Thursday, June 30, 2011

UPDATE: Jennifer Aniston, Lucky Lady

Thanks to a covert communique from Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills Your Mama has learned that the deal is done done done for Ohana, the Beverly Hills, CA mansion sit-com star and rom-com queen Jennifer Aniston heaved on the market in March 2011 with a hefty asking price of $42,000,000. That's right, kids, Miz Aniston sold her luxury real estate puppy in just over three months time.

According to a document provided by Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills, the transfer was recorded on the 24th of June for an as-yet undisclosed amount of money. The spendy buyer's identity, not surprisingly, is shielded by a corporate trust. More on that later.

Despite Miz Aniston's optimistic-seeming asking price, qualified buyers flocked to the property and–we heard through the Platinum Triangle real estate gossip grapevine–at least two offers in excess of $30,000,000 quickly surfaced. Intel we received from friends and sources led us to speculate that the buyer might be Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich or maybe even Russian banking and fertilizer multi-billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.

We also heard whispers from the real estate peanut gallery that the buyer was not a Russian at all but rather a New York-based financier. At one point we heard something so odd and outlandish that we never mentioned it in any of our many previous discussions on the topic; We heard from a woman we'll call Stacy Outinleftfield who told us the buyer was a money man from Orange County (CA).

Well, dontcha know that according to the aforementioned document provided to Your Mama by Our Fair Godmother in Beverly Hills, Miz Aniston's estate was purchased by an entity that calls itself the Banana Trust that links back to the offices of a Goldman Sachs subsidiary in–tah-duh!–Irvine, CA.

We quickly put out a few feelers with some of our most well-informed informants. Within minutes of sending an email we heard back from a plugged-in real estate insider we know–let's call her Chatty Cathy–who floated the name of–are y'all ready for this?–a billionaire mutual fund manager from Orange County named Bill Gross.

After a scoot and scout around the interweb and a some drilling down into scads of public property records we found at least one other property in Orange County owned by Mister Gross and his wife–a gal named Sue–that links back to the same Irvine office as the Banana Trust. Coinky-dink? No. We consulted our all but omniscient informant Lucy Spillerguts who was able to confirm with absolute certainty that the buyers are Mister and Missus Gross.

Mister Gross, co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), manages the Pimco Total Return Fund that maintains assets of nearly a quarter trillion dollars. No, babies, that is not a slip of our nubby fingers; Mister Gross's monster mutual fund actually holds assets of more than $240 billion. In 2008 Mister Gross's Pimco Total Return Fund profited an astonishing $1.7 billion dollars from the near-collapse of home loan juggernauts Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Forbes recently estimated that Mister Gross has a personal net worth just above two billion bucks.

A spin through Orange County property records reveals Mister and Missus Gross own several very posh pads in the OC that include (but are not limited to): An ocean front house in a gated enclave in Laguna Beach they've owned since at least 1989; Another, nearby house in Laguna Beach bought in December 2008 for $4,500,000; A cliff side house in Corona del Mar with panoramic ocean vistas he and the Missus snatched up for $8,100,000 in August 2006; A Newport Beach records show was purchased for an undisclosed sum in June 2007; And a perfectly ordinary tract house in an inland gated development in San Clemente they picked up in late 2006 for $1,040,000.

Records show Mister and Missus Gross also own an 11,316 square foot mansion that backs up to the golf course of the Vintage Club in Indian Wells, CA, a condo in Park City, UT and a condo in Cupertino, CA. They also, as per prop records, lay claim to a spectacular 7,091 square foot house on 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, CA that backs up to one of the famous fairways of what is arguably the most famous golf course in all of the world.

Although their property portfolio bulges with extraordinary properties, Mister and Missus Gross's real estate story didn't get really interesting until July 2009 when they spent a reported $23,000,000 to acquire an 11,000-plus square foot mansion on the gated Harbor Island enclave in Newport Beach, CA. The couple proceeded to demolish the 9 bedroom and 12 bathroom house but seem to have had a real estate change of heart and just this month flipped the now bare parcel back on the market with an asking price of $26,500,000.

Did Mister and Missus Gross catch a classic case of The Real Estate Fickle with the Newport Beach property? Did they decide they didn't want to deal with the hassle and time involved with building a mansion from the ground up? Or did they decide on entirely different digs, say, a newly renovated move-in ready celebrity-owned mansion in Beverly Hills?

Your Mama contacted Mister Gross's office for comment, confirmation or denial in regards to the purchase of Miz Aniston's Ohana, but have not yet received a response.

As for Miz Aniston, well, beehwatcha made out like a bandit. She paid $13,500,000 for the 9,000-plus square foot gated residence in Bev Hills, originally designed by architect Hal Leavitt, on November of 2006. Rumor and report has it she sold for somewhere around $37,000,000 although at one point we we're leaked the number $35,500,000. Of course her profit decreases dramatically when the massive renovation costs and fat real estate fees are considered, but Your Mama would not be the least bit surprised if Miz Aniston walked with ten million big ones.

Last month Miz Aniston purchased a pair of small apartments in New York City that she plans to combine into a small-ish but stylish duplex penthouse. The upper level–formerly the wee penthouse pad of hair honcho Sally Hershberger–spills out to a wrap terrace with seven million dollar views west to the glittering Hudson River and north to the twinkling Midtown skyline that includes the Empire State Building and–even better–the Chrysler Building. We hear she has a third unit, adjacent to the lower of the two she just bought, in contract as well but we don't have any proof of that, hunties.

Your Mama does, however, have it on quite good authority–two good authorities, actually–that Miz Aniston plans to maintain real estate roots in Los Angeles and has peeped a number of properties in the Sunset Plaza and Beverly Hills areas. Miz Aniston plans, it seems, to live a bicoastal life, the ultimate geographic real estate dream of almost everyone Your Mama knows.

Lucky lady.

Glenn Beck Takes it to Texas

WHO: Glenn Beck
LOCATION: Westlake, TX
PRICE: around $20,000 per month
SIZE: 7,904 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We hesitate to write about this bit of celebrity real estate bizness because we always get the most vile hate mail when we discuss right wing political pundit and crybaby conspiracy theorist Glen Beck. However, we're going to take our chances and let the chips fall where they may since, you know, sticks and stones and all that.

In late 2005 Mister Beck and his wife Tania spent $4,250,000 for a luxurious mansion in sleepy but swank New Canaan, CT. Four years later, in late 2009, Your Mama prattled on about the huge house–dubbed Waterford Manor–that was then on the market with an asking price of $3,999,000. They had previously and unsuccessfully attempted to sell the house with an asking price of $4,999,000.

