Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nic Cage's Baby Momma's Foreclosed Hancock Park Mansion Goes on the Block

SELLER: Citibank (formerly owned by Nic Cage)
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,782,500
SIZE: 6,312 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama knows quite well that many of the children can not bear another spilled thought or diatribe about the seemingly ceaseless real estate woes of financially embattled Oscar winner Nic Cage. But Your Mama, children, just can not seem to steer clear of the head-shaking melodrama. Call it celebrity real estate schadenfreude, call it an unhealthy obsession or just call it our damn job but whichever way you want to see it the whole hot mess is a lot like driving past a fatal car accident. You slow down in order to stare and stare and stare while you hope despite a queasy stomach to see something awful. We all know we shouldn't do it and it fills us with gruesome self-loathing to do it but do it we do anyway. It's ugly but it's human and Your Mama is, despite the strident suggestions of some, human. With that in mind we are, yes, my pretty ponies, going to once again indulge today in a wee discussion of Mister Cage's continuing real estate brouhaha.

Property records reveal that in May 2001 a substantial house in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, CA was purchased by Mister Cage's now well-known Hancock Park Real Estate Trust for $2,695,000. The house was purchased for the exclusive use and enjoyment of Mister Cage's former lady-friend and baby momma Christina Fulton who bore him one son they named Weston.

Alas, as Mister Cage's finances began their protracted tangle with the grim reaper Baby Momma sued for $13,000,000 plus direct and sole possession of the Hancock Park house because, she alleged, Mister Cage agreed to buy the house for her and her pending eviction due to foreclosure proceedings brought on by Baby Daddy's failure to pay the mortgage constituted a breach of contract or something like that. We're not sure the exact details or status of the legal matter but we do know that, in the end, like all those sad skinny model wannabes on America's Next Top Model, Baby Momma had to pack her bags and go.

In mid-November 2009 a Notice of Default was filed on the property. A year later the matter was cleared up with a Notice of Rescission, which means, in effect, the frothing foreclosure dogs were satiated and called off. A month after that, however, another Notice of Default was filed by mortgage holder Citibank and in early 2011 the stately estate was put up for auction with a minimum bit of $3,290,739.

No buyers showed up with their checkbooks–or at least no one willing to pay nearly three-point-three million smackers–and in early March 2011 Citibank officially ripped the residence from Mister Cage's increasingly thin property portfolio.

It was only a matter of time before Citibank put the property on the (open) market in an effort to recoup at least some of their losses. Thanks to The Rolling Stone, we've learned that the soulfully dour 1924 brick Tudor is now listed with the complicated asking price of $2,782,500, a figure translated from real estate speak comes to $2,785,000?

The .77 acre estate, located on a very busy corner at the edge of the upscale Hancock Park 'hood, has high hedges all the way around with multiple gated entries that open to a driveway that meanders through the property. At the back of the property a gate swings open to a rear motor court that bends around a detached barn-like structure with covered parking for at least four cars, rolls under a porte-cochere that sticks off the side of the house and makes a hard right to the front of the residence where it continues around to another electronic drive gate at the opposite corner of the property where the trek across the property began.

Listing information shows the somewhat sinister-looking manse measures 6,312 square feet and includes 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, 3 fireplaces (plus a fourth in the guest house), a turret or two and an upstairs covered balcony for secretly peeping on guests and domestic staff as they roll down the driveway and clip the hedges.

Interiors spaces, according to listing information, retain original moldings, paneling, mill work and windows and include a double-height center-hall entry, formal living and dining room, library, kitchen with island, breakfast room, family room, media/music room and staff quarters.

A courtyard-like yard separates the main house from the swimming pool and adjacent 800-square foot guest house. In 2005, according to listing information, a 500 square foot fourth structure was added to Mister Cage's Baby Momma's compound and contains a gym/recreation room.

Besides the real estate stink of Mister Cage–who may or may not have ever lived there–his Baby Momma's mansion has a few not always east to overcome obstacles. Not only does the property occupy a very busy corner–which makes it subject to near constant traffic noise–some real estate snobs in Lala Land think the upscale, historical and expensive Hancock Park 'hood ain't nuthin' but a crime-riddled ghetto. It isn't. No matter the price point, puppies, real estate is almost always a trade off. You might love the yard but hate the kitchen or want a view but not the often long twisted drive often required to get to a view home. Some folks would sooner get a divorce than give up a better location for more space while others place a far greater premium on expansive living areas over the plumiest of plum zip codes. All real estate things considered–including the absolute unattainability of a house like this for all but the very wealthy, this seems to Your Mama like a lot of house for the money in Los Angeles. Certainly a person can buy a lovely abode in the 90210 and/or the 90077–that's Beverly Hills and Bel Air–for two and three quarter million clams and it might even be as large as this house. It will not, however, include all the multiple multi-functional out buildings here.

Mister Cage, a man with a pathological need to acquire high-maintenance homes, extensive collections, exotic animals and a variety of arcana, has bought, sold and lost so many houses around the world that we can no longer keep track of what he still owns or does not own.

He lost a couple of historic mansions in New Orleans to foreclosure as well as his legendary mansion in Bel Air, a hulking academic-looking Gerard Colcord-designed pile formerly owned by shag carpet-chested crooner Tom Jones and showbiz boozer extraordinaire Dean Martin. He also owned a schloss in Germany from a previous century, another ancient castle outside of Bath in the U.K., an undeveloped private island in the Bahamas and an historic 26.77-acre estate in Middletown, RI next door to the Gilded Age resort community of Newport.

