Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rihanna Gets Mad and Sues A Lot of People

Gossip juggernaut TMZ and others reported today that four time Grammy winning superstar Rihanna is hella heated up and hopping mad about (alleged) construction defects that affect the livability and value of the the big ol' Beverly Hills, CA mansion she bought back in September of 2009. The music industry phenom and tabloid headliner is so furious she's filed a lawsuit against just about everyone who had anything to do with the construction and transactional due diligence of the high-priced property.

Property records and previous reports show the Barbadian bombshell–née Robyn Fenty–paid $6,900,000 for her newly constructed/renovated contemporary crib dramatically situated on a promontory at the tail end of a curling cul-de-sac in the Beverly Crest neighborhood.

Riri's lawsuit filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court encompasses a handful of causes of action including fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of implied warranty. The lawsuit claims the seller–named in the lawsuit as Heather Rudomin–was (or should have been) aware but failed to disclose major waterproofing and construction defects that resulted in significant damage to the fancy mansion after what the legal documents called a "moderate rainstorm" in January 2010. The lawsuit claims that the defects devalue the house by millions less than what the sartorial daredevil paid for the place and Riri wants some of her money back plus attorney's fees.

TMZ reported that along with former owner Adrian Rudomin Miss Riri's lawsuit also names a number of others including the property inspector, the engineers who worked on the house, and at least one of the real estate agents involved in the transaction, Shelley Brown of Prudential California Realty who represented Miss Riri in the purchase. Redfin shows the property was listed at the time of the sale with Joyce Rey, one of the highest of the high-powered grande dames of Platinum Triangle real estate. Miz Rey is not named in the suit.

Listing information from that time Miss Riri purchased the property shows the gated contemporary crib sits heavily on .86 hill top acres at the tail end of a short cul-de-sac and measures more than 10,000 square feet over three floors with 8 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms

The heart of the hulking house is a dramatic airplane hangar-sized living/dining area with milk-chocolaty hardwood floors, fireplace, towering walls of glass with city to ocean views, and glass-railed bridge that connects two second floor wings of the modern mansion. Other interior spaces include a den/family room with fireplace, eat-in kitchen with not just one but two gigantic center islands, office, staff quarters, art studio, fitness room, media/music room, wine cellar and home theater with wide screen and state-of-the-art projection equipment.

The gated grounds encompass a tight motor court with two-car attached garage, flat lawn the narrows to a small sun deck with city and ocean views, and a small swimming pool and spa surrounded by an entertainment terrace and deck cantilevered over the canyon.

Anyone want to take bets that regardless of the outcome of her legal matters Little Miss Riri will soon if she doesn't already desire new digs, preferably one not freighted with the psychic weight of judicial trauma?

aerial photo: Google
listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International

A New Chez for Newlyweds Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo

BUYERS: Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo
PRICE: $2,850,000
SIZE: 8,134 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: One of Your Mama's unofficial celebrity real estate rules states that when a rich and/or famous person marries they frequently also buy a new home. In short, a new spouse means a new house. It makes little matter if the newly betrothed previously shacked up in unmarried sin. They typically still feel the urge to wrap there wedded bliss in the comforts of a new house.

Thanks to the Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial we've learned that such was the case with former boy bander/reality tee-vee star turned singing contest host/sometime actor Nick Lachey (The Sing Off) and his new bride Vanessa Minnillo, a one-time beauty pageant participator who now earns a living as the hostess of various showbiz events and low-brow reality tee-vee programs (Wipeout, True Beauty, Total Request Live).

Mister Lachey and Miss Minnillo, coupled on and off since sometime in 2006 or 2007, have lived together on and off for the last several years in both Los Angeles and New York City. In The Big Apple they were oft rumored and reported to have purchased or possibly leased a 2 bedroom pied a terre at the Atelier building on the far western end of 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan; In The City of Angels they made their unwed nest in a very contemporary ridge top residence Mister Lachey purchased in 2006 shortly after his marriage to wife number one Jessica Simpson swirled down the Tinseltown Terlit of Love.

After years of dating and living together Miss Minnillo finally made an honest man of Mister Lachey in mid-July (2011) when they hitched their semi-celebrity wagons in a quiet ceremony on Richard Branson's private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The main house on Necker Island was badly damaged last week during a fire started by a lightening strike. At the time of the 4:00 a.m. conflagration Oscar-winning British actress Kate Winslet was a guest of Mister Branson and asleep in the house. Not only did Miz Winslet get herself and her two children out of the house unharmed but also managed to scoop up and carry Mister Branson's 90 year old mother out of the house to safety. Brava beotch! But we digress...

Property records and previous reports reveal that in February 2006 Mister Lachey ponied up 5,000,000 clams for a 5,214 square foot house near the tail end of a long gated driveway shared by a few other homes that snakes dramatically along a narrow ridge high in the mountains directly above the hoity-toity Bel Air section of Los Angeles.

The then bachelor purchased the modern mini-mansion from German supermodel/media mogul Heidi Klum and Grammy-winning British R&B singer-songwriter Seal who, as it turns out, have been much in the celebrity real estate headlines lately. The sexy salt and pepper pair paid $14,200,000 in late 2010 for a 12,300 square foot mansion on more than eight hillside acres in the same exclusive gated enclave in Los Angeles' Brentwood area where other residents and home owners include philandering former California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, supermodel Giselle Bündchen and her pigskinner hubby Tom Brady, Libet Johnson (heiress to the Band-Aid fortune), and at least one Middle Eastern political potentate. They subsequently listed their former house, a secluded hillside estate tucked into one of the lesser traveled canyons that cut through the mountains in the Beverly Hills Post Office area, in May 2011 with an asking price of $6,900,000. Records reveal they sold the 6 bedroom and 9 full and 2 half pooper property just a month later for $7,000,000. It doesn't take a genius or a bejeweled abacus to see that's a hundred grand over the asking price but it does take a peep into the property records to reveal it's also $600,000 less then they paid for the property 5.5 years earlier. And there we go digressing again...