In early April 2011 Mister Beck got into some boiling hot water for his increasingly frequent anti-Semitic harangues. Not even Fox News, which promotes a socially and politically conservative agenda, could excuse or tolerate Mister Beck's race theories and and fear baiting ways. So they canned him. Everyone publicly made nice-nice about the matter but, make no mistake, Fox News sent their teary-eyed cash cow and his highly contentious notions packing. Mister Beck's last show on Fox is, as it turns out, today. He will switch his often controversial commentating over to GBTV, an acronymically-named internet-based network.

It wasn't long after he was very publicly axed that Mister Beck announced on his show that he'd sold his Connecticut mansion and planned to leaved the New York City area. We don't know how many folks in lefty-lib New York City mourned the loss of the Mister Beck–who lived in New Canaan but filmed his show in Manhattan–but we do know that property records and title information we peeped at do not reflect a sale of his Connecticut estate. In fact, our entirely unscientific research reveals Mister Beck's trés traditional mansion remains on the market with a reduced asking price of $3,650,000. Current listing information shows it stands on 2.8 acres, measures 11,320 square feet over four floors and includes 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half bathrooms, 5 fireplaces, front and rear staircases and–natch–a "super" security system.

If he's leaving the New York area as he said, inquiring minds want to know, where or where will Mister Beck go? Well, buckle your safety belts, bunnies, because well-placed sources tell sassy Dallas-based real estate gossip Candy Evans that Mister Beck is headed her way, to the Dallas suburb of Westlake, TX where it's rumored and reported on the Second Shelters blog that he's leased a large house in the swank guard-gated Vaquero Club community.

According to Miz Candy Evans, the well-maintained mansion where Mister and Missus Beck will (allegedly) set down temporary Texas roots was first put up for lease at $15,000 per month before it was raised to $20,000. Presumably Mister and Missus Beck are paying somewhere in that rent neighborhood.

The Hill County-style house, owned by professional ball player Jorge Piedra and Swarovski crystal heiress Vanessa Piedra, stands on about 1.71 acres of manicured grounds, measures 7,904 square feet and includes 7 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms plus a separate guest/pool house with living room, bedroom and bathroom.

A curving wall extends across the front of the property where a perfectly circular drive at the front of the house wraps around to a rear motor court and four-car garage. A wide set of shallow steps makes a grand procession from the driveway to the front door. The clean-lined contemporary interior spaces include a double-height entry with travertine tile floor and built-in knick-knack display cubbies and a formal living room with hardwood floors, corner fireplace and a built in flat-screen tee-vee surrounded by built-in knick-knack display cubbies. Very chic steel-framed glass doors open the living room to the covered dining terrace that overlooks the back yard.

Not surprisingly, a pink Swarovski crystal-encrusted Tord Boontje-designed Blossom chandelier hangs in the high-ceiling dining room. A butler's pantry connects the dining room to the commodious kitchen outfitted with wide-plank wood floors, steel-blue flat-fronted cabinetry topped by black counter tops of undetermined material, a large work island and snack counter with white marble counter top and a built-in breakfast banquette with more built-in knick-knack display cubbies.

Other notable interiors spaces, according to listing information, include a study with even more built-in knick-knack display cubbies, a fitness room with mirrored wall, and a sun room with steeply vaulted ceiling from which hang two more pink crystal-encrusted Tord Boontje-designed Blossom chandeliers.

The children will note at least one more goddam pink crystal-encrusted Tord Boontje-designed Blossom chandelier that hangs over the deviled egg-shaped freestanding soaking tub in the master bathroom that also includes separate shower, double sinks and a built-in floating vanity table. Your Mama adores Mister Boontje's Blossom chandelier and would love to own one if we could stomach (and afford) the prodigious price tag which can run as high as $30,000+ depending on the size. We also recognize that Miz Piedra is representin' the family business. But, puppies, too much is too much and four Tord Boontje-designed Blossom chandeliers all in one house–and not all in the same room–is just too much.

Anyhoo, the house wraps around a terraced backyard that includes various patios, one with built in fire-pit ringed by a semi-circular built-in stone bench. An extra-wide stone staircase descends gently and grandly down to the swimming pool, spa, cabana and adjacent guest/pool house that features a pergola-shaded raised porch. Wide pooch-friendly lawns surround the pool and terraces and stretch back to the community's highly-rated golf course that winds through the Vaquero Club community.

Should Mister and Missus Beck find they like the house, it's currently listed for sale with an asking price of $3,900,000. Listing information indicates the seller is willing to finance a sale but it seems unlikely that Mister Beck–a multi-millionaire many times over–would need another rich person to assist in the finance of a real estate purchase. He is, let's get real, a rich and generously compensated white man; We're quite certain their are any number of banks and other financial institutions who would love to lend him a few million bucks to buy a big house in suburban Dallas.

The fancy-pants Vaquero Club enclave,"smack dab next to D/FW Airport" according to Miz Candy Evans, has long been popular with professional athletes such as golfers Brian Watts and Todd Hamilton, baseballers Dave Berg and Josh Hamilton, and pigsknner Henry Ford who all own (or owned) mansion inside the gates of the Vaquero Club at one time or another. The parents of pop trio and tween heart throbs The Jonas Brothers also own a substantial house in the upscale golf community.

listing photos: Keller Williams

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Katy Perry and Russell Brand Do It Again

BUYER: Katy Perry and Russell Brand
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $6,500,000
SIZE: 8,835 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne are not the only titans in the music and entertainment industry making real estate headlines this week, so are increasingly powerful showbiz young guns Katy Perry and her bawdy British comedian hubby Russell Brand.

It was only in December 2009 when the pop star and the comedian–then not married–shelled out $3,250,000 for a fully renovated and updated four story house with 4,706 square feet and a city view in the historic Los Feliz area of Los Angeles nestled into the foothills just below the magnificent Griffith Park.

Just about 2.5 years later, in May 2011, the button-pushing pair put the 4 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom house on the market with an asking price of $3,395,000. The fact that young Missus Perry-Brand's security team had to call the po-po in March 2011 after some moe-ron fan sat suspiciously out front of the house for several hours may or may not have had something to do with their decision to sell the gated but not particularly private property.

Listing information shows the couple's Los Feliz house is now in escrow and recent reports reveal that Miss Perry and Mister Brand–now husband and wife–have just acquired a much pricier and more private a-list type of residence about 5.5 miles due west in the lower Laurel Canyon area.

Property records show the couple's new crib, a double-gated 2.98 acre estate perched on a private promontory, was purchased just this week for $6,500,000. Listing information and previous reports on the property–sold by former National Lampoon CEO Danial Laikin who was sent to the slammer last year on a fraud conviction–shows the three-story main mansion was built in 1925 and measures 8,835 square feet with 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and at least 5 fireplaces. The expansive estate also includes two detached guest residences that could also be used for staff, office space or a recording studio.

