Some 25 years ago, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen doled out $20 million for a rather legendary Wallace Neff-designed house perched along a prominent ridge in the mountains high above Beverly Hills. Built in the 1920s, the Spanish Colonial-style structure — previously owned by screenwriter Frances Marion and her silent screen star husband Fred Thomson — had 20 rooms, and was surrounded by horse stables with mahogany floors, a 100-foot pool, tennis courts, Italian gardens and an aviary.
The tech billionaire subsequently — and controversially — razed the entire estate, reportedly because he wanted to build an extravagant compound of his own design. For whatever reason, those plans never came to fruition, and the estate remains vacant to this day. Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018, at age 65, leaving the place up for grabs along with several other enormous properties, including his palatial multimillion-dollar estate in the mountains high above Beverly Hills.
Originally listed for $150 million and later dropped to $110 million, the vacant property is one of the largest private estates in Los Angeles, spanning a full 120 acres. Long known as “Enchanted Hill,” the prized property almost sold in early 2020, when Jeff Bezos made a $90 million offer, but the Amazon chieftain abruptly cancelled escrow at the last minute.
The spread was soon relisted at $95 million, and trophy property afficionado Eric Schmidt has now added the place to his collection. As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the former Google CEO and prolific real estate investor paid the discounted, but still huge, sum of $65 million.
Accessible via a private 1-mile driveway, just minutes from the Beverly Hills Hotel and Rodeo Drive, the sprawling development site consists of five separate lots, including a 4-acre parcel that could accommodate a megamansion-sized main house. All the lots are blessed with sweeping city, ocean, mountain and canyon views. Allen also improved the property with infrastructure for utilities, and there are two guard-gated entrances off Benedict Canyon Drive and Angelo Drive, respectively.
Though there’s no word on what Schmidt plans to do with the land, listing materials suggest that possible development opportunities include a main residence at the top of the hill, with the remaining four lots being used for multiple guest houses, a fitness and wellness center, an entertainment complex and equestrian facilities.
In addition to his latest purchase, Schmidt owns well over $200 million worth of luxury real estate. The 66-year-old lays claim to a $61.5 million Holmby Hills estate owned by the late hotelier Barron Hilton and the traditional 1970s house next door. He also owns a $22 million mansion elsewhere in Holmby Hills, a $31 million Santa Barbara mega-estate, a $20 million Montecito compound he purchased from Ellen DeGeneres in 2007, a $27.5 million Manhattan penthouse and a separate $15 million NYC apartment. His primary residence remains a multimillion-dollar compound in the posh Silicon Valley town of Atherton, California.