The $88 million Bel Air palace with a past

Yolanda meant to write about this one a few weeks ago, back when it was first officially listed, but we were so behind with other tales that it had to wait ’til now. (And there’s still another dozen stories sitting in our queue, but we suppose that’s a good problem to have.)

Anyway, there are numerous expensive contemporary homes available for purchase these days — especially in once-stodgy and conservative lower Bel Air — but this one is of particular interest to us because of its history, both in the very recent past and from years ago.

The structure was originally built in 1964 and last sold in 2014 for $11,100,000 at a bankruptcy sale (more on that later). The buyers then were an Iranian couple named Ardie & Tania Tavangarian.

After nearly four years spent rebuilding and expanding the residence, work was officially finished in late 2017. The blinged-out behemoth now weighs in with a mega-mansion-sized 24,922-square-feet of living space that includes 9 beds and 12 baths.

Shortly after construction was completed, Yolanda heard through the grapevine that the property was being shown to qualified buyers on the downlow by one of LA’s most successful real estate agents. The aggressive asking price, so the rumors go, was an even-steven $100 million.

The $100 million extravaganza

Then — a couple months ago — Yolanda heard from both Ollie Oxenfree and Jackie D. Ripper that the extravagant home was quietly in escrow for somewhere around $80 million. The would-be buyer? None other than Walmart heiress Paige Laurie.

For whatever reason, the escrow was obviously cancelled and Ms. Laurie hightailed it over to the Beverly Hills Post Office area, where she saved herself (and her mama) nearly $40 million by dropping “just” $41,500,000 on an enormous compound out there. See, kids, even billionaire Walmart heiresses know how to economize! But we digress.

Well, one cancelled $80 million escrow is plenty interesting. But then Yolanda heard something even crazier. We were contacted by a new tipster — let’s call him Huckleberry Finn — who whispered that not only was the house in escrow with Ms. Laurie, there was a second interested party who also quietly entered escrow on the property for roughly the same amount.

The other would-be buyers? A certain billionaire couple who own a very, very expensive home on Malibu’s Carbon Beach. Yolanda will keep their names out of this messy story since they’re nice people, but if y’all have been following this blog for some time, you can probably guess who they are.

Mr. Finn blabbed that both escrows spectacularly failed and because of that, the original realtor done lost the listing! Yikes. And as for why the two potential sales were never consummated, we’re not gonna get into the nuts and bolts — suffice to say that the buyers and sellers were unable to agree on terms.

Anywho, nearly a year after construction was wrapped up and still unsold, the palatial estate has officially been listed by a new team of high-end realtors with a significantly lower $88,000,000 pricetag.

A $12 million price reduction (classic autos not included)!

But even before all the recent off-market escrow drama, the property has had multiple issues and plenty of bad juju. Originally constructed by noted mid-century modern architect Richard Dorman, the house was acquired in 2001 by a dude named Reagan Silber. Our Mr. Silber massaged the structure into a glassy contemporary trophy before selling it (in 2006) to Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Halsey Minor, who paid exactly $20 million for the house.

Although Mr. Minor proved himself a tech genius — his CNET business is widely believed to be the first internet company to ever make money — his talents apparently did not extend to financial management. Though once worth over $200 million, the spendthrift fella was in deep debt by 2008 and eventually declared bankruptcy. Way too many trophy properties will do that to ya.

Compounding the bankruptcy issues was the fact that his Bel Air house had serious structural problems that rendered the property utterly unlivable. Problems like rotten wooden beams, mold, a cracked retaining wall, extensive water damage and on and on. No bueno. Eventually the estate became abandoned and fell into ruins.

The abandoned Halsey Minor mansion

In 2014, the hot mess of a property was sold in bankruptcy proceedings for the aforementioned $11,100,000 — nearly $9 million less than Mr. Minor had paid eight years prior.

But anywho, the house has been resurrected and renovated down to the studs. Today, as y’all can see, it is unrecognizable. Kinda like a butterfly emerging from its ugly cocoon, eh? Take a peek.

The current listing description includes just four words: “Extraordinary Views, Extraordinary Property.”

Obviously the realtors want the pics to speak for themselves. We’ll take the hint and let them do so here. But folks, do let ol’ Yolanda know what you think.

Clearly it’s quite a place. And it certainly ain’t meant for a minimalist. While way too theatrical for Yolanda’s humble personal tastes, we can appreciate the tens of millions that went into fashioning this palace. And we can also see why Ms. Laurie and our Malibu couple were drawn to the property.

Then again, certain features do creep us out — those glass skeletons by the pool and the birds inside, for example. (Yolanda is a Hitchcock fan).

Time will tell whether the Tavangarians are able to lure another buyer looking in this price range. Should they succeed in doing so, let’s pray for their sake that they (and their realtors) can actually close the deal. It’s not easy in the ultra-high-end market these days. But third time’s always the charm, right?

Listing agents: Branden & Rayni Williams, Judy Feder, Jeffrey Hyland, Hilton & Hyland

CategoriesPower Players
  1. Sandy SantaMonica says:

    I didn’t know the 2 Rodeo Drive parking garage was for sale! Better get my spot, looks like it’s filling up quick.

  2. NeNe_CaTiNi says:

    I can’t believe someone was in escrow twice for the amount reported. $50-60m — maybe. That’s the ballpark I bet it ends up selling for.

    The house is not the type of modern I’d live in.

    There is NO GARAGE! The Garage is those weird lofted car lift things on the motor court area. Yeah, big design flaw.

  3. Kat says:

    The house looks like parts of several houses with no continuity. It’s the perfect example of ‘too much $$ with too little taste’ but at least its not all columns and gold leaf.

  4. Steve Nelson says:

    The owners are also building a giant compound on San Onofre in the Palisades, next door to Tom Hanks, that they want to sell for $50 million.

  5. LaChancla says:

    I think it’s cool. But who would actually want to live in that? Fun to look at and party at, as somebody else said, but not to stay in. Good luck to the agents……they’ll need it

  6. ben says:

    Ugly, ugly, ugly. The embodiment of LA spec houses which isn’t a compliment. Drive the cars away and burn everything else… it makes beyonce’s dumb overpriced house look like a masterpiece and a steal

  7. Angel says:

    I would definitely AirbNB there but to call it Home, no. It’s too cold to be a home.
    It’s like they threw everything at the wall just to get big dollars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *