An unabashedly glamorous estate in the Malibu foothills recently transferred for just about 16 million large — $15,907,000, to be exact — after a bonafide ice age on the market. The outsized spread was originally listed way back in November 2016 with a truly ridiculous $27.75 million ask. After several well-deserved price chops, strip club owner D. Michael Talla (the seller) managed to offload the Tuscan-ish porker to a mysterious corporate entity.
Back in early 2014, Mr. Talla purchased the property for just $7,060,000. At that time, it was called Villa La Mare, or “house at the sea,” The property is not actually on the seafront, of course, though it does sport ocean views. Perhaps that is why Mr. Talla rechristened it La Vie En Rose, also known as the French version of the American idioms “looking through rose-colored glasses” or “everything’s coming up roses”.
That name is nice enough, we guess, albeit a tad generic. Some months ago, Yolanda called Mr. Talla and begged him to rename the house “Brünhilde brennt ein Feuer auf dem Dachboden“. (Very) loosely translated, it reads “The princess burns an everlasting flame in the attic.”
Pretty awesome, right? We thought so too. Totally unique, memorable, and it would give this place a nice touch of Germanic austerity. (Surprisingly, we never heard back from Mr. Talla. His loss!)
Anyway, the well-to-do new owners of La Vie En Rose are a couple from Louisville, Kentucky (of all places) named Todd & Karen Blue.
Our Mr. Blue was born into a wealthy family who had long owned a Louisville-based steel mill. In the late 1990s, his people sold off the family business and young Mr. Blue was left with a lot of money but no gainful employment. Always passionate about cars, he began hoovering up classic automobiles. After successfully unloading one of his own classic rides at a profit, he decided to give the car business a whirl.
In 2006, Mr. Blue founded indiGO Auto Group, and began acquiring luxury automotive dealerships in Houston, Texas and in the desert resort areas of Riverside County, California.
Mr. Blue is also the owner of Cobalt Ventures, a firm that was once one of Louisville’s biggest real estate developers. Cobalt developed many condos and office buildings around Mr. Blue’s hometown. Despite this, he is not universally adored in Kentucky — Mr. Blue often clashed with city officials and local preservationists, who objected to his demolition of historic buildings to make way for parking lots.
In 2014, Mr. Blue packed his bags and moved his family (and his business) to Houston. He now presides over 11 dealerships in Texas and California — all of them luxury nameplates like Lamborghini, McLaren, BMW, and Porsche. Mr. Blue’s Houston Porsche dealership is one of the largest in the country, and his Houston Lamborghini dealership is the top American dealer (by volume) for the Italian marque. Apparently business is really booming — Mr. Blue recently received a substantial investment (amount undisclosed) from European conglomerate Pon Holdings BV.
Mr. and Mrs. Blue are now in their 40s and have four young children — two boys and two girls. Yolanda is not sure why the family has bought such a large place in Malibu — as far as we can tell, this is easily the most expensive house they own, yet all their business is in Houston and out in the California desert.
Maybe it’s just a vacation home. Or perhaps they are planning to acquire some LA car dealerships. Who knows?
Although the house has a prestigious Winding Way address, it is actually not located on that street — it’s on a different lane entirely. Odd, that. A long driveway passes through tall gates and winds up a gentle slope planted with olive trees and rose bushes. A circular motorcourt has parking for 10 vehicles, in addition to the four-car garage.
Originally built in 1992, the house was extensively renovated by Mr. Talla. The front entryway is meant to impress with a double staircase and a small sitting area, and the grand entrance hall leads to the stone-floored living room, which features rows of French doors overlooking the backyard and the ocean out yonder. For some reason this room has not one but two giant fireplaces. For all those painfully frigid Malibu winter days, we suppose.
The kitchen clearly was trying for that rustic-look thing, but the result is kind of a mixed bag. Yolanda thinks the whole shebang would look better if the cabinets were stained a darker shade of brown to contrast with the countertops and such.
The 10,135-square-foot house packs in 5 beds and 8 baths, just enough for the six-member Blue clan. The master suite has a private balcony, ocean views, a fireplace, and a sitting area. We love the his-and-hers baths and closets — his bathroom is done up like a very masculine library, with wood-paneled walls and a leather chair/ottoman.
The best parts of the estate, however — especially for kids — are the expansive grounds, which span about 2.7 acres and include numerous outdoor dining options, a 75-foot long infinity pool w/ waterfall feature, a full-size tennis court, and a bocce ball court.
One of Mr. Blue’s nearest new Malibu neighbors is professional basketball star DeAndre Jordan, who recently plunked down $10 million for a smaller but similar Tuscan-esque estate just a quick skip away.
The Blues have businesses in both Rancho Mirage and Houston, so naturally they keep multi-million-dollar homes in both locations. In late 2013, they paid $2,700,000 for a Tuscan-style thing in a guard-gated Rancho Mirage community. The single-story sprawler has more than 6,000-square-feet of living space plus a half basketball court.
Over in Texas, the Blue family’s main residence is a 10,859-square-foot mansion with 6 beds and 6.5 baths in the swanky River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. In 2013, the estate was given a full makeover and now includes all sorts of fun gizmos: high-end Miele kitchen appliances, an outdoor kitchen, a home theater, and an elevator.
Records do not reveal the exact purchase price, but we gather that Mr. Blue paid approximately $4.5 million for the house in 2014.
And earlier this year (March 2018), the Blues finally got around to unloading their fully upgraded estate in Kentucky. The 4-acre property features a 1998-built mansion with 11,745-square-feet of living space, a saltwater swimming pool, a four-car garage, and a home gym. The house — a mere 8 minutes from downtown Louisville, y’all — sold for exactly $3 million.
Listing agents: Chris Cortazzo, Coldwell Banker; Kurt Rappaport, Westside Estate Agency
Todd & Karen Blue’s agent: Josh Altman, Douglas Elliman