Today Yolanda must apologize (in advance) for flooding your inbox. We already have another fun real estate story on deck, but first we’d like to quickly tie up some loose ends.
Yesterday we gabbed about a snazzy villa adjacent to the Chateau Marmont, a place once home to actor James Franco and now owned by an enigmatic woman named Alba Di Angeli. There ain’t any information about Ms. Di Angeli available online, which is unheard-of for somebody at her wealth level. So, of course, the ever-cynical Yolanda speculated that she must’ve changed her name at some point.
Well, that story produced an unexpectedly large response. We were swiftly contacted by a knowledgable little birdie who squawked us proof of Ms. Di Angeli’s “origins”, if you will. And as we suspected, Ms. Di Angeli did indeed change her name, so let’s quickly discuss. Oh, and for those of y’all wondering why we keep talking about this lady, just listen up — because her story is actually quite interesting. Particularly since Ms. Di Angeli has some very personal connections to none other than President Donald Trump.
Alba Di Angeli is Native American by ethnicity and was born Meeka Shirae Dawson. She became Meeka Fields upon her marriage to Richard Fields, a very wealthy but somewhat reclusive businessman who has alternatively been described as a “a former talent agent turned real estate developer,” a “casino kingpin,” a “financier,” and a “casino and resort developer.” Here’s a photo of Mr. Fields, courtesy of the Boston Globe.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Fields — an ambitious fella by all accounts — forged a relationship with the Trump clan. By 1993, the two families had became so close that — according to an old Vanity Fair article — Alba Di Angeli was present in the hospital delivery room when Marla Maples gave birth to Tiffany Trump.
Mr. Fields eventually became a high-ranking employee and longtime partner of Trump. In fact, the Donald chose him to manage his brash casino expansion into south Florida. However, when Trump backed out of the deal, Mr. Fields went into business on his own — successfully opening Florida casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.
Trump was furious at Mr. Fields’ (alleged) treachery. And as all successful business partnerships do, the pair’s relationship eventually dissolved into a mess of lawsuits and vicious accusations. In 2004, according to a Bloomberg article entitled Trump’s Angry Apprentice, Trump sued Mr. Fields over a $1 billion stake in the casino biz — accusing him of unlawfully doing business under the Trump name. Mr. Fields sued him right back, accusing Trump of business irregularities including the improper destruction of email evidence. The pair would battle it out in court for years to come, even after Mr. Fields agreed to buy out Trump’s Marina Hotel Casino for $316 million (that deal later fell apart).
Today, about the only thing anybody seems to agree on is that Mr. Fields is now an inordinately wealthy man. While we don’t know his exact net worth, at one time our boy had lavish homes in four US states.
In 2006, Richard Fields and Alba di Angeli (then still known as Meeka Fields) paid a reported $69 million for a 1,750-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Known as the Jackson Land & Cattle Ranch, the bucolic mega-estate has land stretching for miles and a world-class 52-stall equestrian center.
In 2011, just after Mr. Fields and Ms. Di Angeli divorced, the ranch was put up for sale with a $175 million asking price. According to the Wall Street Journal, it was — at that time — the most expensive real estate listing in the entire USA.
For what it’s worth — the ranch did not sell at that aggressive ask and was later removed from the market. As of today, it appears Mr. Fields still owns the property.
Also in 2006, Richard Fields and Alba Di Angeli agreed to pay $13.35 million for a penthouse apartment at 15 Central Park West, a then-brand-new luxury skyscraper that has become one of the most desirable addresses in all of Manhattan. Residents there include (or have included) Denzel Washington, Sting, Robert De Niro, Alex Rodriguez, and an array of big-name billionaires.
Unfortunately, by the time the deal closed (in June 2008), the couple were already in the process of divorcing. So they flipped the penthouse just six months later (December 2008) for a whopping $27 million to an anonymous foreign buyer.
Yes kids, Mr. Fields and Ms. Di Angeli doubled their money in just six months. Lucky them.
We are not certain when or why Ms. Dawson AKA Mrs. Fields changed her name to Alba Di Angeli, which — loosely translated — means “dawn of angels” in Italian. But it must’ve happened sometime within the past decade. Back in summer 2008, Ms. Di Angeli came to Los Angeles and purchased a multimillion dollar house in Hidden Hills — the same guard-gated neighborhood where many of the Kardashians reside. This particular property was formerly owned by “King of Sitcoms” Chuck Lorre, creator of hit shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
But Ms. Di Angeli didn’t like Hidden Hills (or something like that). Just two years later, she sold her house at a million-dollar-plus loss, purchased James Franco’s Hollywood Hills home, installed a stripper pole and married Johannes Brugger Jr, a personal trainer 13 years her junior.
Y’all already know the rest of the story: Ms. Di Angeli and Mr. Brugger now reside in a heavily-guarded compound, which (with renovation costs) is perhaps the most valuable property in all of Studio City.
Anywho, the mystery of Ms. Di Angeli is now solved (with a big thank-you to little birdie). Someone please buy her sexy Sunset Strip house — and as for the rest of y’all, time to move on with your lives. Or maybe it’s just Yolanda who needs to move on?
Yikes. Let’s get back to the real estate.