Veteran film producer and studio executive Roger Birnbaum, once co-CEO and co-Chairman of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and more recently co-founder of currently inactive Spyglass Entertainment, hopes to cash in on the sale a spectacular, Hollywood-pedigreed property in the impossibly chic and forbiddingly expensive lower Trousdale Estates area of Beverly Hills that’s become available outside the Multiple Listing Service with an eye-catching $33.75 million price tag. Birnbaum, whose two highest grossing movies to date are “Rush Hour 2” (2001) and “Bruce Almighty” (2003), which together have hauled in nearly half a billion dollars in lifetime gross receipts, acquired the sophisticated spread just over four years ago for $20 million.
The sprawling, 8,055-square-foot, single-story residence, configured with four and potentially five en suite bedrooms and a total of six full and two half bathrooms plus a poolside powder room with exterior entrance, was designed by acclaimed mid-century architect Harold “Hal” Levitt and built in 1956 for Diane and Charles Skouras, Junior. Shortly after they allowed photographer Steven Meisel to make use of the house for his now legendary “Four Days in L.A.” ad campaign for Versace, the Skourases sold the property in late 2002 for $4.025 to maximalist decorator and lifestyle maven Kelly Wearstler and hipster-chic boutique hotelier and property developer Brad Korzen. Mindful of the house’s architectural significance and integrity, Wearstler gave the place one of her signature, no-holds-barred eclectic-modern decorative makeovers before they lucratively sold in 2006 for $9.9 million to CIA analyst turned television producer Robert “Bob” Cort and literary agent turned media executive Roasalie Swedlin.
The Cort-Swedlins did well to hang on to hang on the property until May 2012 when a skyrocketing ultra-high-end market allowed them to unload it in a hush-hush off-market deal valued at what property records show as $17.4 million to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. In keeping with their longstanding and well-known real estate custom, the property mad and design savvy couple held the property for only a short time and sold at substantial profit in the early days of 2014 for $20 million to Birnbaum.
Huge and imposing black steel driveway gates swing open to a circular drive that scoops around to the back of the house where there’s a secondary motor court and two-car garage with convenient direct entrance into the mansion’s service wing off the kitchen. Out front, filigreed metal panels frame an elegantly severe yet still inviting or, at least, intriguing porch where Regency-inspired, ceiling height jet-black double front doors open to a bi-level entrance gallery soaked in natural light that pours through a gigantic sky light.
An interconnected series of spacious, glass-walled living and entertaining spaces include a huge living room with original parquet flooring and a geometric, raised-hearth marble fireplace set into a marble-paneled wall. The room opens to a lanai/games area with marble-topped wet bar and massive floor-to-ceiling windows and sliders that open to the swimming pool and over-the-hedgerow, tree-framed city views. The dining room comfortably seats a dozen or more and opens to an al fresco dining terrace shaded by retractable canvas awnings; a 500-square-foot music room with baby grand piano links the living room to a more cozily proportioned library that’s lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and opens through a vast expanse of glass to the backyard; And, accessible through a commodious butler’s pantry from the dining room, music room and library, the kitchen features two work islands, three sinks, a pricey array of top-of-the-line appliances and a lustrous combination of glossy black granite and shimmering stainless steel countertops on custom-crafted, laboratory-like stainless steel cabinetry. The adjacent family room, like most other rooms, opens through a wall of windows to the gardens.
Two en suite guest bedrooms plus a fitness room with en suite bathroom and multi-person sauna are efficiently grouped together just off the foyer while another bedroom with walk-in closet and private bathroom sequestered behind the kitchen and garage is well-suited for live-in staff. Secluded in a wing of its own, the master suite offers a large bedroom that spills out through floor-to-ceiling windows to a private, city-view terrace and two bathrooms, each rather unusually almost entirely open to custom-fitted walk-in closet/dressing rooms.
The 39,000-square-foot, elevated parcel allows for a variety of outdoor living and recreation spaces that include verdant lengths of lawn bordered by carefully clipped boxwoods, a lounge with fireplace that overlooks a marble-lined swimming pool and a poolside bar perfectly positioned towards a glittery view over Beverly Hills to the Century City skyline.
Listing photos: Westside Estate Agency