Your Mama discussed the Bel Air residence Mister Lachey shared with Miss Minnillo back in June 2010 when he quietly pushed the property on to the market with and asking price of $6,800,000. Listing information indicates house was last listed with a $5,995,000 price tag and property records now show Mister Lachey sold the property on the 10th of August, 2011 for $5,500,000 to an unknown buyer.

The day after Mister Lachey closed on his house in Bel Air he and his new Missus closed on a gated mock-Med mansion nestled into a thickly treed cul-de-sac in the semi-rustic rolling hills above suburban Encino. Although Encino is and has always been a leafy haven for Hollywood types of all stripes, the community none-the-less carries with it the stigma of being a suburban wasteland of vapid and tasteless consumerism. This unflattering image of Encino, at one time only a figment in the snobbish real estate minds of Angelenos who believed they lived in better zip codes, went viral in the early 1980s when L.A.-based music legend Frank Zappa released the song Valley Girl. Anyone over forty certainly knows the song–sung/talked by Mister Zappa's then 14-year old daughter Moon Unit–that openly mocked Valley Girl culture. (O.M.G., children, check out Marilyn MaCoo with her braided headband! Get. It. Gurrl!).

Anyhoo, property records show the newlyweds paid $2,850,000 for their new mansion in Encino. The house, which listing information called "Rustic Tuscan," was purchased with the same trust through which Mister Lachey owned his previous home in Bel Air. Listing information for Chez Lachey shows the house was built in 1981, measures a substantial 8,134 square feet, and includes a family-sized number of bedrooms and bathrooms, 6 and 8 respectively.

Shrubbery shrouded arched wood gates swing open electronically to a stone motor court with two car front-facing garage and adjoining single car carport. A wide, tree-shaded stone stair way connects the driveway to the front door set deeply into an arched porch. The exterior of the house, as far as Your Mama is concerned, ain't nuthin' but an architectural wart with odd proportions and botched massing. Things get a marginally better inside where some of the faux and stone finishes meant to give the house the illusion of being an agéd Mediterranean country house are mildly mitigated by a number of surprisingly voluminous spaces with distressed hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings with exposed wood beams.

A series of stone pillars and wide arched doorways in that airy sky-lit foyer direct traffic into the spacious window-wrapped formal living room with wide plank wood floors, fireplace and French doors that open to a pair of verandas, one covered and one not. The adjacent library/den also has wood floors, vaulted wood beam ceiling with sky lights, fireplace, and French doors that open to a veranda–in this case the covered one. Boozehounds like Your Mama who can not abide the stone veneer only installed to about halfway up one very tall wall in the library/den may feel more architecturally charitable to the space when they learn there's a built-in wet bar with copper sink installed in the corner opposite the fireplace.

The formal dining room opens on one end through wood-framed French doors to a grassy area and on the side through a wider bank of wood-framed French doors to a romantic vine-covered patio with over-sized water fountain. The rather large center island kitchen has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, tile floors with Travertine inlay set at a 45-degree angle, a adjacent pantry/utility room, custom cabinetry that features a built-in buffet with plate rack and microwave oven cubby, two over-sized farmhouse sinks, side-by-side stainless steel fridge and freezer, snack counter, and a breakfast area also with a barrel vaulted ceiling.

A wide doorway with a pair of thin columns separates the breakfast room/kitchen from the family room where there's distressed wide-plank wood floors under foot and a vaulted, wood-beamed, and sky lit ceiling over head. One entire wall was covered floor to ceiling in the same stone veneer as in the library/den. All we can say about that is at least this time the stone facing reaches all the way to the high ceiling. An arched inset in the stone-faced wall holds a wide-screen boob-toob and built-in cabinet for all the various cable boxes and wireless routers required for a modern upscale lifestyle. The home's third fireplace was crammed awkwardly between the wide media archway and a much less wide archway that connects the room to the rest of the house.

A vestibule on the lower level has double doors that open into a home office with built-in cabinetry, desk top, wet bar and corner seating unit. A short hall connects the office space to the master bedroom and en suite bathroom, both of which have fireplaces set into full walls covered with stone veneer, both of which have access and/or views to the garden and swimming pool, and both of which have wall-t0-wall sand colored carpeting. That's right, puppies, there's wall to wall carpeting in the bathrooms that encircles the free standing tub and runs right up to the sinks and shower. Your Mama hopes that Mister and Missus Lachey heed Rule Number 12 in Your Mama's Big Book of Decorating Dos and Don'ts that explicitly states that due to what should be obvious sanitary issues no bathing or terliting facility of any kind in any home of any size or value shall have wall-to-wall carpeting. Bath mats and area rugs are acceptable solutions to cold feet as are, for those with the budget, radiant heated floors.

The remainder of the mansion's sleeping chambers, each of them en suite as per listing information, are sprinkled throughout the house and configured such as to allow for flexible use as guest suites, offices, game rooms, fitness chambers, children's play rooms, massage facilities, scrap booking factories or what-have-you rooms.

In addition to the various covered patios, porches and verandas that surround the house the grounds include a flat patch of grass surrounded by mature trees and landscaping. Does anyone else besides Your Mama think Missus Lachey would like to see a celebrity-style jungle gym set up out there soon? Exterior stairs connect the long dining and lounging veranda on the second floor to the multi-level lower terrace where there's dining and sunbathing areas, built-in fire pit with built-in stone bench, a swimming pool with lap lane and, tucked into a quiet corner of the yard, a foliage-surrounded spa where Mister and Missus Minnillo can film another of their outdoor sexcapades should they be so inclined.

Your Mama, who has never spoken to nor seen Mister Lachey or Miz Minnillo in the flesh, certainly hasn't any idea or inside information about why these two sometimes volatile lovebirds would opt to trade in their sexy house in Bel Air with jet liner views over Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean for a significantly larger but far less exciting mansion in Encino. Perhaps they just wanted some thing less expensive–if not less costly to maintain and operate–where they'll have plenty of room to bring up babies when the time comes.

listing photos: Michael Andrew McNamara Photography for Partners Trust

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tidbit: Did Roman Abramovich Do It Again in London?