He also owned a house above Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles (believed to have been occupied by his mother or father), a San Francisco house or two, a gaudy mcmansion in Las Vegas and a harbor front spread in Newport Beach, CA that he sold to gas and gambling tycoon Jerry Herbst in 2007 for around $35,000,000. That house, as it turns out, is back on the market with a much lower than paid asking price of $28,500,000. Mister Cage's once vast property portfolio also includes and/or once included a couple of condos in New York City, an ocean front house in Malibu and and significant acreage in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu.

We really aren't sure of Mister Cage's current real estate whereabouts but until recently, according to Your Mama's eerily well informed source Lucy Spillerguts, he leased a three story Spanish style casa in the Hollywood Knolls neighborhood, now listed for sale for $1,237,000. It's not clear to Your Mama if Mister Cage used the house himself or it it was occupied by his son Weston or another family member.

listing photo: Skyhill Properties

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coveritis Wannabe



My first cover shot 2007:  Georgie and Sammi Jo.  Actually they wouldn’t sit for a picture together so two pictures of each dog were spliced together to make it look like they really love each other.  They don’t.  Now four years later, almost everything in this picture has changed except for the sofa and chair and lamp. 


When I first started blogging, another blogger friend, Melissa from The Inspired Room HERE coined the word – coveritis – to describe the affliction of constantly fluffing one’s home to make it worthy of being on a magazine cover – at a moment’s notice.   If you suffer from coveritis you have an irrational fear of your house not always looking good enough to make it into a design book.   Symptoms of coveritis include keeping your house in a state of non-clutter:  all papers, mail, toys, clothes and crafts are always put away immediately -  just in case a stalking photostylist stops by unannounced.  Remember, this is an irrational fear.   To understand coveritis -   imagine it like this – your house always looks like President Obama is on his way for dinner.  

Now, the opposite of coveritis is being a coveritis-wannabe.    You are a coveritis wannabe if you WANT your house to be photo ready at any given time, but it’s not and never will be.  You never file away your bills fast enough and your children’s school work is always spread out over the dining room table.  Your husband takes command of the coffee table and his random magazines and catalogues are center stage instead of your carefully arranged design books.  Your bed is never made before 3:00 pm and more often than not, your bathrooms are littered with wet, used towels.  Usually for a coveritis wannabe, the only room ever photo ready are the never used living room.    As hard as you try and despite how much you wish it was, your house is just never quite ready for that photoshoot.




Three years ago, this story appeared in Better Homes and Gardens.   Again, that corner of my family room has completely changed! (Thank God!!)


I am without a doubt a total coveritis wannabe.  I’m always futzing around in my house, moving furniture, accessories, and books – trying to get it to look camera ready, but it never really is.   The endless catalogues accumulate, packages are opened but linger around waiting for their final home, shoes never quite make it to the closet, and stuff just grows and multiplies like the octomom’s stomach.   I have endured two actual photoshoots in the past few years, so I know what it means to have my house look camera ready – but, of course a professional stylist accomplished that feat for me.  For both magazine stories, the stress level of whipping my house into cover-ready state was almost unbearable.  In fact, I said, “never again”  to another photoshoot.   That was until Bonnie Broten, Regional Editor for Meredith Corporation, came to town this week and brought a film crew with her.   The last few days were like college hellweek for me while the crew cheerfully took a few pictures of my kitchen for this magazine:



BHG’s Specialty Magazine – Kitchen and Bath Makeovers – done on a small budget.  My kitchen certainly fits that criteria!  The story won’t be in this magazine until Summer of 2012 – such a long wait.



Since I am a coveritis wannabe, I swore I would never again let a photographer into this house.  It’s just too much – too much angst, too much cleaning up, way too much insecurity, just too, too much.  Coveritis sufferers live for their house to be photographed, but for someone with clutter issues, it’s just not fun.   This time, the pictures were taken only of my kitchen for the BHG specialty magazine – Kitchen and Bath Makeovers.    Forget for a moment that I have no clue why they would even want to put my kitchen in the magazine, but why it’s on the cover is truly a mystery.  My kitchen is no big deal.  It’s got so many flaws and it’s so ordinary, I am at a loss as to why they were even here.    I can name a million other kitchens right off the bat that are so much better and more deserving than mine.  Like this one:



Sally Wheat’s kitchen has spawned dozens of copycats.  I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me pictures of their own  “Sally Wheat” kitchen.



Like this one, which was inspired by Sally Wheat.  Homeowner Sara did such a great job – read the story HERE and HERE.



This kitchen in Houston was also inspired by Sally Wheat.  Surely this remodeling deserves a magazine story.  Read about it HERE.



This Houston kitchen, NOT inspired by Sally Wheat (finally!),  is very magazine worthy!   A beauty in gray and white marble and black granite, it was designed by Julie Dodson – read the story HERE.



Remember this stunning kitchen in black and white?   The homeowner designer in Deerfield, Illinois sent in her pictures.   Surely this is more magazine worthy!  Read the story, HERE




And then there’s this.   It’s almost embarrassing to show, but here is my kitchen.  Now, keep in mind that since I am a coveritis wannabe, my kitchen is usually not this neat.  I edited it for these pictures. 