Although without much ornamentation on the exterior, the tile-roofed Mediterranean mansion drips with exquisite (and original) architectural detailing on the inside. The two-story circular entry has a sweeping staircase with intricate wood and wrought iron banister, inlaid marble floor and faux-stone walls, or at least we think that block pattern is a paint treatment but in truth we really aren't sure. A pair of arched doorways lead into the magnificently proportioned living room that includes wood floors, double-height hand-painted wood-beam ceiling, monolithic stone mantelpiece and minstrel's balcony. A soaring arched window that makes Your Mama tremble with envy has towering side lights that open to a small terrace with panoramic view of the urban carpet that is Los Angeles. The adjacent formal dining room also has gorgeous city views but who can look out the window when the ceiling is blessed with an antique hand-painted honey-comb pattern ceiling?

Other living areas, according to listing information, include a vast eat-in kitchen renovated with great expense but middle-brow style, a family room with antique carved stone corner fireplace, billiard room, a media room with wide-screen projector system and built-in snack counter. But of course, the new Mister and Missus of the house may opt to redecorate and re-purpose rooms so the day-core and utility of the rooms shown in the above listing photos is all but irrelevant.

At the front of the house a broad lawn at the front of the house encircled by a circular driveway makes a rather grand statement while the various tiled terraces, patios and balconies that surround the house provide more intimate lounging, dining and entertainment areas. A grotto-style swimming pool, tucked behind the detached garage and guest house off the front driveway, nestles into the steep hillside that drips with lush foliage and a small stream spanned by a Japanese style arched bridge tumbles down a rock waterfall into the pool.

Your Mama wonders if Miss Perry plans to install the vintage-looking pink fridge/freezer at the new house that she had put into the kitchen of her old house in Los Feliz.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty / Beverly Hills

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne On the Move...Again

SELLERS: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne
LOCATION: Hidden Hills
SIZE: 10,930 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 4 half bathrooms
PRICE: $12,999,000

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Doddering but charming rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and his busy-busy ambitious wife/manager Sharon sold their religious icon-laden mansion in Beverly Hills, CA in August 2007 for $11,500,000 to dirty songbird Christina Aguilera. Since then, Miz Aguilera made a baby, separated from her music exec hubby Jordan Bratman, signed on to a smash hit reality program The Voice, and heaved her no-longer happy marital house on the market in March 2011 with an asking price of $13,500,000.

The Osbournes, ex-pat Brits who live primarily stateside nowadays, decamped the meticulously manicured streets of Beverly Hills for the horsey guard-gated semi-rural/über suburban Los Angeles community of Hidden Hills. Property records and previous reports show the Prince of Darkness and his high-glitz power princess-wife/manager paid $12,388,500 for a substantial mansion with gorgeous vistas across the surrounding hills and towards the Pacific Ocean.

After a bit of bedroom reconfiguration and a doozy of a decorative do up by famed (and famous) nice, gay decorator Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Missus and Mister Osbourne had their rambling, country-glam digs in the celebrity-packed suburban sticks photographed for the June 2011 issue of Architectural Digest. Missus Osbourne herself commented in the article that she and the mister get real estate "itchy feet" and have never lived anyplace longer than seven years. It should come as a surprise to no one then–least of all the folks at Architectural Digest–that yesterday Missus and Mister and Osbourne hoisted their mansion in Hidden Hills on the market with an asking price of $12,999,000.

Your Mama did a few quick and rudimentary calculations on our bejeweled abacus that indicate that even if the Osbournes manage to secure a full price sale–and what's the likelihood of that?–they might squeak by with a sliverish profit once they fork over the fat real estate fees that by our unscientific estimation could easily run upwards of half a million smackers. And that's not counting the high renovation and day-core costs that surely ran well upwards of a million clams.

Property records show the Missus and Mister Osbourne's Hidden Hills estate encompasses 2.25 mostly manicured acres and includes a mansion that measures 10,930 square feet. Current listing information shows the multi-pronged pad contains 6 bedrooms and 6 full and 4 half bathrooms plus a guest/staff apartment with kitchenette. The Architectural Digest article states that after they purchased the property, Missus and Mister Osbourne embarked on a renovation that narrowed the bedroom count down to three in order to make way for an expanded master suite that now includes extensive walk-in wardrobes, two luxe bathrooms and a pair of private offices, a paneled one for him and another for her decorated with black and white Cecil Beaton fashion photographs.

The children will–or should–recognize Martyn Lawrence-Bullard as the English guy on Million Dollar Decorator. Mister Lawrence-Bullard, bless his fey heart, is prone to grandiose statements like, "Symmetry is purity and purity is delicious" and swans around and calls everyone "daaahhhhrling" in a vaguely not-British accent. We love him and his hammy ways. Mister Lawrence-Bullard's heavily-processed decorative fancies have appeared in every shelter magazine known to (wo)mankind and he's well-known in the design and day-core industry for his high wattage celebrity clientele who include (but are far from limited to) Elton John, Cher, Kid Rock, Daisy Fuentes, and soft-core porn purveyor Joe Francis. Whatever one may think of his theatrical eclecticism, when it comes to putting a room together famous folks will spend big bucks–and we mean BIG bucks–for the scruffy designer's signature dramatic (and sometimes melodramatic) decorative flourishes.

Mister Lawrence-Bullard thankfully thinned the truckloads of religious iconography that Missus and Mister Osbourne had stuffed into their Beverly Hills mansion, which featured prominently in the family's early- to mid-2000s ground-breaking reality program The Osbournes. He did not, however, restrain the decorative pomposity for which he's famous (and good at) and the result is a madcap and often enchanting mix and match of old-school English country house, Gothic glam and Shabby Chic farmhouse, all of which is washed over with a hefty twinge of Versailles. It's terribly nouveau, really, but it's so damn quirky and, despite its lustrous sheen of artificiality, so deeply personal that it works...for the Osbournes. Mister Lawrence-Bullard recognizes that the house belongs not to his flights of fancy but to the Osbourne and as such peppered the couple's casually ritzy residence with their many kooky collections that include antique tea sets, cow-shaped things and dolls.

A curving drive climbs up to a stone motor court at the front of the house that has more than a few barn-like architectural garnishments such as the gambrel roof line and silo-like form that marks the main entry. Even though Your Mama's Big Daddy' lives in a house that looks suspiciously like a converted barn–it was never actually a barn–we don't care for this particular vernacular. Iffin we wanted to live in a damn barn we'd be a horse.

Anyhoodles poodles, the mansion's decorative lasciviousness smacks a person across the face immediately upon entering the house through the the double-height circular foyer that features a towering two-story wall of windows and a floating staircase painted jet black that curls like a kitten around a gilt-edged table that Architectural Digest described as "19th-century French." Your Mama, on the other hand would describe the table in a far less educated manner, perhaps, as a gilt-accented antique table that probably cost more than our BMW.

