They’ve focused much of their real estate energies over the last few years in and around the swank seaside community of Montecito, where their always-in-flux holdings currently include at least five homes collectively worth several tens of millions, but Hollywood’s most prolific high-end house flippers Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have once again dipped their deep-pocketed property toes back in the Los Angeles market. Well, it’s more than a dip; it’s a full-on haute-architecture plunge!
Recently recorded tax records show a trust linked to the architecture and design savvy couple has plunked down $29 million, in a clandestine off-market deal, for innovative midcentury architect Richard Neutra’s world-renowned Brown-Sidney House that’s located in a prime pocket of L.A.’s ritzy Bel Air neighborhood. The seller, billionaire hedge fund trader Adam Levinson, turned an impressive profit on the architectural tour-de-force he acquired in another hush-hush off-market deal about three years ago for $20 million from fashion designer and film director Tom Ford.
Built in 1955 and perched atop a swooping driveway lined with fastidiously clipped hedging, the clean-lined steel-and-glass pavilion sits high on its three-quarter-acre hillside parcel with sweeping 180-degree views. Since the property has not been on the open market in a quarter century, information on the home’s current condition and configuration is scant. Tax records, however, indicate there are three bedrooms and six bathrooms between the 3,795-square-foot main house and the poolside cabana.
The property was painstakingly restored and sensitively updated for Ford by the architects at Marmol Radziner. The firm’s website, which has several tantalizing images of the home to drool over, describes their involvement in the project as having “encompassed construction and landscape architecture to provide a comprehensive update to the original design of the home. A palette of muted browns and grays, including dark brown casework through the home unifies the interior spaces outfitted with modern amenities.”
With walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, the light-filled interior spaces during Ford’s tenure were suave and sophisticated, with richly textured materials and a plush color palette that served as a quietly opulent counterpoint to the traffic-choked thrum of the city. A stacked stone fireplace anchored the expansive, wall-to-wall carpeted living room, while the principal bedroom’s en-suite bath was a-glimmer with jet-black tiles. On a plateau below the main house, a guesthouse cabana opens to a sunbathing terrace alongside the dark-bottom swimming pool. Tall trees and dense foliage obscure the home from the street, with only the backside of the poolside guest house visible above the driveway’s sybaritic stainless-steel entry gate.
So, how long will these house flippers hold on to this legendary house? And when they sell — and if history does indeed repeat itself, they will surely sell — for how much? Any guesses?
All the players in this deal are well known for their top-dollar real estate transactions. Property gossip column staples Degeneres and de Rossi have owned dozens of multimillion-dollar homes across Los Angeles and Montecito, including a Beverly Hills mansion they sold last year for $45 million.
Several years before he sold the Brown-Sidney House, Ford ponied up $38.75 million for the sprawling Holmby Hills estate of late philanthropic socialite Betsy Bloomingdale and her late husband, department store heir and financier Alfred Bloomingdale. The bearded designer has since spent untold millions on a complete re-hash of the nine-bedroom Italianate villa and the several acres of landscaped grounds on which it sits. Last year he reportedly sold his 20,000-acre Cerro Pelon Ranch in New Mexico, which had been listed at $48 million.
As for Levinson, who maintains homes in Tokyo and Singapore, the Detroit native has bought and sold several notable properties on both coasts of the United State over the last few years. In 2019, around the same time he acquired the Brown-Sidney house, he shelled out $37.5 million for a vacant Bel Air parcel where construction has begun on what looks to be a massive house. And in May of this year, he shelled out $58 million for an brand-new ultra-modern mansion, also in Bel Air, and just a couple months later sold an oceanfront home in the Hamptons for a record-setting $42 million.