Here’s how it actually looked the day before the photographers arrived. 




Edited picture that I took.  Veddy neat, but so not reality.




And in this little corner, I certainly edited the space to take these pictures.



Here’s what it looked like the day before the photoshoot.




Cleaned up for pictures.




Not so tidy in real life.  Before the crew arrived, I had to move the TV, the water cooler, the boxes,  the files,  the baskets, the lantern, the cloches – all went into the garage.





The day before the shoot – the crew came by and we started editing even more.  Ben was enlisted to move the ironstone around.




He wasn’t too happy about the photoshoot to begin with, much less helping out, but almost falling off the counter was the last straw for him. 




The day of the photoshoot was extremely long for me and the dogs.  We are used to extreme quiet during in the day.  It took three hours just to shoot one picture – the cover shot.    The mess was terrible.  Everything from my kitchen ended up in the family room.




Photoshoots are so high tech.  The cover shot was approved via internet.   Digital photography  is amazing – each shot was extensively studied on the computer to ensure its perfection before going on to the next one.   The talented Bill Bolin from Bill Bolin Photography HERE was super nice and helpful.  



A huge surprise for me was that the art director wanted the old chairs resurrected from the garage – a mixture of both the new Kooboo chairs and the French chairs were used at the breakfast table.  I wish I could show you how good the pictures looked!  It was amazing how much better the experts made this small space look.



The best part were all the flowers and herbs.    Sammie Jo couldn’t be bothered.  She’s sooo cute!   Stone deaf, but adorable.




You have to have thick skin when you invite a team of photostylists into your home.  The head honcho directed that my baskets come down from above a bank of cabinets.  Well…how DARE he??!!!!   The large chicken coop basket?? was bought at Joyce Horn Antiques HERE about 15 years ago.  Each year my parents gift Ben and I with a check for our anniversary and that year I took the check and bought the only thing at Joyce’s that I could afford – that basket!    The other basket is a small antique pet carrier which I love.   After the baskets were taken down, I had to admit I liked it better without them, so into the garage they both went – I’m not putting them back out.  My garage is such a wasteland.



When it was all over and my kitchen was put back together, I got to keep all the herbs.   I love them – they are so fragrant.



The TV came back out from the garage (which I hate, but my family insists we have one in that room.)  The herbs add a nice touch of greenery to the bakers rack.   One change that I made for the photoshoot was the pillows from Restoration Hardware which were added to the wicker chairs.



But, the best item left over were the glorious peonies!  Aren’t they gorgeous?   All in all, despite all the hard work, the photoshoot was a great experience.  The photographer couldn’t have been nicer and the stylist Bonnie, one of the best in the business, was very helpful – making me see my kitchen through different eyes.   Since I am a die hard coveritis wannabe, a few days later the kitchen was back to looking cluttered and messy, as usual.  The story won’t be out until the summer of 2012!  Such a long time to wait.  

I would love to do a survey – are you a coveritis sufferer or a coveritis wannabe?   I wonder which affliction would win????   AND, if you think you have a house or kitchen that is magazine worthy, send me the pictures and I’ll forward them to  Bonnie.  She’s always looking for new stories to pitch.


A huge thank you to Bonnie, Blaire, and Bill!!!!




I’ve been so fortunate to host a large amount of giveaways.  The gifts have been wonderful – vendors have donated jewelry, antiques, custom paintings,  hotel rooms, and even very pricey chandeliers.   It’s been great fun to run these contests and I’ve loved that so many of you have won something great.   While I usually am on the giving side, I was shocked to hear that I had won a giveaway from another blogger -

Silk Robe Short.

And no, that’s not me.  Snort.   That’s a model from from Manito’s web site.


I won this beautiful silk robe made by Manito Luxury Silk & Linen HERE.  The giveaway was hosted by Brillante Interiors blog, written by Renaissance woman,  Albarosa Simonetti.  If you have never visited her blog, do so HERE – she writes about interior design and travel – all with an Italian beat!  Thanks a million Albarosa!!!




Ellen Degeneres Confirms Rumors, Lists Beverly Hills Compound

SELLERS: Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi-Degeneres
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: Rumored to be $49,000,000 and $60,000,000

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Way back in mid-February 2011 Your Mama relayed the brewing real estate rumor that comedienne and chat show tycoon Ellen Degeneres and her equestrian-minded wife Portia de Rossi-Degeneres wanted to unload the Beverly Hills, CA compound they spent years and many tens of millions putting together and customizing. In the summer of 2008 the a-list scissor sisters hitched their lesbian wagons in a small but perfectly orchestrated ceremony in the backyard of this here house.

By the end of April 2011, the whispers and rumors of Miz Degeneres's desire to unload her large estate in Bev Hills became deafening and just now, at the end of May, the property was semi-officially put on the open market. A listing does not (as of today) appear in the MLS or an any of the other real estate listing aggregators like Redfin and Trulia but one did pop up on the website of listing agent Kurt Rappaport of the illustrious Westside Estate Agency. That listing shows the price for Miz D's digs as "available upon request."

Several sources have shimmied (alleged) asking prices our way over the last few months but one particularly well-placed informant snitched and swears to Your Mama that the asking price(s) being bandied about Beverly Hills are $49,000,000 for the the main house–plus separate guest and staff quarters and extensive grounds–and $60,000,000 for the entire kit and caboodle that includes the main house–plus separate guest and staff quarters and extensive grounds–and the two additional houses on adjacent parcels that Miz Degeneres and Missus de Rossi-Degeneres also purchased to further secure and preserve their privacy.

