The San Fernando Valley has long served as the butt of many a corny Angeleno’s jokes, particularly haughty Angelenos who reside on LA’s Westside. Folks out there like to imagine themselves superior to the “poor and trashy” individuals in the SFV. And yes, even Yolanda has been guilty of poking fun at the Valley for a few cheap laughs. Just once or twice, we promise.
But lo, from the exhaust fumes of traffic-clogged Ventura Boulevard springs wealth. The median sale Valley price recently hit an unprecedented $700,000. Peeps out there are raking in the dough!
Yes, y’all, the Valley has officially arrived. And Yolanda figures that now is a perfect time to discuss the biggest residential compound purchase in the area’s history.
Last year, a hulking hilltop mansion behind the guarded gates of Hidden Hills — long the Valley’s most expensive and most celebrified community — sold for a fat $12,550,000 in an all-cash transaction. The sellers were an uber-wealthy local couple named John & Gloria Gebbia, and the buyer’s identity was deliberately shielded behind an anonymously-named LLC.
Naturally, Yolanda attempted to uncover the new owner’s name, but we were stymied — the LLC is locked up real tight and the trail leads down a dead-end road, to the address of a prominent law firm in San Francisco (CA).
But wait, there’s more. Just 21 days after the above transaction went down, the vast vacant double-lot next door quietly sold off-market for $12,500,000 (also all-cash). The seller here was none other than hip-hop/headphones tycoon Dr. Dre and his wife Nicole, and the buyer was another anonymously-named LLC. As you might have already guessed, the trail for this entity also leads back to San Francisco, to the very same law office as the LLC that bought the house next door.
Obviously, or so Yolanda believed, the same enigmatic buyer had acquired both properties at a total cost of $25,050,000, all of it paid in cash. That’s a huge sale! That amount of money could buy someone a big estate in Beverly Park, arguably the most exclusive gated community in California. And in fact, it is the biggest compound purchase ever in the history of the San Fernando Valley — eclipsing the $22,675,000 that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West paid for their two-parcel Hidden Hills compound a few years back. (The Kardashian-Wests have since reportedly spent another $10 million or more to do a bunch of typically ridiculous renovations, but we digress.)
But who could the buyer be?
The San Francisco clue led Yolanda to assume the buyer was a Silicon Valley tech bazillionaire. However, y’all, after months of cryin’ and beggin’ for God’s mercy, we were shocked and awed. You see, Yolanda discovered that the purchasing entity’s trail leads not to a famous tech mogul but rather to the doorstep of a relatively low-profile woman from Porter Ranch, CA. Her name is Linda Tawil.
Porter Ranch, in case y’all didn’t know, is a San Fernando Valley community that is arguably one of the most overlooked neighborhoods in LA. It’s way far out there in the northwest reaches of the county. About the only publicity the place has ever gotten was when a huge gas leak went down a few years ago and folks were forced to evacuate their homes.
Anyway, Yolanda at first assumed that we had either made a mistake about the homeowner’s identity, or that Ms. Tawil was covering for someone else. But nope. As we eventually realized, Ms. Tawil is the real damn owner.
You see, back in 2012 Ms. Tawil took over a little business called Morphe with her older brother Chris. Morphe began humbly in 2008, as a tiny little store in Burbank, CA that only sold brushes.
It wasn’t until 2013 or so that Morphe began to, ahem, morph into the beauty industry juggernaut it is today. 2013, you see, was the dawn of the Instagram and Snapchat era. Folks began posting selfies by the billion. And the new iPhone had a front-facing camera! Narcissism flourished and sales of cosmetics exploded.
To their credit, the Tawil siblings spotted an immense growth opportunity before most of their peers. They had struggled to get their brushes into retail stores, but the barriers to entry were just too high. Social media, however, was — at least five years ago — a relatively untapped market filled with promise. Our Ms. Tawil quickly aligned herself with a multitude of top beauty gurus and models from Instagram/YouTube, in hopes that the goodwill would inspire these folks to begin testing Morphe products in their pictures and videos.
The strategy worked extraordinarily well — almost too well, in fact. The social media attention catapulted Morphe Brushes from a virtual unknown in the beauty industry to one of the fastest growing companies around. Along the way, however, some folks expressed their dismay with the “oversaturation” of Morphe on social media. So many gurus used and espoused Morphe, that it could kinda feel like a 24/7 company infomercial on the YouTube and Instagram contraptions, according to a few whiners.