The formal living room–all red, rose and pink–features a fireplace with, ahem, a gilded angel statuette in front of it, a bowed wall of French doors, crystal chandelier and a lot of over-scaled brocade and silk upholstered furniture. In the formal dining room–which, in truth, looks magical in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest but a little frumpy in listing photos–French doors on either side of a Directoire-style fireplace with carved stone chimney breast open the room to the cool ocean breezes that sometimes drift over the mountains. Light from (a-may-zingly decadent) crystal wall-mounted chandeliers and a 19th-century French chandelier that hangs over the Lawrence-Bullard-designed table and chairs reflects and multiplies off the silver-leafed ceiling and the walls covered in a Chinoiserie-style silver painted-silk wall treatment.

The more intimate areas of the house include an exquisitely paneled library with fireplace, built-in bookcases and a tufted sofa covered in midnight blue velvet. If Your Mama knows Mister Lawrence-Bullard–and we do not know Mister Lawrence-Bullard–it's probably yummy-yummy and atrociously expensive silk velvet. The cook-friendly eat-in country kitchen has a large work island/snack bar with distressed red stools, an adjoining breakfast nook wrapped in windows with expansive view, walk-in pantry and commercial-grade stainless steel appliances. The kitchen was not, it seems, designed with a cubby for the microwave since listing photos show one sitting on the counter next to the stove. Call us persnickety but for thirteen million bucks, hunnies, we want to the microwave to have a built-in place of its own.

A pair of sliding barn doors open the kitchen to the white-washed family room with vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and trusses, antique brick fireplace surround, reclaimed wide-plank wood floors and, because this is the Osbourne's crib and everything must drip with glam, a trio of glittering antique crystal chandeliers. Mister Osbourne, according to Architectural Digest, likes to paint in this room. A narrow staircase near the kitchen, lined with Mister Osbourne's many gold and platinum albums, descends to the lower level outfitted with a home theater and state-of-the-art recording and rehearsal studios.

The master suite–probably larger and certainly far more glitzy than Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's house, contains a sizable separate sitting room furnished with angels and velvet covered things and a large bedroom with vaulted ceiling, French doors that open to a private terrace, high gloss painted wood floors, and a fireplace flanked by a pair of stunning oval windows. We could do without the floral-printed balloon shades that look like the bottom of Marie Antoinette's dress, but the elliptical windows are, to use Mister Lawrence-Bullard's favorite word, fabulous. The master suite, as mentioned above, also includes his and her bathrooms, custom-fitted walk-in closets/dressing rooms and a pair of offices.

In classic southern California-style several terraces at the rear of the house extend the living space to the outdoors. A stone-walled covered patio with archways that frame the mountain views, has a soaring wood-beamed ceiling, outdoor fireplace and–for the always necessary glam factor–a chandelier. Adjacent to the infinity-edged swimming pool and spa–which includes a shallow kiddie pool too–a pergola shades a lounging/dining area with built-in barbecue center, terliting facility and outdoor shower.

We haven't heard a whisper from any of our sources inside the celebrity real estate game about where Missus and Mister Osbourne might next be headed but iffin we were the betting type–and we're not–we'd put all our chips on red 57 that they'll pack up their vintage tea set and doll collections and head on back to on of the high-toned zip codes in the Platinum Triangle: Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills. We shall see, buttons, we shall see.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philanthropist Barbara Davis Lists L.A. Condo at a Loss

SELLER: Barbara Davis
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,885,000
SIZE: 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Last week a little birdie whispered to Your Mama that Los Angeles doyenne Barbara Davis–octogenarian widow of oil and entertainment tycoon Marvin Davis–wants to move house. Sho enuf, puppies, her condo crib in a Wilshire Corridor high-rise near Century City in Los Angeles was just listed with an asking price of $1,885,000.

Helmet-haired charity types know the formidable but friendly Miz Davis as the she-rah behind the long-running bi-annual Carousel of Hope Ball, a lavish fundraiser for childhood diabetes that the L.A. Times once described as the "biggest, richest, puttin’-on-the-ritziest, arguably most successful and longest-running good-deed society event in town."

Tabloid and gossip glossy readers best know Miz Davis as the wealthy grand-muhmaw of a Tinseltown club hoppers and frequent trouble makers Jason and Brandon Davis. And, of course, the real estate fiends out there recognize Miz Davis as the gem-encrusted former chatelaine of The Knoll, a hulking Roland Coate-designed mansion perched on a gated 10-plus acre promontory above Beverly Hills, CA. The 25,437 square foot Georgian mansion was originally built for wildly wealthy widow Lucy Doheny Battson who moved from the legendary and even larger Greystone estate next door. The Knoll has had a succession of high-profile owners since the Doheny-Battsons including Oscar-winning producer Dino De Laurentis and country king Kenny Rogers who sold the high-maintenance estate in 1984 for $20,250,000 Mister and Missus Davis.

The Davis fortune was was once estimated to be as high as five or more billion bucks but the financial gossips have more recently pegged their shrinking fortune to somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion clams, still wildly rich by any standard except that of someone who used to be worth five billion big ones.

After Mister Davis went to meet The Great Speculator in the Sky in 2004, The Knoll was put up for sale with an elephantine asking price of $59,000,000. It was sold in early 2005, according to property records, for $39,352,500 to tool and die tycoon Eric Smidt. Mister and Missus Smidt, who own one of the largest multi-parcel spreads in the steroidal Beverly Park community, hired mega-mansion specialists Hablinski + Manion to transform the white-brick Georgian into a Regency-style residence of epic proportions. The children may find it interesting to note that the 2008 taxes on The Knoll–which may or may not still be called The Knoll–ran a staggering $436,505.71 according to public records.

Anyhoo, in perfect west coast style, after Miz Davis sold The Knoll in 2005 she reportedly moved into a bungalow at the casually elegant (and sort of campy) but always fashionable Beverly Hills Hotel, which her husband, dontcha know, once owned. Eventually Miz Davis tired of hotel living and moved to The Wilshire apartment tower along the Wilshire Corridor near Century City. Title records show Miz Davis purchased the pad in May 2006 for $2,295,000, a number that means that even with a full-price sale Miz Davis faces a significant $410,000 loss.

This is not the first time Miz Davis has donned her silver lamé cowboy boots and rode the mechanical bull at this particular honky tonky; She's had her condo at The Wilshire on and off the market since March 2010. Current listing information shows the mid-floor unit measures 2,257 square feet–probably smaller than her bedroom at The Knoll–and includes 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

A private elevator landing furnished with a rococo console–or maybe it's baroque, what do we know?–matching mirror and a framed photograph of Mister and Missus Davis sets the stage for the black and white marble floored foyer and main living spaces that include a "formal" living room with floor to ceiling windows, white wall to wall carpeting, flat-screen tee-vee mounted above the fireplace, built-in bookshelves and glass doors to the balcony. The day-core, somewhat particular to agéd west coast society matrons , mixes "modern" things such as the white roll-armed sofas and glass and chrome coffee table with fussy and stuffy 18th- and 19th-century antiques (and antique reproductions).

