Tearing down historic mansions is a time-honored Los Angeles tradition that’s caused the loss of some particularly fabled old beauties. The Enchanted Hill in Beverly Crest and the original Pickfair estate in Beverly Hills — which infamously bit the dust circa 1990, thanks to actress Pia Zadora and her then-husband Meshulam Riklis — are just two of the more notable examples that have been destroyed and replaced by forgettable new homes (or in some cases, never replaced at all.)
Today, with real estate prices at an all-time high and a severe lack of land for future development, it’s become rarer for a historic manor house in a ritzy neighborhood to survive the chopping block. Big-money buyers want modern farmhouses and usually aren’t interested in maintaining century-old mansions, with all their quirks and headaches.
Still, it appears at least one old home made it out alive. Located in Brentwood Park, one of L.A.’s most prestigious neighborhood pockets, the listing described the nearly 5,000-square-foot place as an “enchanting 1936 Neo-Georgian Revival manor” that had been “well-maintained” for the past 61 years by the same family, but also noted that buyers were free to demolish the structure and “build an elegant new home” in its place.
Initially asking $14 million, the property sold for $12.8 million last year to San Francisco-based tech CEO John Hering. Despite that it’s surrounded by significantly larger new mansions, Hering has not demolished the old house, opting instead to give it a facelift and decor massage. Curious parties will have to wait to see what exactly that entails, and it seems likely that peanut gallery critics will have plenty to say about the renovations. But at least the manor has gotten a second lease on life, more than many of its friends can say.
Though based in the Bay Area, Hering is a Newport Beach native and USC grad. Now 39, the Vy Capital partner has reportedly been a skilled hacker since childhood; in 2005, he hacked into a Nokia headset from a record-setting 1.2 miles away and later scanned celebrities’ cell phones at the Academy Awards. Nowadays, Hering uses his talents for good as the cofounder of Lookout, a security system for mobile devices with over 40 million users. In 2014, Lookout achieved a valuation of $1 billion, likely making Hering a very rich man.