Listen everyone: y’all are so, so lucky today. Normally Yolanda does not post up more than one story per 24 hours, but we stepped outside for a smoke and saw what a gorgeous afternoon it is here in LA! And suddenly, we had an epiphany: why waste our time going to the beach and frolicking in the surf? Let’s stay inside all damn day and type our wrinkly old fingers to the bone. So what the heck, here goes.
An impressive hilltop spec-mansion in the city of Beverly Hills recently sold for an A-list $22,000,000. Naturally, Yolanda was curious as to the buyer’s identity, but their name is locked up real darn tight behind a blind trust called the “Azteca Trust”, whatever that means. The new owner, for what it’s worth, was represented by Jay Harris of The Agency in his purchase.
Thankfully, Yolanda can tell y’all that we know who bought this house, thanks to a squawkin’ little birdie. It is Mexican billionaire Gabriel Brener, which makes perfect sense given that he is Mr. Harris’s stepfather.
Never heard of Mr. Brener? Don’t feel ignorant. He is a very low profile (yet extraordinarily rich) fellow and he clearly prefers to keep things on the DL. Most of his business enterprises are somehow kept off the internet and well away from nosy ninnies like Yolanda.
However, he does have at least one high-profile venture — he is the majority owner of the Houston Dynamo soccer club of Major League Soccer. And he is known for being a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Mexico, so business acumen runs in his blood.
Now then — Mr. Brener’s new house may look purty, but seems as though it was nothin’ but a heartbreak for the seller, a dude from WeHo named Mauro Santoyo. He paid $3,795,000 for the 1.05-acre property way back in 2003, eventually razed the existing home and began plans for a grand spec-mansion.
Our boy Mr. Santoyo partnered with acclaimed designer Tim Morrison to conjure up a real fancy-like structure. And Mr. Morrison did just that, but the partnership dissolved rather spectacularly somewhere along the line. Last year, the pair wound up in court, with Mr. Morrison suing Mr. Santoyo and Mr. Santoyo counter-suing Mr. Morrison. Yolanda is clueless as to what triggered the dispute, but these things usually trace back to disagreements over money.
Good golly! Well, we hope that Mr. Brener’s $22 million helped the pair resolve their little tit-for-tat. Y’all ladies better play nice and remember Yolanda’s words of wisdom: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.“
The 8,685-square-foot mini-estate lies at the very end of a winding cul-de-sac located in the foothills north of Sunset Boulevard. The hillside lot provides privacy, and the gated house is far back behind tall hedges and a long flagstone driveway, which leads to a three-car garage.
A three-car garage? Yikes. We know LA is finally embracing public transportation, but still. How many people that own a $22 million house only have three cars? Almost none, we would wager. At least there is plenty of space in the fountain-equipped motorcourt for extra vehicles. And the cars out there will have a nice view of Century City.
The Spanish Revival-style mini-compound features a two-story main house and a small guest house with one bedroom suite. The main residence has six suites — four upstairs, two down — and all are furnished in the comfortably luxurious style for which Mr. Morrison is known.
The all-marble kitchen features an L-shaped bar area and high-end stainless appliances. In the small backyard is a seashell-shaped swimming pool, which seems entirely useless for regular swimming but certainly looks cool.
To be honest, this particular style of house — faux-Spanish Revival mansion — is not Yolanda’s particular favorite. Of course, that’s just our useless personal taste. But while we are up here spoutin’ off, we can’t help commenting on the pool’s location. The unusual shape is one thing, but shouldn’t it have been placed on the other side of the house, facing the city view? Seems like a missed opportunity.
We do, however, love the master suite, with that cute fireplace, the built-in soaking tub, and the private balcony outside overlooking a wide swath of the city.
Large as Mr. Brener’s new pad may be, it pales in comparison to the contemporary compound looming directly overhead. That house was built (and is still owned) by prominent Italian film producer Aurelio de Laurentiis (yes, in case you were wondering, he is a cousin of our gurl Giada de Laurentiis).
Besides Mr. de Laurentiis, some of Mr. Brener’s nearest new neighbors in Beverly Hills include London-based art collectors Edward & Agnes Lee, Smartwater marketing guru Rohan Oza, and British entrepreneur Richard Caring.
Back in 2014, Mr. Brener sold his longtime Holmby Hills estate for $74,000,000 to Chinese billionaire Zhang Jun, the Chairman/owner of the Sino Life insurance conglomerate that has recently come under regulatory scrutiny from Chinese officials. Some of Mr. Zhang’s four children — including his social media-famous daughter Zhang Jiale — have since moved into the house, and the motorcourt is now clogged with all sorts of exotic automobiles.
The 35,000-square-foot mega-mansion was built by Mr. Brener in 2001 on the site of Walt Disney’s former estate, which he bulldozed to make way for his personal Shangri-La.
We are not certain where the Breners have been living for the last four years, since they sold the big Holmby Hills pad — rumors say Malibu’s Point Dume neighborhood, so they must have been renting something — but records show that Mr. Brener has long owned another Beverly Hills house just about a 3-minute car ride away from the $22 million house he just bought.
The 4,234-square-foot mid-century modern is set back behind a gated driveway and features 5 beds and 7 baths of single story livin’. Records show that Mr. Brener paid Ed McMahon‘s ex-wife Victoria just over $2 million for the house more than 20 years ago, way back in 1997.
It was here, Yolanda believes, where the Breners lived while their Holmby Hills mega-mansion was under construction. For better or worse, the house is only two doors away from Taylor Swift’s security-compromised $25 million estate.
Whew. Time for another ciggie.
Listing agents: Joe Babajian & William Strassner, Rodeo Realty
Gabriel Brener’s agent: Jay Harris, The Agency