…some strange and fantastical rumors sometimes from our myriad of informants and this one here is most certainly of the pearl clutching and knee jellying—if totally unconfirmed—varieties of humdingers if we ever heard one. Ready? Buckle your real estate safety belts…
Your Mama Hears…
The other day Your Mama had a covert confab with one of our better connected Beverly Hills-based informants. Some of y’all may remember this particular canary from previous discussions as the inestimably well connected and charmingly jaded Shanahnduh Rotahnda, a very busy, plugged in lady whose ear is always pressed tight to the ground when it comes to high end Platinum Triangle property gossip. Along with some other tasty real estate related nuggets that popped our eyes wide, Shanahnduh ever so nonchalantly dropped a 225-pound pocket listing bomb that blew Your Mama’s gin-soaked eyes right out of their boozy sockets.
One thing the super rich know well is that everything is for sale if the price is right and, hunties, we mean every-damn-thing. Apparently the seemingly rapid pace of ultra-high end trophy property acquisitions across the country over the last year or so—think the (still alleged) $75 million sale of Howard Marks’ 10-acre bluff top estate in Malibu, the $88 million purchase of a New York City penthouse and the $49 million sale of Hala Ranch in Aspen—has more than a few trophy property owners thinking they might like to cash in if—that’s right, darlin’—the price is right.
Anyhoo, Shanahnduh snitched to Your Mama that she’s heard word come down the upper-est of the upper end real estate gossip grapevine that telecom tycoon turned diversified private investor and budding green tech mogul Gary Winnick has, on the down low, let it slip to one or more of the more successful real estate people in the Platinum Triangle that he might be willing to sell up Casa Encantada, his lavish 7.5-acre Bel Air estate that’s long been and is sometimes still referred to in Old School upper end real estate circles as the “Weber Mansion.” And how much might be the right price for Mister Winnick to sell his enchanted house? Shanahnduh says the number floating around in her fancy-pants real estate clique is—brace yerselves, buttercups—$225,000,000.
Did that gargantuan figure reduce anyone else to a dry-mouthed puddle of real estate flabbergast the first time you saw that like it did Your Mama? Have mercy. We don’t know if that man is crazy or if he’s sly like a financial fox. Hells bells, butter beans, we don’t even know if this is true. But iffin it is…holy mackerel!
Your Mama is just gonna do an abbreviated version of the palatial property’s illustrious and fascinating history but iffin any of the children want to know the what’s-what and nitty-gritty about Mister Winnick’s house you should pick up Unreal Estate, Michael Gross’s exhaustively researched, most recently published and deliciously dishy real estate-related page turner about some of L.A. most famous estates, a short list that includes Mister Winnick’s Casa Encantada.
The original and essentially Georgian style pile was built in the mid- to late-1930s by Hilda Boldt, a lady who married her chauffeur very soon after her very rich husband died. The Widda Boldt and her chauffeur cum husband are said to have paid a hundred grand for the property in 1936 and spent a staggering two million more having their dream mansion built. They hired dernier cri designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings to do up the day-core in an au courant style that would help them gain entry into the high-glam Hollywood society set.
Alas, The Widda Boldt and her former driver never quite made it in Tinseltown’s closed and snooty society scene and in 1950 the property passed into the hands of hotelier Conrad Hilton, the paternal great-grandfather of sometimes tawdry tabloid denizen Paris Hilton who paid just $225,000 for the epic property. Mister Hilton is said to have retained much if not off of the work of Mister Robsjohn-Gibbings. The house was transferred in 1963 over to some sort of corporate entity tied to the Hilton family with a lifetime tenancy agreement for Mister Hilton who died in 1979.
In 1980 Casa Encantada was sold for $12,400,000 to David Murdock, the wildly wealthy real estate developer and investor who—surely y’all recall—recently sold his 98%-plus controlling interest in the Hawaiian island of Lanai to bazillionaire software fat cat Larry Ellison for an undisclosed amount often reported to be somewhere between $5-600 million.
It was Mister Murdock who, in the fall of 2000, sold the the house to Mister Winnick and his wife, Karen, for—so the story goes in Mister Gross’ book—two parcels of land valued at about $26 million plus an additional cash payment that pushed the final purchase price to about $94,000,000.
Mister Winnick and his missus quickly engaged the expensive services of lionized architect—and hardcore leather fetish gear fan—Peter Marino to give the profoundly proportioned 1930s mega-mansion a multi-million dollar make-over. We don’t know exactly what alterations, additions, restorations, replacements or etc. that Mister and Missus Winnick made to Casa Encantada but we’ve heard and read here and there the extensive renovations involved structural upgrades, all new mechanical and electrical systems and the conversion of a staff wing into studio space for Mister Winnick’s wife, Karen, an author and illustrator of children’s books.
We do know from aerial images and various property record data bases—including the L.A. County Tax Man—the 23-room main residence sits prominently on 7.47 fully landscaped acres, measures 28,725 square feet and includes seven bedrooms and 20 full bathrooms* plus garage space for 15 cars.
The estate—no doubt as tightly secured as the queen’s jewels—occupies a private, elevated peninsula that’s wrapped on three sides by the well-manicured golf course of the very hoity-toity Bel-Air Country Club. Set well and privately behind a short stone wall and towering hedge, the house stands at the tail end of an impressively gated driveway that snakes up to a parking lot sized motor court at the front of the house. A second, less impressive but still imposing gate opens to a driveway and second motor court for staff service and vehicles.
Residents and their privileged guests have access to a slew of resort-like luxuries and recreational amenities that include—but are certainly not limited to—a swimming pool complex with two cabanas and a pool house that Your Mama would bet both our long-bodied bitches, Linda and Beverly, is bigger than our entire house; a lighted tennis court hidden behind towering hedges; a lighted full-sized basketball court; a putting green complete with sand trap; a lighted boccie ball court—or maybe it’s a lighted horseshoe throwing arena; and a concrete jogging circuit around the perimeter of the property that’s also used to efficiently get around the estate via golf cart.
The completely landscaped, high-maintenance estate also offers numerous shaded and unshaded terraces that over look the grounds and golf course, vast lawns and both formal and kitchen type gardens. Several detached structure are hidden behind the tennis court that may or may not be used for guests, office space and/or housing live-in domestics.
There are those who will say the property is so one-of-a-kind in the heart of the Platinum Triangle that the alleged $225 million number is justified and doable. There are others who will think it’s utterly ludicrous since no single, private residence in the history of Los Angeles has ever sold for more than $100 million, let alone two hundren million clams. We’ll let the children duke this one out in the comments. One, two, three…Go!
But, before we trundle off to make some Chinese food for The Doctor Cooter’s Valentine’s Day dinner, and just in case we need to remind any of the children: This is all just some high end real estate rumor and gossip and you did not hear it as fact from Your Mama. You’ll have to wait until one of the property gossips in one of the more respectable publications latches on to the story for that…
*Have mercy. If there really are 20 full bathrooms—a count that may or may not include the numerous other bathrooms in the various outbuildings sprinkled around the estate—Mister and Missus Winnick surely must be required to retain at least one full-time minimum wage girl whose sole responsibility is to keep all 20 of them terlits sparkling like the Hope Diamond.”
aerial image: Google