SELLER: Shawn Far
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, Calif.
PRICE: $23.5 million
SIZE: 9,000 square feet
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: A Beverly Hills mansion once and briefly occupied by German-born silver screen enigma Marlene Dietrich has been sold, as was first revealed by the property gossips at The Wall Street Journal, “sight unseen” to an “international buyer ‘with homes all over the world’” for $23.5 million.
Although the house is referred to in various accounts as the “Marlene Dietrich mansion,” the sultry, fashion forward and famously libidinous bisexual actress never actually owned it. Rather, she occupied it for a short time in the late 1930s when it was owned by her friend, Countess Dorothy (Taylor) di Frasso, an American-born leather goods heiress and flamboyant international high-society maven who was the paramour of a number of high-profile men including Gary Cooper, Bugsy Siegel and Cary Grant. (Interestingly enough, in the romantic merry-go-round of early Hollywood, Miz Dietrich also had a fling with Mister Cooper.) The countess — a second marriage in 1923 to a much older minor Italian royal bestowed her noble title — purchased the house in question sometime in the 1930s and soon hired Elsie de Wolfe, the vaunted grande dame of modern-day interior décor, who did the whole place over with an elegant, sumptuous and glamorous Art Deco vibe.
In the 1940s, the party-throwing countess sold the estate and all its decadent furnishings to Spanish-born conductor and concert pianist José Iturbi, who lived there until his death in 1980. The Iturbi family hung on to the house until 2008, when it was sold, according to property records, for $7 million to garment industry executive Shawn Far. Late last year and earlier this year, as many Beverly Hills residents know, Mister Far ran afoul of his neighbors and city officials, who didn’t appreciate the cheese ball holiday signage he hung on the perimeter wall of another mansion he owns at a busy Sunset Boulevard crossroads, directly across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel. But that’s another story for another time and place….
Several sources have told this nosy property gossip that word on the Platinum Triangle real estate street is that the “international buyer” is a member of the Saudi royal family, and good ol’ Yolanda Yaketayyk says that her diamond bespangled ears hear the new owner isn’t just any ol’ over-pampered prince or princess with a bank account bigger than Switzerland but rather a U.S.-educated former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot and astronaut who, in the 1980s as part of an international crew, flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Rumor and gossip, kids, rumor and gossip.
The 1.2-acre estate, behind a high hedge just a short hop from the Beverly Hills Hotel, was sold in an off-market deal — it was shopped as a whisper listing at $25 million — but was previously listed as a luxury lease at $75,000 per month long term and $150,000 per month short term. Digital lease listings show the main house, a still stately if slightly faded Spanish Revival affair, measures about 8,000 square feet with four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A detached guesthouse adjacent to the backyard swimming pool has another two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen. Rental listing photos reveal the interiors aren’t exactly preserved in amber but do, so the reportage goes, retain some of Miz de Wolfe’s deft handiwork such as hand-painted wall coverings and, while not exactly ready for publishing in a glossy shelter publication, certainly speak to a version of Old School Hollywood glamour with glitzy chandeliers and at least one mirrored fireplace not to mention a pair of mirrored dining room tables set end to end in the formal dining room.
No word on what the new owner’s plans for property have yet to reach our inbox — Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller? — but if this veteran property gossip has learned anything from our near decade of slinging real estate dirt, it’s to expect the unexpected from the sorts of limitlessly funded buyers who already own a slew of lavish homes around the globe but still spend $23.5 million for a high-maintenance trophy home they’ve never even stepped foot inside and, even after overhauled at huge expense, will probably not occupy for more than a few weeks a year.
Listing photos: Hilton & Hyland