As y’all should already know, Yolanda and several other of our real estate gossip compadres recently discussed the record-shredding $85,000,000 purchase of David Geffen’s sprawling Malibu compound by Dodgers owner Mark Walter.
A short while ago, while compiling information about the sale, Yolanda stumbled across something that we found a bit odd. The Malibu house, you see, was purchased by Mr. Walter through a very generically-named corporate entity that links back to an address in Miami (Florida). But there’s another house — another inordinately large and expensive house, mind you — in nearby Pacific Palisades that was purchased just a few months prior through another similarly-named and deliberately opaque corporate entity that happens to link back to the exact same Miami address. And like the Malibu spread, Yolanda finds no indication of a mortgage on this Pac Pal house, which suggests — but does not prove — that the transaction may have been all-cash.
Now kids, Yolanda has been in this — ahem — “business” long enough to know that most so-called coincidences aren’t really coincidences at all, not here in this loony high-end real estate world. So we initially assumed that Mr. Walter had himself big houses in both Malibu and the Palisades. Seems perfect for a billionaire, right? But we were in for a surprise.
Lo and behold, Yolanda’s due diligence uncovered that the current owner and occupant of the Pac Pal manse is not Mr. Walter but rather a woman named Alexandra Court. Records reveal that Ms. Court paid a very A-list $13,350,000 for the property, which was originally built way back in 1938 by a famous female movie star. But we’ll get to all those details in a minute — first, a bit of background on Ms. Court, who is nothing if not cosmopolitan.
Born and raised in South Africa, our gurl attended the Rustenburg School for Girls before graduating from the University of Cape Town with a law degree. From there it appears she migrated up to the UK, where she worked in corporate law for several years, including a short-lived stint at the London headquarters of Clifford Chance.
At some point, however — the how and why is unknown to Yolanda — Ms. Court made the big leap from practicing corporate law to the hard-hitting finance/money management world. Simultaneously, it seems, she left her London home base to move to New York City, where she bounced through positions at a variety of prominent investment banks like UBS and Credit Suisse.
In 2010, Ms. Court was hired on at Guggenheim Partners, where her initial title was the lofty sounding “Head of European distribution and client relationship management”. Yolanda is not certain what all that means but we do know that gig brought Ms. Court some positive attention — she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in European Finance not once, not twice, but four years in a row.
Sometime in 2015, Ms. Court scored a big promotion. She now reigns supreme (over her department, at least) as Guggenheim’s Global Head of Institutional Distribution, initially based in New York City. We’re not exactly sure what responsibilities that job includes, but it certainly sounds quite major, don’t it? Particularly when the job is at a firm that manages more than a quarter of a trillion bucks in assets. And in this role — so Yolanda believes — she reports directly to Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter.
What little insight we have into Ms. Court’s job performance at Guggenheim comes from a report detailing how 22 employees were let go from their positions last April (2016). The person fingered as responsible for their dismissal, y’all may be interested to know, was none other than Ms. Court. Think about that, cuties — Ms. Court had to fire 22 people in one day! Or lay off or whatever.
Now, don’t take all that as implying that Ms. Court is a bad or vindictive person. Those layoffs were probably the simple result of corporate restructuring and realignment. We’re just throwing it out there so y’all can get some background on the lady of the day.
Anyway, all folks agree that Ms. Court cuts a decidedly and unusually glamorous figure in the historically staid and conservative world of international finance around which she orbits.
We also know that Ms. Court has two young children and was — at one point — hitched to a fellow from Italy whose name currently slips our mind. To be honest, kiddies, Yolanda is unable to confirm whether Ms. Court is still married or not. And not for lack of trying. Our guess is no, but who knows. Not your gurl!
But as is our shameful habit, we digress. The inimitable Ms. Court’s huge new house is not one of those all-too-common new spec-built Pacific Palisades mansions. This place was constructed way back during the Great Depression (1938) by — according to marketing materials — Virginia Bruce, a pretty blonde Hollywood leading lady of the 1930s and 40s perhaps best-known for her frequent portrayals as the “other woman” in a handful of big-screen productions, the most notable of which is perhaps the musical drama The Great Ziegfield, in which she portrayed a character based on Frank Ziegfield Jr.’s real life mistress.
We aren’t sure when Ms. Bruce sold this house, but at some point in the 1970s or 80s it came to be owned by a non-famous attorney and his wife, who eventually sold it in April 2009 — at the height of the economic recession — for just $6,000,000 to a woman named Maryl Georgi, who claimed she knew she immediately had to have the house because she “burst into tears” the second she stepped past the entryway. Well, hot damn!
Anyway, Ms. Georgi — who we think is either the wife or ex-wife of George Soros’s hedge fund associate Richard Georgi — christened the estate “Wildrose” and renovated it with the help of in-demand contractor Paul Morrow into a lovely contemporary take on traditional. Yolanda finds the whole place rather delicious, to be honest.
The ultra-private property — let’s call the house a mix of Georgian, Colonial, and Cape Cod elements — lies at the very end of an upward sloping dead-end street and the house is completely invisible to the public, tucked away behind tall hedges and a very long driveway equipped with a security gate and cameras for watchin’ all you too-curious lookie-loos. Once past the security gate, your car turns a corner and the 8,100-square-foot mansion comes into view, along with its red-brick motor court and carefully manicured front yard.
Easily the best part of the estate is the British-style pub, which is original to the house and coated in ebonized hardwood. Our Ms. Bruce, bless her booze-lovin’ heart, installed a secret staircase from the master bedroom that leads down to the bar, which is just perfect for a late-night sip of Four Roses. What a gal!
An oversized gourmet kitchen is equipped with high-end appliances and a boxcar-sized center island plus two full-size chandeliers. The floors are an on-trend dark hardwood and the kitchen conveniently opens to a backyard patio for eating outside on a breezy summer day. Elsewhere there is a glass-walled living room that is guaranteed to bring the wows from Ms. Court’s less financially-fortunate guests.
A piano-black wooden ceiling dramatically sets off the spacious master bedroom that also contains a sitting area and fireplace. Other luxe features of the master suite include not one but two dressing rooms — at least one of which is equipped with a pricey-looking bathtub — two master bathrooms and a private balcony that looks down on the backyard’s fully stocked koi pond.
Elsewhere in the cavernous abode are at least six more bedrooms and bathrooms, all of which are fully renovated in the same comfortable yet unmistakably luxurious motif. There is also a full-sized guest/maid suite, which is (to Yolanda’s understanding) currently occupied by Ms. Court’s live-in nanny/housekeeper.
Out back, flights of steps lead to the backyard, which is secluded from the neighbors thanks to extensive privacy hedges and mature trees. You’d never know you’re just two minutes to Sunset Boulevard, five minutes to Pacific Coast Highway, and ten minutes to one of Yolanda’s favorite LA spots — the Brentwood Country Mart!
In addition to the koi pond, the 1.54-acre lot includes meandering pathways, a rose garden, emerald-hued lawns, fruit trees, and even a chicken coop. Oh, and if you’d like to see a video of the house (and really, what real estate aficionado would say no to a steamy video featuring some real estate porn?!), click here.
Listing and selling agent: Cindy Ambuehl, The Agency