Whoa Nelly, summer is already upon us and you kids are in luck. Yolanda was not even gonna publish a story today — we were scheduled for babysitting duties with the grandkids — but then our longtime Ecuadorian housekeeper Consuela called in and volunteered to take the children on an all-day tour of LA. “The real LA, not that fake crap your old ass writes about,” she insolently sneered, audibly rolling her eyes in disgust. Yolanda has no clue what that means, but whatever. We digress.
Point is, we have the whole day to yakk away, so forgive us if we get a tad long-winded with this story.
Over the past few weeks, Yolanda has received no fewer than five separate curious reader inquiries about this house. Seriously! Seems everyone is in a damn tizzy to know who bought it and all the juicy details. Ask and ye shall receive, kiddies. We are writing this while humming “Oh beautiful / for spacious skies / for amber waves of grain” and sipping on a double-strength margarita. In case anyone was wondering.
The Stanley House, as it is called (named after the street it sits upon) was born from a partnership of savvy LA real estate veterans: high-end agents Branden & Rayni Williams, and cutie-pie developers Matt Lyons and Jason Somers. The four-level mansion, ultra-contemporary in design, clings to a precipitously steep cliffside just above Hollywood Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills. Interior design by Lenny Kravitz! Art by RETNA! And it includes a damn nightclub!
A crazy house should always beget some crazy real estate marketing, and the listing agents here did not disappoint. Ridiculous terms such as “the stairway to heaven” the “last homage to the legendary Sunset Strip“, and a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” were liberally tossed around in listing materials.
Oh brother! For the record, documents show that the same team of developers are currently building a very similar mansion almost directly above The Stanley House — with the same explosive views — so the vague phrase “this will never happen again” is rather misleading, we think.
Marketing materials also included a remarkably stupid video tour that barely showed the house. Instead, the obviously wasted cameraman opted to focus on a full-grown tiger traipsing through the property.
Seriously, what the hell? We cannot fathom that someone actually thought this video was a good idea. Dammit, we lost braincells just looking at that idiocy. Unless the big ol’ pussycat roaming all through the home is meant to convey some Freudian sort of sexual metaphor? Hmmm.
Maybe there’s actually some poignancy in that.
But you know what? Despite all the cheesiness, something actually lured in a buyer. We don’t know if it was the tiger or the aging rockstar designer, but less than four months after being listed for $38 million, the house sold for $33,000,000. And the deal was all cash, kiddies. For reference, this is the third-biggest sale ever in the Hollywood Hills, behind only Jho Low’s $39 million splurge (that house has since been seized by the Department of Justice and is now vacant and neglected) and Woodbridge’s $35 million throwdown (they have since declared bankruptcy and that house is also vacant).
This is also — quite easily — the largest sale that has ever gone down this far east in LA. According to our gurl (staging mogul Meredith Baer), the house was sold with every last stitch of furniture included — down to the last pillow and accessory. The buyers wanted absolutely everything.
Unfortunately, records show the house was acquired by a mysterious corporate entity called “Stanley Residence LLC”, which leads down a dead-end road. But Yolanda heard repeatedly, from multiple sources, that the buyers were “a couple from Monaco“. For a long time, however, nobody could (or would?) give us their names. But Yolanda remained very intrigued, if only because Monaco is the setting of one of our all-time favorite films: Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief.
Anyway, we eventually learned the buyers’ identities. Hallelujah! They are a German man named Frank Binder and his American fiancée Alexandra Schuck.
Now in his late 50s, Mr. Binder was born into vast wealth. He is a scion of Merck, the German global pharmaceuticals firm that was founded way back in 1668 by Friedrich Jacob Merck, the fella who we gather is Mr. Binder’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather (or something like that). Merck pioneered the use of morphine in the 19th century and at one time had a worldwide monopoly on cocaine. They also were the folks who first manufactured the highly addictive drug known as Oxycodone.
Nearly 350 years after its founding, more than 70% of Merck’s shares remain controlled by the low-profile family, now in its 12th generation. In fact, with more than $42 billion in assets and over 53,000 employees worldwide, Merck is now one of the largest companies in the world that remains majority family-owned — just behind other giants like Walmart and Cargill.
