Well, it’s finally happened. On the last day of 2016, at least seven months after initially entering escrow, one of Beverly Hills’ most infamous spec-mansions was sold. The new owner is UK-based bazillionaire Richard Caring, and he paid a magnificent $33,000,000.
Ultra-modern in design, brimming with all the tech-gizmos, unquestionably lavish — the house was completed back in 2014. So it’s still a swaddlin’ babe in the arms of the real estate world. But despite its young years, it has already endured plenty of controversy. Back in February 2014, you see, the then-brand-new home was purchased for $31,000,000 by a shady fellow named Khadem Al Qubaisi.
Mr. Al Qubaisi is an Emirati by birth and a criminal (allegedly!) by profession. At least that’s what folks say and based on our research, we’re inclined to agree with them. But since we’ve already discussed Mr. Al Qubaisi’s ties with the multi-billion dollar 1MDB worldwide money laundering scheme here and here, we won’t dive back in too deep in this instance. Suffice to say that he and his associates embezzled billions of dollars in Malaysia’s public funds for their own personal use and enjoyment.
The Wall Street Journal describes Mr. Al Qubaisi as “a nightclub aficionado with slicked-back hair, a taste for the good life and close ties to princes who rule [Abu Dhabi].” That sounds pretty accurate to Yolanda, although we might add that he’s an incarcerated nightclub aficionado. That’s right, Mr. Al Qubaisi is currently languishing in a U.A.E. jail on charges of corruption, money laundering, and a whole bunch of other bad stuff.
Our Mr. Al Qubaisi never moved into his Beverly Hills palace, we think, and instead used the property as a money-laundering device. Around the time he bought this place, he also paid $15 million for a vacant lot on the most prime street in all of the Trousdale Estates neighborhood. Two years later, both properties were seized by the U.S. Department of Justice.
As it turns out, and as Yolanda only recently discovered, both Mr. Al Qubaisi’s Beverly Hills properties were already in escrow with different buyers at the time of the seizure. It appears the DoJ intervened just in time before both assets were sold and the profits reached Mr. Al Qubaisi’s slimy paws. But we digress.
After several months of what Yolanda imagines was some tense legal wrangling, the US DoJ released the hold it had placed on this property. We have a document that is far too boring to post here, but basically states that the DoJ found it necessary to sell the house quickly because the maintenance and other associated costs of holding a property of this magnitude long-term would be excessive.
But even before Mr. Al Qubaisi’s ownership, the property attracted considerable negative publicity, and many folks hated the house before it was ever built. Sometime back in 2009, you see, a developer named Richard Papalian wanted to build a spec-mansion on a prime Beverly Hills lot. But Mr. Papalian is a considerate fellow. Maybe. Rather than immediately tear down the house (Mohamed Hadid-style), he knocked on the neighbors’ doors and asked if they had any objections to him tearing down the modest, existing house and building something shiny and new. Unsurprisingly, many of them did. So Mr. Papalian left the house as is, right?
Well, perhaps not. You see, it appears that Mr. Papalian did not actually care about what his neighbors thought; he simply wanted to get his house built in the most strategic manner possible. Or so it would seem. So instead of applying for a demolition permit, he sought — and received a renovation one, which allowed him to demolish up to 50% of the current structure. Mr. Papalian promptly razed all but 10% of the house and built a towering behemoth that blocks some of the neighbors’ views. Lawsuits followed but the house stayed put and quickly sold for $31 million to short-term owner Mr. Al Qubaisi.
The latest owner, as we’ve previously mentioned, is a British billionaire (or near billionaire) named Richard Caring. The perma-tan and wild-haired Mr. Caring — who also has some of the whitest teeth we’ve ever seen on a native Englishman — recently made headlines with his recent split from his longtime wife Jacqui. Apparently it could become one of the UK’s biggest divorce settlement ever. Now in his late 60s, Mr. Caring is reportedly worth £700 million (about $850 million USD) and had no prenup.
Good gracious, Mr. Caring! Ain’t it always cheaper to keep her? Is the new gal really worth all that?
Mr. Caring’s extensive wealth derives from 1980s Hong Kong retail and real estate investments, the proceeds of which later led to restaurant investments in more recent years. He owns several of the classiest joints in London, including The Ivy, J Sheekey, and Le Caprice. Mr. Caring is also a co-owner (with Ron Burkle) of the members-only (and slightly douchey) club Soho House, which has recently expanded to LA with locations in West Hollywood, Malibu, and Downtown LA.
However, the “utterly charming” Mr. Caring is perhaps best-known for his longstanding business partnership with legally-embattled multi-billionaire couple Sir Philip Green and his wife, Lady Tina Green. The Greens — who are one of the wealthiest families in all of Britain — have made Mr. Caring an extraordinarily rich man through his role as chief supplier to their Arcadia Group army of fashion brands, including Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, and Miss Selfridge. This partnership has made Mr. Caring very rich. Extremely rich.
Wanna know how rich Mr. Caring is? Despite potentially losing half his fortune, he can still afford to plunk down $33,000,000 on a high-maintenance part-time residence in Beverly Hills.
Though designed to impress, the house looks more akin to a high-tech corporate facility than a single-family home from the front driveway. From the street, guests gain access to the heavily-secured premises via a stairway leading from the sidewalk to a locked doorway. That doorway leads to another flight of stairs which, in turn, leads to a glass front door that looks directly through the structure to the city beneath. Maximum view sex appeal is what Yolanda calls that.
Residents access the motorcourt via a remote-controlled metal wall/gate that leads under the main house. At the end of the driveway is a partially glass-walled garage with space for up to five vehicles. A glass-walled garage overlooking an infinity-edged “moat” and the Wilshire Boulevard high-rises is certainly dramatic, though Yolanda wonders if Mr. Caring’s maid Consuela will be cursing him under her breath every time she must wash those windows. Cars make windows dirty, kids. Ain’t no way around that unless you’ve got a garage full of Teslas.
Well, a glass-walled garage isn’t the most impractical thing in the world. But it’s pretty damn close.
Interestingly, all of these listing photos appear to be the exact same ones used to market the property back in 2014, suggesting that Mr. Al Qubaisi just let the place sit and made no further changes during his brief ownership.
Though it appears larger in aerial shots, listing information indicates the total living space is just 11,200-square-feet, positively puny by spec-modern-mega-mansion standards. The main house has three distinct levels: two above-ground and one subterranean. Nearly all rooms feature dramatic, disappearing floor-to-ceiling walls of glass. Flooring materials switch from terrazzo to marble to ebonized hardwood, depending on which room you’re lookin’ at.
The spacious, center-island eat-in kitchen sits adjacent to the dining room and sports luminescent lacquered white cabinetry, sleek high-end appliances, and a separate beverage bar with built-in espresso making machine. Floor-to-ceiling glass slips into the walls to merge the kitchen with an outdoor dining terrace with a large stone fireplace and, on a clear day, multi-million dollar views of the Los Angeles basin.
The lower level of the residence is packed with numerous luxury and utilitarian amenities like an 11-seat screening room, laundry room, maid’s suite, and a temperature controlled 1,000 bottle wine cellar visible from the upper floor through a glass floor (not pictured).
Although a glass floor may announce to the world that you are rich as heck, it’s also a rather ridiculous folly that gives anyone in the wine cellar a perfect view of the genital areas of any skirt-wearing woman (or man) who happens to be standing on the floor above.
The master suite spans the entirety of the top floor and has more glass walls, fireplace, a bathroom that looks like it came straight from the Montage Beverly Hills, a closet that looks like a Bottega Veneta showroom, and a wonderful wet bar. All rooms open to a 2,200-square-foot private wrap-around rooftop deck with another fire pit and another six-person spa. This spa tub, however, is one of those standalone plastic ones that can often be found in the back lawn of some middle class person’s house. Looks rather shockingly cheap in a $33 million house, but we digress again.
There are three aditional guest/family bedrooms, each featuring its own walk-in closet and attached private bathroom.
No expense was spared on the lower outdoor level, which has its own marble-paved terrace. There’s an outdoor BBQ, a rectangular infinity-edged swimming pool and adjoining infinity-edged six-person spa, and a sunken fire pit with built-in cushioned seating.
The most unmistakable (and bizarre) feature of the residence, however, is a moat-like infinity-edged trough of water that wraps around the house in a serpentine manner. The moat is far too curvy and narrow for actually swimming laps, but it’s definitely a stunning and sexy feature and y’all can all be assured it probably cost millions of dollars to engineer.
There is a detached guest house atop the glass-walled garage that contains a living room/lounge/office, a guest bedroom suite (perhaps for the home’s caretaker or butler?) and a gym with mini-kitchen. Like many rooms in the main house, the guest house also features glass walls that open to another large balcony with firepit and a glassy spiral staircase that leads to the yard below.
Like his new Beverly Hills mansion, Mr. Caring’s UK homes have also been criticized for being hopelessly nouveau riche. For many years, his main residence was a hulking stone manor house in the frighteningly-expensive Hampstead neighborhood of London. Neighbors christened the place the “Versailles of Hampstead” or the “Versailles of London” for its outsized extravagance.
Poor Mr. Caring no longer lives in his personal Versailles. His estranged wife Jacqui has taken command of the residence and will most likely receive it as part of her divorce settlement. In the meantime, Mr. Caring is either renting (or has purchased) a 32 million pound mansion in St. John’s Wood. He’s also got a 50-acre “shoot” in the Somerset village area out in rural England.
Yolanda hopes all that land and his big new house in Beverly Hills have enough space for Mr. Caring and his glorious mane of hair. This is the guy, after all, who reportedly refused to buy a property because he would’ve had to wear a hard-hat to tour it. Remember, y’all, bouffants are precious.
Listing agents: Mauricio Umansky & Farrah Aldjufrie, The Agency
Mr. Caring’s agent: Christopher Dyson, The Agency