International Real Estate rumor has it that Russian oligarch and globe-trotting trophy property collector Roman Abramovich may have purchased a humongous house on Kensington Palace Gardens, the most expensive and security conscious gated enclave in all of hyper-pricey London.

Did y'all get that? This is just rumor and gossip at this point. Your Mama did not find any reports on the interweb that provide or claim definitive proof Mister Abramovich actually bought the house in question, a gleaming white, civic-looking Neo-Georgian limestone edifice owned by Belgian hedge hogger Pierre LaGrange and his wife Christina.

At least one report from mid-August relayed whispers that the wildly wealthy lover of über-luxurious living was interested in Mister and Missus LaGrange's behemoth house on Kensington Palace Gardens. Those property gossips heard through the real estate grapevine the LaGrange's mansion was quietly available for around £30,000,000. More recent reports, such as in the Daily Mail, suggest Mister Abramovich may have paid somewhere in the neighborhood of £90,000,000 for the house that reportedly has upwards of 12 to 15 bedrooms. We have no idea why there's such a wild discrepancy between the gossiped-about price tag and reported sale price. Make of that what you will children.

Most discussions of the matter indicate the LaGrange mansion is currently under construction with a massive subterranean extension to include an a "health centre," private museum, and indoor tennis court. Whaaaat? Do these reports mean that an indoor underground tennis court is planned? That sounds awfully odd, doesn't it? Would this be the first and only private residence in London with an indoor and underground tennis court?

Listen chickens, despite our daily intake of the devil's water Your Mama has been known to scoot our fat backside out on to the tennis court every now and then. That's why we know of what we speak when we tell the children y'all need a very high ceiling to accommodate an indoor tennis court. Do the children understand just how far a person would have to dig down in to the firmament below London to allow for a ceiling sufficiently high for the wild, top-spinning arches for which our boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau is famous? Yes, puppies, she may be a walking, talking and often drunk disaster but when ol' Fiona steps on to the tennis court in her high-heeled platform sneaker-shoes beehotch does it down something fierce like that shrieker Maria Sharapova.

Anyhoo, Your Mama can't claim any intimate or actual knowledge of what goes on in Mister Abramovich's multi-billionaire brain but most reports suggest he and his art loving heiress baby momma Daria Zhukova have grown weary of the planned expansion and renovation of a decidedly decadent double-wide townhouse on Lowndes Square in London's hoity-toity Knightsbridge neighborhood.

When and if completed as planned, Mister Abramovich's Lowndes Square residence would measure an epic 30,000 square feet and include–according to the 2009 floor plans Your Mama had the pleasure to peep–multiple elevators, 8 bedrooms plus several staff apartments, a drawing room that spans the full width of the two townhouses, a swimming pool in the basement, and a sprawling full-floor master suite comprised of bedroom, two large bathrooms, two large windowed dressing rooms–one with walk-in safe–and a service kitchen/pantry connected to the subterranean main kitchen via a dumbwaiter.

In mid-March 2011 Your Mama discussed a rambling 13,000 square foot mansion on London's bohemian-chic Cheyne Walk that Mister Abramovich reportedly purchased for around $40,000,000. This house was to be a temporary residential weigh station until the work on the yacht-loving jet setter's house on Lowndes Square is finished.

If these newest reports are true–and we really don't know if they are or are not–it appears that Mister Abramovich would scrap the planned expansion of his mansion in ritzy Knightsbridge, bail out of his house on Cheyne Walk and high-tail it to the even more exclusive and expensive Kensington Palace Gardens where other residents include bajillionaire industrialists like Lakshmi Mittal, Foxtons founder Jon Hunt, a Saudi royal or two and a long list of international ambassadors. We shall see, puppies, we shall see.

In addition to his London property holdings–whatever exactly they may be–Mister Abramovich's property portfolio bulges with more than a dozen homes in far-flung and exorbitantly high-priced locales that include Moscow, the Côte d'Azur, St. Barts in the Carribbean, and Aspen, CO.

photo: Chris Eades via The Daily Mail

Tuesday Tidbit: Mitt Romney Clarifies Plans for La Jolla Hideaway

We hesitate to bring this matter up again since we received some rather ugly and disturbing hate mail the last time we discussed, but...

Last week former Massachusetts governor and current GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney took it on the real estate chin when it was reported here, there, and everywhere that he'd submitted plans to nearly quadruple the size of an architecturally insignificant beach front house he owns in the wealthy seaside enclave of La Jolla, CA from around 3,000 square feet to more than 11,000 square feet.

Mister and Missus Romney purchased the posh pad about three years ago for a whopping $12,000,000. Alas and despite the hefty purchase price, according to Mister Romney himself, the 3 bedroom and 5 bathroom beach house just isn't large enough to accommodate his five adult children, their spouses and 16 grandchildren. Hence his plans to expand the residence.

There's certainly nothing inherently wrong or unusual about a multi-millionaire like Mister Romney who embarks on a significant expansion and/or full-scale renovation of a luxury vacation residence. However, given the flailing economy and his White House aspirations some folks–people on both sides of the political aisle, mind you–felt Mister Romney's plan for an extensive and expensive expansion was ill-timed.

Yesterday, in an attempt to clear up and clarify the what's-what about his property plans in La Jolla, Mister Romney told Joe McQuaid, publisher of the Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire that the gossip and reports were not entirely accurate.

According to Mister Romney, the plans and application for the expansion were filed two years ago, long before he tossed his hat in to the GOP presidential hopeful ring. Mister Romney's campaign previously stated that any construction to or expansion of the house would not begin until after the 2012 campaign. Furthermore, the application submitted calls not for a quadrupling of the living space but rather a doubling achieved by the addition of a second floor that would bring the interior living space to around 6,000 square feet. That's gigantic by most standards but hardly an unusual size for an ocean front home in the exceedingly affluent community of La Jolla. The remaining 5,000 or so square feet in the submitted application, as per Mister McQuaid's reports, are accounted for in "nonliving space" that includes the garage and a basement.

