A sprawling and elegantly preserved 1920s mansion located on a prime street in the coveted eastern part of the Beverly Hills “flats” neighborhood recently sold for a major league $14,812,500. The buyer’s identity is shielded behind something called “LABH Realty LLC”, an entity that leads down a dead-end road, but Yolanda happens to know for a fact that the new owners are a super-rich couple from Chicago named Jeffrey & Linda Hammes. But before we digress to Chi-town, let’s give a very quick background on the house, which is really rather spectacular.
Built in 1928, the tastefully upgraded estate boasts a total of 11,202-square-feet of living space (including the guest house). Although the listing calls the property a “country English-style estate”, the first descriptor that springs to Yolanda’s mind is “Gothic Tudor”. We aren’t sure who originally commissioned the home, but during the 1990s it came to be owned by an heiress to a substantial soybean fortune.
In 2006, the house was sold for $8,800,000 to JAG actress Marcy Kaplan and her producer husband Eric Gold — the guy behind the 1990s TV show The Wayans Bros. and guilty pleasure films such as Scary Movie. At some point the Kaplan-Golds gave the ol’ gurl a substantial renovation. In June 2017, they put the beast up for sale with a $16,500,000 pricetag, and the estate transferred just four months later for the aforementioned $14,812,500.
Now then, y’all. Yolanda is not particularly fond of the Beverly Hills flats neighborhood, but this is one house we wouldn’t mind owning. We think some of the interior spaces could be edited a bit better or upgraded here and there, but overall this is a very nice property in an area that has sadly become known for gorgeous old houses marred by their owners’ rather ghastly tastes in decor.
Naturally we wanted to know who the new owner was and a we were shocked (yes, shocked!) when we found out it is a lawyer. Despite the long-running assumption that attorneys make big money — and yes, many of them do make beaucoup bucks — there are very, very, very few lawyers who can afford a $15 million vacation house. Probably less than .001% of those practicing today. No joke.
But here on Yolanda’s Little Black Book we deal with the .001% and thus we bring you Mr. Jeff Hammes.
Since 1991, our Mr. Hammes — who originally hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and stands a short but sturdy 5’9″, FYI — has been a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, an international law firm. And in 2010 our boy assumed his current role as Chairman of Kirkland’s 15-person Global Management Executive Committee. In simpler terms, Mr. Hammes is the head honcho at the Chicago-based firm, as far as Yolanda can tell. That means that Mr. Hammes is a very big deal in the law community — Kirkland is not only the richest law firm (by far) in Chicago, it is the second-biggest grossing law firm in all the world. In 2017 alone, the global juggernaut reportedly hauled in a staggering $2.65 billion in revenue through its 1,900 attorneys among 13 worldwide offices.
As a 1985 graduate from Chicago’s Northwestern University School of Law, one of Mr. Hammes’ earliest assignments at Kirkland & Ellis was helping former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with legal representation needs related to his Bain Capital outfit. Nevertheless, Mr. Hammes appears to be a Democrat — he and wifey Linda hosted some sort of Chicago dinner/fundraiser/gabfest for Hillary Clinton back in 2015. And from a bit of research, it appears that he also donated nearly $20k to her campaign in the years of 2015 and 2016. Clearly, if the $15 million vacation home wasn’t already an indicator, Mr. Hammes has a very high net worth. But we digress.
Records show that Mr. Hammes is a member of the bar in both Illinois and California, and per reports he was instrumental in founding Kirkland’s profitable San Francisco base. Mr. Hammes is also a philanthropist — he spearheaded Kirkland’s major $5 million donation to Northwestern’s law school.
Mr. Hammes’ friends and ex-colleagues have frequently described him as a “born leader”. For his part, Mr. Hammes was quoted as saying “I was dealt a good hand,” and “I thought I’d end up in business—and, in a sense, I am right now,” in a 2012 interview with Crain’s Chicago Business magazine.
The meticulously-maintained mansion is located on North Elm Drive, one of the premier streets in the Beverly Hills flats. A double-gated semicircular driveway sets off the ivy-covered front entryway.
Yolanda loves the black-and-white checkerboard floors, although we know that motif has been done up to death recently. A wooden staircase has a carpet runner and stained glass windows midway up. Naturally there’s a spacious formal living room, which doesn’t have much original detailing but does sport a large fireplace and a comfortably (if not exactly exciting) clean-lined, contemporary decor vibe.
Something about the kitchen’s chunky granite countertop is a bit too ’90s for Yolanda; however, we do love the fabulous La Cornue range. But that blue in the breakfast nook will not do.
The formal dining room has a rather massive table that can easily seat 10 or more, a crystal chandelier, and a very red ceiling. Elsewhere, the family room is very casual with its giant couch and built-in TV area. Three sets of French doors open to the lush backyard.
The main house has a total of 7 bedrooms and 8.25 baths. The master suite has a fireplace, sitting area, and a private balcony overlooking the backyard. The master bath has marble floors, marble countertops, dual vanities, and a built-in soaking tub.
Other luxe amenities include a billiards room equipped with a pool table, fireplace and wet bar. There’s also a stone patio out back (just off the family room) with an outdoor dining set.
The formal landscaping includes carefully clipped boxwoods, evergreen trees, and a sizable lawn. Then there’s an elegantly simple rectangular swimming pool with an inset spa. A broad patio beyond leads to the one-bedroom, one-bath guest house, which is also ivy-covered and done up in the same 1920s gothic Tudor style. The half-acre estate is carefully made invisible from neighbors via towering hedges.
It is clear that the Hammes (Hammeses?) appreciate a nice bit of historic architecture, whether here in LA or back in Chicago. In 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Hammes laid out an impressive $4,150,000 for a rather gorgeous 1876-built three-story mansion in Chicago’s pricey Gold Coast district. Called an “Italianate home” in marketing materials, the ornate red brick edifice has a 2-car garage discreetly accessed from the rear and a comfortable 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.
The 5,500-square-foot residence sits on a very pretty street and just down the block from Lake Michigan. Similar to their new house in Beverly Hills, the Chicago estate retains its old-timey exterior but has been extensively renovated on the inside in an aesthetically-pleasing (but decidedly not original) manner. That could be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one’s point of view and taste in home decor.
We’re not sure how much time Mr. & Mrs. Hammes plan to spend in their new $15 million Beverly Hills vacation mansion, but some of their nearest notable neighbors in the flats include shopping mall heiress Erika Glazer, 99-year-old billionaire Leslie Gonda, former model Christina Estrada, and TV personality Leeza Gibbons.
Oh, and for those of you with a taste for the macabre — don’t lie, we know there’s plenty of y’all out there — directly next door to the Mr. Hammes’ big new Gothic Tudor is an equally large 1927-built mansion that was the site of the grisly Menendez murders during the late 1980s.