The black and white marble floor in the foyer continues down the long thin corridor that leads to the bedrooms as well as into Miz Davis's dining room furnished with a blackamoor or two, florid giltwood mirror and gilt-accented dining room chairs. Glass doors open the room to a small planted terrace with panoramic views. The dining room connects to the perfectly serviceable and well-equipped if out-dated galley-style kitchen with adjoining service entrance and laundry room.

It appears to Your Mama that Miz Davis uses the second bedroom–with private en suite facility–as an office which would be a far better place for the gigantic treadmill she has sitting right up next to her bed in the the master suite. Listen, children, Miz Davis is an old woman and we applaud her for getting herself some goddam exercise instead of just sitting around letting her bones go brittle. However, we just don't know how a person–particularly one who fancies herself a refined lady of dignity and elevated social stature–can close their eyes and drift off to a peaceful slumber with that body torture device looming over them in the most menacing of manners. In addition to the treadmill–which we imagine Miz Davis will take with her–the master bedroom includes built in bookcases, two walk-in closets and a beige marble and mirrored bathroom with two sinks and separate shower and jetted tub.

The Wilshire building, 27 stories tall and built in 1990, offers its well-heeled residents the ease and convenience of condo living in a city where high-maintenance landscaping is de rigueur and white-glove services that include doormen, on-site parking with valet services, 24-hour concierge and fitness facilities that include a swimming pool. Former famous residents of the building include Farrah Fawcett and Charlie Sheen.

Miz Davis and her Real Estate face some stiff condo competition right in her own building where a 2,084 square foot unit with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms carries a price tag of $1,999,000. Another unit with 2,776 square feet, 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms is currently listed at $1,885,000.

We hear through the high-society gossip grapevine that Miz Davis is considering a move two blocks down the road to The Carlyle Residences where–we're told by a snitch we'll call Willie Wilshireboolayvard–showbiz widda Candy Spelling recently leased temporary digs. Miz Spelling, currently in the process of selling her white elephant in the Holmby Hills for somewhere around eighty million clams, needed a place to camp out while the interior fittings of her new 16,000-ish square foot penthouse at The Century are completed.

listing photos: Unlimited Style Real Estate for Sotheby's International Realty

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some Good Ol' Fashioned New York City Floor Plan Porn

SELLER: Estate of Victor Shafferman
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $49,000,000
SIZE: 17,150 square feet, 15 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We are, perhaps, more than fashionably late to this particular real estate party so we ask that all you New York Times and New York Social Diary readers bear with Your Mama while we exercise our own thoughts about an immaculate and opulent New York City townhouse dropped on the market last weekend to great fanfare and media attention with a hefty asking price of $49,000,000.

Just after the turn of the century–we mean when the 1800s became the 1900s–a banker and railroad baron named Henry Cook built himself a right-proper robber-baron style townhouse directly on Fifth Avenue with a dignified Stanford White-designed limestone façade and Central Park views. Of course, when the palatial pile was built, Fifth Avenue was a charming tree-lined idyll bustling with carriages and buggies. Today it's an impressive tree-lined urban-idyll with a near constant flow of honking yellow cabs and idling black town cars.

The New York Times labeled the house an Italian Renaissance Palazzo sort of thing, which is probably exactly what it is. The august-looking townhouse was completed in 1907 but, sadly, Mister Cook went to meet the big bidnessman in the sky in 1905 so never saw his real estate fantasy in its final and exquisite form. He lived, and died, in a house a few doors down that was eventually razed and replaced by a Horace Trumbauer-designed monument to the wealth and power of tobacco and power tycoon James B. Duke, daddy of the legendary heiress Doris.

The townhouse in question last changed hands, according to property records and previous reports, in 1977 when a man named Victor Shafferman acquired the exceptionally well-preserved mansion for just $600,000. That's right, kiddos, six hundred thousand dollars, less than the price of a good one bedroom apartment in today's New York City. You have to remember, pets, that in 1977 N.Y.C. was not the glittering temple of consumerist gentrification that it is today but rather a nitty-gritty city suffering desperately through a tight economic squeeze. Back then a person could pick up prime real estate in The Big Apple for what is now just pennies on the dollar. Sort of makes a person rue the day they nixed the purchase of a $100,000 classic-six co-op on Central Park West in 1978 that today would be worth more than enough to maintain a luxurious early retirement.

Mister Shafferman, who went to meet his maker in the fall of 2009, was a somewhat odd character about whom not a lot of details are known by many. According to the New York Social Diary, Mister Shafferman scooted about town in a chauffeur-driven burgundy and black Rolls Royce and frequently told people he was an heir to the CIBA-Geigy pharmaceutical fortune. He was not, apparently, an heir to that particular fortune. It was later revealed to those who run in that uptown crowd that Mister Shafferman was actually born in Palestine and educated at public school in Canada. It's not entirely known how he came to his financial station but he was, later in life, a real estate investor who owned a building or two and plainly had the dough-re-mi to bed down in a vast private house on one of the most desirable and expensive streets in the world. He was also, incidentally and according to a pal we'll call Patty Cake, a Friend of Dorothy with a long-time significant other 30 years or so his junior.

Together the refined and somewhat mysterious man-couple did up the day-core in a flamboyant splendor rare even for über-urbane New York City. It's not really possible for a rube like Your Mama to speak with any kind of education or knowledge about about the fine particulars of Mister Shafferman's sumptuous old-school day-core that's peppered with 18th-century marble-topped gilded consoles, hand-stenciled commodes of terrifying value, bèrgeres by the dozen, elegant hand-milled boiserie–no doubt some of it shipped over from some 17th-century French chateau, monumental plaster moldings and scads of antique chandeliers that we'd bet our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly each cost more than Your Mama earns in a year.
The townhouse, one of precious few remaining single family homes situated directly on Fifth Avenue, sits near the busy corner of East 79th Street sandwiched between the Ukranian Institute housed in the majestic Charles P.H. Gilbert-designed Fletcher-Sinclair mansion and the French Consulate, designed by Stanford White for American scion Payne Whitney.

Mister Shafferman's mansion stands six stories above ground and, according to earlier discussions, retains the original bifurcated layout defined by a baronial and mesmerizing floating elliptical staircase at the center of the house. The gracious haute-glam staircase, lined with leaded glass windows and carpeted in a plush, near lurid red winds with a taut sensuality from the ground floor all the way to the fifth floor. An elevator, able to lift and lower the infirm, lazy and/or glutially weak from the basement to the sixth floor, is discretely tucked into the hallway(s) off the stair landing(s) .

