…from Lenny Lemmetellya, an unimpeachable source deep inside the Platinum Triangle real estate game, the lavish and downright legendary Los Angeles (CA) estate known as Owlwood is quietly being shopped around with an astronomical (but not surprising) asking price of $150,000,000.
(Gasps heard ’round the globe.)
The sprawling Holmby Hills spread (above), set between Sunset Boulevard and the famously clannish Los Angeles Country Club, has over the years been owned by a long list of high profile people. Owlwood‘s current owner, however, is a relatively low profile lady named Dawn Arnall, the billionaire widow of sub-prime mortgage mega-mogul Roland Arnall, who went to meet The Great Loan Processor in the Sky in 2008.
Long before he acted as George W. Bush’s a U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands (2006-2008), Roland Arnall founded Ameriquest, the company that pretty much invented stated income home loans, otherwise known as “no-doc” or “liar’s loans” in which little (or even no) verification of income or financial resources was required to secure a mortgage. Although his fortune has been greatly reduced by the recent mortgage meltdown and near collapse of the American economy, at one point Mister Arnall’s estimated net worth ran up to around three billion bucks. Perhaps due to declining health and/or wisely prescient of the economic collapse just around the corner, Mister Arnall got out of the sub-prime mortgage business in 2007 when he sold most or all of his interest in Ameriquest to Citigroup for an undisclosed amount of money.
For a woman of such substantial financial means The Widda Arnall manages keep almost entirely out of the hot glare of the judgmental public eye. Her name was, however, splashed all over the tabs and papers earlier this year when nearly $10 million worth of her jewelry, reported missing in 2006 from a hotel in The Netherlands, turned up in the possession of a Dutch hotel maid who mistook them for costume jewelry. The jewels—a pair of earrings, two rings and two necklaces—were returned to the insurance company that paid out Missus Arnall’s claim. As far as we know—which ain’t nuthin’—no charges were filed against the hotel maid who was given the gems out of the hotel lost and found, in accordance to hotel policy, when they went unclaimed for six months. Anyhoo, fascinating as all that gem business may be, let’s skedaddle back to the property matter at hand.
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According to the fairly well scrubbed property records we peeped (and other online resources) Mister and Missus Arnall acquired the three parcels that make up the Owlwood estate in a trio of transactions in 2002. Various reports and other online resources indicate they paid somewhere around $30-35,000,000 for the three properties that by our rudimentary calculations total 9.83 acres. That makes it one of the largest estates in the Platinum Triangle. To put it in (real estate) perspective, the massive mansion Candy Spelling sold last year to 20-something year old Petra Ecclestone for $85,000,000 sits on just about 4.7 acres and wealthy divorcee Suzanne Saperstein’s uncommonly opulent Fleur de Lys mega-mansion, listed since the dawn of time for $125,000,0000, sits on just about 5 acres.
We can’t be sure the figures are accurate, but the Los Angeles County Tax Man show the house has 9 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a two-minute video made when Owlwood was for sale in the late 1990s and early 2000s (accessible on the YouTube) states the multi-winged mansion encompasses 22 rooms including a baronial, 1,500 square foot living room with solid oak paneling and marble-faced fireplace. Public property records reveal Miz Arnall’s 2011 tax bill for the three parcels that comprise Owlwood came to more than $450,000. Just think about that for a moment…
photo: Dan’s Hollywood Tours
Each of the three separate but adjacent parcels that make up Owlwood at one time had a substantial mansion on it. Two of them were torn down. The last mansion standing on the hoity-toity Holmby Hills homestead is a 12,000-plus square foot Italian Renaissance-style pile (vintage photo above) designed by accomplished architect Robert Farquhar and built in 1936 for Florence Quinn, the ex-wife of department store magnate and real estate mogul Arthur Letts Jr.
The property was later owned by hotelier Joseph Drown—he of the recently re-vamped Hotel Bel-Air—and Tinseltown mover and shaker Joseph Schenk—founder of 20th Century Fox—who, even though he was an older married man, reportedly (and allegedly) had a fling with a young Marilyn Monroe who lived in the guest house for a short period of time.
Mister Schenk sold the house to oilman William Keck who is said to have added an indoor swimming pool and gold-plated bathroom fixtures shaped like—you got it!—oil derricks. In the mid 1960s Mister Keck sold to actor Tony Curtis who in turn sold it to Cher and Sonny Bono in 1974 for around $750,000. Cher—who was granted sold ownership the house in her divorce for Sonny—unloaded the house in 1976 for $950,000 to carpet magnate Ralph Mishkin who flipped it just a couple years later to a flamboyant and (maybe) shady arms dealer named Ghazi Aita.
It was Mister Aita who added the 4.6 acre spread next door, purchased from pioneer porn producer Bill Osco. The old Osco-estate is where Owlwood‘s extensive swimming pool and tennis court complex are now situated a significant distance from the main house. Mister Aita put the two pieces of the estate on the market in 1999 for a combined $58.9 millions dollars. Finally, in 2002, it was sold to Mister and Missus Arnall.
photo: Dan’s Hollywood Tours
At the same time they picked up the two-parcel estate from the arms dealer Mister and Missus Arnall also acquired a third adjacent parcel with a gaudy, pink-colored mansion (vintage photo above) and kitchy heart-shaped swimming pool. The Mediterranean mansion was originally built for Rudy Vallee—who never occupied the premises—and was later owned by busty pin-up babe Jayne Mansfield, who painted the whole thing a putrid but somehow endearing shade of pink. Eventually the Sunset Boulevard estate was bought by crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, who left it pink. Much to the chagrin of many, Mister and Missus Arnall razed the appropriately dubbed Pink Palace in 2004, allegedly without the proper permits, and as far as we know—which ain’t nuthin’—the undeveloped site of the former Pink Palace functions as little more than a parking lot.
We don’t know if Missus Arnall and her Real Estate—Lenny Lemmetellya told us Owlwood is being represented by a relatively unknown agent at The Agency—plan to put the property on the open market but certainly if they did it would garner a heap of international press that might help to attract a foreign potentate, tech tycoon, or pampered heiress with an ocean of money to spend on what is arguably one of the most desirable estates in all of Los Angeles. Has any one called Petra Eccelstone’s sister Tamara who is rumored to want a Los Angeles estate that puts her baby sister’s 56,000 square foot behemoth to shame? Imagine.
A short list of Missus Arnall’ nearby bigwig neighbors include (but are far from limited to) Hugh Hefner at The Playboy Mansion, recent divorcee Jamie McCourt, contemporary art gallerist Larry Gagosian, couture-collecting octogenarian socialite Betsey Bloomingdale, and actress turned make-up mogul Connie Stevens. Directly across Sunset Boulevard is the monstrous mansion where Michael Jackson met his early end in June 2009.
Less than two years after they acquired Owlwood Mister and Missus Arnall paid movie producer Peter Guber a staggering $46,000,000 to purchase Mandalay Ranch, a 650-acre ranch property just outside Aspen (CO) with a 15,000 square foot main house (with 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, movie theater and indoor basketball court), 2 guest cabins and at least one barn with additional living quarters. As best as we can tell Missus Arnall still owns Mandalay Ranch.