America’s everlasting existential crisis, as everyone knows, has to do with Los Angeles real estate. Wait, you didn’t know? Wake up, Wanda! Because it’s true. The debate has raged across generations and broken through ethnic/gender/class/whatever other barriers faster than a drunken ‘Bama mom goes airborne at the season opener. It all boils down to this: what is the most expensive residential street in LA? If we can’t determine that, how can we possibly cope with the dark, gloomy, midnight blue twilight of our future?
Bitterly, there’s really no clear-cut answer. (Shocker!) And we’re sure many people from nearly every neighborhood in the county could give you specific and convincing and embarrassingly smug-sounding reasons as to why their street is the very, very best. Even so, there a few names that might come up more frequently than others. Carolwood Drive, Beverly Park, or even Oriole Drive up in the Bird Streets — all havens for obscenely expensive mega-mansions.
But in Yolanda’s humble and entirely meaningless opinion, there’s one street to rule them all: South Mapleton Drive. We shall call it LA’s Most Expensive Street According to Yolanda™.
Located in the blood-red heart of the powerfully pricey Holmby Hills neighborhood and anchored at the southernmost end by the — ahem — “iconic” Spelling Manor, the street has about 30 houses and runs all the way up to Sunset. It’s bounded on the east by the hoity-toity Los Angeles Country Club. Way out west is the Westwood/UCLA area.
Current South Mapleton Drive residents include (but are hardly limited to): billionaire beer/Twinkie heir Daren Metropoulos, Formula 1 heiress Petra Ecclestone Stunt, Duty Free heiress Alexandra von Furstenberg, construction heiress Kristin Tutor Eberts, Obama’s White House decorator Michael S. Smith, Google gigolo Eric Schmidt, Facebook trillionaire Sean Parker, Beats baller Jimmy Iovine, iconic restaurateur Michael Chow (that’s Mr. Chow to us peons), acclaimed director Sir Ridley Scott, private equity pasha Justin Chang and his wife Amanda Brown (she wrote Legally Blonde, dontcha know?), Jordanian billionaire Hasan Ismaik, vodka and music mogul P. Diddy (or Duffy Puffy or whatever Sean Combs calls himself today), former Paramount Pictures CEO Frank Mancuso Sr., big businessman Marc Nathanson, and hedge fund honcho David Kaplan.
Whew. Oh, and one of the smallest and least-well-located houses along the street — it’s smashed up rather rudely right next to Sunset Boulevard — sold just last year for $15,072,000 to Chinese retail magnate Alfred Chan and his Italian fashion designer wife Fiona Cibani.
Imagine that, kiddies. The cheapest house on the very long block is worth $15 million. And no fewer than three of the other homes (or four if you count the Playboy Mansion, which does not technically have a Mapleton address but does have a secondary entrance on the street) have sold for more than $40 million in recent years. How many of those other LA streets can lay claim to those stats? Yolanda will give y’all a wee hint… nary a one.
Many weeks ago, our real estate insider friend Don Won aka Don Juan aka Don Wan sent us a tattletale tidbit regarding the street’s latest construction site. You see, there is yet another new hotel-cum-mansion rising there, just three houses away from Mrs. Ecclestone Stunt’s Manor and in between Ms. von Furstenberg’s and Mr. Metropoulos’s palatial estates.
Yolanda knew something big was being built on that lot, but we really didn’t have an inkling as to what until our Mr. Won/Juan hissed that the new mansion was the brainchild of everyone’s favorite massive-minded architect himself: Richard Landry. That really wasn’t a shock — Mr. Landry has behemoths all over LA — but even ol’ jaded Yolanda’s mouth was left agape after we viewed the renderings on his website.
Yeah, okay, we know we should be used to these sorts of things by now. Yet the whole plutocrat-style spread left us without words. Actually, it was our gal-pal Your Mama over at Variety who said it better than your gurl ever could. We showed her these renderings and she exclaimed “That house looks like a fucking museum!” And Yolanda concurs.
Yolanda went through the permits on file with LA county and while we’re still not certain of the total square footage, the 1.29-acre property’s two-story mega-mansion will come with a full basement (with an indoor pool and spa down there) and a 5-car garage. The outdoor pool/spa will also have a detached pool house with its own basement.
