SELLER: Peter Morton
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
SIZE: 5,367 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just over a year ago property flipping restaurateur and hotelier Peter Morton* paid $9.8 million for a multi-winged, single-story French Regency style residence on a private (and partly flat) promontory in the ever-so-trendy and expensive Trousdale Estates.
Although Mister Morton is a baby real estate baller in his own right, what made the purchase most notable to property gossips around the globe was that the nearly 5,400 square foot Rex Lotery-designed residence was previously and famously owned by Elvis and Priscilla Presley who bought the house for $400,000 shortly after they were married in 1967. Even to this day diehard fans of Elvis The Pelvis make the long and winding pilgrimage up the wide and twisting streets of T-dale Estate to write their names and other words of fanatical affection on the estate’s front gate.
Almost immediately after he closed on the property Mister Morton incurred the public wrath of preservationists and rock ‘n’ roll fans alike when it became known—or at least rumored—he planned to raze the existing residence and replace it—as is de rigueur in this neck and price range of the real estate woods —with something larger and more sybaritic. In November, 2013, the saga turned downright surreal when Burger King offered to buy the property for a measly $3.69 million with a promise to preserve the house in perpetuity as some sort of shrine to Elvis or some such thing. That’s right, kids, Burger King.
Eventually, however, Mister Morton—amid the public pressure and scrutiny by the folks council that oversees the relatively toothless Beverly Hills historic preservation ordinance—opted not to push forward with a demolition and instead gave the place a cosmetic make-over both inside and out and hoisted it on the rental market in early 2014 at $45,000 per month.
This property gossip has no idea if anyone was interested in this house at $45,000 per month but we do know—as Your Mama first heard from real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak—Mister Morton must also have made the property available for purchase as an off-market listing because, indeed, the high-end flipper surreptitiously sold the house in early March (2014) in an off-market deal to a mysterious corporate entity for—are you ready for this, butter beans?—$14,500,000.
A few quick clicks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama’s bejeweled abacus shows Mister Morton made gasp-worthy $4.7 million dollar profit on his short term ownership, not counting his renovation costs, upkeep expenses, and whatever real estate fees he paid.
Listing details from the time of Mister Morton’s purchase show the 5,367 square foot house was originally built in 1958 on a 1.18 acre ridge line lot near the tippy top of Trousdale Estates. The current configuration offers spacious, glass-walled public rooms—including a dining room with a huge, domed glass sky light—plus an office, family room, eat-in kitchen and media room. There are a total of four bedrooms and five (renovated and marble-sheathed) bathrooms in the main house and an attached guest house.
There’s a gated drive and compact motor court, a four-car garage, and a flat back yard that hugs the various wings along the back the house and offers shaded terraces, a swimming pool and spa, and long views down the canyon, past the knot of towers that comprise Century City and, on a unusually clear day, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
At this point Your Mama does not know who’s behind the corporate entity that dropped such a big wad on this house and we don’t have any inside intelligence on what his and/or her plans for the property may be.
What we do know, however, that multi-million dollar mansion-collecting mid-range handbag designer Bruce Makowsky paid $12.65 million for an almost 7,000 square foot house catty-corner across the street from the house Mister Morton just sold that he razed to make way for a colossal, 21,000 square foot residence with curvilinear roof line. Your Mama assume without any real knowledge that Mister Makowsky would like to sell the giant new house at a substantial profit to some rich person who will probably spend millions more on a redo because, well, that’s the way the super rich do it in Los Angeles. They pay premium dollar for a newly built or renovated mansion and give it a multi-million dollar facelift. Gack!
Anyways, also in the immediate area are internationally acclaimed photographer Steven Meisel who put is mid-century zig-zagger up for sale as a pocket listing in the spring of 2013 with an asking price Your Mama was told by more than one Beverly Hills real estate insider was right at $15 million. Several months later, the published, Brad Dunning-decorated property popped up on the open market with an asking price of $13 million. The price eventually dropped to $12.495 million before it dipped to $11.75 million and digital listings show the property is currently in escrow with an unknown buyer at an unknown price.
Those who follow the upper end real estate markets in the better zip codes around Los Angeles, know well that Mister Morton is a regular buyer, seller and owner of high-priced and sometimes renown properties in the Tinseltown environs. His current property portfolio includes—but is not limited to—a contemporary, ocean-front mini-compound on three plum lots on Malibu’s Carbon Beach as well as a 13,000+ square foot mansion in a price pocket of the Holmby Hills. In September 2006 he paid $18.5 million for a celeb-pedigreed Tudor mansion in Beverly Hills that he listed in 2008 for $22.5 million and finally sold in May 2011 for $16,190,000 to Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side, Gravity). Previous owners of the estate include Marlo Thomas, David Geffen, and radio tycoon Norm Pattiz.
*Mister Morton, the son of Morton’s Steakhouse chain founder Arnie Morton, co-founded the Hard Rock Café chain back in the early 1980s and, in the 1990s, built the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Paradise, NV. He also owns the eponymous power dining boite Mortons in Beverly Hills where Hollywood’s power barometer is measured by how good a table one is able to secure during prime dining times (as was chronicled in the scandalous, Julia Phillips written 1991tell-all autobiography You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again
listing photos: Coldwell Banker