SELLER: Mario Kassar
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 2.18 acres
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: An estate in L.A.’s hoity-toity Holmby Hills ‘hood has returned to the market after a brief holiday hiatus with a new and hugely reduced asking price of $32.5 million — it has previously been saddled with a $39.9 million price tag — and a deep dive into property records reveals the 2.18-acre spread has been owned since at least the mid-1990s by veteran Hollywood producer Mario Kassar. Once upon a time Mister Kassar was an influential and powerful cat’s meow in Tinseltown. He and producing partner Andy Vajna were responsible for a cavalcade of action packed if intellectually thin box office blockbusters that included the “Rambo” franchise, two of the “Terminator” movies, “Basic Instinct,” and “Total Recall.” Kassar and Vajna additionally and very lucratively pioneered film sales to foreign markets, once a relatively untapped but now crucial, life-giving segment of the movie business. Alas, in the mid-1990s their production company, Carolco Pictures, went belly up — for the record, Mister Vajna left Carolco in 1989 and Mister Kassar became the sole shareholder — and for the next twenty years, among other independent endeavors, Mister Kassar toiled as an executive for Columbia Pictures and Tri Star Pictures. At some point investment banker turned movie producer Alex Bafer bought the Carolco name and logo, renamed his existing production company (Brick Top Productions) Carolco Pictures and early last year it was reported Mister Kassar was tapped to be the company’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. Is this a classic phoenix from the ashes situation in the making? We’ll let the real Hollywood insiders decide. Anyhoo, let’s get back to the real estate matter at hand….
Current digital marketing materials are downright stingy about discussing details of the estate’s existing residence, a multi-winged single-story sprawler that the L.A. County Tax Man shows was originally built in 1937 and, accurately or not, pegs in at 6,589-square-feet, and the property is being marketed as “A once in a lifetime opportunity” to “build your dream estate on one of Holmby Hills finest trophy properties.” In more concise, layman’s terms, the existing house is a tear down and the asking price is meant to reflect the (hoped for) value of the land only.
According to publicly available online data, the estate was assessed in 2014 at just over $8.5 million but was none-the-less put up for sale in late September 2015 with, as mentioned above, an in-hindsight ridiculously rosy asking price of $39.9 million. Online marketing materials from 2015 show the estate — down the street from the Playboy Mansion and next door to a super-luxe estate much rumored to be leased by Jay-Z and Beyoncé at somewhere around $150,000 per month — was then also being pushed as an “Amazing development opportunity” to “create your incredible dream estate” and little was mentioned about the existing structures on the property. Instead, listings crowed about and included computer renderings that depicted an approximately 50,000-square-foot mega mansion designed for the site with 11 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms plus separate staff quarters, a 16-car subterranean garage, 25-seat movie theater and arcade space, a spa center with treatment and massage rooms, and a “Nightclub with glass ceiling into pool area.” We’re not exactly sure what that last bit means — a glass-bottomed swimming pool? — but it sure sounds showboat-y in the extreme, stupid expensive, troublesome to maintain, and, well, just kind of silly. But, let’s be honest, what do we really know about what sorts of flashy features that resonate with people who have 30, 40 or 50 million bucks to spend on a 3rd, 4th or 5th trophy estate?
Aerial image: Bing