Naturally, upon seeing the renderings we also became much more interested in the owner of the property. It only took a few minutes of research to discover that the old teardown crib was last sold for $14,400,000 back in 2011, when the world was still barely emerging from the recession. The seller was Jon Feltheimer, the CEO of Lions Gate Entertainment, who had purchased the house just two years prior for a paltry $9.8 million.
Anyway, the current owner is listed simply as WRH LLC (Westside Residential Holdings LLC), but that entity is very easily connected to two brothers named Gurgen & Artyom Khachatryan.
Just who are the two Khachatryan boys? As odd as it may sound, they happen to be the sons of one Gagik Khachatryan, who just happens to be the Finance Minister of Armenia.
But wait — the story doesn’t end there. It turns out this is not the only property on LA’s Most Expensive Street According to Yolanda™ owned by the big-spending brothers. Back in 2010, just a year before they acquired their $14.4 million teardown, the brothers also purchased a 1939 estate at 355 S. Mapleton, just a short stroll away from the site of their future mega-mansion.
It appears the Khachatryan bros got a good deal on this second property, “stealing” the 1.66-acre ol’ gurl for “just” $11,000,000 during the height of the economic recession. And Yolanda does not doubt that the spread has appreciated since then. Even so, the brazen $35,000,000 pricetag the brothers recently slapped on this house (in June 2016) was pretty damn ballsy, no? Especially for an unchanged structure. For those of you bean counters — yes, they wanted more than triple the amount they paid just six years ago.
Although Yolanda suspects the eye-watering ask price on Khachatryan House #2 was originally intended to solicit attention from potential big-money buyers, the strategy backfired bigtime. Not only did the house fail to sell, it provoked a whole lot of eyerolls across the Platinum Triangle and beyond. But even worse, news of the pricetag went viral in an unkind way when the Armenian media caught wind of the home and plastered it across the internet.
In July 2016, posts from Armenian news sources began to pop up with aerial photos of the two properties. Folks quickly began questioning where all the money came from. “How on earth can the Finance Minister’s sons afford to invest more than $25 million in luxury LA real estate?” they wondered.
Mr. Finance Minister Khachatryan, to his credit, did not attempt to deny that his sons purchased the homes and eventually even addressed the controversy by issuing a written response. Can any of y’all guess what it said? No? It said “None of your goddamn business.”
Well, he didn’t exactly say it like that. He had a much nicer and more diplomatic way of putting it. But that’s what the statement boiled down to. There you have it. So sorry, everyone, show’s over. The Khachatryan family don’t care and they ain’t wanna play ball with y’all.
So it would seem. But just a couple weeks after that, the pricetag on the house tumbled all the way down to $26,500,000. No, your eyes do not deceive you. That’s an $8.5 million pricechop in one fell swoop.
Desperation? You decide.
The house itself is a dated but well-maintained Colonial-style mansion with a rather fabulous staircase, a massive kitchen (with an ugly beige stone backsplash), rolling lawns, pool w/ pool house, and a tennis court. With some correct architectural vision, Yolanda feels like this house could be made truly grand. But knowing how times are now, it would seem that the wrecking ball is inevitable. Que sera, sera.
Here’s what Yolanda is wondering. Construction on the Landry place is still in the early stages and work continues, as far as we know. But an $8.5 million price reduction on their other house indicates to Yolanda that the Khachatryans really want someone to show them the moolah. What happens if that doesn’t happen? What if the Armenian press turns up the heat on papa? What if the pesky U.S. Department of Justice becomes interested in the family’s sources of wealth?
Now you see why we title this story in such a way, eh? In the heart of Holmby Hills, uncertainty looms. It’s a sign of the times. We have in a big, super-scary world, a world where billionaires fall as quickly as they rise. Even LA’s Most Expensive Street According to Yolanda™, for all its hedges and gates and Fort Knox-level security systems, can’t escape such things.
You know how the song goes — sooner or later, they all will be gone. It’s true. We are noise and a jolt of electricity and, if we’re lucky, a brief glimmer of light, and then we are gone.