Back in spring 2017, Hong Kong billionaire Karen Lo paid $18.8 million for a stately old house directly across the street from the Playboy Mansion, sited prominently on what is arguably the most exclusive street in L.A.’s Holmby Hills neighborhood. A few months later, she spent another $17.3 million to acquire the bedraggled house next door, which was formerly owned by Hugh Hefner and used as his “Bunny hutch” — guest quarters for visiting Playboy playmates.
Eyes popped when Lo swiftly razed both homes and graded both lots, merging them into a single 3-acre estate that, as of today, remains vacant and undeveloped.
Naturally, curious minds have wondered what Lo is plotting for her supersized Holmby compound, on which she’s already dropped about $40 million, and now the first house renderings have finally appeared — in the form of a short, sweet video released by a Hong Kong-based design firm called Altair Studio.
Though she’s not a household name, Lo is assuredly one of L.A.’s wealthiest residents. She’s a granddaughter of Dr. Kwee Seong Lo, the now-deceased, self-made founder of Vitasoy, the Hong Kong-based soymilk drink empire that has become iconic in Asia — particularly in Mainland China, where it is wildly popular — and remains controlled by the family.
In addition to her Vitasoy fortune, Lo is indirectly related to richest Hong Kong family of them all — the Stanley Ho clan. Lo’s sister Sharen is married to multibillionaire Lawrence Ho, the son and heir apparent of the so-called “King of Gambling” Stanley Ho. (Lo is also the sister-in-law of Pansy Ho, who was at one time ranked by Forbes as Asia’s richest woman, and who recently paid about $120 million USD for a mansion on The Peak, Hong Kong’s most exclusive neighborhood.)
Somewhat surprisingly, the Altair rendering video shows that Lo does not plan to build an ultra-contemporary mansion, the kind that have become ubiquitous in the area. Rather, she foresees an International-style manor with soaring white columns and a red tile roof, plus enormous walls of glass that drink in the SoCal sunshine. The perfectly symmetrical house faces due north.
There are manicured formal gardens, a motorcourt with marble statue, sprawling lawns, a full-size tennis court, and two parallel Olympic-length swimming pools in the backyard. There’s also a large reflecting pool — or maybe it’s a third swimming pool — tucked into the far rear of the lot.
While Lo awaits the completion of her new L.A. estate, she has no shortage of luxury housing options. Back in 2017, she paid nearly $70 million for a hilltop Malibu estate that easily ranks as one of the most lavish properties in that posh seaside city. (That $70 million sale was also the subject of a contentious lawsuit — since settled — involving a prior owner of the gigantic estate, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president.)
And in spring 2018, New York journalists went bananas after the Wall Street Journal revealed that Lo was the secret buyer who paid exactly $50 million in cash for Sting’s penthouse apartment, located in a particularly desirable Manhattan skyscraper.
Lo also owns two vacant properties in prime lower Bel Air. The contiguous properties — one acquired for $17.65 million, one for $19.65 million — span a combined 2.3 acres and happen to sit right next door to the $88 million L.A. home of Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
According to a current Bel Air resident, Lo has granted her next-door neighbors the freedom to park some of their guest and staff automobiles on her vacant Bel Air estates, an offer the superstar musicians have since happily accepted.