YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Buckle your real estate safety belts, children, because we’re going to cover quite a bit of ground here…
As far as this property gossip can surmise, it was the folk at the Hollywood Reporter who, way back in early December last year, revealed what property records now confirm: Octogenarian media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has sold his storied estate high above Beverly Hills for exactly $30 million.
Some of the children may recall that the multibillionaire News Corp. chairman and CEO floated the estate last year as an off-market listing with an asking price of $35 million. So the scuttlebutt goes, the spectacular, city-view estate brought in multiple offers and attracted the attention of deep-pocketed Hollywood luminaries like Leonardo DiCaprio who, according to Platinum Triangle real estate uber-insider Peter Propertyseller, made an unsuccessful offer for the A-list property.
So, who is the new owner? Well, property records show the buyer’s identity shielded behind a limited liability company registered in the unlikely location of Melville, New York. But everyone — everyone who pays attention to these things — swears the new owner of the historic estate is none other than Mister Murdoch’s fourth child and youngest son, James, a Harvard dropout who, in the spring of 2012, was forced to resign from his high post at British Sky Broadcasting in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that rocked his father’s global empire. The reportage goes that James Murdoch, in his early 40s, married with three young children and currently the co-COO of 21st Century Fox — another media juggernaut owned by his father — has already initiated minor renovations that “will maintain the historic relevance of the sprawling property…while giving it an updated look.”
The crab-shaped house, set on four parcels that total 6.4 acres, was designed by vaunted architect Wallace Neff and built in the mid 1920s for film pioneer Fred Niblo and Australia-born actress Enid Bennett. The L.A. County Tax Man puts the house at 8,651 square feet with 11 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms although, in all honesty, butter beans, we can’t be sure those figures are accurate.
Alterations have likely been made to the house during its nearly 100-year life, but an original floor plan we dug up on the Internet shows the mansion, which curls around a circular motor court, includes — or at least once included — an elliptical entrance hall flanked by formal living and dining rooms, a library and a private guest bedroom with en suite bathroom and private entrance. The floor plan also shows an extensive service wing composed of a kitchen-sized butler’s pantry, a slightly larger kitchen with walk-in pantry, an adjoining mud/breakfast room and a pair of staff bedrooms that share a hall bathroom. A breezeway connects the circular forecourt to a secondary motor court and garage and links the main house to staff or guest quarters with living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms.
The gated and no doubt heavily secured grounds — essentially across the street from the Flemish-style compound Hollywood heavyweights Rick Nicita and Paula Wagner recently hoisted on the open market for $12.5 million — includes extensive lawns and formal gardens, a tennis court and a deep loggia that gives way to a parking lot-sized terrace that steps down to a swimming pool and spa.
Interestingly, the deeds and documents for the Murdoch mansion in Beverly Hills now link back to a sixth floor apartment at the humorously named Porter House building in New York City’s once bloodstained but now terrifically chic Meatpacking District. The sixth floor unit is owned, per property records, by a mysterious corporate entity that also owns both of the other sixth-floor units. The three units, purchased between September 2012 and July of 2014 for a total of $12.85 million, have yet to be combined but are currently listed for sale as a group with an asking price of $22 million. Also interesting, the last of the three units was purchased, for $6.5 million, from a fella named Jesse Angelo, a Murdoch family confidant and the CEO and publisher of the New York Post, which everybody knows is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Whether James Murdoch is owner of the three Porter House units is still up for debate, but he is the presumed — and reported — owner of a 12,000-plus-square-foot, neo-Georgian townhouse on New York City’s Upper East Side that was once owned by Muppets creator Jim Henson and last sold in March 2011 by Seagram’s heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. for $23 million.
Though he’s sold his Beverly Hills estate to his son and his third ex-wife, the whip-smart and famously fierce Wendi Deng, wound up with the couple’s mansion-sized triplex penthouse on New York City’s swank Fifth Avenue, Rupert Murdoch still maintains an impressive property portfolio that includes but is not limited to a 16-acre vineyard estate in L.A.’s Bel Air area bought in August 2013 for $28.8 million and a 6,850-square-foot quadruplex penthouse at the newly erected and ever-so-slender One Madison Avenue building across from New York’s Madison Square Park bought in February 2014 for a hair-raising yet hardly record-breaking $57.25 million.
Since some of you brave souls made it this far, we’d like offer a fun little extra real estate tidbit for you amusement: We learned earlier this week from the inestimable Yolanda Yakketyyak that it was 82-year old Rupert Murdoch’s Vanity Fair Oscar party date, 44-year old Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Gwyneth Paltrow pal, Juliet de Baubigny, who recently plunked down $6.5 million for “Supernatural” actor Jensen Ackles’ estate on Malibu’s star-saturated Point Dume.