The center piece of the compound, which she bought in early 2007 from Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick for $29,000,000, includes an approximately 9,000 square foot main house with extensive outdoor living areas plus a detached guest house. Your Mama understands from several little birdies who have visited the property for one reason or another that the main house includes a kick-ass master suite with extensive dressing area and two more guest/family bedrooms each with en suite facility and each with private nudity-encouraging sunbathing terrace.

The detached guest house has two en suite bedrooms plus living/dining and kitchen. Additional space under the swimming pool–yes, children, under the swimming pool–includes high-tech fitness/body torture chamber, a well-appointed one-bedroom staff suite and underground garage space for 8 or 10 of Miz Degeneres's many Porsches, as opposed to her lone Portia who, we imagine, parks in the house and not the garage. Access to the areas under the swimming pool are by way of an all but hidden staircase behind the all-wood pool cabana.

The following January (2008), the privacy-seeking pair paid Beverly Hills real estate über-agent Jade Mills $8,500,000 for an undistinguished house just across a cramped and shared driveway. Miz Mills owned buy did not occupy the premises. Soon after closing on Miz Mill's rental residence, Miz Degeneres got behind the wheel of a bulldozer herself and knocked the damn house down to make way for expanded grounds now done up like an honest-to-goodness private park with meandering pond and soothing canyon views.

In June of 2008 the property mad pair paid another $5,000,000 to purchase a third contiguous property, this one with a down-at-the-heels 1 bedroom and 3 bathroom house with canyon views. One month later they splashed out another $5,500,000 to acquire yet another adjacent property, this one a 4 bedroom and 4 bathroom house perched on a hillside at the back of the house. Apparently, we've been told, the residents had some sort of visual access to the property that irked Miz Degeneres and Missus de Rossi-Degeneres to the tune of five and a half million George Washingtons.

If Your Mama works the beads on our bejeweled abacus and add up all the many above-mentioned purchase prices we conclude that Miz Degeneres and her wife spent $48,000,000 (or thereabouts) to create their own private Idaho in the heart of Beverly Hills only to decide a few years later that they no longer want to live there. How y'all like them apples? Such, as we well know, are the fickle real estate ways of rich and famous folks.

The recent sale of high society matron Iris Cantor's La Belle Vie in Bel Air for forty million–in cash–and the rumored $35,000,000+ allegedly-soon-to-be-sale of Jennifer Aniston's Ohana–her contemporary mansion in Beverly Hills listed at $42,000,0000–surely have Miz Degeneres and Missus de Rossi-Degeneres salivating with real estate hope and desire. But, let's be honest, mon freres. The forty million clams Miz Cantor hoovered up is a long way from the 49 and 60 million Miz Degeneres is widely whispered to want for her super-luxe and carefully-crafted estate.

Although plagued by a famous and incurable case of The Real Estate Fickle, it must also soothe Miz Degeneres's nervous pocketbook to recognize that she has a fairly good and profitable track record of buying and selling high-priced and high-maintenance houses. She bought and sold several ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley at tidy profits and in early 2006 she paid $15,750,000 for an historic house in Montecito, CA that she turned around and sold in November 2007 to Google CEO Eric Schmidt for $20,000,000.

Anyone care to wager their real estate reputation on what amount the property might actually sell? Your Mama will attempt no such folly, but those of the children who might should know that according the Bev Hills real estate insiders the property has attracted a fair amount of attention amongst the sort of folks who can afford and might be willing to cough up considerable cookies for a substantial estate in one of the better zip codes in Los Angeles.

In addition to their maxi-posh but no-longer-wanted compound in Beverly Hills Miz Degeneres and Missus de Rossi-Degeneres also own a small apartment in Beverly Hills–acquired in late 2010 for $835,000, presumably for staff or family–and an extensive equestrian complex in the scenic boondocks outside Westlake Village, CA they snatched up in late 2009 for about ten million buckaroonies.

listing photos: Westside Estate Agency

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Liz Taylor's World and We Just Live In It

Right on the high heels of the death of actress, icon and dame Elizabeth Taylor the folks at Architectural Digest released a small cache of photographs of Miz Taylor's long-time mansion in the uppity Bel Air area of Los Angeles, CA.

Miz Taylor, who surrounded herself with blue-chip artworks, gigantic gems and gaggles of gays, lived and loved in a prosaic but pretty 7,000-ish square foot gated mansion with a guard house manned by an armed and Israeli security staff.

This humble and ho-hum home was an astonishingly modest real estate choice for a cosmopolitan woman who draped herself in 400 pounds of rubies and emeralds just to go to the damn terlit. Her large but architecturally ordinary abode in Bel Air, now for sale with an asking price of $8,600,000, reflects the delicious contradictory duality that defined Miz Taylor who always had a bawdy and very down home hardy yin to her Tinseltown high-glamor yang. No one, hunties, could turn it out in a ball gown and glittering sea of diamonds like Miz Taylor who, it is no secret, had a naughty potty mouth that makes foul-mouthed lady-pimp Heidi Fleiss look like Mother fuckin' Teresa.

