BUYER: Richard Marx
LOCATION: Malibu, Calif.
PRICE: $4.995 million
SIZE: 5,163 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: A faux-Tuscan meets neo-Prairie-style mini-mansion set in the rolling foothills high above Malibu’s picturesque, popular and pricy Paradise Cove was recently purchased for its full $4.995 million asking price by a mysterious trust controlled — so swears real estate yenta Yolanda Yakketyyak — by Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer Richard Marx. The seller, according to property records, was a Manhattan Beach-based philanthropist named Linda Sanders who made off with a hefty profit as she purchased the property only a bit more than a year earlier for $4.1 million.
Mister Marx, in case any of y’all don’t know, sang backup for a slew of pop music icons — Lionel Richie, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers and Barbra Streisand, to name a few — before he found his footing as a solo artist in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a series of seriously schmaltzy and wildly successful power ballads that include “Hold on to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting,” a global hit of tender and deep yearning that every American older than 30 probably slow-danced to at their prom. In more recent years, Mister Marx has continued to write and record his own music, including a couple of Christmas albums, as well as to write top-selling tracks for headliners like ‘N Sync, Luther Vandross and Keith Urban.
Listing details show the stucco and stone residence in question was originally built in 2003 on a 1.44-acre, ocean-view parcel and measures in at a comfortably spacious but hardly gargantuan 5,163 square feet, with four bedrooms and four bathrooms plus an airy, oversized guest suite with stone fireplace and exposed wood ceiling punctuated by half of a dozen skylights. The residence’s main living spaces were placed on the upper floor to take advantage of ocean views and include a combination living/dining room with bookshelf-flanked fireplace, high exposed wood and beamed ceiling, and wood-framed sliding glass doors that open to a small, wrought iron railed terraced. An adjacent den has a built-in entertainment center, raised hearth stone fireplace and more wood-framed glass doors that lead to a slender, wrought iron railed balcony. Beyond the dining room, a large and well-equipped, all-beige center-island kitchen and breakfast area with another fireplace opens to a pergola-shaded dining terrace with yet another stone-faced outdoor fireplace and more panoramic views. In addition to a long, gated driveway that leads to a parking lot sized motor court, a swimming pool and spa ringed by generous stone-tiled entertainment terrace, the estate’s grounds include flowering gardens, fruit trees, waterfalls, and a meandering pathway that winds around the landscaped slope below the house to a secluded terrace with shaded lounge area.
As luxe and large as Mister Marx’s new Malibu estate may be, it’s positively puny by comparison to his unabashedly baronial longtime residence in the exceedingly affluent community of Lake Bluff, Ill., about an hour north of downtown Chicago. Mister Marx and his wife of 25 years, singer-dancer-actress Cynthia Rhodes (“Staying Alive,” “Dirty Dancing”), reportedly acquired the property in 1997 for $4.7 million and hoisted it on the market last November, after it was announced they were headed for the court of divorce, with an $18 million pricetag. The gated, five-acre spread borders Lake Michigan and is anchored by an opulent 1930s Georgian Colonial manse that spans a remarkable 29,475 square feet over three floors plus a finished basement and contains a total of nine bedrooms, 8 full and 6 half bathrooms, 19 fireplaces, and three kitchens plus a couple of wet bars. There are lavishly proportioned public rooms and extensive family quarters that include a full-sized movie theater and a third-floor exercise room as well as an 8,000-or-so-square-foot professional recording studio that includes an attached guesthouse with two more bedrooms and another 1.5 bathrooms.