When asked by Mister McQuaid if he issued a press release that more succinctly and accurately lays out his actual plans for the property Mister Romney reportedly "shrugged his shoulders with a 'why bother?' look."

photos: Google Maps

Tuesday Tidbit: Kim Kardashian to Hole Up In NYC Hotel

Brace yourselves, butter beans because it's feverishly low-brow reality tee-vee time.

A week or two ago Kim Kardashian was married to professional dribbler Kris Humphries in an extravagant multi-million dollar production on the spectacular manicured grounds of Sotto Il Monte, a sprawling and historic estate in Montecito, CA owned by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Frank Caufield.

New reports in The Post and on Curbed reveal that Mister and Missus Kim Kardashian have returned from their brief honeymoon in Italy to New York City where they are expected to (temporarily) settle into a posh penthouse suite at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel that goes for–are y'all ready for this–$7,000 per night.

The hotel's website shows the duplex suite they're most likely moving into (shown above) measures approximately 2,000 square feet and features a dramatic double height living room with two story high wall of windows, a sculptural floating staircase, fireplace with towering marble chimney breast, private terrace with glittery city view, and state-of-the-art audio and visual systems.

The newlyweds will remain in residence at the swanky hotel just north of Madison Square Park while Kimmy K. shoots another of the Kardashian family's (too) many reality tee-vee shows that neither Your Mama nor the Dr. Cooter will watch because, well, we simply do not and can not understand the appeal of the Kardashian family.

Back on the west coast, Kim still owns an approximately 4,000 square foot faux-Tuscan/mock-Med manse in the Beverly Hills Post Office area that she acquired in February 2010 for $3,400,000.

photos: Gansevoort Hotel Group

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sean Avery Lists Hollywood Hills House at a Loss

SELLER: Sean Avery
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $859,000
SIZE: 1,607 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A few weeks ago professional ice hockey puck pusher Sean Avery was arrested at his home in Los Angeles, CA after noise complaints by neighbors brought the po-po to place in order to put a kibosh on the late-night racket. Badda-bing badda-boom Mister Avery ended up behind bars on charges of battery of an officer. The charges were quickly dropped. Turns out the officer tripped and was not pushed by Mister Avery as was first reported by gossip juggernaut TMZ and later by the Old Grey Lady herself.

Mister Avery, for all the children who like Your Mama can barely distinguish the difference between a hockey stick and a pool cue, currently plays the position of left wing position for the New York Rangers. Do not even ask Your Mama what a left wing is or what they do because we don't know. Our brief research on the interweb informs us that on the ice Mister Avery's known as a fierce and sometimes volatile competitor unafraid to mix it up in a physical confrontation. That professional reputation–presumably deserved–is probably why many were quick to believe early and erroneous reports that Mister Avery pushed a police officer in a flash of anger. Off the ice he's much discussed by the media as an unexpected if quite butch aesthete with an interest in art and a flair for fashion, particularly women's clothing. In 2008 Mister Avery famously interned at Vogue where he did grunt work for Her Fashion Highness Anna Wintour and her marvelously melodramatic and frequently caftan-clad aide-de-camp André Leon Talley.

Before he checked and back checked for the Rangers in New York City, Mister Avery cleared and cross checked for the Kings in Los Angeles, CA where in July 2005 he spent $989,000 on a fairly nondescript Spanish-style cottage that cleaves to a steep slope above Los Angeles' legendary Laurel Canyon, the decadent and bohemian historical heart of the west coast rock and roll music scene. It was there, in that rustic canyon ,in the geographic middle of Los Angeles, where unparalleled songstress/songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote her third album Ladies of the Canyon in the late 1960s.

Anyhoones, our Mister Avery moved to The Big Apple in 2007 to play for the Rangers but hung on to his Laurel Canyon crib. Several months ago he listed the humble and quirky casa with an asking price of $929,000. At about the time Mister Avery was freed of battery charges earlier in August he slashed almost ten percent off the price tag to its current $859,000. Listing information states the seller is motivated, which may or may not have something or nothing to do with a sour taste that Mister Avery may or may not have left in his mouth after his silly run in with the L.A.P.D.

A few quick flicks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that even at a full price sale Mister Avery stands to lose $130,000, not counting the real estate fees. Thus once again proves that celebrities, sports figures and other high profile types were not and are not immune from the recent tanking and continued struggle of the economy in general and real estate in particular.

Listing information and publicly available property records show Mister Avery's pequeño pad near the tail end of a very narrow and dizzyingly twisty cul-de-sac in the Hollywood Hills measures a humble 1,607 square feet and includes just 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

Like many homes in the canyons and hills above Hollywood, Mister Avery's modest residence sits hard up on the street. By hard up on the street we mean hard damn up on the street so that there is absolutely no front yard, just a wee tile apron in front of the single car attached garage and a deep inset porch.

The main indoor living/lounging area has wood floors, coffered wood ceiling and a bank of wood framed windows and doors to open to a balcony that looks over the back yard area and the canyon beyond. A wide archway connects the living room to the decidedly diminutive formal dining room where French doors help to visually expand the space and open to the same balcony that runs along the back of the living room. For some inexplicable and decoratively inexcusable reason the wood flooring in the dining room has a distressed ashy tone while those in the living room are a rich honey color. The two floor colors make an unholy meeting under the archway that connects the two rooms. Listen, kittens, Your Mama's Big Book of Decorating Dos and Don'ts is explicit in Rule Number 4: Wood floors may comfortably run up against tile or concrete or some other type of material that isn't wood but it is strictly verboten for wood floors of different types, finishes or color to butt up against each other; Juxtapositional inlay is an exception to this otherwise steel trap of a rule.

The apartment-sized eat-in kitchen looks like it's had some upgrading over the years but Your Mama finds the whole thing a little depressing, especially the mis-matched black and white appliances, the two-toned cabinetry, and the half-assy Spanish tile back splash and decorative medallion behind the stove. Look, puppies, Your Mama realizes not everyone wants or can afford a $100,000 custom kitchen but that doesn't mean it has to look like this hot mess. Even on a serious budget, Your Mama can see that in the right hands this kitchen could be zhushed and pushed into perfectly adequate and even stylish cooker. We are not the right hands but none-the-less we'd recommend the person with the right hands replace the dishwasher with a white one, paint the walls bright matte white, and slather the cabinetry in one solid color paint–maybe a nice mossy green with just a twinge of luster–and replace the back splash with some cha-cha vintage Malibu-style tiles that cover the entire area between the counter top and the bottom of the upper cabinets.