At about 25-feet wide and with seven full floors of living space plus a partial sub-basement with wine cellar, the mouth-watering mansion measures in at a titanic 13,775 square feet above ground with an additional 3,375 below street level. Wooden doors with lion head knockers open into a street level vestibule that in turn give way to into a hardcore impress-the-guests-style foyer that features the first of the mansion's many fireplaces; We counted nine fireplaces on the floor plan. Just beyond the foyer, the aforementioned high-drama stair hall, and beyond that a living room with fireplace. One flight up on the parlor level, a generous room-sized stair landing and barrel vaulted corridor separates the formal dining room at the rear of the house–with fireplace, natch–with an elegant if somewhat turgid mint-colored paneled drawing room with marble fireplace surround, gilded ceiling and moldings and towering windows that reach almost to floor and allow an over the tree tops view of Central Park

A small kitchen–blessed with a generous pantry uniquely located on a mezzanine level directly above–is wedged into a tight cranny behind the staircase, elevator and staff staircase. Yes, puppies, this house has a separate staircase for the staff so the filthy rich residents and their pampered guests won't have their eyes sullied by the paid help as they huff and puff up and down the architecturally righteous main staircase with armloads of a linens and terlit cleaning supplies. Floor plans show a second, larger kitchen in the basement, but it does not, unfortunately, show a dumb waiter that would connect the two kitchens and provide a direct link between the kitchen in the basement and the formal dining room two long flights up.

The more intimate and casual–if still a wee bit fussy–third floor library has paneled walls, wood-beamed ceiling and carved stone fireplace surround with what appears to be a hulking faux-stone chimney breast. Two over-sized windows offer park views and built-in bookcases filled with actual books, the sort of books that look like someone might actually have read them. Call Your Mama old fashioned–and goodness knows we've been called things far more vulgar–but we far prefer the warmth of books displayed this way, in their "natural" state, as opposed all covered the same colored paper jacket as done by so many of today's most popular decorators, i.e. Mary McDonald of Million Dollar Decorator. Far be it from Your Mama to knock a decorative trend promoted by many top designers but we think covering books in the same color paper jacket is little more than a cheap trick that sucks the soul from the books and downgrades them to decorative props.

A quick pass over the floor plan included with the property's marketing materials shows the monumental mansion contains a total of 15 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. There are four principal bedrooms divvied up nicely for privacy on the third through the fifth floors. Each of the four main bedrooms has its own dressing room and private facility. The two largest bedroom suites–one on the third floor and another on the fourth–are connected via a secret spiral stair. When this house was built it was not uncommon for the Mister and Missus of the house to maintain separate boo-dwars. This clandestine spiral staircase, let's just call it a "nookie stair," made it possible for the homeowners to make booty calls without the live-in staff–who see everything and we mean every-damn-thing that goes on in a house–catching wind of their activities.

A children's suite at the back of the fifth floor contains three smaller bedrooms that share a single bathroom. The rabbit warren-like sixth floor–the staff quarters–encompasses 8 small bedrooms that share just two bathrooms. There's also a kitchenette and several walk-in closets for storing out of season uniforms. There is not, however, a communal lounge where the staff can all get together and gripe and gossip about their wealthy employers. Any of you people with live-in staff who thick they don't whisper about you behind your back are just being foolish. Of course they do.

Anyhoo, no doubt there's a short parade of high-toned, well-shod and financially-qualified buyers–some of them, no doubt, just filthy rich looky-loos–who are lined up to tour the Cook-Shafferman house. At the rate things have been going in the increasingly brisk extreme high-end of the real estate market, Your Mama would not be the least bit surprised if the listing agent called in all offers next week due to the significant and intense interest. We shall see, butter beans, we shall see.

listing photos and floor plan: Brown Harris Stevens

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey About Witanhurst House

While the Joneses and Johnsons pray to whatever god they pray to that they'll keep their jobs in this still sour economy so they can pay the mortgage and buy four dollar a gallon gas, the super-rich just keep on keepin' on with their mind-altering and insanely expensive real estate transactions.

Last summer Mexican telecommunications bazillionaire Carlos Slim paid cab driver turned real estate tycoon Tamir Sapir $44,000,000 for the luscious Duke-Semans mansion, a Beaux Arts townhouse extravaganza on New York City's Fifth Avenue long owned by the Duke family, as in Duke University and tobacco heiress Doris Duke. Out in the Hamptons hedge hog David Tepper recently paid $43,500,000 for a 6,135 square foot ocean front mansion only to tear it down to the ground to make way for an even bigger and better 18,000-ish square foot beach house more suitable to his needs and visions of real estate grandeur.

In Los Angeles, Goldman Sachs fat cat Gene Sykes recently paid $40,000,000–in cash, we're told–for La Belle Vie, philanthropic widow Iris Cantor's behemoth 35,000 square foot chateau-style pile in Bel Air. Showbiz widow Candy Spelling reportedly has her conference center-sized mansion in Lala Land just about sold for around $80,000,000. Most reports say the buyer of Miz Spelling's bloated beast in the Holmby Hills–long listed at a blistering $150,000,000–is 22-year old heiress Petra Ecclestone. However two of Your Mama's sources suggest the buyer might actually be Indian gajillionaire Mukesh Ambani whose primary residence in Mumbai, India is a 27-floor tower designed and built for the exclusive use of his small family at a rumored cost of more than a billion dollars.

It seems rom-com queen Jennifer Aniston will also soon benefit from the super-rich's increasingly white hot desire for shockingly expensive homes. The unlucky in love actress listed her handsome Beverly Hills, CA house a few months ago with a jaw dropping $42,000,000 asking price. It wasn't long, we understand from our plugged-in sources inside the Bev Hills real estate game, before Miz Aniston was entertaining a couple of offers for her newly renovated and expanded residence that she dubbed Ohana, the Polynesian word for extended family. Some say the buyer of Miz Aniston's unwanted nest is Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Others suggest it may be Andrey Melnichenko, another Russian billionaire with a penchant for big boats and big houses. Still others have told Your Mama it's neither Russkie but rather a New York-based financier. Whomever the buyer is, the deal must be getting close to being completed because the listing for Miz Aniston's Ohana vanished from the MLS this week.

Over in London, a swinging and exceedingly pricey city that bursts at the seams with the world's free-spending wealthiest, all the property watchers are in a damn tizzy about Witanhurst House, a hulking, historic and dour Georgeian style pile–some reports call it Queen Anne style–that sits on about 5.5 bucolic acres in the hoity-toity quasi-suburban Highgate 'hood (shown above). The monumental property and mansion, which had fallen into a sad state of obsolescence and disrepair over the last 20 or 30 years, is the second largest private residence in London behind only Buckingham Palace.

The property, which occupies one of the highest points in London, was first developed in the late 1700s by successful stock broker who built a giant Georgian-style pile for his wife and eight children. In the 19-teens the property–then called Parkfield–was acquired by soap and candle tycoon Sir Arthur Crosfield and his Swiss tennis champion wife. Mister and Missus Crosfields, like so many moguls and potentates do today, re-imagined and re-built Parkfield into their own Barbie Dream House, a gargantuan George Hubbard-designed pile they named Witanhurst House.

