Few have loomed so large and for so long over the entertainment industry as famously autocratic late billionaire Sumner Redstone, who passed last year at 97 years old after years of illness and isolation, not to mention rampant rumors of incapacitation and bitter infighting among his family and a couple of his significantly younger former girlfriends and care takers.
The media magnate was the majority owner and chairman of the National Amusements theater chain, through which he and is family controlled (and still control) majority voting shares of ViacomCBS, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, CBS, BET, Showtime, MTV and Comedy Central. Around the time of his death, Forbes pegged Redstone’s net worth at around $2.6 billion. And, like most billionaires with pockets deeper than some small sovereign nations, Redstone lived large during the last decades of his illustrious life in a lavish mansion in the much ballyhooed — and sometimes maligned for its outré decadence — Beverly Park enclave in the mountains above Beverly Hills that’s recently come to market at $27.9 million.
The land was acquired in the 1980s for about $2 million by fashion designer Dorothy Schoelen, who custom-built the existing mansion, a sleek, glassy and curvaceous copper-roofed take on a Mediterranean villa. In the early 2000s Schoelen put the property out for sale and, so the story goes, it wasn’t long before Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight, then newly released from prison where he was sent on a parole violation, took a shine to the nearly two acre estate and its canyon-framed city view. According to Schoelen in Michael Gross’s engrossing 2011 tome “Unreal Estate,” some of the neighbors “had a fit” over the gangsta rap pioneer’s potential residency. None more so, it seems, than next door neighbor Sylvester Stallone who quickly mobilized and bought the property in 2001 for an unrecorded amount in an all-cash deal. It was Stallone who the following year sold it to then 79-year-old Sumner Redstone for $14.5 million.