The interior spaces of Miz Taylor's residence, according A.D., were re-decorated in 2010 "in collaboration with" nice, gay and very accomplished interior decorator Waldo Fernandez." 'In collaboration with?' What does that even mean? In the vaulted ceilinged living room a Hockney still life hangs with a Hals portrait and a carved stone Buddha sits in front of the fireplace flanked by built-in wood display cabinets. One one side the shelves are chock-a-block with Asian and Audubon-y things and on the other side a herd of galloping bronze horses sculpted by Miz Taylor's daughter Liza Todd Tivey give the room a silent but inescapable rhythm.

Naturally the sprawling ranch has a trophy room full of awards and accolades and Oscars. Upstairs, in Miz Taylor's private domain, the girlish dressing room has what we first thought was flower-printed wall paper with matching portieres and bubble valances. One of the children thoughtfully schooled Your Mama and declared the walls are actually covered in fabric with embroidered violets, which is so much better and so much more decoratively lavish that we can barely stand it. Lavender shag carpeting matches the embroidered violets and covers every inch of the floor, wall to wall. In normal circumstances the mere thought of lavender shag wall-to-wall carpeting can get Your Mama's gag reflex to work overtime. At Miz Taylor's house, in her dressing room, it somehow feels correct. This would never–ever–work for anyone who isn't Liz Taylor. That means don't any of you do it yourself decorators think it might be a cute homage to Miz Taylor to install lavender shag wall-to-wall carpeting in your own home. It won't be cute. It'll be awful and embarrassing. Your friends and neighbors will scoff at and make fun of you with each other behind your back and then they'll mock you openly at the grocery store in front of your work-spouse.

These rooms appear, at first glance, rather bland. A longer look yields a quiet but definite complexity of vision and multi-layered balance. This is the home of an ordinary if exquisitely beautiful woman who lived an extraordinary life and she has, to her credit, nothing to prove to anyone. Although her near billion dollar fortune would have allowed her to live, literally, like a queen, a steroidal mansion that slaps a person across the face with its overt magnificence, grotesque grandeur and architectural melodrama would would have been hopelessly false for this woman who remained true to her sometimes uncouth self even as she became a style icon and dynamic living legend of tragi-comic and epic proportions.

The photos for Architectural Digest were done by photographer Firooz Zahedi, a long time snapper of Miz Taylor. If the children have not seen Mister Zahedi's images of Miz Taylor from a mid-1970s visit to Iran you should. They're magnificent. Your Mama went to see them a few weeks or months ago at the LACMA with our boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau who was so overcome with rum and emotion that she collapsed into a quiet heap right there in the hallway in front of the elevators. Eventually ol' Fiona regained consciousness and we went and had a few cocktails to discuss and recover from the day's drama. The pictures are subtle and snap-shotty but they are really that good.

Anyhoodles poodles, according to the photo captions in A.D., Miz Taylor's nephew Christopher is responsible for the campy shell-shaped fountain at the deep end of the back yard swimming pool that's sunk into a terrace tucked into an obtuse angle where two wings of the mansion come together and do the meet and greet. The children will notice the double handrails and shallow steps next to the spa that we would bet our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly were probably specially designed in order that a sometimes not very stable or ambulatory Miz Tayor could still take her kaftan-wearing self a dip in the damn pool.

Elaborate and terraced gardens encircle the residence. A procession of athletic but delicate arches wrapped in a stickery climbing rose sort of shades a wood bench where Your Mama wonders if anyone besides the gardener has ever actually sat. Miz Taylor's mature gardens offer up a floral abbondanza thick with gardenias, lilies of the valley and orchids, grown in a hot house, of course. Various rose varieties dot the estate and include the Elizabeth Taylor, a hot-pink hybrid tea rose named after the silver screen queen herself. Quite frankly, we imagined the Elizabeth Taylor rose would be lavender like her eyes, but hot pink it is.

Real estate pessimists like Your Mama fear that whomever buys Miz Taylor's 1.27 acre estate will demolish the admittedly not very exciting house to make way for a monstrous mock-Med mega-mansion that pushes the properties building envelope at every possible corner. That would be a pity. Alas, that is all to often how the real estate ball bounces in the L.A.'s Platinum Triangle. The best we can hope for, chickens, is that someone like super-agent turned high-end house flipper Sandy Gallin will purchase the property and give it one of his signature make overs to preserve what's architecturally good. If real estate history repeats itself in that manner we could expect, Mister Gallin would install of a flotilla of stacked white towels in every bathroom and flip the beehawtcha back on the market as the new and improved Liz Taylor mansion with an asking price in excess of $30,000,000. Stranger things have happened, puppies. Stay tuned.

Additional images of Miz Taylor's home are to be released with the printing of next month's issue of Architectural Digest.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let's Talk Katy Perry and Russell Brand

SELLERS: Katy Perry and Russell Brand
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $3,395,000 (list); $3,300,000 (sale)
SIZE: 4,706 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Cool your jets and loosen them pin curls now, children. Your Mama is well aware we are inexcusably tardy to this here celebrity real estate party. None the less we feel the need this morning to touch upon the recent and severe case of The Real Estate Fickle caught by Grammy-winning SoCal native Katy Perry and bawdy, vulgar and makin'-it-in-America British comedian Russell Brand.

In December of 2009, almost a year before the increasingly rich and famous couple officially hitched their wagons in a traditional Hindu ceremony at a lavish resort in India, he/she/they coughed up $3,250,000 for a walled, gated and recently reworked residence in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, CA.

Current listing information for the house, which the newlyweds only put on the market about two weeks ago with an asking price of $3,395,000, shows it was originally built in 1922, stands a total of four stories tall, does not have an elevator, measures 4,702 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. Close to 20 sets of French doors that open many rooms to multiple terraces and terraced back yard.

The public entertaining rooms have a circular flow that's good for the chi and include a sizable living room wrapped in French doors that frame city views, formal dining room with a tinsel-like silver wall covering and an all-white eat-in kitchen with marble counter tops. The kitchen opens to a family room and breakfast area where more French doors open to a small city-view terrace shaded by a striped awning.

Upstairs a library provides a more private lounging area and shares a full bath with a separate office where the personal assistants of the homes wealthy and/or celebrity residents can toil the day away in relative seclusion. The "ballroom" sized master bedroom has 13-foot ceilings, fireplace, balcony with city view through still more French doors, a five-star hotel-style bathroom and an a-lister's walk-in closet/dressing room.

The terraced grounds include long strips of long bordered by stone balustrades, an intimate stone-walled courtyard with gurgling stone fountain, a small-ish swimming pool and elevated circular spa with peek-a-boo view, a stone dining pergola dripping with vines and gated motor court and direct-entry three car garage.

When we first looked at the current listing photos for Mister Brand and Miz Perry's unwanted residence we thought the decidedly spare and contemporary day-core was staged. A few days later, our booze goggles still in the liquor cabinet, we looked a little a closer and realized the current listing photos are the exact same as those used for the listing and marketing materials at the time Miz Perry and Mister Brand bought the house in late 2009. This, hunnies, could only mean one of a few things:

1. Mister Brand and Miz Perry purchased or rented the crisp if eensy bit recherché day-core, added little or no personal effects and used the house only minimally as more of a hotel than a home.

2. They've declined to have their Tinseltown crash pad photographed for public consumption. Pity that because Your Mama imagines these two colorful and bawdy people would create some kind of wicked fairyland of alternately too-trendy and wonderfully personal and quirky day-core.

Although it can be dangerous to question and futile to attempt to sort out the fickle real estate ways of the rich and famous Your Mama can't help our self and all too frequently tie our mind up in knots trying to figure out what's up with all these rich and famous folks people who can't seem to sit still in a house long enough for even a pot of water to boil. Then again, who are we to get persnickety about such matters? Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are neither rich nor famous and in the decade we've shared the same tube of toothpaste we've between us has rented or owned 13 apartments, homes, weekend houses, offices and studio spaces. Anyhoo, in the case of Mister Brand and Miz Perry, their reasons may (or may not) be related to constant aching ass muscles due to the lack of an elevator in the 4-floor residence and/or their desire for a more a-list abode in which to alight when camping out on in Tinseltown.

Your Mama recently heard through the real estate gossip grapevine that the beauty and the beast-like couple want to play with the real estate big boys and have been combing some of the better zip codes in Los Angeles for a larger and much more expensive celebrity-style crib in the ten to fifteen million dollar range. In fact, we heard from our chatty informant Nelly Knowsitall that the pair peeped their real estate eyes on Ben and Christine Stiller's two-house compound in the star-riddled Outpost Estates area of Los Angeles, now listed with an $11,495,000 price tag.

Mister and Missus Stiller–who officially relocated to a ten million dollar duplex in New York City–have had their house on and off the (open) market since September 2009 when it was put out there with an asking price of $12,500,000.

Neither do we have a horse in this race nor do–we imagine–Mister Brand and Miz Perry care a goddam whit about what Your Mama thinks but we're going give our humble and meaningless opinion anyway. We think Mister Brand and Miz Perry ought not opt for a residence with much if any gravitas of any kind. It just doesn't suit their public image(s). They would do better, we feel, were they to buy something rather absurd, over the top and utterly ridiculous like, say, the 9,000 square foot Villa Fiona, a melodramatic mansion just down the road from the Stiller spread that has an $8,485,000 asking price and includes 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, crazy trompe l'oeil detailing everywhere and a screening room with a distinctly ecclesiastical and slightly unnerving architectural thing happening.

According to Redfin, the property was put into escrow a week ago so it appears that Mister Brand and Miz Perry are some of the lucky real estate winners who just might skate away from their real estate mistake with a minimal loss.

A few minutes research on the interweb shows that Mister Brand and Miz Perry continue to own a petite and less-than-optimally-laid-out duplex penthouse in New York City's TriBeCa neighborhood that property records show was purchased in September 2010 for $2,680,000.

listing photos: Teles Properties

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Professional Pigskin Passer Troy Aikman Puts Dallas Pad Up For Sale

SELLER: Troy Aikman
PRICE: $24,000,000
SIZE: 10,520 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen chickens, Your Mama knows as much about football as former child actress Lindsay Lohan knows about keeping the po-po out of her business so when we first heard from our Lonestar State-based real estate gossip pal Candy Evans that some Cowboy named Troy Aikmen put his hoity-toity house in Dallas's uppity and gorgeous Highland Park 'hood on the market we said, "Who?"

Natch, we took to the interweb and within minutes discovered California-born Mister Aikman passed the professional pigskin for 12 long seasons in Dallas, led his Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He was, it seems and without question, a beloved football force to be reckoned with.

Since retiring in 2000, Mister Aikman has operated as a color commentator for Fox sports programs, hosts a weekly radio show and is a part-owner of the San Diego Padres, whoever they are. About the time he hung up his cleats and uniform he married the Cowboys' publicist Rhonda Worthey and the newlyweds quickly popped out two daughters to add to the one Miz Worthey already had from a previous betrothal.

Alas, as all good things often come to an end, earlier in the year the Aikmans announced they are headed for the court of divorce. Divorce amongst the rich and famous often demands the liquidation of assets and the sale of posh properties so it's really no surprise to real estate watchers that the parting pair recently heaved their marital mansion on the market this week with an asking price of $24,000,000. It's believed by those in the Dallas real estate know that the Aikman's chunky 10,520 square foot Mediterranean crib is the most expensive private residence currently on the market in the Dallas Metro area.

Mister and Missus Aikman acquired the first parcel of their two-lot compound in April of 2004. A few minutes research did not turn up a sale price but public records Your Mama peeped show the purchase price was high enough they took a seven million dollar mortgage on the property. According to Our Miss Candy–who pens the Second Shelters blog–Mister Aikman "sweet talked" the previous owner into selling him her home. No doubt much to her chagrin, shortly after buying the .54 acre property Mister Aikman and the Missus razed the house and replaced it with the mansion that now stands stately on the corner lot.

Listing information indicates the staunch and regal residence contains 5 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 (or maybe 3) half bathrooms, three living areas including a nearly 800 square foot family room on the finished basement level, a dining room with fireplace, study with coffered ceiling and a main floor family room with fireplace, hand-hewn beamed ceiling and triple-glazed glass doors that open to one of the home's several terraces.

A mosaic tile-lined swimming pool sits in a courtyard setting with the main house on one side and a guest house/pool pavilion with fireplace and outdoor grill station with pizza oven on the other. The two structures are linked by a columned loggia and a sturdy and voluminous dining gazebo.

At the tail end of 2008 Mister and Missus Aikman coughed up an unknown amount of additional funds for the .9 acre property next door, which they bought from a well-known but scandalized property developer recently sentenced to 14 months in prison for bribing a city official. As with their previous purchase the Aikmans demolished the existing 7,411 square foot manse to make way for more grand grounds that now include a second circular drive, flat expanses of unnaturally green grass, manicured flower beds shaded by mature trees, a fenced sport court, sunken trampoline and a guest house.

Over the years the Aikmans have owned a fair number of investment properties in places like Irving and Roanoke, TX. Hopefully they've done better with their investment properties than they have with some of their personal properties. In September 2002 they sold a .42 acre vacant residential parcel behind the gates of the Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert, CA for $1,500,000, $195,000 less than they paid for the property just two years prior. In November 2007 Mister Aikman sold a 10,971 square foot mansion with 6 bedrooms and 7 full and 3 half bathrooms in Plano, TX for $1,330,000, a painful to the pocketbook $665,000 less than he paid for the property in May 1996.

Property records show that Mister Aikman still owns a 4,134 square foot house at the tail end of a quiet cul-de-sac, just a few miles from the Dallas/Forth Worth International Airportwith 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms in suburban Coppell, TX that he purchased in September 1997 for $383,904.

Interestingly and somewhat inexplicably, word on the real estate street in Dallas, according to Our Miss Candy, is that Mister Aikman has expressed interest in–but not yet made an offer on–a slightly more modest and more manageable property next door to the one he's trying to sell. Such are the weird real estate ways of the rich and famous.

listing photos: Allie Beth Allman & Associates

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Charlie Sheen Lists Warlock Lair

SELLER: Charlie Sheen
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $7,200,000
SIZE: 7,924 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Buckle up babies because we're about to take a short ride on the Charlie Sheen crazy train.

Last month the unhinged and newly unemployed actor paid $6,99,999 for a 9,020 square foot mansion with 6 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. The house, oft reported to be where Mister Sheen planned to keep a harem of hoochies, sits right around the corner from his long-time crib in the guard-gated Mulholland Estates community high in the hills above and between Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks, CA.

Today, for reasons unknown to Your Mama and probably having something to do with Tiger blood and indecipherable Warlockian logic, Mister Sheen listed his long time residence in the Mulholland Estates community with an asking price of $7,200,000.

Property records show that Mister Sheen purchased his House of Ill Repute back in April 2006 for $7,200,000. Listing information shows the ornate Mediterranean mansion was built in 1992, measures 7,924 square feet and includes 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 3 fireplaces and a 3-car attached garage from where Mister Sheen's S-class Mercedes land yacht was stolen not once but twice and driven off a nearby cliff.

Inside the warlock's lair, there are living and dining rooms, a library, family room, office, chef-ready eat-in kitchen and staff room with en suite facility. Many of the main rooms of Mister Sheen's mansion, according to listing information, open to a landscaped backyard that includes a huge terrace, tiny patch of grass, outdoor kitchen with dining area, swimming pool, spa and a view of the neighbor's lighted tennis court and the rugged canyon beyond.

It's really rather pointless to try and figure out what Mister Sheen's motivations and intentions are in regards to the listing of his house. According to the fine folks at Forbes Mister Sheen has earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000,000 in the last 12 months so it seems unlikely he's selling because he can't afford to maintain both of the homes he owns in the Mulholland Estates community.

listing photo: Teles Properties

Fabulous ANTIQUE Giveaway With Two Winners!!



