American Idol creator Simon Fuller seeks $37.5 million in Bel Air

Seems like most Bel Air properties available for purchase these days are of the ultra-contemporary architectural variety, but there are still a handful of old-school classics, too. Though it’s not publicly listed for sale, mega-loaded Idol franchise creator Simon Fuller has quietly engaged one of LA’s most successful realtors to discreetly shop around his historic Bel Air spread as an off-market pocket listing.

The asking price? A very serious (and aggressive) $37,500,000.

Originally designed by legendary architect Gordon Kaufmann — he’s also responsible for the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills — the so-called Fredericks Residence was built in 1928 and has changed hands many times over the ensuing decades. Although it has likewise undergone multiple renovations, the home’s grand ol’ bones remain mostly the same as nearly 100 years ago.

In the 1990s, the hilltop property came to be owned by fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli and his wife, Full House actress Lori Loughlin. The couple had the home’s interiors done up by acclaimed designer Michael S. Smith before selling the place (in 2001) to elderly billionaire David Murdock.

Though our Mr. Murdock is still alive and kickin’ at 95 years old, he elected to downsize in 2014 by selling his big Bel Air spread to Mr. Fuller for the princely sum of $24,000,000.

Here’s how the house looked circa 2014

Now in his late 50s, the British Mr. Fuller has been living mainly in LA (we think) for the past decade or so. And while his name may not be immediately familiar to most Yanks, he is a very big deal in the music industry. He’s the guy behind the careers of the Spice Girls, Annie Lennox, and Amy Winehouse, just to name a few. Billboard has ranked him as the most successful British music manager of our time.

Besides music, Mr. Fuller has a diverse array of business interests that include professional sports and fashion. However, he’s probably best-known for creating the Idol TV show franchise, which has reached 150 countries around the globe and has generated billions in revenue since its 2001 inception. We’re sure even the most ignorant among y’all have heard of American Idol, right? Right.

Current estimates of Mr. Fuller’s net worth vary, but sites seem to think it hovers somewhere right around $500 million. And on a familial note, Mr. Fuller and his interior designer wifey Natalie Swanston recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. The couple now have three tikes. Mazel!

Mr. Fuller & Ms. Swanston

Back to the real estate. From the looks of things, Mr. Fuller has given the ol’ Bel Air gurl a major cosmetic overhaul. Not only has he painted the formerly red brick exteriors a milky white, the interiors are now a very contemporary and sophisticated mix of blacks, whites, and grays. While quite chicly opulent, the trendy look seems a wee bit incongruous when y’all consider the historic architecture here. But to each their own.

And whether Mr. Fuller’s improvements are really worth $13.5 million more than he paid four years ago — that’s a hefty 56% increase — will be for the market to determine. Draw your own conclusions from the photographic evidence below.

Sited on an expansive 1.6-acre promontory, the residence is completely hidden from the street out front by tall hedges and gates. A winding driveway leads to a detached garage and pebble motorcourt that can easily accommodate an additional dozen vehicles. From there, a columned portico welcomes visitors to the blacked-out front door.

To be honest, y’all, we don’t think this vaguely Colonial affair ranks as one of Gordon Kaufmann’s best works, but at least the swollen turret keeps things interesting.

The current listing is stingy with details, but we do know the house weighs in with around 12,000-square-feet of living space — yes, that’s big — and at least six bedrooms and bathrooms. Current photos reveal there’s a living room with a fireplace, a vaulted ceiling and contemporary decor. French doors conveniently lead out to the back terrace.

Oh, and Yolanda strongly dislikes that fuzzy pom-pom chandelier. If we bought this place we’d use that thing as a piñata and have celebratory drinks when it gets destroyed. But we digress.

Gleaming ebonized hardwood floors continue into the formal dining room — that table that can seat 14! — and a family room with another fireplace and more sets of French doors. Again, the decor here isn’t to our personal taste, but it all looks very high quality. if you’ve always wanted to live in a historic estate with uber-mod interiors, Mr. Fuller has something to sell ya.

The mansion sits high enough for clear views of the Century City skyscrapers and much of the LA basin. Out back are several terraces for lounging and al fresco dining, naturally.

The sloped lot means the pool sits significantly lower house. Stairs lead down to a stone terrace (perfect for sunbathing) and to the meandering lawn. Brick pathways encircle the entire estate, and carefully manicured hedges contribute to the lush landscape. Somewhere on the property there’s a guesthouse of unknown square footage (we think).

Before moving to Bel Air, Mr. Fuller and Ms. Swanston lived on a sleepy cul-de-sac in the northwestern corner of Beverly Hills. Records show that Mr. Fuller ponied up $8.5 million for the Tudor-style home way back in 2005, after which he embarked on a major, multi-year overhaul and expansion of the residence. The “contemporary villa” was sold a couple years ago for $14,600,000 to Symantec CEO Greg Clark.

The house Mr. Fuller sold to Symantec CEO Greg Clark

By the way, Mr. Clark quickly got bored with his new Beverly Hills house — or somethin’ like that — because the property is back up for sale with a $15,750,000 ask.

Anyway, while their 90210 mansion was undergoing years of renovations, Mr. Fuller and wifey shacked up in a contemporary Bird Streets nest. Records show the couple paid $7,650,000 for the imposing Hollywood Hills home in 2007. Lucky for them, they managed to unload the crash pad just over a year later for $8.5 million. The buyer? Walmart heiress Sybil Robson Orr.

The house Simon Fuller sold to a Walmart heiress (now owned by TravelZoo CEO Holger Bartel)

Incidentally, that Bird Streets house is now owned by TravelZoo CEO Holger Bartel. Did y’all know that the Ferrari-driving Mr. Bartel has spent the last five years (or so) rebuilding the entire structure? And it still ain’t done yet! Such are the ways of the rich and/or famous.

Listing agent: Drew Fenton, Hilton & Hyland

  1. Chatty says:

    Holger Bartel also owns the famous Villa Mayou on the French Riviera, places in London and Paris and two penthouses in the West Village. The five year Reno in the Hills is being done by a well known designer in Manhattan and supposedly the whole thing is a war zone.

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