Just as the stock market soared in 2017, rich and famous folk bought and sold residential properties coast to coast at dizzying, previously unheard of high prices. Indeed, Taylor Swift’s $18 million acquisition of a downtown New York City townhouse and Matthew Perry’s $20 million purchase of a mansion-size condo in L.A.’s Century City — it was listed by Bachir Oueida of Douglas Elliman — barely merit a mention on any short list of the year’s top celebrity sales. And though it may sound like an unimaginable amount of money to mere financial mortals, Angelina Jolie’s $24.5 million pickup of Hollywood pioneer Cecil B. DeMille’s Spanish colonial revival-style mansion in the gated Laughlin Park enclave in L.A.’s Los Feliz is but a fraction of the astronomical sums celebs spent or took in on their myriad real estate transactions over the past year.
George Lucas Buys Holmby Hills Estate
Shortly after he announced plans to spend a billion dollars to build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in downtown L.A.’s Exposition Park, “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas paid Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot $33.9 million for the Mi Patria estate in L.A.’s always fashionable and forbiddingly expensive Holmby Hills. Formerly owned by music industry mandarin Freddy DeMann, the not quite one-acre estate includes an elegant 1929 Spanish villa of almost 10,000 square feet with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms as well as an open-air cabana next to a mosaic-tiled swimming pool and staff quarters atop a detached two-car garage.
“Modern Family” co-creator and “LA to Vegas” executive producer Steve Levitan and his estranged wife, Krista, may be struggling through an acrimonious, tabloid-tracked divorce, but the erstwhile couple nonetheless brought home some serious bacon in the real estate department. Not only did they unload their former home in the low-key but high-toned Brentwood Park neighborhood on L.A.’s Westside for a bit below $9.8 million — the buyer was “Late Late Show” host James Corden — but they more notably sold a “modern farmhouse”-style mansion they custom-built on a high bluff overlooking the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for an astonishing $41 million to Kevin Washington, the well-financed son of octogenarian Montana multibillionaire businessman Dennis Washington.
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After two long years on the market with a preposterously optimistic asking price that started at a publicity-generating $75 million and dropped to a still pie-in-the-sky $59 million, Demi Moore, once upon a time the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, finally sold her triplex penthouse in the south tower of the handsome, twin-towered San Remo building on New York City’s Central Park West for $45 million to an as-yet-unidentified buyer. Despite the sale figure being an embarrassing 40% discount off the original asking price, Moore is laughing all the way to the bank because it’s also nearly 6.5 times the $7 million she and ex-husband Bruce Willis paid renowned film and theater impresario Robert Stigwood for the six-bedroom and 5.5-bathroom park-view penthouse in 1990. Adam D. Modlin of the Modlin Group handled the listing.
David Geffen’s Sale Breaks Malibu Records
David Geffen, who presides over a residential property portfolio that easily exceeds $250 million in value, added to his more than $6 billion fortune with the record-shattering $87 million sale of his longtime compound on Malibu, Calif.’s prestigious Carbon Beach to Dodgers owner Mark Walter, while pals and business partners George Clooney and Rande Gerber, who made themselves a whole lot richer this year when they sold their Casamigos Tequila company for $1 billion, earned what is by comparison just petty cash when they sold side-by-side contemporary beachfront villas they custom-built in a posh guard-gated development near Baja California’s Cabo San Lucas to an unnamed Mexican billionaire in a combined deal reportedly valued at $100 million.
Among the year’s biggest — if not the biggest — spenders in the celebrity real estate arena were unquestionably showbiz’s reigning king and queen of just about everything, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who shelled out a blood-freezing $114 million for two high-maintenance trophy homes, one in Los Angeles and the other in the Hamptons. Having shacked up for a few years in a series of high-priced rentals in some of L.A.’s most expensive zip codes, the peripatetic couple bit the real estate bullet and bought a brand-new, spec-built compound in a plum pocket of L.A.’s Bel-Air for which they took a gasp-worthy $52.8 million mortgage against an $88 million sale price. All together, the sleekly ostentatious contemporary compound comprises six glass-walled structures with eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms plus staff quarters, along with more than 10,000 square feet of outdoor living areas, a regulation-sized basketball court, a comprehensive wellness center, garage space for 15 cars and four swimming pools. That’s right, there are four swimming pools.
Just months after they settled on a West Coast home, the mononymic bicoastal couple, who have long maintained a nearly 9,000-square-foot condo in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, coughed up about $25.9 million for a shingle-clad “cottage” on 2.1 acres that covetously borders Georgica Pond in the tony beach community of East Hampton, New York. In addition to the aristocratically proportioned main residence, which has five bedrooms and seven full and two half bathrooms in about 12,000 square feet, the secluded spread has a two-bedroom and one-bathroom guest cottage. There’s also an infinity-edged swimming pool set into a Turkish limestone-paved terrace that overlooks a great, verdant sweep of lawn that slopes gently down to the pond’s picturesque edge.
The Year Ahead
Looking at 2018, a number of entertainment industry powerhouses are poised to cash in on the sales of homes they’ve hung with astronomical price tags. Just in the latter half of 2017 alone, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi coughed up $18.6 million for an oceanfront residence in Carpinteria, Calif., plus another $7.2 million for a hacienda-style compound in wildfire-threatened Montecito, but their expenditures will be more than covered if they get the $39.5 million they’re asking for a 13-plus-acre Santa Barbara, Calif., estate they bought in 2014 for not quite $29 million and first listed at $45 million. Jennifer Lopez will likely turn a tidy profit on a 6,500-square-foot penthouse overlooking New York City’s Madison Square Park that she snagged in 2014 for a tetch more than $20 million and now has up for sale at $26.5 million. Adam D. Modlin of the Modlin Group handled the listing. And despite untold millions spent on costly upgrades and expansions, Gwen Stefani will no doubt see a hefty windfall when she sells her Kelly Wearstler-decorated seven-bedroom estate in the mountains between Beverly Hills and Studio City, Calif. — it was once owned by Lopez — that she and ex-husband Gavin Rossdale bought in 2006 for $13.25 million and have listed at $35 million.
In addition to the enviable gains realized from the sale of their Baja California getaway, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber hope 2018 will at long last bring a deep-pocketed buyer to a bluff-top Malibu estate they bought as part of a two-parcel spread in early 2015 for $50.5 million. The unfairly comely couple, who reside in a neighboring beachfront property, split the estate in two, quickly renovated the existing 5,300-square-foot residence that sits on the larger three-plus-acre lot and re-listed it in late 2015 with a much too rosy $60 million price tag that after more than a year on the market now stands at $50 million.
Sting and Trudie Styler Sell in Manhattan
It looks like rock ’n’ roll royals Sting and Trudie Styler will be 2018’s first big celebrity real estate winners when they just about double their money on the pending sale of a comfortably sumptuous duplex penthouse on New York City’s Upper West Side they bought in 2008 for $26.5 million.
The lavish-living couple, who own homes around the world, including a mansion in London and a 900-plus-acre vineyard estate in Italy’s Tuscany region, set the almost 5,500-square-foot penthouse out for sale in May 2017 at $56 million and now have it in contract to be sold for an amount widely rumored on the celebrity property gossip grapevine to be in the vicinity of $50 million.