For the last two to three years, high-profile and heavily controversial Los Angeles megamansion developer Nile Niami has been attempting to sell two side-by-side homes in Bel Air, initially for as much as $65 million apiece. Both hotel-sized homes — one of them a vaguely French-styled affair, the other one more rigidly angular and modern — languished on the market, despite deep price cuts, and many real estate watchers assumed they’d eventually be repossessed by Niami’s lenders and resold for pennies on the proverbial dollar.
Not so, it seems. In an unusual coincidence, records reveal that Niami has succeeded in unloading both enormous homes, and the two sold in the very same week — and both for exactly $36 million — to two different buyers. The so-called “contemporary French Country” one went to Vietnamese mortgage banker Tri Nguyen, while the more strikingly modernist affair next door transferred to well-known Chinese businessman Louis Hsieh in an off-market deal.
Now in his mid-50s, Hsieh is primarily famous thanks to his involvement with NIO, the publicity generating, Shanghai-based electric car startup that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Hsieh — who holds a B.S. from Stanford and a Harvard MBA — served as CFO of the Tesla arch-rival from 2017 until 2019, shortly after the startup’s widely-watched IPO; he’s also the former CFO of publicly-traded educational services provider New Oriental, and is now a director at Yum China, the country’s biggest owner of franchised restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell).
Designed by architect Paul McClean — a longtime Niami associate — Hsieh’s new Bel Air mansion boasts an unusually elongated shape. The house is narrow and almost impossibly long to fit the acre lot, which is itself narrow and quite deep. Effusively described in previous listings as “arguably the crown jewel of Bel Air,” the 28,000-square-foot beast is — if nothing else — certainly glitzy, sporting nine bedrooms and a whopping 15 full bathrooms, plus interiors that would not look out of place at the Burj Khalifa.
Perhaps the property’s biggest deficit is that the house lacks a big view of the city, something that is likely a deal-breaker for many buyers in this price range. Still, what it lacks in visibility, it makes up for in park-like tranquility; there are rows of mature palm trees and multiple water features that add to the resort vibe. The estate is also just a convenient quick jog to entrance of the impossibly chic Bel Air Country Club, where initiation fees reportedly top $150,000.