Fortune often comes as a byproduct of fame, although some have taken to cashing in by simply piggybacking on others’ notoriety. Case in point: French entrepreneur François Navarre and his American business partner wife Brandy, who became enormously wealthy by profiting off the world’s obsession with celebrity.
The Navarres, both former journalists, are the founders and owners of X17, a leading gossip blog and paparazzi agency that thrives on candid photos and oft-unflattering stories about Hollywood royalty. Through their buzzy agency, which includes a veritable spiderweb of photographers and undercover informants, the couple have become inordinately successful — they drive luxury cars, travel via private jet, and their main residence is located on one of L.A.’s swankiest streets, where some of their nearest neighbors include Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg.
But the Navarres’ entrepreneurial tactics haven’t always endeared them to their celebrity neighbors, of course. In the early aughts, Jennifer Aniston sued the couple after the Navarres purchased topless photos of her taken by a so-called “stalkerazzi” at her Malibu home. The Navarres eventually settled with the actress for $550,000.
Though it’s not clear how much wealth the Navarres have accumulated over the years, the family is obviously quite well-off. Their longtime main residence in L.A.’s prestigious Pacific Palisades neighborhood has popped up for sale, flaunting a hefty — and decidedly A-list — $15.9 million pricetag.
Records reveal the Navarres paid $5 million for the Palisades property in 2005. They subsequently razed the existing residence and spent millions more constructing a custom mansion that was completed in 2008. Designed by local architect Jay Charles, the nearly 10,000 sq. ft. structure sits on a half-acre, pancake-flat lot in the Riviera, arguably Westside L.A.’s most desirable neighborhood pocket.
The house itself, tucked away behind gates and tall trees, is perhaps best described as a glassy contemporary-meets-luxe mountain home, the sort of thing you might find in Aspen or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For its part, the listing — held by François Navarre himself — calls the place “a contemporary, Asian-inspired home.”
Inside, there’s a massive, clean-lined kitchen with double islands and the full range of top-line stainless appliances. Formal living and dining rooms have a similarly pared-down, minimalist aesthetic. Steel-framed doors open to the park-line yard with sprawling lawns an decks for entertaining.
From the backyard, towering eucalyptus trees frame the view over the rugged Santa Monica mountains. At the far rear of the lot is infinity-edged swimming pool seemingly cantilevered over the canyon below.
Besides Witherspoon and Spielberg, other nearby neighbors include Sam Raimi, Molly Sims, Kate Hudson and Conan O’Brien, whose $25 million compound happens to be located right next door to the Navarre estate.