Buckle your real estate safety belts, butter beans, because Your Mama is about to reveal the name of the mystery buyer who shelled out $88.3 million in cash for Suzanne Saperstein’s world renown Los Angeles estate known as Fleur de Lys (above). But first, let’s have a (not so brief) recap.
In the late 1990s Swedish-born Miz Saperstein and her ex-husband David Saperstein, then based in Houston, TX, acquired 4.6 prime acres in L.A.’s super-swank Holmby Hills ‘hood.* Inspired by the elegantly extravagant Vaux-le-Vicomte palace outside Paris, the famously spendthrift Sapersteins spared no expense to erect a monumentally decadent chateau of around 35,000 square feet that they slathered in gold leaf and filled to the gills with pedigreed antiques. The fully-landscaped estate also includes: a snaking 600 foot long driveway that ends in a motor court the size of a civic plaza; a separate sizable caretaker’s house plus extensive staff quarters; a second motor court for staff and service vehicles; a swimming pool and spa complex; a lighted tennis court and extensive gardens that include a football field sized backyard lawn. A few short years after the estate was completed in 2002, Mister Saperstein left Missus Saperstein and took up with the family nanny, another blond but much younger Swede whom he later married.
Missus Saperstein, a voracious consumer of haute couture who in 2008 described herself to W Magazine as “the most insecure person you could ever run into in your entire life,” was granted ownership of Fleur de Lys and, post-divorce, often leased the palatial property out for parties and charity events. For at least half a dozen years—Your Mama first (dissed and) discussed the property back in 2007—Miz Saperstein had the fancy-pants pad on and off the open market with an astronomical asking price of $125 million.
This property gossip has many times heard from impeccable sources deep inside the Platinum Triangle real estate game that Miz Saperstein once turned down an offer of $100 million because the buyer refused to cough up a couple more million bucks to cover her multi-million dollar moving expenses. British Formula 1 racing heiress Petra Ecclestone was widely rumored to have had an $80 million offer rebuffed and later there were reports of rumors that Petra’s equally profligate sister, Tamara, was interested in the property. (She wasn’t.) Pop superstar Mariah Carey was also widely rumored to have expressed some interest in the the property but that also turns out to have been little more than rumor.
Anyways, in February of this year (2014) Your Mama received some juicy but unsubstantiated gossip that an unnamed Chinese billionaire made an $85 million offer for the grandiose estate and in mid-March we received a decidedly cryptic communique from a different but also anonymous informant who claimed Fleur de Lys was in contract for around $85 million with a Russian billionaire who is not Roman Abramovich, Andrey Melnichenko or Dmitry Rybolovlev but is “well established in California.” But, as y’all will soon see, that bit of delectable scuttlebutt turned out to be little more than heavy load of Platinum Triangle real estate hooey.
In late March an unidentified source told the lady property gossip at the L.A. Times revealed that Fleur de Lys was indeed to be sold to a mysterious buyer identified only as a French billionaire.** The report went on to say that the otherwise unidentified Frenchman beat out two other billionaires, one from China and another from the U.K., with an all-cash offer of $102 million with a 10 day closing. The sky-high and record-breaking price, so the reportage went, included a cache of unspecified antique furnishings.***
Follow up reports revealed the new owner’s tax bills were being mailed to an attorney’s office at junk bond billionaire Michael Milken’s Santa Monica-based Milken Institute leading many to speculate that the buyer might be Michael Milken. However, a representative for Mister Milken explicitly denied to the lady property gossip at the L.A. Times that neither Milken nor his institute bought the property, which was purchased via a limited liability company.
Almost immediately after Fleur de Lys changed hands, the property somewhat surprisingly popped up on the open market for lease at a stomach churning price of $400,000 per month and, even more inexplicably, when the property records were finally recorded and made available to the public in mid-April (2014) they show the mysterious buyer paid $88.3 million for the estate and not the originally reported $102 million.****
Naturally, as soon as we heard Fleur de Lys was to be sold we contacted some of our better connected contacts who operate in the upper end of the Platinum Triangle real estate market and—curiously enough—no one could—or would—name the mysterious buyer. Then, finally, we heard from real estate yenta extraordinaire Yolanda Yakketyyak who told us she’s 100% certain and will “swear on everything, including her seven pair of vintage Gloria Vanderbilt jeans,” that the mysterious buyer of Fleur de Lys is—as has been widely speculated but roundly denied by his own representatives—none other than Michael Milken. Apparently Mister Milken hosted what Yolanda called a “massive housewarming party” a few weeks ago in the gilt-trimmed downstairs ballroom the day before his institutes’s capitalism promoting Global Conference began.
There are, besides Yolanda’s proven good word, a few other coincidental tidbits that point to Mister Milken. First off, the real estate agent who represented the buyer is married to one of Mister Milken’s daughters and, several years ago, Mister Milken, via a limited liability company, paid close to $37 million for a 13,000 square foot ocean front house on Malibu’s Carbon Beach that, like Fleur de Lys, and surprisingly came up for lease at $200,000 per month just days after it was purchased. (FYI, Yolanda is adamant that Mister Milken’s beach house was never actually rented to anyone but we don’t know if that’s true or not.)
Now children, just to be clear, even though we have zero reason to doubt Yolanda, since Mister Milken’s representatives have publicly denied in a major newspaper that neither he nor his institute bought the estate this is just some delicious high-end real estate rumor and gossip and you should make of it what you will.
*Technically, the estate is on (or near) the border between Beverly Hills and the Holmby Hills in a neighborhood called Beverly Crest.
**Curiously, Your Mama knows a well connected individual who, in late April, told us that one of the agents involved in the deal was going around town telling people the buyer was Bernard Arnault, a French luxury good tycoon with a fortune in excess of $36 billion.
***Several years ago Miz Saperstein sold off $8 million worth of antiques, including an 18th century German chandelier that went for $602,500, so we’re not sure what antiques the buyer might have purchased.
****The original price recorded with the Multiple Listing Service was $102 million but that has since been swapped out for the $88.3 million figure.
aerial photo: Pacific Coast News