None of the Merck family members have ever appeared on an international wealth ranking — presumably because there are now so many of them that it is nigh impossible to tell who owns what — but Yolanda would be absolutely shocked if at least a handful of them are not billionaires. Our Mr. Binder included.
While little is (publicly) known about Mr. Binder’s early life, we gather he was raised in Germany and has spent nearly all his time as an Earthling living in Europe. Way back in 2008, Mr. Binder royally pissed off a whole bunch of Zurich, Switzerland residents with his plans to build a five-story contemporary mega-mansion (with a 12-car underground garage!) in a particularly quiet part of their quaint town.
Reports at the time said that Mr. Binder paid about 4.5 million Swiss francs for the Zurich property, which at that time included an (occupied) apartment building. After a storm of neighborly protests, the project was stuck in limbo for nearly a decade, until 2016. It was then that Mr. Binder announced he would no longer move forward with constructing a residence on the property.
Today, Mr. Binder resides primarily in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where he remains a member of Merck’s Supervisory Board while serving as managing director of shipbuilder Lloyd Yachts. He has a billionaire-baller-style oceanfront villa on Avenue Princesse Grace, which has been called the world’s most expensive street. Two of his nearest neighbors — they are practically next door, actually — are Sir Philip Green and Lady Tina Green, the multi-billionaire owners of Topshop.
But why would a 60ish-year-old bazillionaire who has lived in Europe his entire life suddenly spend such a fortune on a Los Angeles mansion? Our Mr. Binder has no known friends, family, or business interests out here. Is he interested in making movies?
Nope. The real answer, y’all, is love. Oh yes, sweet love.
Love makes the world go round, and love keeps our realtors’ bread buttered. Lots of people buy new houses when they get married or start having kids. And in Mr. Binder’s case, he purchased The Stanley House because he is in love with a beautiful California gurl.
Alexandra Schuck is 28 years old and a native of Los Angeles — the San Gabriel Valley region of LA, to be specific. She was born and raised in the highly exclusive Bradbury Estates enclave of Bradbury, CA, about 15 minutes east of Pasadena. Her father Edwin Schuck Jr. is a prominent LA-based tax attorney who for many years served as the tiny city of Bradbury’s mayor.
Our Ms. Schuck is a graduate of the prestigious Webb Schools in Claremont, CA, on the border of LA County and San Bernardino County. After her schooling was complete, she returned to living in her parents’ longtime Bradbury home (more on that a little later).
Eventually, by early 2014, Ms. Schuck had moved into a small Burbank apartment with her then-boyfriend and was taking classes at Pasadena City College. That summer, however, she and her parents embarked on a tour of Europe. We gather this is when she and Mr. Binder initially met.
By 2015, Ms. Schuck was enrolled at the International University of Monaco while living in the Principality with Mr. Binder. The couple were soon engaged and the rest is, well, history.
Nowadays Ms. Schuck is a freelance photographer and also occasionally dabbles in modeling, including for this lash extension video advertisement that was filmed at her Monaco mansion.
Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck are now expecting their first child, due before the end of 2018. Mazel tov!
Perched at the tippy-top of a treacherously steep street, the Stanley House soars four levels above the roadway and resembles several hardcover books stacked carelessly atop one another. The lavishly-appointed casa is defined by its half-moon-shaped pool, which is cantilevered way out over the edge of the cliff. At night, it appears as though the water is suspended atop a magic carpet of city lights.
The Ferrari-driving Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck will certainly appreciate the street-level 15-car garage, where they can store their collection of exotic automobiles. Up around the backside of the home is a gated driveway that leads to an additional garage hidden behind a Portuguese slate wall.
The home’s entry walkway bears a plaque in memoriam of Austin Kelly, the head of Xten Architecture. Our Mr. Kelly met his death at the too-young age of 49, a victim of cancer. The Stanley House was his very last project. RIP.
That walkway passes over a water feature and leads to hand-carved double front doors. Within is an expansive open living space that directly overlooks the pool — and that view! Century City and Downtown LA (and the Pacific Ocean, on a clear day) are visible from the $50,000 Schuck-Binder couches. Most of the furnishings on this level were staged by our gurl Meredith Baer.
As you might expect, the property is equipped for the ultimate California indoor/outdoor lifestyle — endless expanses of glass doors by Vitrosco disappear, and the brick patios have numerous lounging and dining options. There is also a full outdoor kitchen with BBQ grill and a wet bar.
