The Beverly House, once owned by publisher William Randolph Hearst, is back on the market for $135 million, the highest-priced residence for sale in California, according to its listing agency.
The Beverly Hills compound, which sits on about 6 acres atop a private knoll three blocks from Sunset Boulevard, has been up for sale several times since 2007, when it was offered for $165 million. The five-building estate was last taken off the market nine months ago, when it was listed at $115 million, said Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate.
The owner, attorney Leonard Ross, decided to relist the 28-bedroom, 36-bath property after Fleur de Lys, a Holmby Hills mansion about 2.5 miles west of Beverly House, sold for $102 million in cash earlier this week, his brokerage said. Fleur de Lys had been on the market since 2007 and sold for less than the $125 million owner Suzanne Saperstein sought.
"With some of these recent mega sales, the glass ceiling has been broken and people are having more confidence that Los Angeles is arguably in the same league as such markets as the Hamptons and London," Jeff Hyland, co-founder of Hilton & Hyland, said in an interview.
Mansions in U.S. markets such as New York and California are the equivalent of "safety deposit boxes" for wealthy global investors, according to Jonathan Miller, president of appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. They are being bought by Chinese families, foreign tycoons and U.S. celebrities as a hedge against currency and stock market disasters or the vicissitudes of politics.
"At least 60 percent of our very high-end buyers -- properties above $25 million -- are from abroad, whether that be from Asia, the Middle East, London or South America," Hyland said. "And it's people who could very well live in this type of house for eight weeks out of the year."
Hilton & Hyland opened a London office in January after completing $1.9 billion in sales last year, 25 percent of which involved foreign investors.
A record number of California homes sold for $2 million or more last year, DataQuick reported in January. Prices in high- end Los Angeles County communities such as Beverly Hills, Malibu and Hollywood Hills rose 7 percent last year to an average of $825 a square foot for single-family homes, according to a report by the Agency, a Beverly Hills-based brokerage. The average is 3.6 percent below the 2008 peak.
The Beverly House was built by banking executive Milton Getz and bought by Marion Davies in 1946 for Hearst, who moved to the estate from Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and lived there until his death in 1951, Hilton & Hyland said.
The Beverly House, where John F. Kennedy and wife Jacqueline spent time during their honeymoon, has a 50-foot entry hall with loggia, a living room with 22-foot arched floor-to-ceiling windows and a lighted tennis court with an indoor bar and media center, Hilton & Hyland said.
Other features include an art-deco nightclub, an outdoor terrace with sit-down dining space for 400 people, two screening rooms, an eight-car garage and a billiard room with a carved stone fireplace from San Simeon, according to the brokerage. The Beverly House was featured in the movies "The Godfather" and "The Bodyguard."
--With assistance from John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles and Brian Louis in Chicago.