A vintage postcard from the Shamrock in Houston

Every city has a hotel that was once the center of the glittering social set.  In Houston, that hotel would have to be the Shamrock, later called the Shamrock Hilton.  It opened on St. Patrick’s Day, 1949 to a packed crowd of Hollywood celebrities and Houston elite.  Life Magazine put the event on its cover.  For decades, Houstonians flocked to its Cork Club for entertainment and the Emerald Room for lavish weddings.    Built by a famous oil wildcatter, Glenn McCarthy, the hotel’s theme was green, from the bellhop’s uniforms to the rooms décor. 



The Corkettes – The Shamrock’s synchronized swimming team

While Houston adults played inside the hotel, the baby boomers played outdoors in the vast swimming pool – said to be the largest pool in the world, though never proved, of course.  Prized summertime memberships were available for use of the pool.   The Corkettes were a nationally famous synchronized swimming team that were sponsored by the Shamrock.   For some unknown reason,  I was a Corkette one memorable summer, mostly coming in last place during competition  - though once I came in next to last!   My team did win a third place medal one time, though there were only 3 teams competing, a fact I was too humiliated to tell my parents.  The recession that Houston suffered during the 80s was the death knell for the hotel, though, it was on the decline for quite a while.  The doors were finally closed and the building was demolished in 1987 – a huge symbol to Houstonians of time marching by.  There was an auction selling all the goods, including the hotel silver and plates.   You can still find Shamrock hotel silver for sale on the internet:



Two shelled butter pat holders with the Shamrock emblem were sold recently.



A bowl from the Shamrock that was recently on the market.



And this early room key attachment – remember if you accidently took the key home, free postage back to the hotel was guaranteed? 



While the Shamrock was the most famous hotel in Houston, if you lived in Honolulu, you might have memories of the Alexander Young Hotel, built in 1901 by Alexander Young a Scottish born Honolulu businessman who make a fortune in sugar mills and iron.   The Young had 300 rooms – but surprisingly it was built down town and not on the beach, something that wouldn’t be done today.   After purchasing other hotels, Andrew Young became known as the father of the hotel industry in Hawaii.  The United States army used the building during war times and its death knell came when the hotel was turned into offices.   It was finally demolished in 1981.   Here is how the hotel was advertised shortly after its opening:

It has a roof garden one-third of an acre in extent where refreshments are served and concerts given at intervals, and from which a fine view of the city may be had. At either end of this roof garden is a dance pavilion. The hotel, built in 1900, is fireproof and thoroughly modern, modelled after mainland city hotels. It accommodates 300 guests, and is conducted on the European plan: $2 per day upward.” —The Aloha Guide, 1915.

Wow.  $2.00 a day!  Amazing!  And notice the “fine view” is of the city, not the beach!!


An original architectural drawing of the lobby.


The famous roof garden.

A photograph of the roof garden.



So, I know you are anxious to know, but what is the giveaway?????????

Remember this beautiful antique mirror that was a giveaway last year?



The mirror was a gift from Paris Hotel Boutique, an online shop filled with the most interesting antique and vintage items!  Paris Hotel Boutique is owned by Lynn Goldfinger who loves to collect hotel silver from famous places like The Shamrock and the Alexander Young.   Lynn has a personal collection of hotel silver rivaled by none:




Lynn’s breakfast room, shown here, has a portion of her large collection of hotel silver.  Amazing!!!!  Read all about my story on Lynn and the Paris Hotel Boutique HERE.




For today’s giveaway – we will have TWO winners!   One will win the hotel silver tray from the Alexander Young Hotel and another will win the set of forks from the Alexander Young Hotel!   Here are the descriptions of the two prizes:



Rare Early 1900's Alexander Young Hotel, Hawaii Serving Tray

Stunning early 1900's serving dish from the Alexander Young Hotel, which was located in Honolulu, Hawaii.  This tray comes from a collection of pieces Lynn purchased from the hotel. This tray is quite ornate with  a double raised  logo on both sides, and a very fancy rim. It measures 12-1/2"  long,  5-1/2" wide and sits 1-1/2" tall. The condition is amazing, with a   bright, shiny patina. It is manufactured by Reed & Barton, with  the  hotel's name on the underside. There is no date mark, but  presumably from the  earlier part of the 20th century. This could be  used for serving small dishes  such as asparagus, celery, sweets and  more. A stunning piece!



Set of 6 Palace Hotel,  S.F. Forks 

Set of 6 dinner  forks from the legendary Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Each fork is engraved, "Palace Hotel" on the handle. They measure 7-1/4" long. Lovely  condition with little use. Manufactured by Oneida. This pattern was used for  several years. These pieces aren't of early vintage, but most likely date to  the 1960's or 70's.





All you have to do is go visit the Paris Hotel Boutique at www.parishotelboutique.com and look around.  Pick out one item you would buy, if money was no object.   Come back here and leave a comment telling me which item you picked.   That’s all!!!!

You have until Saturday night at 11:59 to enter.  I will pick the two winners then by using the random integer number on the internet. 

If you post anonymously – be SURE you leave your email address!!!!  Otherwise you can’t win!!!!!!!  Very important!


A huge thank you to Lynn Goldfinger for hosting such a wonderful giveaway.   Thank you, Lynn, for everything!!!!!