SELLER: Megan Ellison
BUYER: Ted Waitt
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: (Your Mama heard) $21,000,000
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Every property gossip and real estate watcher in Tinseltown knows that between February 2008 and April 2011 20-something year old software scion turned powerhouse movie producer Megan Ellison* (True Grit, Catch . 44, Main Street and the rights hold to the Terminator franchise) dropped $32,850,000 on three very contemporary houses on the same swanky street in the so-called Birds Streets high above L.A.’s Sunset Strip.
Two of the three houses were re-worked by designer Steve Hermann and, before Miss Ellison came along and scooped it up in February 2011 for $13,750,000, the third was all decked out by a slew of top rank designers and served as the 2010 Esquire House.
This property gossip repeatedly heard Miss Ellison wanted to sell one of the two Steve Hermann designed houses before she floated one of them as an off-market listing in April (2013) with an asking price of $15,500,000. (It remains on the listing agent’s website but does not show up in the Multiple Listing Service.)
As it turns out, my pretty ponies, Miss Ellison may want to sell more than one of her three Bird Street aeries and, in fact, we learned from Our Fairy Godmother Above the Sunset Strip, she surreptitiously sold the former Esquire House property just last week in an off-market deal to a corporate entity that’s easily linked to philanthropic tech tycoon Ted Waitt. Property records do reflect a transfer of ownership but don’t as of this morning show a purchase price; Your Mama heard word that it went for around $21 million. A few clicks and clacks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama’s bejeweled abacus shows that young Miss Ellison hauled in a serious $7,250,000 profit in just over two years of ownership, not counting upkeep expenses, any improvements she may have made, and carrying costs. Our Fairy Godmother Above the Sunset Strip also snitched that Mister Waitt plans to tear the place apart and remake it more to his liking. Such are the eye-popping and prolifically spendy real estate ways of the rich and/or famous, right?
Mister Waitt, in case the name doesn’t ring a bell, earned his billion dollar-ish fortune in computer hardware; He co-founded a company called Gateway in the mid-1980s that revolutionized and main-streamed the personal computer business. Gateway manufactured low-cost desktop and laptop computers as well as monitors and servers and other such things that were famously and cutely shipped to consumers in cow-spotted boxes.
AOL agreed to invest $800 million in Gateway in 1999 (Gateway bought back much or all of it’s stock in 2004) for $800,000,000. Mister Waitt sold more than a billion dollars of stock in Gateway in 2002 and in 2007 a small segment of the business was sold for $90 million. Gateway was sold in 2007 went for $710,000,000 to hardware juggernaut Acer. Not all of the proceeds of the Gateway sale(s) went into Mister Waitt’s coffers, of course, but he’s none the less amassed a fortune that in 2007 amounted to about $1.7 billion. He net worth has dipped considerably since—it’s estimated to hover around a billion bucks—but he’s hardly living in what any one besides Larry Ellison and Bill Gates might consider to be reduced circumstances.
We’re not sure what—if any—alterations Miss Ellison made to the former Esquire House property but listing details and other resources Your Mama dug up from the time of her purchase show the gated micro-compound has four bedrooms, seven bathrooms, spacious open plan living spaces, and unobstructed views that sweep over the city.
The main living space was equipped with a massive fireplace, fire and water features, a curved built-in wet bar, a step-up dining area, and a long expanse of floor to ceiling glass that obliterates any visual distinction between indoors and out. There was also at the time it was sold to Miss Ellison a small leather-walled study, a sleek Euro-style kitchen, and, where one might expect to find a breakfast table or t.v. watching area, a virtual realty lounge powered by Lufthansa-approved technology. Somewhere there was—and may still be—a spacious state-of-the-art screening room that, at the time of Miss Ellison’s purchase, was outfitted with six internet-equipped televisions plus a 55-inch movie screen and eight chocolate brown micro suede viewing loungers on—buckle your decorative safety belts—an rotating circular platform.
The second level of the main house included a fitness room with wood floors and floor-to-ceiling sliders that open to a city-view balcony, a couple of guest/family bedrooms, and a massive master suite complete with a stone fireplace surmounted by a flat-screen t.v., a wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, a custom fitted closet/dressing room large enough to make an average clothes horse weep with desire, and a bathroom bigger than a large studio apartment.
A detached two-story guest house/entertainment pavilion included a glass-walled music lounge with built-in wet bar, a pool bathroom with multi-person sauna, an upper level recording studio, and a glass-railed roof top terrace with L.A.’s proverbial jet-liner views.
The exterior entertainment areas include 3,000 (or so) square feet of milk and dark chocolate brown striped terracing, a high quality built-in outdoor kitchen, a small flat patch of grass, and a LED-lit swimming pool bordered with swim current and water jets that shoot ten feet in the air.
Mister Waitt was divorced a five or so years ago from his long-time wife, Joan, who by this July 2011 article in Ranch & Coast magazine appears to have retained ownership—or at least occupancy—of the family’s manicured 9-ish acre estate in La Jolla, CA. Since he split with his first wife Mister Waitt remarried model turned t.v. presenter and embarked on a bit of a real estate buying and selling spree. In June 2010 the property fickle billionaire shelled out $27.5 million in an off-market deal for a 9,309 square foot triplex New York City penthouse that Rupert Murdoch sold to fashion designer Elie Tahari in late 2005 for $24,675,000. Mister Waitt quickly flipped the triplex in April 2011 at a multi-million dollar loss to an unknown buyer for $25,000,000.
Shortly after he sold the Big Apple penthouse he shifted his sights back to the Left Coast where he shelled out $11,525,000 for a newly built house very high up in the Bird Streets above the Sunset Strip. It was here at this house that in July (2013) Mister Waitt held an 1980s themed mock-prom party for his new(ish) wife that his sister Cindy chronicled on her blog.
Despite already owning a sexy house in the Bird Streets Mister Waitt spent $14,000,000 on a pseudo-Mediterranean style compound perched on a private, one-ish acre promontory above L.A.’s Bel Air ‘hood that he sold just 10 months later in another off-market deal for $16,000,000 to a deep pocketed dermatologist that, according to his website, specializes in acne treatments, hair loss, cosmetic injectables, and anti-aging treatments.
Your Mama’s research indicates Mister Waitt also owns a substantial tract of land in South Dakota near his hometown of Sioux City, IA, and there are internet reports that last year he quietly took delivery of Plan B, a high-tech multi-deck mega-yacht designed by a German concern and built by an Abu Dhabi based boat building operation.
As for young Miss Ellison, property records indicate she still owns the two other Bird Street houses she bought a few years ago on the same street as the one she just sold to Mister Waitt. She also owns another house near the tippy-top of The Birds that she bought in December 2011 for $1.8 million, renovated, and flipped back on the market 11 months later for $3,750,000. The price was twice reduced to $2,990,000 before it was put into escrow with an unknown buyer for an unknown amount.
Just a couple months ago Miss Ellison plunked down $2.8 million for an idiosyncratic one bedroom apartment in the iconic Police Building in lower Manhattan. Given her (apparently genetic) proclivity for acquiring multiple properties in the same locales neither Your Mama nor any other property gossip would be the least bit surprised if she picked up one or two more adjoining apartments at the Police Building.
*Miss Ellison is the youngest child and only daughter of bazillionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison, one of the world’s richest men and a world class real estate baller whose personal property portfolio includes a half a dozen (or more) homes and compounds easily worth a couple of hundred million dollars.
listing photos (from the time of the 2011 purchase by Miss Ellison): The Agency