Within the pool itself is a 12,000-pound boulder that contains a fire feature to ooh and ahh all guests. How absolutely ridiculous, yet totally appropriate for this place!
The residence’s uppermost level contains the home’s master suite, which is more opulent than any five-star hotel room Yolanda has ever seen. A custom bed — modeled after the iconic leather bed in the Sheats-Goldstein residence — and custom sofa beds overlook the glittering skyline, and the master bath is slathered in Calacutta marble, glass, and rare imported woods.
The walk-in closet looks like a Rodeo Drive boutique and features a Subaru-sized center island with drawers for storage, plus lighted cabinets lining both walls. Back in the bedroom is a giant flatscreen TV that drops down from the ceiling reverse-periscope-style at the touch of a button.
The listing says there are 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms in the 10,700-square-foot house, but Yolanda counts only 4 beds and 6 baths. No matter, it is still plenty big for two (soon to be three!) people. Downstairs from the main floor is the home’s ferociously insane “private nightclub”. Named Disco Volante — after the yacht in the James Bond flick Thunderball, we presume — the cavernous Lenny Kravitz-designed space features couches for the VIP members and bar chars for the plebes. Bottle service included for a fee. (Hey Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck, invite your gurl over. We can mix a mean gin martini).
Also on the premises is a swanky office, although Yolanda is baffled by the inclusion of those two cheap-ass Dell monitors. It’s all about the Macs, baby! Get with the program.
For a much more thorough and thoughtful review of the house, click here.
Some of Mr. Binder & Ms. Schuck’s nearest new Hollywood Hills neighbors include conductor Gustavo Dudamel, actress Drew Barrymore, and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.
As previously noted, Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck mainly reside in their waterfront Monaco mansion. There are very few seafront homes in Monaco, y’all — most residences in the tightly packed Principality are apartments or villas up on hills — but Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck have one of the grandest homes in the entire country.
Collectively known as the Villas du Sporting, the Schuck-Binder residence is one of three single-family mansions on the manmade peninsula known as Sporting d’été or Sporting Monte Carlo, which is home to Monaco’s most extravagant concert hall and the place for the country’s society fundraisers and galas. The three villas were built in 2014 in a swoopy circular style — every room is annular and each private residence has a perfectly round infinity-edged swimming pool. To read more in-depth about this rather remarkable real estate development, click here.
Designed by acclaimed Monaco-based architects Christian Curau and Laurent Gire, the homes have won local awards and such. The lush landscaping is a product of the esteemed Jean Mus, a man who has designed gardens for villas and parks all over the Mediterranean area.
According to public information, the three villas are designed for long-term renting (at approximately $230,000 per month!) and range in size from about 5,300 to 7,000-square-feet of living space. Yolanda’s research indicates the Binder-Schuck villa is neither the largest nor the smallest of the three.
Their approximately 6,000-square-foot abode lies in a guard-gated enclave (naturally) and includes a private motorcourt and a private garage capable of holding five luxury vehicles. An all-glass entryway opens reveals a double staircase and a circular great room. Elsewhere is a kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, a formal dining room, and a humongous private office.
According to listing materials, Mr. Binder & Ms. Schuck’s manse contains 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms — 2 suites on the ground floor, and three on the upper level. The upstairs master suite sports a bathroom slathered in marble and a bedroom with billion-dollar views of the Monaco coastline and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Those are the kind of views dreams are made of, kiddies.
The backyard is partially shaded by mature native plantings — stone pines, cypresses, Atlas cedars and palm trees. Past the large swimming pool is a private rocky pathway that leads directly to the sea.
Standard and optional amenities included with the villa’s rent are 24/7 concierge services, a butler, a housekeeper, room service, a limousine w/ chauffeur, and access to a nearby helipad (though we have no idea if Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck actually own a helicopter).
From what we gather, Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck have been living together in this villa since shortly after its completion in late 2014.
We mentioned that Ms. Schuck is a native of LA’s exclusive Bradbury Estates community, where her parents continue to reside. Records show that Mr. and Mrs. Schuck have owned their 5-acre compound there since the dawn of time — for more than 30 years, since way back in 1987, when they paid $1.7 million for the property. The equestrian estate is most assuredly worth many millions of dollars today.
