SELLER: Elizabeth Ross ‘Libet’ Johnson
LOCATION: Santa Monica, Calif.
PRICE: $4.6 million
SIZE: 3,102 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Mondays sometimes bring funny moods, so today we veer slightly from the real estate affairs of celebs, movie moguls and unimaginably rich business folk for a wee look-see at some of the recent and numerous real estate activities of Elizabeth ‘Libet’ Johnson, the fortunately born great-granddaughter of Johnson & Johnson co-founder Robert Wood Johnson. The Band-Aid heiress’s all-but-unlimited purse coupled with her frequent and sometimes mercurial residential real estate acquisitions and purveyances have long made her property gossip column catnip and the always reliable real estate yenta Yolanda Yaketyyak swears she quietly acquired a $4.2 million house in L.A.’s posh Pacific Palisades community and, a few weeks later, surreptitiously sold a residence in Santa Monica for $4.6 million.
Records show the Santa Monica property, a fully updated circa 1950 Monterey Colonial on a plummy street just a couple of blocks from the beach, was last purchased for $2.85 million via an inscrutable corporate entity in August 2011, and digital marketing materials from the most recent transaction show the eclecticly decorated, 3,102-square foot house has four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and at least three fireplaces plus a detached guest/pool house with another fireplace and a steam shower-equipped bathroom.
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The main floor living spaces include a combination foyer/living room, an adjacent den and an adjoining, bookshelf-lined library office. The galley-style kitchen has butcher-block countertops, industrial-grade stainless steel appliances and a pizza oven while a roomwide bank of French doors in the oversized dining room open to a pergola-shaded red brick patio that overlooks the swimming pool, spa and backyard.
Yolanda swears and property records suggest that just before she sold the Santa Monica property, Miz Johnson, via the same inscrutable corporate entity used to purchase the Santa Monica house, forked over $4.2 million for an expensively tailored if ordinary abode of no particular architecture vernacular in a low-key but prime part of Pacific Palisades. Listing details for the PacPal house show it measures in at just over 3,500 square feet with five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. Not that it matter a lick, but iffin Your Mama were the betting type — and we’re not — we’d wager the proverbial farm Miz Johnson won’t hang on to this house for more than a couple of years.
While the abovementioned properties are wildly expensive by just about any reasonable real estate standard they are, none-the-less, downright cheap compared to some of the other properties that have passed through Miz Johnson’s perpetually in flux property portfolio. In late 2007 a corporate entity long known by property gossips to be associated with Miz Johnson shelled out $23.5 million for a nearly 11,000-square-foot mansion on 2.47 landscaped acres in the same guard-gated enclave in L.A.’s Brentwood community where 2015 Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen custom built a humongous faux-chateau they had photographed for Architectural Digest and sold last year for $40 million to Dr. Dre and Nicole Threatt. After years on and off the market, Miz Johnson finally dumped the gated Brentwood spread (above) in July 2012 got $18 million, a hefty $5.45 million loss not counting carrying costs, improvements and real estate fees.
In New York City, where she trades premiere properties like she’s playing Monopoly, Miz Johnson currently owns a red brick Neo-Georgian townhouse mansion that she purchased in July 2011 for $48 million from beauty industry tycoon Roger Barnett and telecommunications heiress Sloan Lindemann Barnett, who’d had the interiors of the approximately 12,000-square-foot pile done over by justifiably lauded — and S/M garb wearing — architect Peter Marino. The Barnetts went on to throw down $33 million on the 17,000-square-foot San Francisco mansion of iconoclast international socialite and generous philanthropist Dodie Rosekrans while Miz Johnson was stricken with an almost immediate case of the Real Estate Fickle and soon floated the Upper East Side townhouse as a whisper listing with a desired sale price reported in 2012 to be somewhere in the mid-50 millions. (So the stories went at the time, Miz Johnson had set her always-roaming real estate eyes on the two, eighth floor apartments at 907 Fifth Avenue of the late and famously reclusive copper mining heiress Huguette Clark. Alas, the larger of the two apartments — along with a couple of rooms cadged from the smaller neighboring apartment — went to private equity honcho Frederick Iseman for $22.5 million.)
As impressive as it is, the massive Upper East Side mansion — originally built in 1887 and the home of Alice Vanderbilt’s sister, Cettie Shepard, for the first three decades of the 20th century — is really only the tip of Miz Johnson’s fascinating Big Apple real estate iceberg. In June 2013 she sold a four-bedroom and 5.5 bathroom condo at the Trump International Hotel and Tower for $21.85 million. The 48th floor corner apartment was once part of a collection of contiguous if not necessarily combined units that all together spanned about 20,000 square feet and, as far as we know, have now all been sold off. In June 2008, a corporate entity linked to Miz Johnson paid young adult author Patricia McCormick and her financier husband $11.95 million for a Perry Street townhouse that she sold — again at a multimillion-dollar loss — in May 2012 for $8.55 million Previous to that, way back in October 2005, Miz Johnson made a well-documented purchase of another West Village townhouse, this one West 12th Street, for $9.1 million from Hollywood royal Meryl Streep. The capricious heiress, however, never moved in — she reportedly lent it to Michael Douglas’ ex-wife Diandra — and instead put it on the market in spring 2007 for $14.995 million and sold it that fall for $12.8 million. (The buyer, interestingly enough, flipped the property less than a year later for $13.5 million and our thorough if entirely unscientific research suggests the current owner is countess and frozen food entrepreneur Elisabeth de Kergorlay.)
The generally quite private Miz Johnson — who established an orphanage in Cambodia in 2003 and, some may recall, was shortly thereafter launched into tabloid noteriety in the mid-2000s when her now deceased niece Casey Johnson publicly accused her of seducing her boyfriend — clearly has a long-standing propensity for buying and selling high-priced properties that might easily suggest a chronic and all-consuming case of the Real Estate Fickle. However, Your Mama and Yolanda’s combined research indicates the itchy-footed Miz Johnson has owned at least a couple of swank properties for a very long time, including a 10,000-square-foot house in Vail, Colo., that she picked up in 1994 for $5.6 million as well as a vast country estate in Millbrook, N.Y., that has long been her bucolic if high-luxe refuge and — fun tidbit — has its own, FAA-sanctioned heliport.
Listing photos (Santa Monica): Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Listing photos (Pacific Palisades): Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Listing photo (Brentwood): Coldwell Banker
Exterior photo (New York City): Nicholas Strini for Property Shark