Each of the two bedrooms, located on a lower level, has a private facility. The wood-floored master bedroom steps down to a small tiled vestibule with French doors that open the room to a covered deck with tree top and canyon views. Like the kitchen, the master bathroom–or, at least, the largest of the two bathrooms–has some rather frustrating design and decorating flaws, the most obvious of which is also the least expensive and easiest to fix: the mosquito netting draped from the ceiling over the claw-footed soaking tub. Have mercy, childrens. The way those many yards of swagged semi-transparent fabric causes Your Mama to gasp out loud and grasp our proverbial pearls in decorative mortification. We don't know if Mister Avery is responsible for that upsetting bit of fabric business or if it's the handiwork of a tenant but, honestly, hunnies, no. Just say no to draping netting over the bathtub. We should probably add that to our Big Book of Decorating Dos and Don'ts.

Stairs lead down from the covered terrace off the master bedroom to a tree and foliage encircled dining and lounging deck that juts out over the canyon in a manner that could easily make the knees of most acrophobics turn to jelly.

This is not, we noted in our research, the first time Mister Avery has attempted to sell this house, which he took off the (open) market just days after he put it on the (open) market in June 2008. Your Mama scrounged up online evidence that Mister Avery has in the past had the house available for lease and it appears that it's also currently for lease with a monthly price tag of $5,500.

This will not be the first time Mister Avery will take a loss on a real estate transaction. In July 2007 he paid $1,460,000 for a two-bedroom apartment with 1,123 square foot on the 6th floor of The Chelsea Club on West 19th Street in New York City. He listed the condo in early 2010 with an asking price of $1,795,000. Several price chops followed and property records reveal he finally dumped the condo in January 2011 for $1,400,000, sixty grand less than he paid 3.5 years earlier.

With his New York City apartment sold and this Los Angeles house on the market for substantially less than he paid for it 3.5 years earlier it seems Mister Avery will soon need a new place to live. That's iffin he hasn't already identified and/or purchased a new house or condo to call home in either L.A. or N.Y.C. or both. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Temporary Nest in 'The Birds' for Lovebirds Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux

Rom-com queen and former sit-com star Jennifer Aniston (Friends, Horrible Bosses, Marley & Me) may have only snatched brooding screenwriter/actor Justin Theroux (I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, Tropic Thunder, John Adams) from a 14-year relationship a few short months ago but their high-profile and much chronicled romance zoomed from 0-60 faster than it takes water to boil.

Almost immediately after hooking up the very quickly smitten kittens were spotted looking for a house to buy in some of the better zip codes in Los Angeles. Your Mama–dontcha know?–has specific knowledge of two high-priced pads the pair peeped. Not finding the perfect property to buy, the now constant companions reportedly opted to lease a (temporary) love nest in a celebrity-chocked neighborhood high above the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, CA known as 'The Birds.' The 'hood, home to Hollywood types like Leo DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves, Megan Mullally, and Jodie Foster, is often referred to as 'The Birds' due to all the streets being named after–you got it–birds.

A well-informed tattletale we'll call Ben Theredonethat pointed Your Mama's limited attentions to the couple's new crib, a very modestly-sized if still quite pricey pad last on the market with a rental price tag of $20,000 per month. Property records show the well-located but discreet digs were purchased by the current owners, a screenwriter husband and a location scout wife from a prominent New York family, in January 2007 for $3,050,000.

Listing information Your Mama managed to squeeze out of the interweb shows the high-hedged, electronically-gated, and recently-renovated ranch-style residence measures 1,761 square feet and includes just 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms plus a 2-car garage converted into a den/office with pitched ceiling and an entire wall lined with built-in book and display shelves.

The main living/dining room has a high vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, peg-and-groove wood floors of various widths, a wood-burning fireplace flanked by built-in book cases, and a trio of French doors that open the long room the to small limestone terrace that surrounds the wee plunge pool and attached spa.

The random-width wood floors continue into the adjacent eat-in kitchen that has a faint but detectable vibe of a French bistro and includes dark taupe cabinets topped by grey-veined white marble counter tops, white subway tile back splashes, high-grade stainless steel appliances and open shelves on either side of the window over the sink where the daily dishes are on display.

The guest bedroom offers a pitched ceiling, brick fireplace, walls covered in what looks like burlap or some sort of linen, and simple but adequate bathing and terliting facility with glass-enclosed shower stall and wood floors. The master bedroom, considerably larger than the second bedroom but still quite cozy features a peaked ceiling with exposed beams and an attached bathroom with double sinks and marble-lined tub/shower. Two sets of French doors open the bedroom to the pool deck and bathmat-sized patch of grass that gives way to a lounging terrace protected for privacy by a thick and tall hedge.

In addition to the plunge pool, spa and surrounding sunbathing terrace with canyon view, the small backyard includes a number of other patios and decks for lounging, dining and entertaining.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly given the rather unusual real estate ways of the rich and famous, the leased house sits just a half mile from another modest house at the top of the Bird Streets that Miz Aniston has owned since January 1993 when she shelled out $751,000 for the 2 bedroom and 3 bathroom ranch-style residence. One would be a fool not to wonder why Miz Aniston and Mister Theroux didn't just move into that house but such are the inexplicable ways of the rich and famous.

In late June (2011) Miz Aniston sold Ohana, her approximately 10,000 square foot newly renovated mansion in Beverly Hills, for $35,000,000. All research and signs point to the buyer of Ohana as Bill Gross, a freakishly wealthy Orange County (CA) mutual fund manager.

