One of L.A.’s most storied estates, known for nearly a century as Beverly House but newly rebranded as Hearst Estate, will return to market this week amid bankruptcy proceedings with price tag pushing up on $90 million.
Just three blocks north of Sunset Boulevard and designed by acclaimed engineer Gordon Kaufmann, who had a hand in the design of Hoover Dam, and built in 1927 by banking executive Milton Getz, the 3.7-acre Beverly Hills estate was acquired in 1946 for around $120,000 by Golden Age Hollywood icon Marion Davies and her longtime (and long-married) man-friend, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, then already in his early 80s. More commonly known for his spectacular Hearst Castle estate that is set on a high mountaintop above the ocean near San Simeon, Calif., Hearst spent much of his later years in Los Angeles and, in fact, died at Beverly House in August 1951. (The couple also had a gigantic beach house set right on the sand in Santa Monica — it’s now the Annenberg Community Beach House — and, interestingly, Hearst’s obituary in the L.A. Times did not mention Ms. Davies even though they lived together openly for more than 30 years.)
Davies retained ownership of the lavish spread after the death of her wealthy paramour. She’s said to have hosted John and Jacqueline Kennedy for part of their 1953 honeymoon and soon moved in her romantic own side piece, Horace Brown, who inherited Beverly House (and several satellite properties) upon Davies’ 1961 death. The current owner, attorney, financier and real estate investor Leonard Ross, purchased the estate in 1976 for an unrecorded amount. He lived in splendor at Beverly House for decades but apparently ran into some financial issues a decade or so ago and first put the legendary estate on the market in 2007 with a ballsy and, in hind-sight, ridiculously optimistic $165 million price tag.
Since then Ross has struggled to off-load his high-maintenance white elephant, where the expense of maintaining the grounds alone would probably bankrupt the average person. In 2013, when it was also listed for rent at a monumental $600,000 per month, it was floated with a still unrealistic $125 million price, and the price inexplicably ballooned to $195 million in 2016. In the fall of 2018 it popped back up with a still-too-high price of $135 million, and most recently, last month, the estate was priced at $119 million after it was was again set out for sale in early 2020, just before the Covid-19 quarantines, at $125 million.
According to The Wall Street Journal, who has tirelessly chronicled Ross’s struggle to sell the estate and first revealed the new $89.75 million asking price, Ross put the limited liability company that owns the property into bankruptcy in 2019 in an effort to “avoid a foreclosure auction and pause litigation over loan defaults.” Fast forward to earlier this year when Beverly House was ordered sold by the bankruptcy court in order to make do on more than $52.3 million in outstanding loans secured against the property.