According to a recent report, the real estate market out here in LA has cooled off considerably this summer. That jibes with what Yolanda has seen just from our own idle surfing through recent high-end sales — it seems to us that activity this year is considerably more muted than in years past. Maybe it’s just a phase, or perhaps we have finally crested the peak?
Of course, it’s much too early to make a sweeping generalization about real estate in all of LA, and there are still hot pockets out there. One of them is the Brentwood neighborhood, whose market seems as robust — and the buyers as voracious — as ever. Take this Traditional-style house on a prime, quiet street just north of Sunset Boulevard. Originally built in 2012, the property sold in 2014 for $12.5 million. Back then — four years ago — most folks seemed to think the buyers paid top-dollar.
The 2014 buyers, incidentally, were a married couple from Norway named Hege Fossum and Mikkel Eriksen. Though y’all may have never heard their names before, you are almost certainly familiar with Mr. Eriksen’s work. You see, he is one half of Stargate, the production team known for writing and producing some of the biggest pop music hits in recent history.
Though Stargate is still successful in the industry, their real commercial heyday was about 10 years ago and peaked with the 2006 release of “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé. That song — co-written and co-produced by Mr. Eriksen — went to #1 for 10 weeks and remains Beyoncé’s biggest hit, as the charts go. We imagine the royalties from that mega-smash alone will keep Mr. Eriksen in the black for the remainder of his life.
For reasons unknown to Yolanda, Mr. Eriksen and Ms. Fossum recently decided to move from their Brentwood family home. They put it up for sale this May (2018), with a fat $16.8 million pricetag. And while that may seem like a tall order, deep-pocketed buyers swarmed on the property. Apparently. Just one month later, the property sold for $17,150,000 — $350,000 more than the asking price and a sure sign of a bidding war. And that’s also a hefty $4.65 million more than the Fossum-Eriksens paid four years ago. For an essentially unchanged house!
The new owner, we were told, is a businessman from Chicago, Illinois named Theodore “Ted” Schwartz.
Now in his 60s, our Mr. Schwartz started out as a radio ad salesman in Chicago before becoming the founder and former Chairman of APAC, which began in the 1970s as a telemarketing company. In the 1990s, Mr. Schwartz sold off the advertising portion of the business and APAC now focuses on providing call center customer service for a wide-ranging list of corporate clients, many of them in the healthcare and financial services industry.
Mr. Schwartz is also the founder of LA-based Strand Equity Partners, a private equity firm that focuses their investments on up-and-coming brands in the consumer products segment.
Way back in 1997, Forbes listed Mr. Schwartz as a billionaire, though he does not appear on current rankings. But no doubt he is still very wealthy — in the mid-90s alone he reaped more than $300 million from stock sales and in 2011 he took in another $180 million or so when APAC was sold for $470 million to merchant banker One Equity Partners.
We think it’s safe to say that Mr. Schwartz is easily wealthy enough to afford a $17 million house in Brentwood. Probably several of them.
Described as a “Transitional Traditional” estate in the listing notes, the large home is surrounded by a low front fence. A gate leads up a short walkway — past mature sycamore trees — to the front door, and there’s a front-facing two-car garage.
If the front facade seems somewhat unsexy, the house makes up for it inside — the sumptuous interiors are mature and comfortable, yet still tres chic. Most of the rooms feature lustrous hardwood floors. (Looks like burled walnut to us, though we can’t be sure). The living and family rooms include oversized fireplaces and high ceilings.
Naturally the kitchen is equipped with all the high-end stainless appliances money can buy, and there are not one but two islands — both of which are the size of a Toyota Yaris. There’s also a sunny breakfast nook area and a spacious formal dining room with seating for 10 and another fireplace.
There are a total of 6 beds and 7 baths in the home’s 10,000-square-feet of living space — the upstairs master features a bedroom with a sitting area and a private balcony, plus an oversized master bath with a glassy shower, built-in soaking tub, and heated floors. Elsewhere in the home is a soundproof movie theater.
The generous (for this neighborhood) .55-acre lot is fully landscaped. And in true Southern California fashion, there are numerous outdoor living spaces and recreational amenities out back — a lighted sports court, a large pool with inset spa, a covered dining area with an outdoor fireplace, and a second outdoor dining/lounge area next to a full outdoor kitchen complete with a BBQ and stainless appliances.
It appears that Ms. Fossum and Mr. Eriksen also have a backyard sculpture of a prancing, multi-colored horsey. Looks a bit odd to Yolanda, but then again we don’t know nearly enough about art, so you’ll have to forgive us.
We really don’t know for sure if Mr. Schwartz plans to live in this big Brentwood house or if it will be primarily occupied by a family member — we’ve heard it may actually be a gift for his daughter Tracy Schwartz-Ward — but we do know that this is not the only large mansion he owns in the LA area. He still owns his area “starter” house — if you can call the hulking pad below a starter house, of course.
Back in 2014, Mr. Schwartz paid $7,900,000 for a large Mediterranean-style mansion in the seaside city of Manhattan Beach. The property is located in the Hill Section of town, which means it is not oceanfront, though the property does feature ocean views and cool sea breezes.
According to records, the house was built in 2005 and features 7,261-square-feet of living space with 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. The three-level estate includes a game room, a home theater, wine cellar, and seven fireplaces for those chilly beach nights. Also on the grounds are a pool/spa and an adjacent cabana.