A couple months ago, a large property set on one of the best (and least-trafficked) streets in the coveted Beverly Hills Flats neighborhood sold for exactly $25 million in an all-cash, off-market deal.
While this ain’t quite the biggest Flats sale ever, it’s certainly up there. Yolanda would guess it ranks among the top six or seven priciest homes ever sold south of Sunset. More interesting, however, is that this place sold barely a year ago (late 2017) for $17,086,000 — $8 million less than the most recent transfer.
The quick flipper — Black Equities real estate investor Bob Barth — does not appear to have made any significant alterations to the property, at least as far as Yolanda can tell.
So who is the big-bucks buyer, and why would they pay such an inflated price for this place? We’re not sure about the answer to that second part, but we do know all about the proud new owner. He is Eric Baker, CEO of global ticket resale juggernaut Viagogo.
45-year-old Mr. Baker is an entrepreneur. A very successful entrepreneur, from the looks of things. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford GSB, arguably the world’s most prestigious and selective business school. After earning his bachelor’s, he worked as a consultant for McKinsey and then had a short stint with Bain Capital.
In 2000, Mr. Baker co-founded StubHub with his Stanford classmate Jeff Fluhr. By 2005, the online event ticket exchange platform was one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies and had made Mr. Baker and Mr. Fluhr wealthy men. That same year, however, Mr. Baker was unceremoniously ousted from the company. (In 2007, however, he still made bank when StubHub was sold to eBay for $310 million.)
After his StubHub firing, Mr. Baker moved to London and and founded Viagogo, an online ticket marketplace for secondhand ticket resale. While not well-known here in the States, the company has grown to become one of the largest ticket resellers in Europe and is now estimated to be worth many hundreds of millions of dollars.
A great success story, right? Well, not quite. Despite his financial success, Mr. Baker has earned the dubious distinction of becoming one of the most disliked businessmen in Europe. Viagogo has been the target of widespread criticism and numerous lawsuits for their hidden fees and alleged price gouging. In 2018, FIFA filed a criminal complaint against the firm. And in late 2017, investigators raided Viagogo’s UK offices as part of a probe into criminal ticket scalping. Regulators in at least three countries have begun legal proceedings against the firm and its “infamously anti-consumer practices“.
Yolanda is not a fan of censorship in any form. But the last time we wrote about Mr. Baker — when he bought his first giant 90210 estate — we had to delete several reader comments. Folks in Europe found the article and were rather — ahem — “florid” in how they described Mr. Eric Baker. Oh, dear.
Born into a wealthy family, Mr. Baker was raised in the B.H. Flats neighborhood. In fact, his parents — Malcolm and Norma Baker — once owned one of the world’s largest protective services company, and they continue to reside in Mr. Baker’s childhood home, which happens to be only about ten blocks away from the $25 million spread he just purchased.
But anyway, why does Mr. Baker need not one but two massive estates in Beverly Hills — estates that are less than one mile apart, as the crow flies? We don’t know! But we sure wish we did. Until the answer presents itself, we’ll have to keep guessing.
All Yolanda can say is that we’ve been in this — ahem — “business” for a long, long time and it certainly appears that Mr. Baker is looking to park overseas profits here, in American real estate — safely away from angry consumers and regulators in Europe. Folks who are pursuing legal actions against Viagogo and may eventually attempt to seize Mr. Baker’s assets, as it were.
Worth noting that Mr. Baker’s ownership of both properties is carefully cloaked behind oddly-named trusts. And more significantly, it is Yolanda’s opinion that he overpaid on both lots to the tune of several million dollars — at least.
We don’t think most passers-by would guess this place sold for $25 million. The house has a rather demure street presence, appearing to be a pleasant (but not especially huge) Cape Cod-style manse. Leafy trees partially shield the structure from public view, and stone cladding covers the lower half of the facade. A wide brick walkway leads from the street to the wooden front door.
The 0.7-acre is large (for the Flats) and features rolling lawns, a rectangular swimming pool with raised spa, carefully clipped boxwoods, and a wee “guest casita,” as it’s described in listing materials. There’s a front-facing two-car garage and a motorcourt that can accomodate several additional vehicles.
Decor is decidedly traditional inside the 1947-built Greenway Manor, as it’s been christened. Milk chocolate-colored hardwood floors flow throughout the main level. An elegantly curved staircase graces the foyer, and the upgraded kitchen features top-notch appliances and an oversized island.
One of Yolanda’s favorite spaces is the study, with its marble fireplace, slate grey wood-paneled walls and overstuffed red velvet couch. More casual rooms include a games area w/ TV and a home theater with a giant sectional couch.
Within these walls are a total of seven beds and nine baths, all of which are done up with luxurious materials (marble, pricey stone) in a fancy — if not particularly exciting — manner.
Other recreational amenities include a lighted sports court, various loggias and red-brick patios, a BBQ and an outdoor fireplace. The guest casita sports a bedroom suite and an attached kitchenette.
As for Mr. Baker’s other Beverly Hills Flats estate — the one he bought last year for $23.5 million — Yolanda has already profiled it here. That 1.2-acre spread has a Mediterranean-ish mansion, guesthouse, pool and sports court. The property is currently vacant.
EDIT (3/16/19): Thanks to one of Yolanda’s ever-helpful readers, we’ve learned that Mr. Baker has made his $23.5 million estate available for short-term rent at a rate of $28,500 per month.
Listing & Selling agent: Fred Bernstein, Westside Estate Agency