A 1928 French chateau-style estate on one of Hancock Park’s most prime corner lots has become available with a $13.5 million ask. Morrie and Gale Tobin, the regal home’s longtime owners, are not Hollywood celebrities, though they have a notable connection to one of the most fascinating and widely-publicized scandals to emerge in recent years.
As a wealthy but little-known Los Angeles financier, Morrie Tobin engaged in a so-called pump-and-dump investment scheme — in which investors collude to “pump” up a stock’s price and then “dump” it at an inflated sum — that led federal authorities to prosecute the father-of-six, now in his 50s. Tobin, in a desperate bid for clemency, squawked about the existence of a wholly unrelated, far more sophisticated plot. Millionaire parents had been paying hefty bribes — millions of dollars, in some cases — to have their children fraudulently accepted to elite universities. Tobin’s disclosure led to a secret FBI probe, code-named Operation Varsity Blues, that eventually ensnared actors like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and caused huge embarrassment to top-ranked schools like USC, Stanford, and Yale.
Back in Hancock Park, it appears the Tobin family have already vacated their luxe digs, as the listing notes that “images of the interiors are virtually staged.” Inside the house, which last sold for just $5 million in 2011, well-scaled living spaces include a spacious foyer with grey-and-white stone floors, fireplace-equipped living and family rooms, a library, formal dining room, a kitchen with top-end stainless appliances, and a bonus room that could be an office or gym. The main house also offers 8 bedrooms and 10 baths, perfect for a large family.
Outside, the manicured grounds are reminiscent of an English garden, with tree-shaded lawns front and rear, long expanses of manicured hedges, a stone fountain, and an elegant rectangular pool in the backyard. At the far rear of the property, accessed via a discreet gated driveway on a side street, lies a detached three-car garage set underneath a wee upstairs guest apartment that’s best suited as chauffeur’s quarters, or perhaps for a live-in gardener or estate handyman.
For more than a century, Hancock Park has been the neighborhood of choice for members of L.A.’s wealthy elite, though the neighborhood’s uncomfortably racist, WASPs-only past has lately blossomed into a more diverse community home to some of Tinseltown’s most creative minds.
Current area residents include Shonda Rhimes, Courtney Kemp, George Takai, Bozoma Saint John, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and wife Nicole Avant, businessman Thomas Swan and his husband Joe Townley, who recently paid a record $19 million for a Hancock Park estate, and Bill Simmons, who recently splurged on a $16 million estate of his own. Of course, residents are still unified by at least one thing; they all sport inordinately large bank accounts.