We’ve told you all before that Yolanda lives under a rather large boulder, at least when anyone in the entertainment world comes a-knockin’. Don’t judge us, but we swear we’d never heard of this Chris Hardwick fellow before last year. After a spot of research, however, Yolanda discovered that he’s got a very prominent Adam’s apple and he’s also a very successful comedian — the founder of Nerdist Industries. Which is kind of a big deal.
The only reason we researched him is because he’s recently married to the wealthy young newspaper heiress Lydia Hearst. And Ms. Hearst (along with Mr. Hardwick, allegedly) purchased a historic and very large Los Feliz home for a record-shattering $11 million about a year ago.
Anyway, after his wife paid the big bucks, Mr. Hardwick decided to unload his old bachelor pad in Bronson Canyon. In case you didn’t know, Bronson Canyon is a small (canyon) neighborhood that lies between Beachwood Canyon and Los Feliz. Some of the prominent residents there include Brad Pitt — who’s lived in the neighborhood since the 1990s — Moby, Flea, and Craig Ferguson.
Mr. Hardwick’s home was put up for sale with an optimistic asking price of $4,050,000. Although it took a few months, the house eventually sold this May (2016) for $3,477,000 in an off-market deal.
Though we’re unfamiliar with Mr. Hardwick’s professional work, Yolanda does like his house and thus we were mildly curious as to the identity of the new owner. Unfortunately, property records unhelpfully show the residence was acquired by something called “Alice I LLC”, a mysterious offshore corporation with roots on a notorious island tax haven in the Caribbean Sea. Yolanda asked everyone and tried all her usual tricks, but we were unable to uncover the buyer’s true identity. Eventually we lost interest, chalked it up as a loss, moved on and proceeded to plum forget all about the property.
Well, kiddies, sometimes God feels generous or has an odd sense of timing. As luck or good fortune would have it, last week we stumbled across the truth — and completely by accident. The home’s new owner — who has since moved in — is Saudi royalty. She is a photographer and a noted art gallery owner and patron, and her name is Princess Reem Al Faisal.
Princess Reem, for those who may not be familiar with all 15,000+ members of the Saudi royal family, hails from one of the most prominent, influential, and wealthy arms of the Al Saud dynasty. She is a granddaughter of the late King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia for more than a decade until his assassination in 1975. Her father, Prince Mohammed bin Faisal, is one of the pioneers of Islamic banking. Her uncle, the recently deceased Prince Saud Al Faisal, was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister.
But enough of our babble. Let’s talk about the Princess’s new palace. It’s not exactly what we’d expect of Saudi royalty, for starters. But actually, we love it. And we wouldn’t mind living here at all. Maybe our gurl needs a new housemaid? A food taster?
Naturally, the first concern Her Highness might have is about the property’s security. Good news, m’lady. The 1924 house is completely secure. All walled and gated. There’s also a security system with lots of cameras to monitor the riff-raff who might want an uninvited word with Your Ladyship (or even an unwelcome selfie). Banish the heathens!
Another good thing is that the house is exceptionally low-profile from the street. To folks driving past appears to be a simple sub-2,000-square-foot single-story abode. What those infidels don’t see is that the house — in epic mullet style — drops down to a staggering four full floors out back with and packs in a mini-mansion-sized 5,000 square feet of living space. That’s quite big for this tightly-clustered area of town.
So although the house sits hard up on the street and makes do with a meager — and steeply-sloped — .27-acre parcel of land, it’s private as can be.
The washed-out grey exterior opens up into a Chinese red-hued entrance proper entrance foyer with hardwood floors. The open-concept living/dining room area has an airy vaulted ceiling with exposed beams.
The fully-renovated kitchen also sports a vaulted ceiling and plenty of windows for light and ventilation. All the cabinetry is 100-year-old antique wood, and the appliances are high-end Viking models. Next to the kitchen is a more casual dining area with access to a slim outdoor terrace with views of the Bronson Canyon hills and peek-a-boo sightlines to the downtown LA skyline.
A smallish courtyard has a rather unusual feature: a Tortuga tile mosaic bath with a 200 year old faucet for meeting your outdoor bathing needs. Over in the family room is an enormous black tufted leather couch. Yolanda is ordinarily not fond of the looks of tufted leather couches — and this one is no exception — but they sure are fun to sprawl out upon.