Over the subsequent years Witanhurst House was bought and sold any number of times and used as a location for various films (Citizen Kane) and reality programs (Fame Academy). It was not, however, treated with the kid gloves with which it probably needed and deserved to be treated. In 2007 it was purchased from an Arab potentate by fancy-schmancy investor/real estate developer Marcus Cooper for about £32,000,000, more than fifty million American dollars at today's rates. Mister Cooper had an almost immediate change of real estate heart and flipped the three story mansion (plus mezzanine and basement) back on the market just months after buying with a foolishly high asking price of £75,000,000.

Floor plans Your Mama snatched from the listing and marketing materials when the estate was listed in 2007-08 show a massive paneled stair hall with twin staircases and capacious double-height dining and drawing rooms. A vast 70-foot long and 20-foot high walnut-paneled ballroom with gilded cornices and multiple fireplaces has at least seven sets of French doors that open the to a wide terrace that overlooks the pastoral grounds. Floor plans also show a comparatively intimately-scaled library, study, billiard room and estate office with separate entrance and private bath on the ground floor.

By Your Mama's count, according to the 2008 floor plan (above), the pre-renovation Witanhurst House contained six principal bedrooms–two on the mezzanine and four on the second floor–each with en suite pooper. Eight more bedrooms share 2 bathrooms on the third floor, probably originally designed to house live-in domestics. A latter addition to Witanhurst House contains extensive staff quarters comprised at least a dozen private bedrooms that share just 4 bathrooms. We counted at least two dozen fireplaces throughout the house.

Floor plans from 2008 show the imposing three-pronged brick-built gate house encompasses a trio of apartments, each with two bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and bathroom. We haven't any idea how the current owner plans to make use of the gate house but it would certainly be perfect for housing a small army of eagle-eyed sniper-trained security personnel.

Lucky Mister Cooper sold the property during the summer of 2008 to a corporate entity named Safran Holdings for somewhere around £50,000,000, more than one hundred million U.S. clams at 2008 currency conversion rates. At that price the big deal netted Mister Cooper a substantial net profit of 15-20 million pounds. The owning corporation was reported by one British newspaper to be controlled by Russian construction tycoon Yelena–sometimes spelled Elena–Baturina. Miz Baturina's husband Yury Luzhkov was the powerful mayor of Moscow from mid-1992 until September 2010. Moon-faced Miz Baturina–a formidable self-made woman in a decidedly man-centric industry–has vehemently denied buying Witanhurst House, dontcha know? The lady was so nettled, in fact, by being fingered as the wildly wealthy new chatelaine of Witanhurst House that she filed some sort of lawsuit against at least one newspaper who named her as the owner.
Whomever the new owner of the 40,000-ish square foot Witanhurst House may be–described in the Daily Mail this week by a construction crew member as "'a wealthy European family looking for a permanent base in London'"–they've recently embarked on an extensive and expensive renovation and restoration of the house that also calls for–you got it–a tremendous expansion. The expansion, most of which will involve the installation of a shopping-mall sized subterranean complex, will just about double the size of the house and will reportedly cost the owner somewhere in the neighborhood of £50,000,000. For all us Americanos across the pond that translates to a heart stopping eighty million dollars at today's rates according to Your Mama's currency conversion contraption.

The mysterious owner–who obviously wishes to remain anonymous but is clearly a real estate size queen of epic proportions–has shockingly grandiose plans for the historic and already huge Witanhurst House. Approved plans call for an approximately a tremendous multi-level subterranean extension to include an entertainment wing with guest suites, game room and massive theater with balcony. Also planned is an extensive fitness and spa facility with 70-foot indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, pool bar, gym, changing rooms, sauna, massage room and–no hotel-sized house would be complete without one–a beauty salon.

The existing staff wing, according to reports and plans, is to be removed and extensive service quarters in the basement are planned with staff suites, security room, laundry facilities, and a 25-car underground garage accessed by a heavy-duty elevator that will whisk the owner's fleet of fancy cars up from the garage to plaza-like motor court that stretches out in front of the grand mansion.

Our favorite spoiled billionaire-style feature planned for the new Witanhurst House is the Orangery, a detached Georgian-style pile across the motor court from the main house that when built will include living room and kitchen and will probably be far larger than the average rich person's mansion. According to a spokesperson for Safran Holdings, the new owners–whoever they are–called the new Orangery a "necessary" feature as it will allow the owners less-lavish and more intimate living quarters should "the family fancy a simple night in with pizza and beer." What? Bitch, pleeze. Who are these people with their Marie Antoinette visions of their very own Hameau de la Reine? Seriously.

These people, whoever they are, can spend their money however they like. It's their money to spend. However, let's break it down, children: If their people–the ones paid to represent them–are going to be out there (allegedly) making asinine statements like that then these Richie Riches should expect that the peasants are going to get angry. Those who struggle financially tend not to appreciate cavalier statements that effectively mock the punishing disparity between those that have little and those who can have any and everything they want no matter the cost even if it's a walk-in cheese vault, a solid-gold swimming pool or a minimum-wage Asian lady who lives in the basement and only appears when her mani-pedi services are requested.

The roughly 5.5-acre grounds will–natch–also get a billionaire-style over haul and plans call for extensive formal and terraced gardens and not one, but two tennis courts.

Despite it's titanic size, when complete, Witanhurst House will still be substantially smaller than Buckingham Palace. It will be, however and no doubt, no less lavish. Your Mama's knees turn to quivering pools of jelly just thinking of the number and cost of full-time staff required to maintain a private residence of this exceptional (and, let's be honest, ludicrous) magnitude. Certainly having this property maintained and restored is far better than having it collapse into rubble but we can't help but wonder why a single family, no matter how large, can't make due to due in the existing (and already colossal) 40,000 square foot mega-mansion. But then again, Your Mama is not a real estate size queen and would sooner live in a studio apartment than a house the size of a goddam Wal-Mart.

The hoity-toity Highgate 'hood is home to a number of high-profile showbiz people who include Clive Owen, Bob Hoskins and Ulrika Jonsson. Witanhurst House itself anchors the end Highgate's poshest star-jammed street where celebrity homeowners include actor Jude Law, aging supermodel Kate Moss and tea-house queen George Michael and his long-time man-friend Kenny Goss. Rockstar Sting and his Tantric-sexing wife Trudy Styler own a large mansion immediately next door to Witanhurst House that over the years they've leased to other entertainment industry types like Pierce Brosnan.

Your Mama imagines these privacy-seeking celebs (as well as the other wealthy neighborhood inhabitants) probably don't care for the construction disruptions and international attention the massive expansion of Witanhurt House brings to the sleepy but swank area but they may in the end benefit from the state-of-the art security–which will no doubt include a slew of armed guards who would rather shoot you than ask you to step off the driveway–the new owner of Witanhurst House will surely employ.