Perhaps Morphe’s biggest celebrity supporter is YouTube star Jaclyn Hill, a close personal friend of both Linda and Chris Tawil. In 2017, the Tawils and Ms. Hill collaborated to launch the Jaclyn Hill makeup palette, which proved stupendously successful. The $38 palette — promoted only through YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, mind you — sold more than a million units in less than a year. Cha-ching!
Ms. Tawil is in her late 30s and has a kindergarten-age daughter with her ex-husband, some dude named Nick. For his part, Mr. Tawil is in his early 40s and is married to his lovely wife Nancy, with whom he has a toddler-age daughter. The Tawils are of Lebanese ancestry, in case anyone was wondering.
While Ms. Tawil is the creative director and public-facing person at the Morphe — she has more than 160,000 followers on the Instagram contraption — her brother runs the business operations from the background, and is much less publicly known than his social sister.
So why did they buy the massive 7+ acre Hidden Hills compound?
The Tawil siblings, Yolanda has also been told, are very close and want to raise their children together on a family compound. Thus, Linda Tawil bought the $12.55 million house (which she plans to extensively renovate) and Chris Tawil bought the $12.5 million vacant lot next door in order to build a custom mega-mansion with a 30-car garage. Yes, a garage to house 30 luxury vehicles. (Mr. Tawil is obviously a bit of a car buff. More on that in a moment.)
Once Linda Tawil’s house is renovated and Chris Tawil’s mega-mansion is complete, they allegedly plan to gate and and install a guard house in front of the whole shebang. So much for friendly neighborhood Hidden Hills, right?
But where does the $25 million in cash come from, and why would the Tawils suddenly drop so much dough? The answer lies in a mundane article dated last April (2017), which revealed that Morphe (aka the Tawils) had forged a new “partnership” with a private equity investor. This partnership had provided the company with sufficient capital to begin a global retail expansion, and an expansion into other segments of the segments of the cosmetics market.
Terms of the partnership were not publicly disclosed, but there are rumors all over the internet that allege the Tawils received a eye-popping sum of money from the private equity group in exchange for a stake in their makeup company.
How much money? Some internet folks say $200 million in cash. And other gossips with claimed insider knowledge allege that the cash payment was actually $400 million. In return, so the rumors go, the private equity firm received a majority ownership interest — allegedly 60% — in the company.
Whatever the actual payment amount — $200 million, $400 million, or (most likely) something in between — everyone seems to agree that the Tawils’ net worth went from merely “well-off” to mega-baller financial status last year.
And if $200 or $400 million seem like unfathomable sums of money to pay for a majority stake in a firm that was not even on anyone’s radar five years ago, you are not wrong. But keep in mind the beauty industry is booming, and high-growth companies like Morphe will always be desirable acquisition targets.
By the way, kiddies, Morphe was originally headquartered in Burbank. But after last years “partnership” (and rumored majority acquisition), the Tawils now list a different city for address purposes. Yep, you guessed it — Morphe’s founders now call San Francisco, CA their correspondence home. And their private equity firm partner Elevate Brandpartners is headquartered in SF.
See where Yolanda is going with this?
The Tawils have not been shy about spending the cash windfall they received in 2017. In addition to their $25 million Hidden Hills compound, they have a taste for luxury automobiles. Our Ms. Tawil chooses to keep things expensive but not ostentatious — she alternates between a Porsche and a Range Rover. Her brother Chris, however, has purchased a new Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and a Rolls-Royce. All in the past couple years! His most prized acquisition, however, is his 2018 Bugatti Chiron.
In late 2017, Mr. Tawil became one of the first American owners to receive delivery of the supercar, which is perhaps the most expensive current production vehicle in the world. A Chiron, for those of y’all who don’t know, carries a base price of $3 million USD. That means that Mr. Tawil’s car is worth more than most mansions! Anyway, he has posted a picture and video of his car on the Instagram contraption.
Oh dear, we have rambled on for far too long. Let us discuss the Hidden Hills properties in question.
Ms. Tawil’s Hidden Hills monster mansion encompasses a whopping 14,829-square-feet of grandiose living space. The end-of-cul-de-sac lot is private and set back beyond a long driveway.