Prior to that, in April 2011, Miz Aniston dropped a titanic total of $7,019,000 for two itty-bitty apartments, one on top of the other, in an imposing, desirable and very expensive pre-war building in New York City's hyper-gentrified West Village. Miz Aniston paid $2,069,000 for the lower unit, a 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom with 3 closets, a tiny kitchen and wood-burning fireplace in the step down living room. The apartment was last priced at $1,800,000, which means Miz Aniston wanted it so badly she paid $209,000 over the asking price. The upstairs unit, a petit penthouse owned by sensationally successful hair cutter Sally Hershberger, cost Miz Aniston a whopping $4,950,000. While no larger than the downstairs unit, the puny penthouse has almost as much space outdoors from the wide terrace that wraps around three sides of the apartment and offers thrilling city views to the south, west and north to the Empire State Building and–even better–the Chrysler Building.

Presumably, as per previous reports, Miz Aniston intends to combine the two tiny units into one still quite cozily scaled duplex penthouse that will encompass fewer than 2,000 square feet of interior space.

The astronomical sale, purchase and rental prices of Miz Aniston's recent real estate activities boggle Your Mama's boozy brain into a state of torpid bewilderment. However, puppies, we can still find and muster the a very real appreciation of Miz Aniston's new-found self-recognition that bigger and fancier is not necessarily better when it comes to real estate even if one's bank account balloons impressively with a sizable showbiz fortune like hers, usually estimated to be well in excess of $100,000,000.

listing photos: Coldwell Banker / Hancock Park North via LA Life

Friday, August 26, 2011

Christina Aguilera Takes It on the Real Estate Chin

SELLER: Christina Aguilera
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $4,653,815 (sale)
SIZE: 6,500-ish square feet, 4 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It may have taken more than three years and a handful of heavy-duty price chops but recently divorced pop music super star turned reality tee-vee singing contest judge Christina Aguilera has finally sold her former bachelorette pad high above the Sunset Strip. A kindly snitch we'll call Nathaniel Needsyoutoknow quietly informed Your Mama the sleek contemporary recently went for the dizzyingly complicated price of $4,653,815.

Miz Aguilera purchased the 4 bedroom and 7 crapper crib in the Bird Streets 'hood back in April 2003 for an even-Steven $5,000,000. A few quick flicks of the well-worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus reveals the dirrty girl's designer pocketbook and real estate ego took a $346,185 hit on the property not counting the fat real estate fees that easily ran in excess of $150,000. Certainly Miz Aguilera can safely weather a half million dollar financial storm but still, let's be honest pets, it's never a good day to lose half a million bucks even if you're a money-making showbiz machine like Miz Aguilera.

Celebrity real estate watchers and Xtina fans the world over already the highly stylized and sometimes misbehaved divorcée has been trying to off-load this property since April 2008 when she first hoisted the Steve-Hermann-designed house on the open market with an asking price of $7,995,000.

Listing information shows the many-angled modern manse weighs in at more than 6,500 square feet of interior space with vast banks of floor-to-ceiling glass that powerfully reveal the seductive and unobstructed city views that go for as far as the eye can see and the smog allows. A built in sofa in the sunken living area curls around a futuristic fireplace with trapezoidal stainless steel chimney breast. Boozers and liquor lovers like Your Mama will appreciate the L-shaped built-in bar–the kind with actual bar stools–tucked into an architecturally dramatic corner of the main living/entertaining area. Terrazzo floors run under foot, glass sliders open the room up to the outdoors, and up above a vaulted wood beamed ceiling pierced by sky lights and a long row of clerestory windows entices ambient light into the airy area.

A more intimate living area–a den or a family room, if y'all will allow us to call it that–has glossy wood floors, massive pitched sky lights and a full wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that look out to a sliver of a patio and a brutalizing stacked stone wall that–in pictures–induces a discomforting kind of real estate claustrophobia in Your Mama.

Special celebrity style amenities of the low profile two-story post and beam pad include a massive master suite with two fireplaces and super-sized custom-fitted closet, a fitness/massage room with mirrored walls and naughty cherry red floor, professional screening room with built-in bar and seating for at least 15 movie goers, and–natch–a recording studio.

Many of the mansion's main rooms open to the wide stone terrace and deck that runs the full length of the house and features and outdoor fireplace. Although there's probably too little room to put a pooch through its proper exercise paces, there's plenty of space for more human activities such as sunbathing, eating, sitting around a fire pit, taking in the glitzy carpet of lights that stretch out below the house, and hanging out in an amorphous swinger-friendly 12-seat spa.

Miz Aguilera married music industry executive Jordan Bratman in the fall of 2005 and it wasn't long before she turned up with a bun in her oven. As is often the case with rich and famous folks, a new baby meant the L.A.-based parents to be needed a new mansion in which to bring up baby.

After a peep and poke around a number of high-priced pads in some of Tinseltown's most expensive zip codes, the then-happy couple settled on a 6 bedroom and 9 bathroom Beverly Hills mansion owned by Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. Property records and previous reports show the couple shelled out $11,500,000 for the walled and gated estate where a daily parade of buses and vans loaded with camera wielding tourists and super-fans roll slowly by hopin' and prayin' they''ll–what?–catch a glimpse of Miz Aguilera decked out in a bespangled halter top, Brian Atwood pumps and a face-full of make-up pushing the mower, clipping the hedges or backing out of the driveway?.

In March 2011, six or so months after it was revealed that Miz Aguilera and and Mister Bratman planned to part ways and dissolve their 5 year marriage, they quietly pushed their decadently decorated Mediterranean mansion in Bev Hills estate on the market with an asking price of $13,500,000. The 10,000 square foot pile remains listed at the same number.

In classic celebrity fashion Miz Aguilera took up with another man–a smirky production assistant named Matt Rutler–very shortly her split with Mister Bratman. There's talk and gossip that Miz Aguilera wants to make her rebound romance with Mister Rutler legal in the eyes of God and government but the Gossip Cop says the marriage scuttlebutt aint' nuthin' but "entirely false."

