YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Though they only bought it just over two years ago, hip-hop/R&B royals Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz have hoisted up for sale their celeb-pedigreed, 32-room mega-mansion in Englewood, N.J., at $14.9 million. The award-collecting songstress — her accolades include but are hardly limited to two People’s Choice Awards, five American Music Awards, seven Black Entertainment Television awards, 10 Billboard Music Awards, 15 Grammys, and 17 NAACP Image Awards — and the entrepreneurial producer — he has his own Grammy, and last year, pronouncement-prone Yeezy West called him the best producer of all time — bought the 5.42-acre, two-parcel estate from comedian Eddie Murphy in two separate but contiguous transactions that totaled $12.1 million per property records. The larger parcel, 3.91 acres with the massive main residence, went for $10.425 million and the smaller, 1.51 acres with a secondary residence of nearly 4,500 square feet, went for $1.675 million.
The rambling, red-brick Georgian, set behind gates and fitted with a high-tech security system, measures in at a conspicuous 25,000 or so square feet, with eight bedrooms and 14 toilets divided between 10 full and four half bathrooms. A quick comparison with listing photos from the time of their purchase clearly indicates the couple brought in a team of decorators and designers who appear to be from the Lenny Kravitz School of Design — think moody and tactile fabrics, lustrous surfaces, splashy chandeliers and lots of portrait-type artworks — and gave the place a complete cosmetic makeover.
There’s a guardhouse hut at the main gates that swing open to a sweeping driveway that cuts across a broad lawn and passes under an unfortunate porte cochère before it curls around to roomy motor court at the north end of the house. (It’s our humble and utterly meaningless opinion that the porte cochère does not lend this particular residence an air of grandeur or grace as a porte cochère can sometimes do in the right circumstance but rather gives the place the distinct feel of a well-kept motel conveniently located for long-haul travelers just off the interstate. But anyhoo…) The couple, who collect contemporary art, have filled the house with an expanding collection as is seen in the marble-floored foyer — where they’ve also inexplicably and unnecessarily parked a motorcycle — as well as in the formal living and dining rooms, the former with a matched pair of clear crystal chandeliers and the latter with two racy black crystal chandeliers. Less formal although no less luxely outfitted family quarters include a den/library with television surmounted fireplace and open display shelves and a vast, eat-in kitchen that opens through French doors to an all-glass winter garden dining space lit by yet another glitzy chandelier, this one girdled with a beaded metal shade.
At least two of the guest/family bedrooms have glammy chandelier-style table lamps posted on either side of the bed, as does the supersized master bedroom that is so gigantic it includes a sitting room furnished to comfortably accommodate or more seven people. Why, children, anyone would ever want seven people in their bedroom, the most intimate and private room in a home, is beyond this property gossip’s capacity to understand. And, really, why would it ever even be necessary to comfortably sit seven people in the master bedroom when, at least in this house, there are 31 other, far more appropriate rooms in which to entertain?
Other creature comforts and amenities called out in digital marketing materials include two elevators — one each for the north and south wings — a movie theater, two-lane bowling alley, glass-roofed indoor swimming pool, tennis court, professional-grade recording studio, a carriage house with gym, garaging for five cars and what listing details call a newly added and “dramatic art gallery wing with soaring ceilings.”
Though the estate, called Bubble Hill during Eddie Murphy’s ownership, is currently priced at $2.8 million more than they paid, we’re not going at all certain the Keys-Beatz will come out too much ahead as, unfortunately for them, they have a piss-poor track record when it comes to making money on their real estate deals. Miz Keys previously owned a large but perfectly ordinary, 7,954-square-foot manse on 2.2 acres in Syosset, N.Y., that she bought in late 2005 for $2,933,380 and sold in June 2011 for $2,995,000 — a $60,000 gain easily erased and exceeded by real estate fees — and Mister Beatz previously owned a 14,000-square-foot mansion in Pomona, N.Y., that he and his first wife bought in 2005 for $2.7 million and sold in June 2014 for just $999,900. (In case any of y’all might be curious, Mister Beatz’s Pomona property was sold to an investor who appears to have done little besides pull some weeds and dust the countertops before it was tossed back up on the market in May of 2015 at $2.995 million, a rose-tinted pricetag that’s already been reduced by half a million clams.) Furthermore, in early 2010 Miz Keys and Mister Beatz together paid Lenny Kravitz $12.75 million for his characteristically louche duplex penthouse in New York City’s SoHo ‘hood that they first put back up for sale in March 2012 with a wildly optimistic $17.95 million price tag and sold at a considerable $375,000 loss, not counting carrying costs, improvements and real estate fees, in March 2013 for $12.375 million.
Listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty