Last November, a residential compound in L.A.’s Venice neighborhood quietly transferred for $8.5 million. While it went down without fanfare, the deal is easily the area’s biggest of the last two years and one of the biggest residential transactions ever inked in Venice, if not quite record-breaking.
Because the property was never publicly offered for sale, listing photos and exact specifications are virtually nonexistent. But the house and its owners were featured in a 2017 L.A. Times article that includes a bounty of glossy photos framing the strikingly unconventional residence, which is about as unconventional — for an $8.5 million Westside home — as one is liable to find.
Built by local realtor Tiffany Rochelle and her husband, restaurateur Paul Hibler (Venice’s Superba Food + Bread, the L.A. chain Pitfire Pizza), the two-structure compound was designed by wHY Architecture’s Kulapat Yantrasast and replaced a “dilapidated Venice bungalow” that sprawled over a rare double-wide lot. Records show Rochelle bought the property in 2012 for exactly $2 million; the essentially all-new home was completed in 2016.
Sited on a pretty, pedestrians-only walk street in central Venice, the two-story main house offers about 3,100 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, all of them located upstairs. The abode is a “series of contrasts,” according to Yantrasast — its lower level has an austere, vaguely industrial vibe with a mix of concrete and glass; the upper floor has warm tones, with hardwood floors and colorful tile.
Unusually for a walk street-fronting house, the property does not sit hidden behind a privacy hedge or a large wall. Rather, the home was designed to be open, creating a communal atmosphere with its neighbors. Any passersby can look directly into the home’s glass-clad first floor, though there are retractable drapes for when more privacy is needed. There’s also an open kitchen with two islands, a dining area, an office and a living room on the main level. Most notably, the house does not feature a traditional front door — casual glass sliders only here, adding to the informal vibe of the property.
Behind the main house, a large farmhouse-style accessory building provides garage space for four cars — highly unusual in tightly-packed Venice — plus two guest rooms that can be used as offices, storage space or studios for art and music. Tucked between the two structures is a petite, mostly hardscaped open-air courtyard with a plunge pool and spa, plus a pizza oven and built-in seating area partially wrapped around a firepit.
The $8.5 million buyer is Samar Alghanim, the only daughter of billionaire Kutayba Alghanim, he the high-profile industrialist that has occasionally been ranked as Kuwait’s richest man. The elder Alghanim is chairman of Alghanim Industries, one of the largest privately-owned conglomerates in the Middle East, and through it controls dozens of businesses. Among other ventures, Alghanim owns the Middle East franchise rights to Wendy’s restaurants, and he was the first to sell GM automobiles in Kuwait.
Kutayba Alghanim also owns Samar, a 252-foot, $100 million superyacht that is currently for sale, according to SuperYacht Times. (Alghanim has already replaced it with his new, 354-foot ZoZa superyacht, naturally.)
Samar Alghanim is not new to the Venice neighborhood; records show she also owns a beauty supply business on hectic Lincoln Boulevard, the area’s main thoroughfare. And her family is certainly not new to L.A. — her uncle, billionaire Bassam Alghanim, has long been one of Bel Air’s largest landowners. Records show his ever-swelling, 10-parcel L.A. compound now spans more than 21 acres. And the latest addition to his property collection came just last year, when he paid $8.6 million for “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis’ Bel Air mansion.