Even billionaires enjoy shopping a good discount sale, as evidenced by Peter Thiel’s recent purchase of a contemporary L.A. cottage. The high-profile Silicon Valley tycoon — who was Facebook’s first outside investor and co-founded a slew of multibillion-dollar tech companies including PayPal, Palantir Technologies and Founders Fund — paid a cool million under the $6 million list price for the relatively modest hideaway, which is located just a convenient quick skip above the perennially chic Sunset Strip and sports over-the-treetops city lights views. More significantly, however, that transaction amount is also a rather eyebrow-raising 32% less than the $7.4 million the property fetched just four years ago.
The 2015 buyer was Marisa Arango, a now-deceased heiress to the multibillion dollar fortune of Jeronimo Arango, the nonagenarian Mexican tycoon best-known for selling his Aurrerá chain of grocery stores to Walmart. Shortly after Arango’s recent death, her estate tossed the Hollywood Hills home onto the market, and Thiel quickly scooped it up for the bargain-basement $5 million.
Though set on an irregularly-shaped .17-acre lot and quite close to two neighboring residences, the property still manages to eke out privacy in the form of a tall hedgerow and tree border. There’s a two-car garage with off-street parking for another couple vehicles, plus plenty of guest parking available on the street out front. Like many homes in the tightly-packed Hollywood Hills, the property doesn’t have much of a front yard, though there are several healthy lemon trees growing curbside.
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Originally built in 1959 as a midcentury modern, the house has been extensively renovated and reimagined over the past 60 years. The home’s blocky, windowless front facade gives off an industrial vibe, and the interiors are now decidedly contemporary. Guests entering via the front door are greeted by a massive great room featuring walls of glass, cinnamon-colored hardwood floors, formal dining area, fireplace and a skylit ceiling. The eat-in kitchen, equipped with sleek custom cabinetry, sports another skylight and professional stainless appliances.
A floating staircase leads to the home’s lower level, where there are more glass walls, a unique “sunken” lounge, and a wet bar-equipped family/media room with walls painted a deep cobalt blue. Just outside is a loggia for al fresco dining, and a hardscaped backyard with a heated patio, firepit, and a negative-edge swimming pool and spa.
The master suite is located back up on the home’s main floor and has L.A. basin views from the bedroom and an oversized walk-in closet. The spa-like master bath includes ceiling skylights, a perfectly square built-in soaking tub, and a trendy glass shower. There are two additional guest/staff bedrooms, one of which appears to be converted to a private office/library.
While it’s not clear what Thiel plans to do with his new house, it seems likely the property will not become his main residence. After all, he already lays claim to a much larger Hollywood Hills spread, this one located less than one mile away as the crow flies. Thiel bought that place — originally designed in the 1950s by acclaimed architect Paul Williams — for $11.5 million in early 2012 and quickly spent untold millions more to raze and rebuild the entire mansion as a snazzy contemporary with an infinity-edged pool.
And in addition to his two L.A. homes, Thiel and his husband Matt Danziesen also maintain a lavish estate on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Thiel tossed down exactly $27 million for the property back in 2011, reportedly the most ever paid for a Maui residence at that time.
Late last year, Thiel and Danziesen sold their longtime San Francisco home for $7.4 million to private equity guru Chuck Esserman. But perhaps most (in)famously, they’ve also got a 477-acre ranch out near the end of the world — New Zealand, that is. And it was New Zealand, in 2011, that controversially awarded Thiel a passport and citizenship, despite him having spent just 12 days in the country. While the country’s minister of internal affairs called Thiel “a good citizen” who has “invested a lot in New Zealand,” some critics argued it was evidence citizenship can be easily bought.