After a long slog on the market, powerhouse film producer and former MGM CEO Roger Birnbaum has sold his dynamic midcentury modern estate. Located within the posh Trousdale Estates enclave in Beverly Hills, the celebrity-pedigreed property fetched a still-substantial $21.4 million after first listing for nearly $34 million last year. And the buyers, a wee bit of digging in records reveals, are a youthful couple in their early 30s: fast-casual restaurateur Jonathan Neman and his wife.
Built in 1958 by acclaimed architect Hal Levitt, the so-called “Skouras Residence” made its own indelible mark in fashion history by serving as a location for Steven Meisel’s now-legendary “Four Days in L.A.” campaign photoshoot for Versace. The house was subsequently sold in 2002 by the original owners to much-published interior designer Kelly Wearstler and her hotelier husband Brad Korzen.
After an extensive yet sensitive makeover of the home’s interiors, the Wearstler-Korzens sold the property in 2006 for about $10 million to former CIA analyst-turned-blockbuster producer Bob Cort and his industry executive wife Rosalie Swedlin. The house was later briefly owned by Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who gave the interiors another cosmetic overhaul before lucratively flipping the property to Birnbaum — in early 2014 — for exactly $20 million.
As for the latest owner, the Beverly Hills-reared Neman is co-founder and CEO of Sweetgreen, a fast casual restaurant chain serving healthy salads. In the twelve years since its humble beginnings, the firm has spawned dozens of locations nationwide and amassed a slew of devoted celebrity fans — Gwyneth Paltrow and Lily Aldridge among them. Last year, Sweetgreen raised $200 million in its Series H round of funding, reportedly lifting the company to an increasingly-common $1 billion “unicorn” valuation.
In addition to whatever income he receives from his eatery endeavors, it’s certainly worth noting that Neman is also married to Leora Kadisha, a billionaire heiress and member of the Nazarian clan, one of the world’s wealthiest Iranian Jewish families. Kadisha is the middle daughter of business mogul Neil Kadisha and philanthropist Dora Nazarian, a daughter of family patriarch Younes Nazarian, who provided the original startup funding to tech giant Qualcomm in the 1980s.
Notably marketed as “the antithesis of the proliferation of modern boxes currently flooding Trousdale,” the Kadisha-Neman residence features a long driveway secured by towering black steel gates. The hilltop parcel also has an expansive main motorcourt plus a discreet secondary motorcourt for staff parking. Metal columns frame the Regency-inspired front doors, which open directly into a skylit foyer and an expansive great room with a marble fireplace and original parquet flooring.
Floor-to-ceiling walls of glass drink in the California sunshine and imbue the whole house with a cheerful, almost playful vibe. Other spaces include a library lined with bookshelves, a conservatory-like music room, a lounge/games room with a wet bar, and a formal dining room that opens directly to a loggia-shaded al fresco dining space.
The laboratory-like kitchen provides fancy stainless appliances and stainless cabinetry, while the adjacent family/media room opens directly (via a disappearing wall of glass) to an outdoor fireplace-equipped patio and gardens. There are three (potentially four) guest/staff bedrooms — one of them having been converted to a gym — plus a sumptuous master suite with his/her bathrooms and his/her closets. The nearly one-acre lot additionally features broad swaths of lawn, a marble-lined swimming pool, and a poolside bar with A+ views that sweep over downtown Beverly Hills and summit at the Century City skyline.
For the time being, Neman and Kadisha are apparently not moving to Beverly Hills; their new Trousdale residence has come up for lease asking $55,000 per month. Meanwhile, the couple remain ensconced in their L.A. “starter” house — a $4.85 million minimalist contemporary villa that sits right atop the Venice, Calif. canals.