Your Mama, who doesn't know a pig pen from an ink pen, has no idea what Miz Aguilera's romantic plans my or may not be as regards to Mister Rutler. We do know that with one mansion sold and another on the market the fast-living single mommy needs a new place to live so we fully expect the platinum blond bomb shell will be back in the celebrity real estate headlines before Your Mama can work our way through this elephantine bottle of gin the Dr. Cooter brought home from Costco last week.

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Your Mama Hears...

...from the Malibu Candyman that bushy bearded and frequently barefooted music super-producer/guru Rick Rubin has just dropped $2,000,000 on the world-renowned and much-beloved Shangri La music studio, nestled into the rustic rolling hills just above Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA.

Mister Rubin, a much in demand and shockingly prolific producer who does not actually know how to read music or operate a sound board, is the co-founder of Def Jam Records–now owned by Universal Music Group–and the current co-president of Columbia Records. The zen-ed out music mogul has worked with a long list of music industry super luminaries who include (but are far from limited to) Johnny Cash, Beastie Boys, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, The Gossip, Dixie Chicks, Rage Against the Machine, Mick Jagger and the soo-blime Avett Brothers.

The prosaic ranch style main residence at Shangri La was built in the late 1950s by actress/dancer wife Margo, a niece of the late-great Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat and the long-time wife of two-time Oscar-nominated actor Eddie Albert. According to the recording studio's website the property became an "upscale bordello" that was "rumored to have hosted the Hollywood elite of the 1950's." In the 1960s the tee-vee program Mister Ed was filmed on the property and Mister Ed the horse was stabled on the property.

The property was purchased and converted to a recording studio and rock and roll refuge in the late 1970s by audio engineer and music producer Rob Fraboni. A virtual parade of rock and roll icons and legends flocked to and recorded at the low-key property including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan (who apparently spent some time living in a tent in the rose garden), Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, and Crosby Stills & Nash.

Although property records Your Mama peeped indicate Mister Chaney actually bought the ocean view property in October of 2006 for $2,125,000, most reports indicate the property was acquired in the early Noughts by Blaine "Beej" Chaney, singer/gee-tarist for the 1980s New Wave band The Suburbs and the former hubby of low-profile Cargill heiress Sarah MacMillan. Make of that what y'all will. Mister Chaney continued with the property's rock and roll recording history and in recent years Adele, Kings of Leon, Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have recorded albums at Shangri La. Since Mister Rubin has worked with all four of those artists and bands , one can safely presume, he's intimately familiar with Shangri La.

Although Mister Chaney married into one of the wealthiest families in America, records Your Mama dug up out of the interweb show foreclosure proceedings were initiated on Shangri La in the fall of 2010 and a Notice of Sale was filed in late December with an auction date set for January 13, 2011. It's not clear to Your Mama if the property was sold out of foreclosure or if Mister Chaney managed to stave off that beast. What we do know is that in May 2011 Mister Chaney pushed the property on the market with an asking price of $4,100,000. Within weeks the price tag had been slashed dramatically to $3,195,000.

Listing information shows the 1.73 acre spread has a main house that measures 4,449 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms plus a detached guest house. While much of the house is devoted to music making and recording listing information indicates there's a dining room, game room with pool table and built in bar, office, and an eat-in country kitchen. The recording facilities include both state of the art and analog recording abilities with one of the recording studios located in an Airstream trailer with ocean view parked on the property.

We're not exactly sure to where Mister Chaney decamped. Property records show he and his heiress ex-wife Sarah MacMillan own four contiguous ocean front parcels in Malibu where they custom-built a sizable compound. Of course, just to be clear, Your Mama don't know a lug nut from a wing nut so we can't say with any authority whatsoever whether Mister Chaney and/or Miz MacMillan currently reside at the beach front compound.

Mister Rubin has owned property in Malibu since at least 2005 when he paid $4,762,500 for a 4,281 square foot mock-Tudor style residence perched privately on a flat promontory above Point Dume's Westward Beach, about 1.5 miles from Shangri La.

As far as we know, based on our perusal of property records and other online resources, Mister Rubin continues to own two additional historic estates in Los Angeles. In late 1992 the Buddha-like Svengali producer shelled out $2,045,000 for a gated estate just above the Sunset Strip that includes a 9,268 square foot Mediterranean mansion built in 1924. The Malibu Candyman told Your Mama that the estate was once owned by horror movie actor Lon Chaney and that Mister Rubin outbid Madonna for this imposing manse but Your Mama has no specific or personal knowledge of such an occurrence.

A couple years after buying the house Madonna (allegedly) wanted Mister Rubin spent a comparatively paltry $785,000 for an nearby estate in Laurel Canyon with a long and legendary Hollywood provenance. Some online reports suggest that master illusionist Harry Houdini bunked on the property for a short period of time in the early/mid 1920s. However, there seems to be some question about whether Mister Houdini actually lived in Mister Rubin's house/studio, occupied another nearby house or if he ever lived in Laural Canyon at all. We suspect the mystery of he whereabouts would please him. Anyhoo, according to the fine folks at The Movieland Directory, the Mediterranean mansion was rented in the late twenties and early 1930s by Mister Houdini's widow Beatrice (Bessie). The property was later owned or rented, also as per The Movieland Directory, by a slew of Tinseltown pooh-bahs like Errol Flynn, W.C. Fields, and Jimi Hendrix as well as underworld entrepreneur Bugsy Siegel who

Various earlier reports stated that Mister Chaney wanted Shangri La sold to someone who would respect and carry the property's deep and wide rock and roll history into the future. Mister Rubin's acquisition ensures that not only will Shangri La continue to host music industry icons for years to come but also that it will retain its decidedly un-fancy down home charms that have drawn music industry legends (and legends in the making) for decades.

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sitcom Star Matthew Perry Buys and Sells Above the Sunset Strip

BUYER: Matthew Perry
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $8,650,000
SIZE: 4,000 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Yes, pets, Your Mama realizes we are late-late-late to the parade on this particular matter but we're going to put on our celebrity real estate party shoes anyway and discuss the recent real estate activities of sitcom star Matthew Perry (Friends, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine).

