The advent of YouTube as a cultural phenomenon — especially among Generation Z — means the kiddos of today use the site as a go-to for just about everything important to them: dating advice, beauty tips, product reviews and far more. It also means that many young “influencers” who create videos for the Tube of You are becoming extraordinarily rich very quickly via sponsorships and ad revenue. Companies want young eyes glued to their products, and they’re willing to pony up big bucks to get them.
Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the stories we’ve posted about Jenna Marbles, Bethany Mota, Rosanna Pansino, Jake Paul and Troye Sivan — all of them young YouTube creators who have purchased multi-million dollar starter homes here in LA.
Late last year, an exuberantly contemporary spread out in the wealthy Westside neighborhood of Brentwood sold for a substantial $4,715,000 to a mysteriously-named entity. Though Yolanda attempted to dig up the new owner’s identity, our efforts failed. It happens, y’all. Eventually we gave up and soon completely forgot about the property.
Fast forward to just a few days ago, when we were contacted by a cryptic tipster who pointed us back to the house and whispered that the new owner was indeed a famous person. Intrigued, we took another gander at records. And wouldn’tcha know — we soon realized that the enigmatic buyer was a young woman named Michelle Phan.
31-year-old Ms. Phan, who was born and raised in the United States and is of Vietnamese heritage, readily admits she grew up poor. Her turbulent childhood — her blue-collar parents frequently moved from city to city looking for work — was amplified by her father’s gambling addiction, and Ms. Phan’s family was often evicted from apartments for failing to pay their rent. When she was just six year old, her father left the family, and Ms. Phan would not see him again for nearly a decade.
While a 19-year-old student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, Ms. Phan uploaded her first-ever video — a makeup tutorial — for the YouTube. Keep in mind, kids, that this was 2006. YouTube was still in its infancy, and the idea that someone could actually forge a career on the platform would’ve been thought preposterous at that time. The monetization of “influencers” was still years away.
We highly doubt that Ms. Phan even made a penny off that first video. Nah, she just did it because she liked to do it! But she stuck with the platform after dropping out of college, a move that has obviously paid off handsomely. She began churning out more beauty-focused content, and slowly gained a legion of followers. Eventually the press took notice of her work. In 2009, Buzzfeed featured her videos on their site. And, well, the rest is history.
As of 2018, Ms. Phan has nearly 9 million subscribers, and her 385 videos have received more than one billion views on the YouTube. And she accomplished those impressive feats before most of those other “influencers” even got started. You could call her the pioneer who paved the way for a legion of fame-and-fortune-seeking followers.
Or in simple-speak, she’s the YouTube OG.
Today Ms. Phan is widely regarded as one of YouTube’s biggest success stories — perhaps the biggest ever. She was the co-founder of Ipsy, a makeup subscription service that has been valued at $500 million by Forbes. In 2017, however, Ms. Phan sold her equity stake in Ipsy to focus on Em — her own recently relaunched makeup line. It’s been widely reported that her net worth now stands at an impressive $50 million.
Her success and wealth notwithstanding, adult life hasn’t all been smooth sailing for young Ms. Phan. In 2014, she was sued for $7.5 million by Ultra Records, who alleged that Ms. Phan had stolen their copyrighted music and used it in her videos without permission. No shrinking violet, Ms. Phan filed a countersuit of her own against Ultra. The legal war was eventually settled out of court with a confidentiality agreement.
In 2016, however, Ms. Phan suddenly ceased uploading videos altogether and went on the lam for a bit. She spent months traveling the world and did not return to YouTube until a full year later. In a subsequent video entitled “Why I Left“, she finally revealed the reasons behind her unexplained absence — citing depression and various other lawsuits as the reasons for becoming disillusioned with her beauty guru life. And as of this posting (October 2018), Ms. Phan has yet to upload further videos, though she continues to work on her makeup company behind the scenes.
Despite her YouTube absence and legal troubles, it is clear Ms. Phan is not suffering financially. Our examination of records indicates she paid all-cash for her new Brentwood house. Nary a mortgage, kids. And $4.7 million in cash is a ton of moolah — especially for a self-made 31-year-old.
Originally built in 1969 in a mid-century/post-and-beam style, the decidedly un-Traditional house is intensely private, tucked away behind massive camera-watched gates and secreted down a long driveway. The .54-acre flag lot is also heavily forested, meaning Ms. Phan has essentially no neighbors until she exits the front gate. And any lookie-loos will be unable to snag a glimpse of the house from the street out front.
Despite the property’s apparent seclusion, it is located only one convenient block away from Sunset Boulevard and minutes from downtown Brentwood, with its plethora of dining/shopping options.
The unique home was designed by modernist architect Haralamb H. Georgescu and — per the listing — was built in the Bauhaus tradition: a style “marked by the absence of ornamentation and by harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design“. The structure has since been thoroughly renovated by noted local architect Kurt Krueger.
While we’re not sure if we love the wavy architectural motif painted on the building’s facade, this is a very cool spot: the long driveway passes by an odd-looking guest house/accessory building before ending at a two-car carport under the house. Yes, kids, $4.7 million and you don’t even get a garage! But no big loss, really. Unless you’ve got a lot of junk to store out there, of course.
The 3,422-square-foot main house includes a two-story living room with a backlit hearth and is overlooked by two rooms on the mezzanine level: one a library, one a family room/den. The kitchen sports rich hardwood cabinetry and stone (?) countertops, plus bar-style seating and a breakfast area. For more formal occasions, there’s a dining room that opens to a convenient outdoor deck. Nearly all the rooms features blonde-colored hardwood floors and walls of glass that take in views of the dense, jungle-like foliage from outside.
There are just three bedrooms and three baths in the main residence: one on the main level (suitable for a live-in housekeeper) and two upstairs. The master suite isn’t quite as big as y’all might expect for $4.7 million, but it’s certainly adequately spacious and features dual vanities and a glassy shower in the loo.
The backyard includes a sprawling wooden deck that ends at an irregularly-shaped pool. Beyond that is a thick wall of bamboo to screen sunbathers from those nosy neighborly eyes.
On the other side of the house, a catwalk leads from the main abode to the teeny-tiny guesthouse. The glassy structure encompasses just one room divided into a kitchenette, a curtain-screened bath, and an open space that could be utilized as a bedroom, office, or tiny gym. This accessory structure is also blessed with its own private garden separate from the main residence.
As far as your gurl knows — and that’s not very far — this is Ms. Phan’s first-ever home purchase. Think about that, kids. A $4.7 million starter house, paid for in cash. If only we were all so blessed! Start making those YouTube videos, or whatever the latest new-fangled trend is today.