Billionaire British Heiress Scoops Up L.A. Midcentury Modern

seller: Joe & Robin Hutshing
location: Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, Calif.
price: $5.37 million
size: 3,040 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

When Academy Award-winning film editor Joe Hutshing (“JFK,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous”) put his Los Angeles home of two decades up for sale, the $5.5 million pricetag raised more than a few eyebrows. After all, the 1968 modern home, while sleek and pristine, spans barely 3,000 square feet of living space and is tucked into the side of an impressively steep hill, making do without any usable yard. Per records, the property’s hefty ask was also nearly quadruple what Hutshing paid originally paid back in ’99.

But midcentury is inescapably trendy, and the house — with its dramatic, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass — happens to sport mesmerizing ocean views and sits in the much-coveted Westside L.A. neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Thus, the property sold in just two months for nearly the full asking price — in an all-cash deal, naturally.

The new owner is Englishwoman Maxine Hargreaves Adams, the only daughter of billionaire fashion tycoon John Hargreaves, the self-made owner of cut-price U.K. retail giant Matalan. While the Hargreaves family are tax exiles currently based in Monaco, their business interests lie firmly in Britain, to which they commute by private jet and where their retail empire employs more than 13,000 workers.

Besides her family’s wealth and notoriety, Adams has herself become a staple of London high society, perhaps best-known for her close friendship with Prince Andrew. The pair reportedly first met in 2003 and by 2007, according to the Daily Mail — which also cattily noted how Adams kept her “taut figure” in shape with a “regime of yoga, aerobics, and not eating” — the Matalan heiress had become “increasingly ensconced within royal circles, involving dinner dates … at Buckingham Palace.”

Whatever her current relationship with royal family members, Adams has kept busy by establishing herself as a businesswoman in her own right. In 2012, she purchased the British fashion label Fenn Wright Manson out of bankruptcy and has since reinvigorated and relaunched the struggling brand with new collections.

Sited walking distance from the exclusive Bel Air Bay Club, the new Adams L.A. residence is perched high above the road with direct, unobstructed views of the sea and Catalina Island. Down at street level, there’s a two-car garage partially built into the hillside and an adjacent trash enclosure. Behind the garage, a narrow staircase winds its way up the hill, through dense foliage, to the two-level home itself.

Inside, the interiors have clearly been updated over the past half-century, but the basic concept remains unchanged; there are walls of glass, vaulted ceilings with exposed, unvarnished beams, and travertine (or travertine lookalike) gunmetal grey floors with a distinctly industrial vibe. Spaces include a large living room with  wood-burning fireplace, a media room, kitchen with high-end stainless appliances, plus a breakfast nook an separate formal dining area. There are also three guest bedrooms, one of which is currently outfitted as a home gym.

The home’s master bathroom sports a glass-enclosed shower and a sauna, while the private office/library directly overlooks the outdoor plunge pool, which is built into a concrete terrace attached to a wooden deck with panoramic sunset and whitewater views.

Besides her new $5.5 million L.A. vacation home, Adams reportedly also maintains a £9 million house (about $11.7 million at current conversion rates) in London’s shockingly expensive Chelsea neighborhood, the same area of town home to Petra Ecclestone, Eric Clapton and John Dyson. Her main residence, however — at least for taxation purposes — is a multimillion-dollar condo in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Marek Swiderski of Sotheby’s International Realty held the listing; Laura McNulty of The Agency repped Adams.


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