Although records show that Mr. and Mrs. Schuck own other homes — a spacious ranch in Arizona, a luxury condo in gorgeous Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii — Yolanda has been told that the Bradbury house has always been their main residence. The property includes a two-story Traditional main house of about 6,000-square-feet, a detached garage/workshop, a wee guest house/staff residence, a pool, a large motorcourt, a full-size tennis court, horse stables, and a massive horse riding rink. The family keeps horses — duh — and Ms. Schuck has been riding since she was a little girl.
Some of the Schucks’ more notable Bradbury Estates neighbors include billionaire In-N-Out Burger heiress Lynsi Snyder (who is attempting to unload her Bradbury compound for $20 million), baseball superstar Adrián Beltré, luxury auto dealership mega-mogul Paul Rusnak, former porn star turned televangelist Pastor Melissa Scott, and self-proclaimed “faith healer” Pastor Peter Popoff.
The Schuck estate is surrounded by extravagant properties — it lies practically next door to the infamous “Donald Abbey crucifix pool estate” that was once in foreclosure and recently sold for more than $24 million. (Yolanda has written about that house on numerous occasions).
Oh, and the longtime Schuck residence is almost directly across the street from the 20-acre compound of the late Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who was a major figure in the international thoroughbred horse racing community before his unexpected death in 2002.
As soon as Yolanda had established Ms. Schuck’s Bradbury connection, we straightaway dialed up Lolita, an old friend who happens to live in the Bradbury area and is acquainted with a healthy handful of Bradbury Estates residents. We wanted to inform her about Ms. Schuck’s mega-mansion purchase and see whether she was acquainted with the fam.
Much to Yolanda’s surprise, Lolita told us that she has known about the new manse since April (the little minx was holding out on us!). Even more confoundingly, she whispered that “most everyone in Bradbury” already knows about the house — and several Bradbury Estates residents have seen it in person, too.
“What?!?!” we gasped. How do these folks already know all this?
Well, y’all, according to the knowledgable Lolita, Ms. Schuck has not yet “officially” moved into the Stanley House, but back in April — shortly after closing on the property — she and Mr. Binder threw an extravagant housewarming party there. Actually, the party was an afternoon baby shower that morphed into a lavish sit-down dinner with several dozen guests, live music, and merrymaking that lasted all the way into the wee hours of the morning.
Lolita told us the tiny Bradbury Estates community is extraordinarily tight-knit and Ms. Schuck remains very close friends with many of her old neighbors. As such, “many folks” in Bradbury scored an invite to the housewarming bash, where they were all “blown away” by the home’s extravagance. So there you have it.
Very random note: one of Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck’s housewarming guests apparently was Malibu’s own Jane Seymour, one of our favorite Bond Girls of all time. Huh? How odd. But, you know, that’s silly ol’ LA for you. (By the way, how does Jane do it?! 50 years after Live and Let Die and she still looks gorgeous. Gurl, if you’re reading this, share your secret with a frumpy hag like Yolanda).
Lolita’s final tidbit was that Ms. Schuck and Mr. Binder have been staying at her parents’ Bradbury ranch whenever they swing into LA for a visit, but now that they are expecting, they figured it was time to lock down a residence of their own. Plus they have been storing a bright-red “special edition” Ferrari at her parents’ house, so they need somewhere permanent to park that.
(We have no clue how Lolita knows all this, but we dare not ask questions.)
Anyway. That’s all she wrote, folks. Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck will be bouncing around Monaco and the south of France all summer long. As such, they have made the Stanley House available for short-term lease at a very serious rate of $250,000 per month.
Near, far, wherever you are, if you are lookin’ for a sexy summer rental and you have a half-million bucks lying around for a couple months’ stay, give Mr. Binder and/or Ms. Schuck a ring-ring. Or better yet, hit up their realtor. We know you rich hooligans are out there. Trust us, they have the perfect spot.
And after you boys of summer have gone, Mr. Binder and Ms. Schuck will presumably return to LA with their new baby. But with no mean, overgrown pussycat — we pray.
Listing agents: Branden & Rayni Williams, Hilton & Hyland
Frank Binder & Alexandra Schuck’s agent: Darryl Wilson, Rodeo Realty