If there’s one thing we’ve learned from years of observing transactions in the high-end sector of the real estate market, it is that wealth – even great wealth – can be fleeting. There’s an ancient proverb about how it takes three generations to destroy an empire, but these days, that is a massive understatement. Sometimes it just takes a few years to destroy – or create, for that matter – great wealth. For example, take the story behind today’s house.
This 16,000-square-foot behemoth is one of the largest properties in The Estates at the Oaks, which has long been prized as the most exclusive and expensive gated community in Calabasas, which is itself a city made up of a myriad exclusive gated communities.
For those not familiar with the area, The Estates at the Oaks is a gated community within another guard-gated community – yes, visitors must pass through two gates to reach the homes there – and there are about 50 homes in the enclave, all of which are large custom-built mansions, many of them French or Tuscan-influenced piles.
Homeowners in this expensive neighborhood – prices begin around $7 million and can easily breeze into the eight figures – include Travis Barker, Michael Jackson’s mama Katherine, Dr. Phil’s son Jay McGraw, rap music super-producer Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, and a couple of the Kardashian sisters.
Back in the day, music producer Vincent Herbert and his showbiz wife Tamar Braxton forked out an impressive $10,500,000 for a brand-new monster mansion in the Estates at the Oaks. At the time, that price was the most ever paid for a house in the city of Calabasas.
To be specific, this transaction went down in April 2013. Seems like just yesterday, right? Yet time mercilessly ticks on and already five long years have slipped by. My, how just a few years can drastically change circumstances. Oh dear.
Back in 2013, Mr. Herbert and Ms. Braxton were living high on the proverbial hog. He’s the guy often credited with discovering Lady GaGa, and he made untold millions in royalties from her early mega-hits. Ms. Braxton had a plum job as a TV host on The Real talk show, and the couple additionally had their own reality TV show. They also had a new baby, drove Rolls Royces, and bought their aforementioned $10.5 million Calabasas mansion. Life was good.
But very soon troubles began creeping up: Mr. Herbert was sued by Sony and ordered to pay $3.7 million over a business deal gone bad, Ms. Braxton was fired from her TV hosting job, their reality show folded, there were tales of repossessed automobiles and other assorted financial woes. Compounding their issues, the couple went through a very public and bitter divorce (though they are still legally married – for the time being).
By February 2014 – less than a year after they bought the house – public records reveal that the mansion was already facing foreclosure, and the Braxton-Herberts were already more than $250,000 behind on their mortgage payments. Yikes!
Yet somehow the couple were able to stave off foreclosure for more than four years, though multiple notices of default and liens were filed against the property.
In the midst of their split and the foreclosure mess, the estranged couple put their mansion up for sale with a $15 million ask, later reduced to $14 million. But properties in financial distress – such as this one – often have a litany of problems associated with them, and we are quite certain that the looming foreclosure turned off many potential buyers.
A few months ago, a public bank auction was officially scheduled for the property. But just when it appeared that Ms. Braxton and Mr. Herbert were about to lose the house, a big-bucks buyer appeared and paid them $9,250,000 in what appears to have been an all-cash deal. As such, the auction was cancelled and the creditors were paid (we hope).
$9.25 million in cash is a ton of money, but it is also $1.25 million less than the Braxton-Herberts paid five years ago and a mind-boggling nearly $5 million less than the $14 million they were asking. That’s a massive 34% discount, the likes of which Yolanda has not seen in many moons. So either the house was massively overpriced or the Braxton-Herberts were absolutely desperate to sell.
Or both, right?
So who snagged the property at a massive discount? The property was acquired by Chris Tawil, a very wealthy Bugatti-driving fellow who made his fortune through the Morphe cosmetics company.
Tawil is (with his younger sister, Linda Tawil) the co-owner and co-CEO of Morphe, one of the beauty industry’s fastest-growing cosmetics brands. The Tawils came into a massive amount of money recently when they reportedly sold a big portion of their company to a private equity firm. Terms of the sale were not (publicly) disclosed, but there are numerous online rumors that the Tawils raked in at least $200 million – and possibly as much as $400 million, depending on where you look and who you believe.
What is perhaps most eye-popping about Mr. Tawil’s wealth is how fast he came up in the millionaire ranks. Back in 2013 — just five years ago — we doubt he could dream of affording a $9 million mansion, much less paying for it in cash. Back then, all he sold was makeup brushes from a tiny story in dowdy Burbank, CA. But in 2014, Mr. Tawil and his sister discovered the power of social media. They were one of the first to harness Instagram to sell their beauty products, and they forged relationships with some of the platform’s top “influencers” to morph Morphe from just another unknown player into a cosmetics juggernaut.
Perhaps Mr. Tawil’s best-known (and most successful) business collaboration is with one of his best friends — YouTube star Jaclyn Hill. In 2017, the Tawils and Ms. Hill collaborated to launch the Jaclyn Hill makeup palette, which proved stupendously successful. The $38 palette — promoted only through YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, mind you — sold more than a million units in less than a year. Ka-ching!
Morphe is now one of the fastest-growing beauty brands in the world and has physical stores across the United States. But we digress — simply rest assured that Ms. Tawil has more than enough cash to afford a $9.25 million house in Calabasas.
The Italianate-style manse was constructed in 2012 by a very wealthy local couple named John & Gloria Gebbia. The Gebbias built the property on a prime end-of-cul-de-sac lot with sweeping views and an imposing street presence. Formal lawns and carefully clipped hedges grace the front yard, and the side and rear outdoor areas alternatively sport a covered dining area that can easily seat two dozen guests and an elaborate children’s playset.
Additionally, the estate’s two acres of flat land endow the house with an enormous grassy backyard and a large pool + spa combo. Views from the hilltop property take in the surrounding Santa Monica Mountain ranges and stretch nearly to the shores of Malibu (on a clear day, of course).
Unfortunately for us, the most recent listing for the property does not include any photographs of the mansion’s interior, but the video tour (below) does provide a tantalizing (if brief) glimpse of the opulent living spaces within the Mediterranean-style architecture. Yolanda can tell y’all that the big-ass pad has a grand two-story entryway with a sweeping staircase, 7 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, a 15-car underground garage, a gym, a wine cellar, a recording studio, and a in-house hairdressing salon.
Avid followers of this site may recall that this is not the first time we have discussed Linda Tawil – only one year ago, Yolanda revealed she forked over a frightening $12,550,000 in cash for a monstrous mansion that’s currently undergoing renovations in Hidden Hills – right next door to Calabasas.
While Ms. Tawil is renovating her Hidden Hills estate, her brother Chris is plotting to build a mega-mega-mansion on the multi-acre adjacent vacant lot, which he bought from Dr. Dre in a $12.5 million all-cash deal last year. That property will reportedly contain a 20-car garage to house his extensive exotic car collection.
When complete, the Tawil family compound in Hidden Hills will likely have cost $35 million — and that’s being conservative — and will almost certainly rank as the most expensive and extravagant estate in all of the San Fernando Valley, not just Hidden Hills.
Yes, kids, sell enough makeup and you can afford a $9.25 million temporary “crash pad” too. Plus a $25+ million palatial compound in Hidden Hills. If that’s really what you want, of course.
Just remember to stash some cash for a rainy day.