum for the smaller of the two parcels and several years later (November 1999) they snatched up the slightly larger second parcel for $3,054,545.
The couple custom-built a sprawling, multi-structure Italianate compound that arguably has more in common with a Tuscan village than what the less well-heeled hoi polloi consider a private residence. In addition to a multi-winged main residence that the Los Angeles County Tax Man pegs at 11,204 square feet, the estate includes two guest houses, an octagonal pool house, staff quarters, and an at-home office complex with three offices and a conference room.
A short, tree-shaded drive and massive gates open to a cobblestone motor court with with central fountain. We counted garage parking for at least nine cars plus extensive secondary and tertiary parking areas that accommodate, according to listing details, upwards of thirty cars. All this discrete, off street parking is a bonus when you own an estate that surely requires a small army of domestic servants, landscape maintenance workers and personal assistants who would otherwise have to park their Hyundai, Kias and Hondas on the street for the neighbors to see. While the L.A. County tax man shows the main house has 7 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, listing information goes one to reveal there are a total of ten bedrooms and 17.5 bathrooms throughout the property including a master suite with dual bathrooms and dressing rooms.
A double height foyer with dramatic groin vaulted ceiling and over-scaled chevron pattern honey-blond wood floors leads to an almost ecclesiastical, step-down formal living room with marble mantled fireplace, groin-vaulted ceiling, and a trio of wrought iron accented French doors with massive semi-circular transoms. The groin-vaulted ceiling treatment extends into the adjoining formal dining room where listing photos show a round, inlaid marble table surrounded by eight brocade-upholstered chairs. (Your Mama would be shocked—shocked, we tell you—to learn this dining room isn’t capable of holding a second, equally sized table so that 16 can comfortably be sat for a sit down dinner.
Online marketing materials go on to mention or pictorially represent a double-height library (with fireplace), a double-island kitchen flanked by a roomy informal dining area and a spacious family room, a (probably temperature controlled) wine cellar, and a plush screening room done in decadent shades of blood. Not shown in photographs but mentioned in listing descriptions is a “coiffure salon” because when you’re this rich and pampered you do not hump down the hill to slum it with the hoi polloi at Frederick Fekkai, you pay extra and dearly to have Fredrick Fekkai come to you and do up your do in your privacy of your own hair salon, right?****
The lavishly landscaped and painstakingly maintained grounds include numerous hedge-lined lawns, vast terraces and shaded loggias for outdoor entertaining, several parterre gardens with obelisks and fountains, a raised bed kitchen garden and small citrus grove, a swimming pool, and a lighted tennis court.
Since its inception in the early1990s Beverly Park has been much coveted by celebrities, foreign potentates and other captains of their industries who have a thing for privacy, security and palatial mansions. Current residents include (but are far from limited to) Sumner Redstone, Sylvester Styllone, Paul Rieser, Denzel Washington, (Prince) Alex von Fürstenberg, Haim Saban, Bruce Makowsky, Jami Gertz (and her financier hubby), Rod Stewart, Ron Tutor, Avi Arad, Reba McEntire, and Eddie Murphy.
There are not, as far as we can tell, any Beverly Park estates currently listed on the open market although we’re sure that if you know who to call there are at least several that are available as off-market whisper listings. This scarcity of available estates is good for the Smidts but what’s maybe not so good for them is that the last few sold for substantially less than the $45 million price tag they’ve slapped on their double-lot spread.
In June 2012 Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Paul Nassif and entrepreneurial former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Adrienne Maloof—since bitterly divorved—sold their approximately 13,000 square foot faux-French chateau for $19.5 million to a U.S.-based Pakistani textile tycoon. A few months later producer Lili Zanuck—her late husband was producer Richard Zanuck—sold her nearly 12,000 square foot red-brick Georgian for $20,000,000 to a foreign buyer who—we’ve been repeatedly told—would like to knock it down and build something much larger and far more modern.
In June 2012 mid-priced handbag designer turned high end house flipper Bruce Makowsky paid comedian Martin Lawrence for $17,200,000 for a 13,000+ square foot mansion that he sold just a year later for $24 million to—so the scuttlebutt goes—György Gattyán, an unusually handsome and often scruffy-faced billionaire who is one of Hungary’s wealthiest men. The most recent Beverly Park sale that this property gossip knows went down in early March of this year (2014) when former professional baseballer Barry Bonds sold his 17,000-ish square foot Mediterranean manse for $22,000,000.
In addition to their pair of high maintenance estates in Beverly Hills and Bevelry Park, Mister and Missus Smidt also own a contemporary, ocean front compound on Malibu’s quickly disappearing Broad Beach that that they scooped up in 2003 for $14,950,000. It’s right next door to Steven Spielberg’s even larger ocean front spread and just a few doors down from Pierce Brosnan’s Balinese-y beach house-mansion.
*Eric Schmidt—not to be confused with Eric Smidt—is a software engineer who’s currently the executive chairman of Google who maintains whole bunch of of high priced homes that include (but may not be limited to) a compound in über-affluent Atherton, CA, a stunning, high-maintenance estate in Montecito, CA, that he picked up in 2007 from inveterate house hopper and chat show host Ellen DeGeneres, and a large in-town house in Nantucket (MA) where we’ve been told but can’t confirm Mister Schmidt’s estranged missus, Wendy, spends a great deal of her time. Then there’s the 6,000 square foot duplex penthouse in Manhattan’s Flatiron District he reportedly picked up in mid-2011 for $14.6 million and last month the Mister Schmidt shelled out $22 million for Gregory Peck’s former manse in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles that happens to be just down the street from the A. Quincy Jones designed house Ellen DeGeneres and Porta Di Rossi DeGeneres picked up a few months ago for almost $40 million. But we digress…
**The Knoll was designed by architect Roland Coates and built in the 1950s for oil-rich widow Lucy (Smith) Doheny Battson and her financier (second) husband, Leigh Battson. The 10-ish acre spread was later owed by movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, country music honcho Kenny Rogers, and the late (and famously rotund) oilman turned Hollywood power broker Marvin Davis and his philanthropic wife Barbara. The Smidts hired esteemed architects (William) Hablinkski and (Richard) Manion to transform the original 27,000 square foot streamlined contemporary Georgia into a white brick Regency residence.
***Some of the children may recall that Your Mama heard word more than a year ago that Mister and Missus Smidt planned to slap a forty-or-so million dollar price tag on their Beverly Park compound.
****Use your noggins, children. Your Mama really has no idea if Mister and/or Mister Smidt have their hair cut by Frederic Fekkai or any other name brand hair care specialist but given that they installed a “coiffure salon” in their home it’s a pretty safe bet they do, at least occasionally, bring in professionals people to cut and coiffure their hair. Anyways…