Excavation and construction of the copper-mine-sized pit between the gate house and main house–where most of the subterranean extension will be–has reportedly already begun and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012.

listing photos and floor plan: Knight Frank
cross section illustration: John Lawson and Philip Argent for Daily Mail

Leona Lewis Flips Out in the Hollywood Hills

SELLER: Leona Lewis
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,500,000
SIZE: 3,946 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It seems Your Mama woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning so brace yourselves with a cocktail, hunties, because we're in a bit of a mood.

It was only in September of 2009, according to property records and previous reports, that British pop superstar Leona Lewis–three times a Grammy bridesmaid but never a bride–paid $1,850,000 for a gated mini-compound in the Nichols Canyon area of Los Angeles, CA.

Thanks to a little real estate industry birdie Your Mama learned that the singing sensation recently caught a case of The Real Estate Fickle and put her privately situated property back on the market this week with an asking price of $2,500,000. A few quick flicks of the well-worn beads of Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows the current price tag reflects a perceived 35% gain in value, a big number we're certain will cause all the Real Estate Chicken Littles around here to squawk with eye-rolling flabbergast and indignation.

Miss Lewis, a vegetarian since age 12 and vocal supporter of animal rights, started up her ladder of fame and fortune in 2006 when she won The X Factor and its million pound recording contract prize with media and music tycoon Simon Cowell. She later signed on to an even more lucrative contract with the legendary Los Angeles-based music producer Clive Davis. By all accounts she's sold a lot of records and earned a lot of accolades. Honestly, puppies, Your Mama wouldn't know a Leona Lewis song if it scooched over and grabbed our fanny. None the less, we do know she isn't one of these hyper-produced hottie-patotties who flounce around in fabric scraps and tinsel pretending to sing in a naked display of style over substance. No, babies, even Your Mama knows this beehawtcha can actually sang like a song bird and–for better or worse, depending on your point of view–often gets put in the same musical clown car as high-drama divatastic belters like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

Anyhoo, listing information shows Miss Lewis's gated mini-compound nestled into the hills above Hollywood, an anemic wannabe Mediterranean village sort of thing built in 1999, sits at the tail end of a long gated drive on a private (and gated) street lined with all but identical quasi-mock-Meds. The main house measures 3,946 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A paver-stone motor court–the piazza, if you will–separates the main house from a wee guest house that sits above a detached one-car garage.

From the entry with its tile floor and wrought iron staircase it's a short step down to the formal living room outfitted high-gloss hardwood floors, a massive carved stone fireplace, vaulted ceiling, somewhat oddly large-scale dentil molding, vertical walls of windows and a glimmering crystal chandelier. Listing photos show the voluminous room with only a scant amount of furniture and/or "décor," little more than a dining set shoved up into one corner and a grand piano pushed up into the corner by the windows. It's really not very pleasant as a "living" space but as a studio where Miss Lewis can write her songs, tinkle the ivories and exercise her laser-like vocal chords it's probably perfectly lovely.

The formal dining and family rooms have been given a girlish and glammy white-washed Shabby Chic meets Old Hollywood style of day-core that includes faux-French-y tables, chairs and consoles that have been painted white, a luscious-looking champagne-colored velvet sectional sofa and a corner fireplace with a dainty carved stone surround that looks like it might have been pulled from the lady's bathroom of some chateau in some scenic valley somewhere in France but in reality probably came from a discount fireplace emporium in the San Fernando Valley.

When Miss Lewis purchased the property, according to listing photos from the time, the kitchen had that fake and depressing veneer of "Old World" style we too often see in SoCal homes starved of architectural chutzpah and/or integrity. By far the old kitchen's worst offense in Your Mama's book was not the cabinetry treated to look like it had a patina of age but the massive and murderous pot rack that hung over the center work island. Miss Lewis, to her credit, had the common sense to remove the offensive and dangerous pot rack and work over the entire kitchen in a decidedly more sybaritic fashion. The all-white kitchen, well laid out and with desirable direct access to the outdoors, now includes white flooring, wonderfully reflective high-gloss white paint on the ceiling, shiny white raised panel cabinets topped by matching winter white counter tops, and medium- to high-grade stainless steel appliances. In the breakfast area a flat screen cleaves to the walls and a crystal chandelier hangs over a farmhouse table–painted white, natch–that's surrounded by a sextet of translucent Philippe Starck Ghost chairs.

The bedrooms all appear have the same tan wall to wall carpeting that so many folks seem to love simply because it's neutral as if neutrality is the most desirable quality a decorative thing should have. Miss Lewis appears to have lost interest in gussying up the guest bedrooms or perhaps she's already moved on and this is a classically perplexing and temporary decorative tableau by Staging Lady in a Pink Toyota. The day-core–if it can be called that–in these rooms consists almost exclusively of pastel-colored fabric draped sloppily over what we can only imagine to be furniture so ugly it would cause even the most casual of aesthetes to clutch their pearls and gasp in wide-eyed disbelief. How atrocious, children, does a thing need to be that it should be covered with a damn bed sheet?

Speaking of atrocious, we feel it's probably best to look past the free-standing bookshelf on the second floor landing that for some unfathomable reason, in this 4,000 square foot house, seems to be doing double duty as a knick-knack and framed photo display stand and a linen closet. Alas, children, we can not just mosey quietly by; We desperately want to scoot past this mess but we are helpless to its horrors. Our weary eyeballs keep returning to that maudlin and trite little sculpture-thing that reads "LIVE" and wondering, "Why? Oh, hunny, why?"

Anyhoo, the master suite features a fireplace, private balcony and a four-poster bed with white curtain panels that puddle drowsily on the carpet. Curtains over the windows, on the other hand, stop painfully short of the floor. A dressing table with three-panel mirror sits in one corner on an angle that mimics the corner fireplace on the other side of the room. An over-sized slip-covered chaise is also set on a bias that matches the fireplace and dressing table.

An attached bathroom, a good-sized contemporary-ish version of faux-Tuscan style, has a tile floor with inset medallion and double sinks, angled like everything else in the much-angled master suite. Actual bathing is accommodated in a soaking tub for two and a separate glass enclosed shower smartly designed with a built-in seat, a feature convenient and useful for oh so many shower-time activities.

A flat, grassy yard between the main and guest houses wraps around the back of the main house and continues on to the other side where thick foliage and a sizable stone terrace with dining, entertaining and sunbathing areas surround the swimming pool and spa.

Your Mama, who really knows so little about anything, has no idea why Miss Lewis wants to sell her house in the Hollywood Hills soon after buying. Does this mean she's headed back to the U.K. or does this mean she's moving on to even bigger and more celebrity-style digs in Tinseltown? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

listing photos: Keller Williams (Hollywood Hills) via