The gloomy winter weather currently plaguing LA has got Yolanda staring out our window, dreamily pining for a getaway to some sizzling locale. We don’t only want sun — we want hellfire-level heat, dammit! And what better place to burn up than in arid Palm Springs, just east of town? So we scanned the local real estate listings to find something interesting for y’all.
Lo and behold, something interesting does indeed lurk in Palm Springs’ historic Old Las Palmas district, long a celebrity-favored nabe. A couple weeks ago, a mid-century house there quietly sold (off-market) for $9,000,000. Wow! Looks like somebody else has fire on the brain.
We realize some of y’all are jaded to the point that $9 million for a home sounds like peanuts. Yolanda is partially to blame for that. Yes, many of our stories feature properties costing $30M and up. But trust your gurl when we assure you that this is a very big number for downtown Palm Springs. And it’s still a lot of money in general, of course.
See kids, most folks with $9 million to spend on a desert vacation home don’t buy in Palm Springs. Rather, they choose to live in exclusive guard-gated country club communities located elsewhere in Palm Desert. The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, for example. Residents there include several billionaires — Bill Gates, Bill Gross, Dennis Washington and Mercedes-Benz heiress Ingrid Flick. And then there’s La Quinta‘s Madison Club, which boasts legions of big-name homeowners: Sylvester Stallone, Irving Azoff and Kris Jenner. Just to name a few.
In fact, this $9 million represents the second-fattest price ever paid for a Palm Springs house, behind only the record-breaking $13 million spent for the iconic Bob Hope estate. But that place is far larger and way more (in)famous than this one, so it really ain’t a valid comparison.
A wee history on this property, which isn’t particularly well-known — even among area locals. Known as Villa Serena, the tennis court estate was built for Golden Age actor Laurence Harvey, famous for Room at the Top (1959), The Alamo (1960), and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Although never exactly an A-lister, Mr. Harvey apparently had enough dough to hire architecture firm Buff & Hensman to design his main house in Beverly Hills (now owned by Ryan Seacrest, who bought it from Ellen DeGeneres, but we digress). He liked that place so much that he commissioned the same folks to build his desert vacation spread, completed in 1969 — just four years before his death.
In 2013, the property was sold for just over $3 million to fashion designer Rea Laccone. Here’s a peek at how it looked at the time of her purchase. The house, incidentally, is located just a quick skip away from the renowned Dinah Shore estate, now owned by Leo DiCaprio.
Ms. Laccone redid all the landscaping and commissioned the acclaimed designers at Marmol Radziner to redecorate the home’s interiors, though she does not appear to have altered much — if anything — about the actual house. A wise decision, Yolanda thinks. The mid-century casa sits on a 1.35-acre lot.
Architectural Digest featured Ms. Laccone’s spruced up home in their November 2017 issue.
The newly sophisticated interiors are undeniably luxurious without being flashy. Each of the 5,935-square-foot abode’s six bedrooms feature walls of glass, and the boxy, tri-winged spread centers around a pool and courtyard area.
And for more photos of the redone property, see below or visit its profile page on the Marmol Radziner website, where it’s been labeled the Harvey House.
Anywho. By now you’re probably wondering who the $9 million buyer is, and records generously blab that he’s a Beverly Hills-based businessman named Brian D. Stevens.
Now in his mid-60s, our Mr. Stevens is CEO of ConferenceDirect, a “leading planner of global meeting solutions” he co-founded in 1998. Headquartered in West Hollywood, the firm has more than 400 associates worldwide.
Back in LA, Mr. Stevens’ primary residence is a big ol’ mansion located in a particularly posh pocket of Beverly Hills, north of Sunset Boulevard. Custom-built for Burt Slatkin — who once owned the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel — the 1996 structure sports more than 8,500-square-feet of living space.
Records show that Mr. Stevens forked out $9,550,000 for the Neo-Palladian sprawler in 2013 and has since given the property a thorough makeover. The .94-acre mini-estate sits on a quiet cul-de-sac and some of the nearest neighbors include Harbor Freight Tools CEO Eric Smidt, race car driver Juan Barazi, LiveStyle CEO Randy Phillips and acclaimed interior designer Waldo Fernandez.
So there y’all have it. $9 million in Palm Springs, and for a place that ain’t even one of the area’s (many) iconic estates. Is desert real estate back in a major way, or is this just an anomaly? Let time do the tellin’.