SELLER: Vicki Walters
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: An uncommonly lavish and storied estate of about 16 acres tucked both discretely and discreetly into the upper reaches of Benedict Canyon in Beverly Hills — a portion of which was once owned by both Cher and Eddie Murphy — has officially hit the open market with an eye-popping and publicity generating asking price of $85 million.
In the mid-1970s, not so long after she and her first husband Sonny Bono went their separate romantic ways, Cher purchased a secluded four-acre parcel about ten minutes by car outside of downtown Beverly Hills where she spent several years and who knows how many millions to custom build a quirky and sumptuously bedazzled Egyptian-themed mansion of about 10,000 square feet. We didn’t turn up any photographs of the house from the time the famously long-tressed superstar lived there but in 1979, shortly before the by-all-accounts decidedly idiosyncratic manse was completed, she told People magazine she and her architect, Ted Grenzbach, “got a lot of ideas from the souvenir book that came with the TV movie ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’” After less than a decade in residence and perhaps tired of living in her film set of a mansion, Cher sold the estate in late 1988 for $5.9 million to comedian Eddie Murphy and reports from the time show the house then had six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a gym, and a cavernous atrium with an electronically retractable glass roof.
Alas, Mister Murphy, who did some redecorating and added a screening room, soon experienced a real estate change of heart and flipped the property back up for sale in 1990 with a $9 million price tag. The estate languished unwanted and finally sold in early 1995 for just $4 million, a bank-account ravaging $1.9 million loss not counting maintenance costs, improvement expenses, and real estate fees. The bargain buyer was wealthy Mexican businessman Roberto Trouyet — his family developed the Las Brisas hotel in Acapulco — who also, as it turns out, quickly came down with a severe case of what we call The Real Estate Fickle and put it back up for sale in April of 1996 for $9.9 million. The estate was sold the following April for $6.395 million to mid-western transplants Raul and Vicki Walters, he a shopping center construction magnate who earned a portion of his fortune by building Wal-Mart stores and she his pampered wife who like to joke that they moved from their long-time home base in humble Columbia, Missouri, to the far more high-fallutin’ Beverly Hills because there wasn’t a Neiman-Marcus department store or any other good shopping in Missouri. Just a little rich people humor, right? Anyhoo, reports from when the Walters acquired the estate indicate that in addition to the six-bedroom main house the property also had staff quarters with three bedrooms, some 5,500-square-feet of Travertine terraces, and several koi ponds.
The Walters eventually bought up four surrounding properties that ballooned the estate to its current size of about 16 acres. They extensively remodeled and expanded the main residence and added a couple of huge houses for guests and/or staff as well as a tennis court and equestrian facilities. They also installed acres of carefully groomed, resort-style grounds that Ms. Walters candidly revealed back in 2000 required eight gardeners to maintain. They also were reported at that time to have employed a couple of housemaids and a Moroccan chef. Marketing materials provided by communications honcho Tommy E. Joad describe the property as “the last vast compound site in Beverly Hills” and show the estate’s main residence measures in at around 20,000 square feet. According to listing broker Aaron Kirman of John Aaroe Group, the house is mid-renovation and will need to be completed before the next owner takes up residence. The estate also includes an approximately 7,000-square foot, Moroccan-style guesthouse with four en suite bedrooms plus a total of six bathrooms, two kitchens, and two fireplaces while a deluxe equestrian barn incorporates a spacious stone-floored lounge with fireplace along with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and — a once rare but nowadays de rigueur feature in homes of the superrich — a safe room. The compound’s extensive and no-doubt brutally expensive to irrigate grounds, which we imagine probably still require eight or more gardeners to maintain, encompass vast, uniformly emerald-green carpets of rolling lawns bordered by flowering gardens and thousands of square feet of outdoor living spaces. There’s also a swimming pool just outside the main house, a tennis court with shaded viewing terrace, two white-graveled riding rings, and a picturesque system of private hiking and riding trails.
The always impeccably informed real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak swears and property records do suggest that Ms. Walters, whose husband passed in 2009, “downsized” to a mansion-sized condominium of more than 9,300-square-feet at The Century building in Century City that she quietly scooped up last October (2015) for $22.5 million. Listing details we dug up on the internet show the full-floor spread, just below Candy Spelling’s 18,000-square-foot duplex penthouse, has four bedrooms, five full and three half bathrooms, a living room with two fireplaces and a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows, a formal dining room that accommodates more than two dozen diners, and wrap-around terraces that provide 360-degree views over Los Angeles.
Listing photos: John Aaroe Group