About a week ago the lovely Ann Brenoff tattled to celebrity real estate fanatics the world over that Mister Perry plunked down a hefty $8,650,000 for a recently rehabilitated and sensationally sleek residence in the Bird Streets neighborhood just above the famed Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, CA. Listing information for the quintessential Tinseltown bachelor pad shows the L-shaped residence measures around 4,000 high-glam square feet with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

An intimately scaled entry courtyard provides a buffer between the street, a quiet cul-de-sac with just four other high-priced private residences. The pivoting glass front door, a feat of engineering with with horizontal "fins," swings open to an entryway that spills into a vast glass walled living area with walnut floors, wenge wood cabinetry, free-standing three-sided fireplace, and a full wall of four custom made slim-framed glass sliders that muddy and even obliterate the distinction between indoors and out.

The sleek Poliform-brand kitchen, open to the living room, has cream colored and walnut lacquered cabinetry, CaesarStone counter tops–some of which are an interesting but slightly unsightly light lime green–integrated lighting strips in the ceilings and all the to-be-expected high-grade Euro-style appliances: two Sub-Zero fridge-freezers, wine cabinet, two Miele dishwashers, 5-burner range, two ovens (plus two warming drawers), and built-in coffee/espresso maker.

Each of the three bedrooms has a private facility but it's the master suite where the house reaches a kind of architectural orgasm with two full walls of floor to ceiling glass equipped with electronically-controlled blinds that allow the room to visually hover over the swimming pool and the wide expanse of city lights beyond. There's also an alcohol-fueled fireplace for romance, built in wenge wood patterned cabinets and wardrobes for Mister Perry designer duds, and a narrow patio lined with Mother's Tongue plants where the man of the house can suck down a post-coital cigarette. The attached bathroom has walls finished with slabs of Silestone, extra-long soaking tub with boob-toob sunk into the adjacent wall for concurrent bathing and reality tee-vee watching, a glassed-in separate steam shower with rain shower head and seat, and a door to a private patio.

Even the garage was given the high-style business with a virtually silent $27,000 garage door and interior spaces fitted with the same high-quality finishes as the interiors of the house. One wall is paneled in wenge wood, the floor is custom painted, cabinets hold all the home's home automation systems, and a custom lighting system includes European LED lights that change colors. Why a person would want disco lighting in the damn garage is beyond Your Mama's limited capabilities to comprehend.

As unexpectedly fancy-pants as the garage may be, perhaps the most notable, expensive, and architecturally nouveau feature of Mister Perry's newest in-town residence is the state-of-the-art home theater accessed via custom-lit terrazzo stair. The luxe and cozy-looking theater, tucked into the ground beneath the master suite. Not only are there two two-inch thick Perspex windows that look from the 9-seat home theater into the depths of the swimming pool, the over-sized screen disappears into the ceiling and the floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains part at the soft push of a button to expose an entire wall of frameless glass that frames a cinematic view of the carpet of lights that Los Angeles becomes when the sun goes down. Regardless of what a person might think of this house, the home theater is unequivocally impressive.

The house wraps around a surprisingly spacious courtyard that opens up the the solar and gas heated swimming pool, spa and jet liner views. The main living areas of the house open up to a terrazzo terrace and water feature with two plumes of fire. The remainder of the back yard area includes a patch of really high-quality fake grass with a 12-foot tall aluminum and acrylic sculpture of three cartoonish flowers by artist Nancy Braver, an open-air dining/lounging pavilion with ceiling-mounted television and adjacent fire pit, and a Porsche brand stainless steel barbecue.

Mister Perry's real estate portfolio currently bulges with a number of luxury residences in the Los Angeles area including another house high above the Sunset Strip that property records and previous reports reveal he acquired in March 2008 for $4,475,000. One of Your Mama's celebrity real estate canaries snitched that the sexy but undistinguished 4,100 square foot contemporary will soon get listed, if it doesn't sell off-market first.

A few months after snatching up his clean-lined and glass-wrapped house in the hills, he paid another $883,000 for a far more ordinary ranch style residence at the foot of Laurel Canyon in Studio City, CA. Your Mama thinks it's probably safe to assume this 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom abode with 1,701 square feet was purchased for family, staff or friends.

Just before selling yet another glassy modern mansion* in Beverly Hills' trendy Trousdale Estates 'hood in the fall of 2005 for $6,100,000, Mister Perry paid $6,550,000 for a contemporary residence privately perched on a Malibu, CA hillside with multimillion dollar panoramic ocean views.

*Before making catty comments on the house in Bev Hills take heed my little ponies, photographs on virtual tour do not depict the house as it looked when Mister Perry owned and occupied the property; It was created for a subsequent owner who listed the house in June 2010 for $12,300,000 and sold the property in October the same year for $10,280,000.

At the very same time Mister Perry purchased his hillside house in the Bu the notorious lady-celebrity dater dropped another $3,200,000 for a 2 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom city-view condo on a high floor of the celebrity-stacked Sierra Towers building in West Hollywood. As it turns out, Mister Perry also has his 1,672 square foot in-town residence (below) on the market with an asking price of $2,995,000.
Those children who haven't completely wrecked their minds on the dope may recall this ain't the first time Mister Perry tried to sell his louche and libidinal Sierra Towers condo. In May 2008 Your Mama discussed the petite by celebrity standards corner condo when it was listed with a much fatter price tag of $4,500,000.

Sierra Towers residents include a gaggle of high profile divas like Elton John, Cher, Diahann Carol and Joan Collins. Imagine what happens when two or three of those beeotches all turn up at the valet at the same time screaming for their $300,000 Bentleys. We tease, puppies, the ladies probably all get along like peanut butter and jelly. What do we know? Maybe they even get together every Tuesday at four for cribbage, liquor and gossip.

Mister Perry seems to have a solid case of The Celebrity Real Estate Fickle. That means as much money as the man has spent on his current list of pads and pied a terres Your Mama expects he'll continue to frequently shuffle his real estate deck, at least for as long as he's working and/or basking in the lucrative afterglow of fat residual checks that come from the heavily syndicated program Friends.

listing photos (house): Keller Williams / Hollywood Hills
listing photos (condo): The Partners Trust