A wide flight of stairs lead down to the bedroom level, where one of the guest rooms has been converted into a library. Instead of those tedious real bookshelves — so dust-catching and moth-friendly — the room has wallpaper bookshelves to give the appearance of scholarly-ness. Or something. Actual books are so passe these days, ya know?
The master bedroom’s ceiling has thin strips of wooden beams. There are French doors that lead to a private outdoor terrace, and the bathroom has an original reglazed clawfoot tub, steam shower, dual vanities and expensive Grohe fixtures.
Yolanda thinks the log cabin-style look on the home’s ground floor may be original to the nearly century-old abode. Contrary to current Hollywood sensibilities, Mr. Hardwick prominently displays his antique gun collection as well as his (hopefully faux?) wall-mounted moose head and polar bear rug.
Other diversions downstairs include an upright piano, a foosball table,a small living/sitting area, and a blue British telephone box used as a doorway to a compact gym. Beyond all that, however, Yolanda thinks this “hunting lodge” looks like it just smells great. Can you imagine it? Is that weird?
Taxidermy moths/butterflies give us a creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe. If they transferred with the house, we pray Her Worshipfulness disposes of them.
Out back there’s a forest-surrounded picnic table and terrace overlooking the steep hillside.
Over the years, Princess Reem has received notice for her commitment to photography and the arts. She owns galleries in Paris and Dubai, and she even has her own website. Her particular branch of the Al Saud family has also been credited with bringing many gradual secular reforms to the once-rigid (and still strict) Saudi society.
This is not to say that Her Highness’s family have been without controversy. Her father (HRH Mohammed bin Faisal) and her aunt (Princess Haifa bint Faisal) were two of four prominent members of the Saudi royal family expressly targeted by a recent United States lawsuit over the 9/11 tragedy. The allegations included that the Saudi royals directly funded terrorism with contributions to Al Queda or to people directly connected to Al Queda. Although the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the named Saudi royals (and the country of Saudi Arabia), POTUS Obama later vetoed it.
Speaking of family, Yolanda happens to know that Her Highness was — for several years prior to buying Mr. Hardwick’s house — living in her late uncle Prince Saud bin Faisal’s massive compound (actually, it’s more like a palace) up in the Beverly Hills Post Office neighborhood that was built by him way back in 1983 and continues to be owned by his heirs.
Just off Coldwater Canyon, the crab-shaped (or is it scorpion-shaped?) house weighs in at more than 15,000 square feet, per property records. Yolanda suspect that His Highness — who died in 2015 at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles — spent his final days in this house.
The mega-compound also lies on the very same celebrity-filled street where other residents include Milla Jovovich, Bill Maher, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett (yes, kiddies, those last two — who are recently divorced — both quietly bought homes on the very same street. How’s that for amicable? But we digress…)
However, Mr. Hardwick’s Bronson Canyon home is not Princess Reem’s first solo property purchase in the US. Several years ago, she owned a 18th-floor pied-a-terre in the iconic (and idiosyncratic) Sierra Towers apartment building in West Hollywood. For the last couple years of her ownership, she leased the apartment to a couple of our favorite nutty Tinseltown stalwarts.
You know who we’re talking about, right? Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.
The Osbournes — with Her Highness’s approval, we imagine — hired Martyn Lawrence Bullard to glam up the space shiny black floors, chrome, white paint, stainless steel and etc. It’s his signature motif, after all.
Incidentally, the poor Princess got publicly flogged on her Sierra Towers flat. She bought back in 2008 for $3,500,000 and — despite the pricey Bullard interior renovation — sold it in the early days of 2013 for a mere $2,400,000. That’s a stupendous loss of 1.1 million bucks, not counting taxes, real estate fees, closing costs, blah blah blah.
Let’s hope she fares better with the old Hardwick house, if and when she decides to unload it.
The internet says Princess Reem also maintains residences in Paris and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but we confess we know nada about those.
Oh! Speaking of Martyn Lawrence Bullard! In addition to his work on the Princess’s former Sierra Towers apartment, he also did up the interiors of Kourtney Kardashian’s shopping-mall-slash-mansion out in Calabasas. And Yolanda is oddly mesmerized by this weird video that Miss Kardashian and Mr. Bullard filmed for Architectural Digest. Seriously, we watch it almost every day.
But don’t ask us to tell you why we watch it — we just do. It’s sorta like a dog whistle.
Mr. Hardwick’s agent: Sharon Hills, Kobeissi Properties
Princess Reem’s agent: Juliette Hohnen, Douglas Elliman