Although the deal was extensively reported in July, it’s only today — fittingly, near the end of a fantastic Lakers season — that LeBron James has finally closed on his $36.8 million residential upgrade in the 90210, a multi-structure compound packing fantastic views and a storied, only-in-Hollywood pedigree.
Built in the 1930s, the colorful Mediterranean-esque villa was owned for years by Charles Boyer, an Oscar-nominated leading man actor of that era who starred in a number of black-and-white classics, among them “Conquest” and “Algiers.”
In the late ’40s, Boyer and RKO Pictures, one of the big five Hollywood studios at that time, terminated the actor’s contract. As part of an unusual settlement negotiation, the studio agreed to buy out Boyer’s interest in his 2.5-acre estate; because RKO was owned at that time by Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire became the technical owner of the Boyer residence, though he never lived there. Instead, Hughes leased the palatial property to his ex-flame and longtime confidante Katharine Hepburn, who occupied the mansion during the height of her career.
At some point after Hepburn moved out, the property fell into the hands of non-famous owners, where it remained until 1986, when soap opera pioneer Lee Phillip Bell and her business partner husband William J. Bell (“The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”) bought it for $2.9 million, as per tax records. The couple significantly upgraded and restored the tired lady to her former Golden Age glory during their many years of ownership, and they expensively landscaped the grounds with mature trees and formal gardens.
Bill Bell died in 1995, though Lee Bell continued residing at her beloved 90210 home until her own death this past March. Back in June, her lovingly maintained estate crash-landed on the market for the first time in decades with a $39 million asking price — the $36.8 million James paid represents a 6% discount.
Secured by a celebrity-worthy collection of cameras and one of L.A.’s most massive driveway gates in existence, the compound is accessed via a epic long brick driveway flanked on either side by mature cypresses. The driveway eventually dead-ends at a commodious motorcourt that’s accented by a stone fountain and ringed by a dozen mature palm trees.
The lavish interiors include a sunlight-flooded living room with a vaulted ceiling and exposed ceiling beams, an ethereal dining room set beneath a huge skylight — perfect for gazing up at the heavens while enjoying a chef-catered meal — and a carpeted library with built-in bookcases for real books. The cozy movie theater includes a fireplace for sophisticated ambience, one of seven in the main mansion.
Elsewhere on the property are two detached guesthouses, multiple al fresco dining and entertaining areas, and a lighted tennis court with viewing pavilion. At the far rear of the complex, soaring views of the entire L.A. skyline take center stage as they sweep over Benedict Canyon to the Pacific Ocean and Catalina. The oval swimming pool — a gorgeous remnant of the property’s Golden Hollywood history — adjoins a poolhouse and is watched over by a giant gold Buddha.
James also continues to own two separate mansions in L.A.’s posh Brentwood neighborhood. The first was scooped up for $21 million in 2015 and has remained vacant for most of the time since. The second estate, the NBA superstar’s current main residence, is sited on plum hillltop and was purchased for $23 million in 2017.