Records show that the sellers — the Gebbia family — bought the property way back in 2005 for $4,950,000 and proceeded to demolish the existing house. The current structure — the one they sold to Ms. Tawil — was completed in 2011 and done up in a bloated Tuscan style.
The five-car garage wing extends from the main structure like a giant middle finger to the sky above. A vast stone driveway can easily accommodate another two dozen vehicles, making the property ideal for an entertainer or a large family. Too bad Ms. Tawil and her young daughter are the only folks who will be living here, right?
The entrance foyer is vast enough to allow a midsized cargo helicopter to safely dock. (Well maybe not quite that big, but y’all get our drift). The public rooms display polished stone floors, endless hallways, and more ornate ceiling treatments than Yolanda cares to count.
The kitchen can feed an army of starving YouTube beauty gurus with its double center islands, high-end stainless steel appliances, and what appears to be not one, not two, but three (!!!) full-size ovens.
There are a total of 7 beds and 7.5 baths in the house. The master suite comes equipped with hardwood floors, a private covered balcony overlooking the Santa Monica mountains, and not one but two ridiculously overdone bathrooms (at least one with a column-equipped built-in bathtub). Naturally, there are also his-and-hers closets, hers done up designer-style with a chandelier and glass-fronted cabinets in a room larger than some boutiques.
Listen, y’all, Yolanda can appreciate trying to inject some character into a bloated mansion. But all the overwrought ceilings and the dizzying array of floor choices are just too much for delicate stomach.
It also appear as though the Gebbias focused too hard indoors and neglected the landscaping of their estate. Yes, there is a sport court, but the rest of the yard is essentially just grass, and not particularly well-kept grass at that. And that pool! Ugh. Way too small and poorly-positioned for a home of this magnitude. So we were told, our gurl Ms. Tawil plans to rip it out and replace it with a better pool, and we are behind her 100%.
Keep in mind, everyone, that Ms. Tawil is not a fan of this home’s style. Thus, she has not yet moved into the property and will not do so for at least two more years. Homegurl is altering the entire casa with a newer, cleaner, and more contemporary feel. No more frou-frou ceiling treatments. RIP.
As for Chris Tawil’s 5+ acre double lot — where he plans to built a 20,000+ square foot mega-mansion with that 30-car garage — Yolanda heard from someone who would know that little Miss Kylie Jenner was very interested in purchasing it last year. But for whatever reason, she “couldn’t get her act together in time”, whatever that means. And so Chris Tawil beat her to the proverbial punch. “Kylie was so pissed,” our sassy snitch whispered to Yolanda. “She had to settle for that other lot next to her current home.”
Oh, Miss Jenner. You know what they say about early birds and worms. Remember all that.
While the Tawil siblings await their compound’s completion, they are currently living in rather humble circumstances out in the Porter Ranch community. Humble for people of their net worth, we mean.
In August 2015, Chris Tawil coughed up $1,130,000 for a 3,303-square-foot single-story residence in the guard-gated Renaissance community in Porter Ranch. The 4-bed, 5-bath tract house was originally built in 2005 and sits on a quarter-acre lot with a three-car garage.
It is here where Mr. Tawil currently resides, Yolanda happens to know. That means, kiddies, that his Bugatti car is actually worth nearly triple the value of his current home. Yowza!
We digress yet again. Only a month after Mr. Tawil purchased the above property, records show that his sister threw down $1,299,000 for a 3,813-square-foot residence in the very same gated community, and only two streets away from her brother and sister-in-law’s house.
Ms. Tawil’s Renaissance pad includes a two-car garage out front and a resort-style backyard with a pool, spa, waterfall, gazebo, firepit, and a built-in BBQ.
Although their Porter Ranch houses are perfectly nice and inoffensive, they are certainly not what you’d expect for folks who recently came into a vast sum of money, as the Tawils (allegedly!) recently did. Still, they make decent bunk-up quarters while they await completion of their new Hidden Hills mega-estates.
Listing agents (Hidden Hills): Aaron Kirman & Yawar Charlie, Pacific Union
Chris & Linda Tawil’s agents (Hidden Hills): Marc & Rory Shevin, Berkshire Hathaway HomeService