There is a very large mansion on a Santa Monica hilltop that dwarfs pretty much everything in the surrounding area. Built on spec by controversial (yet highly successful) “starchitect” Richard Landry, the structure was commissioned by a prominent developer and listed with considerable fanfare in early 2013. The asking price? An eye-watering $35 million.
Unfortunately for the developer, the house took its sweet time to sell. It didn’t transfer until more than a year later, in March 2014, and for “just” $24,500,000. The buyer, as many of y’all may already know, was billionaire Colony Capital founder Thomas Barrack, a close friend of President Trump whose firm has — unfortunately for him — been dragged into the Paul Manafort money laundering scandal. Anyway, Mr. Barrack had personal issues of his own: Rachelle Roxborough — his third wife and 30 years his junior — recently filed for divorce. What a tangled web some folks weave! But we digress.
Anyway, the house/shopping mall has a mega-mansion-sized 23,515-square-feet of living space with 7 beds and a 13 baths spread across three levels. And since he’s a bachelor (once again!) Mr. Barrack recently dumped his colossal money-suckin’ Landry in an off-market deal.
Strangely enough, the most recent purchase price is not entirely clear. At least one database we consulted showed the estate transferred for $24,250,048, which seems entirely too low, given that the house was recently listed at $46 million. The peeps at the LA Times say it went for around $34 million, which makes more sense but seems a somewhat odd figure, given that the house last traded hands only three years ago for $24 million and hasn’t changed much.
Yolanda has heard, however, from two knowledgeable real estate professionals that the actual closing price was $31,000,500. So we’re going with that both because it seems most logical and is also the number most frequently banded about — but if we’re wrong, we’re wrong. And maybe we really are wrong.
But we mustn’t dive into the weeds! Sale price aside, this is clearly a very expensive and luxurious property (likely the second-most-expensive house ever sold in Santa Monica), so we naturally wondered who the new owner was — property records only show the buyer as an entity named “Aref Corona LLC”. Much to our surprise, it’s no one Yolanda had ever heard of before. The owner is an retired oilman-turned-entrepreneur from South Africa named Kirk Lazarus.
There’s not too much information about Mr. Lazarus’s business beginnings floating around online, but we do know that he spent 18 years working as a Glencore executive, where he was “one of the first guys [at the company]”, according to him. The Swiss-based commodity trading/mining giant now has $120+ billion in assets and over 150,000 employees, though Mr. Lazarus is no longer involved with the firm.
After retiring from business some years ago, the cash-flush Mr. Lazarus sought to pursue his real passions: travel and luxury. He is the owner of Molori Resorts, a worldwide private resort chain that includes Molori Safari Lodge in South Africa; Molori Air, a private jet fleet for charter (all jets owned by Mr. Lazarus himself); and he enjoys sailing (he once owned a superyacht called Told U So that was sold back in 2015).
In recent years, however, Mr. Lazarus has been spending a considerable amount of time in Santa Monica and its surrounding environs. His interior design firm, Molori Design, is headquartered in Venice Beach, after all, and he has several projects in the area. More on those in a moment.
The flag-shaped 1.3-acre lot is completely invisible from the public boulevard out front. A tall white gate guards a rather narrow driveway that leads to a plaza-sized motorcourt filled with crunchy pea gravel (at least that’s what Yolanda thinks it is) and centered around a trough-like fountain. Around the back of the motorcourt is another entryway that leads to an underground 15-car garage.
Interior spaces verge on the monumental and floor choices include some sort of grey stone and ebonized hardwood. The structure has enough space on the whitewashed walls to house a supreme, world-class art collection.
Yolanda would call the style here a “contemporary take on Traditional”. And it’s all very nice, albeit a bit too formulaic and also rather austere for our personal tastes. As expected, the house has every amenity and then some: two kitchens, a dining room that seats 25, a fireplace-equipped library, a two-story entryway w/ limestone staircase, a massage/indoor spa room, and a screening room.
Ebonized hardwood continues into the master bedroom, which has a sitting area, fireplace, and a private terrace overlooking the backyard and the Riviera Country Club below. Both (2) master bathrooms sport marble floors and a hot tub for soakin’. The entire master suite is 2,500-square-feet, bigger than most single-family homes.
If Mr. Lazarus enjoys the game of basketball, he’ll be delighted that the basement level offers a half-size, sound-proof court for shootin’ hoops. And after a sweaty game, what better way to cool off than in the big-ass pool out back. When folks have dried off, how about a light lunch underneath the shade-providing trellis?
While we don’t know exact specifics of what Mr. Lazarus plans to do with his giant new house, there are clues that he plans to give the place a facelift (at the very least). On his firm Molori Design’s Instagram, there were several pictures of this house and captions indicating that Mr. Lazarus was to make this place his latest design project. (Said photos have since been deleted, sadly).
But one thing Yolanda does know about ol’ Kirky is that this dude has a lot of money. That’s because this mega-manse is not the only property Mr. Lazarus owns in Santa Monica. Oh no.
Between 2010-2012, Mr. Lazarus spent exactly $32,500,000 to acquire four 1920s/30s oceanfront homes on extremely busy Palisades Beach Road. According to the folks at CurbedLA, Mr. Lazarus bought these properties in order to restore them to their original Old Hollywood state (with the help of archival photos) and eventually list them as luxury rentals. And indeed, Mr. Lazarus has at least one of the homes currently up for lease.
Although he owns $60+ million in luxury LA real estate, we can’t see that Mr. Lazarus’s net worth has ever been estimated, although he’s certainly wealthier than most folks we’ve discussed on this blog. And it seems as though his real estate story is just beginning: we have heard that he is still in the market for multi-million dollar homes on LA’s Westside. Stay tuned…