Just days after his gutted Bird Streets mansion finally sold for $18.5 million — a whopping $20 million loss — another former home of fugitive financier Jho Low has popped up for sale. This one, a sprawling mansion located in the ultra-exlusive Trousdale Estates section of Beverly Hills, is believed to be the first residential property he ever purchased in Los Angeles. Records show the grant deed was inked in September 2010 for $17.5 million, in the thick of a recession and about a year after the enigmatic Malaysian playboy first began grabbing headlines in U.S. papers for his spendy ways.
Although it was Low who purchased the property, he may have never actually lived in this house. According to the New York Times, Low eventually “sold” — or perhaps gifted — the house to Hollywood producer Riza Aziz, his close friend and the stepson of Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former prime minister. Razak is another central figure in the 1MDB scandal, the $4.5 billion global money laundering scheme that has ensnared everyone from Hollywood A-listers like Leo DiCaprio, to Goldman Sachs executives and foreign heads of state. (1MDB has also beget a bestselling book, 2018’s “Billion Dollar Whale.”
But neighbors of the former Low-Aziz house probably know this place better as “the never-ending construction zone,” because the property has been undergoing major renovations — off and on — for more than a decade. Since 2007, the house has been rebuilt at least three times, each time more lavishly than the last.
Originally built in 1960, the onetime midcentury modern home was acquired by controversial developer Mohamed Hadid in ’07. Hadid radically reimagined and expanded the existing house, transforming it into an Egyptian-themed residential monstrosity that even had a giant pyramid replica sitting inside.
In 2010, Hadid sold the house to Low, Low subsequently “sold” the property to Aziz, and the place was torn apart again. By 2014, photos of the gutted shell of a house were being splashed about online. At some point, the property was nearly completed, but it wasn’t good enough for Aziz, so the place was torn down yet again — with more money, presumably, looted from 1MDB.
Aziz never did complete the house. In 2018, under mounting scrutiny for suspected money laundering, he settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $60 million. But the legally-embattled “Wolf of Wall Street” producer is still facing charges from his native Malaysia. And last November, with the 1MDB well of funds dried up, Aziz quietly sold the Beverly Hills mansion for $19 million cash, to members of billionaire Michael Milken’s immediate family.
Milken, one of L.A.’s wealthiest men and a legendarily successful 1980s financier, received a pardon from President Trump last month for the prosecution that ultimately sent him to prison for 21 months. Though barred from working in the securities industry since his 1990 guilty plea, he’s since become a major philanthropist through his Milken Family Foundation.
In any case, Aziz — or 1MDB — clearly lost a massive amount of money on the Beverly Hills property. The current listing proclaims that “over $42 million [was] invested” in the estate, though it’s unclear if that figure includes Low’s initial $17.5 million purchase. If not, Aziz and Low could have spent as much as $60 million in laundered 1MDB funds on a property that would eventually sell for just $19 million, a nearly unfathomable $41 million loss.
Today, the 13,000 sq. ft. manse is finally complete and offers extravagances that include a guard shack for a full-time security detail, a lavish screening room and a master suite that wouldn’t look out of place in a five-star, boutique hotel. The hillside estate sits on more than an acre of flat property and sprawls across three contiguous parcels of land, two of them in Beverly Hills proper and one technically in the city of Los Angeles.
In their brief four months of ownership, the Milkens have put finishing touches on the place and are hoping to flip it at a substantial profit. Now listed at $28.995 million, the listing boldly swears the ask is “$10 million under comps” and “the best buy in Beverly Hills.” And indeed, this is arguably the best neighborhood pocket in Beverly Hills; the lower Trousdale area is also home to the $72.5 million mansion of Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, which broke city records last year.
Still, if the property sells for anywhere near its asking price, the Milkens stand to make a proverbial killing on the place — as much as $10 million in profit, before the inevitable taxes, maintenance and other assorted carrying costs are factored into the equation.
Fred Bernstein and Ethan Peskowitz of Westside Estate Agency hold the listing.