As the world marches relentlessly further into this so-called Information Age, the notion of secrecy seems almost an anachronistic delusion. These days, everybody knows everybody’s business. Big Brother smiled as he oversaw the rise of Wikileaks. The Panama and Paradise papers rocked scores of the globe’s billionaires.
Oddly – or perhaps consequently – opacity in the high-end real estate market has only increased. For reasons oft mundane but occasionally nefarious, buyers savvily cloak their extravagant compound purchases behind a maze of corporate veils. Take the case of an enormous Beverly Hills estate that sold days ago for $34,620,000, marking the city’s biggest residential deal of 2019. So far, at least.
The buyer’s identity is masked behind the usual sort of shield. Who actually bought the place remains unconfirmed. Still, there are clues. It seems obvious the buyer is foreign – the home was purchased through an entity linked to one Hristo Yordanov Hristov, a fella who is either a prominent Bulgaria-based arms dealer or shares his name with a prominent Bulgaria-based arms dealer.
So flows the murky river of the ultra-wealthy’s property purchases. Fortunately, such secrecy is fleeting and the buyer’s identity will eventually graduate to public knowledge. But for now, let’s discuss the estate itself, which sports an interesting (if nebulous) celebrity pedigree.
The 14,279-square-foot manor was built by former Israeli military guy turned successful mega-mansion developer Gala Asher in conjunction with the property’s owners, an obviously successful Dallas-based eyewear entrepreneur named Dr. Doug Barnes and his wife Molly. The spec-house was completed way back in 2014 and initially listed for $55 million, so Hristov – or whoever actually bought the colossus – got a sweet deal. Depending on how one sees it, of course.
Asher’s homes tend to be boxy structures with monolithic interior spaces, contemporary finishes and hundreds of recessed lights. This one is no different. Any NBA star will feel comfortable under the 25-foot ceilings, and the dazzling 80-foot-long computerized waterfall will leave guests’ jaws a-hangin’. There are 7 bedroom suites – three downstairs, four up – and the hedonistic 3,200-square-foot master suite verges on the ridiculous. That’s more than double the size of the average American home, for anyone curious.
Other fun interior accountrements include a home theater, an all-glass wine closet and a conference room. Outdoors, the .9-acre property has a sizable backyard with a negative-edge pool and adjacent cabana. A ring of palm trees encircling the lot enhances its privacy, and the property is also walled and gated. Naturally. Best of all – or perhaps not for those boycotting – the house is a tempting five-minute walk to the Beverly Hills Hotel and its delicious Polo Lounge.
The Barneses continue to be based out of their 23,000-square-foot mansion in Dallas. As for Asher, chalk up another success for the man who has sold past projects to the likes of Kris Jenner and billionaires Tom Gores and Steven A. Cohen. And he’s got more still in the hopper, including a $135 million monster in the nearby Benedict Canyon area.
Before the new palace was constructed, this estate featured a more modest ranch-style residence. For many years – beginning sometime in the 1970s until her 1994 death – that house was home to the late, great Dinah Shore.
In 2005, the property was acquired by Jodie Foster, who held onto it for six years but never moved in. Apparently, Foster wanted to raze the existing structure and build anew – for whatever reason, those plans never came to fruition. It was Foster who sold the estate to the Barneses in 2011 for $8.3 million. And the rest is, well, history.
So who actually bought the unrecognizable former Shore-cum-Foster estate remains unknown. Yet nothing stays buried for long – especially in L.A., where folks love to gab. But for now, savor the mystery.