Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rupert Murdoch Recap, Divorce Style

After fourteen years, globally engaged and legally embattled octogenarian billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his third wife, businesswoman Wendi Deng, have reportedly reached an "amicable" divorce settlement agreement.

Details are still slim but, so the stories go, in addition to whatever child and/or spousal support, cash and/or News Corp. stock she may or may be entitled to, China-born and -raised Miz Deng, who has two school-age children with Mister Murdoch, will retain ownership of the erstwhile couple's courtyard-style villa in Beijing as well as their Manhattan apartment, a 20-room triplex penthouse once owned by American royalty Laurence Rockefeller and grandly perched atop one of Fifth Avenue's finer, limestone-clad buildings (below).

The couple shelled out what was then record-breaking $44 million for the 8,000-ish square foot penthouse in 2004. At the time of its purchase, the titanic urban aerie carried massive monthly maintenance charges of $21,469.07. A few quick clicks and clacks on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that comes to a pearl-clutching $257,628.84 per year.

A quarter million dollars in annual maintenance might seem like a pittance to someone like Mister Murdoch, who has an estimated net worth in excess of $12 billion, but it's an absolutely unimaginable sum for someone like, say a New York State minimum wage worker who earns $7.25 an hour.

Just for shits and giggles, children, let's have a quick look at how long it would take New York State minimum wager worker to earn $257,628.84. A few more slippity slaps on our trusty abacus shows a minimum wage worker in New York State would have to to work 35,535 hours to earn enough money to pay the annual maintenance costs for the Murdoch family's penthouse. A few more bead shifts and we tabulate that 35,535 hours translates into 888.38 forty-hour work weeks. Looked at another way, in order to pay the maintenance on the Murdoch's penthouse for one year, a New York State minimum wage worker would need to work 17 years of forty hour work weeks without a single day of vacation or any time off for being infirm or otherwise indisposed. Seventeen years. Anyways, not that a minimum wager worker is in the market for a $50+ million penthouse...

No word has slipped down the divorce gossip grapevine—at least as far as we know—about which of the Murdochs will hang on to the (former) couple's west coast abode, a privately sited, multi-acre estate on a high promontory above Beverly Hills. Iffin we had to guess, we'd guess it'll be Mister Murdoch who keeps it since he bought it long before he got with Miz Deng in the late 1990s.

Although it's just rumor and gossip as far as we know, several Platinum Triangle real estate insiders have snitched to Your Mama that the Murdoch's Bev Hills estate (above), with its horseshoe-shaped hacienda that was originally designed in the 1920s by coveted architect Wallace Neff, can be toured by well-connected and qualified buyers who know who to call and can stomach and afford the (rumored) $35 million price tag. We were told by the always knowledgeable Peter Propertyseller that Leo DiCaprio made an offer in the $30 million range but the status of the (alleged) offer is unknown, at least to this property gossip.

Even if Mister Murdoch were to sell his Beverly Hills spread—or hand the keys to his newest ex-wife—he's hardly without a luxurious home on the west coast. Some months ago Mister Murdoch completed the $28.8 million acquisition of a 16-ish acre commercial vineyard estate at the western edge of the swanky-panky Bel Air area of Los Angeles (above). The property comprises a 7,700+ square foot main residence, a separate two-bedroom guest house, and a 4,400 square foot office building plus some grape growing related structures.

Some of Mister and third ex-Missus Murdoch's previous residences include Rosehearty, an historic, 4.6 acre water-front estate in the historically high-wasp enclave of Oyster Bay on the gilded North Shore of Long Island (NY). They picked up the bucolic seaside retreat (above) in 2003, had the day-core of the 11 bedroom early 20th-century Colonial mansion done up by presidential decorator Michael Smith. They first put the 10,000-ish square foot manse on the market in mid-2007 for $14.8 million but—and not until after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (allegedly) rented it for a month or two—did not manage to unload it until September of 2011 when, as per property records, private equity mover and shaker Ian Snow and his wife, Mary, coughed up $9.1 million.

Before the luxe-living Murdochs paid $44 million for their Fifth Avenue triplex penthouse, they owned a sophisticated, nearly 10,000 square foot penthouse loft in SoHo they had done up by sophisticated and frightfully pricey French architect/designer Christian Liaigre. They sold the penthouse in December 2005 for $24,675,000 to fashion designer Elie Tahari who, in case you haven't already heard this real estate tale, sold the sophisticated penthouse for $27,500,000 in an off-market deal in June 2010 to computer tycoon turned billionaire philanthropist Ted Wiatt. Mister Wiatt quickly caught a desperate case of The Real Estate Fickle and flipped the nearly 10,000 square foot spread less than a year later at a spectacular, $2.5 million loss to an as-yet unidentified buyer. The children will recall Mister Wiatt was recently in all the property gossip columns and blogs after he quietly paid software heiress and movie producer Megan Ellison $20.5 million for one of the three sleek and modern houses she recently sold in the Bird Streets 'hood above the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. But we digress...

Your Mama assumes without any proof whatsoever that Mister and third ex-Missus Murdoch surely must have maintained high-priced and high-maintenance home bases in the U.K. as well as his home-nation of Australia. Right? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone Down Under? Bueller?

In addition to their collection of ritzy land-based residences Mister and third ex-Missus Murdoch own at least two floating mansions. Rosehearty was not only the name of Mister Murdoch's Long Island estate but also, somewhat unimaginatively, that of a so-christened 183+ foot sailing yacht (above). 

A peek at the floor plan (below) shows the boat's interiors—worked over, like his former SoHo penthouse loft, by designer Christian Liaigre—can accommodate 12 guests in five state rooms that each have a private head. Crew quarters in the bow of the boat comprise a kitchen/lounge and beds for nine paid sailors in four compact cabins that each have a private subcompact head.

As it turns out Rosehearty (the boat) went up for sale on the open market a few months ago with a $29.7 million asking price. The wind powered vessel—which also has powerful motors, of course—can also, as per online listings, be charted for as little as $200,000 per week. That's a redonkulous amount of money but it's kind of a bargain if you consider that yacht charterers with real dough-re-mi easily drop upwards of half a million to rent ship-sized boats for a week. Anyways...

In the fall of 2011, amid the phone hacking hullaballo that is most certainly a bugaboo in his businessman bonnet, there were reports Mister Murdoch bought Vertigo, a substantially larger, 220-foot sailing yacht with sinuously minimalist and elegantly severe interiors by—you got it—Christian Liaigre. We can't say for sure if Mister Murdoch owns Vertigo because, well, we don't know. But, so the stories go, the sick-rich yachtsman bought the blue-hulled seafaring behemoth from an unexpected and aforementioned character in this real estate tale, Leonardo DiCaprio. Well, hell's bells, children, Your Mama didn't even know L.D.Cap. even had a damn yacht let alone one decked out by Christian Liaigre himself. We also didn't turn up a reported sale price for Vertigo in our ever so brief research but we did turn up evidence that the muscular sea machine can be chartered at weekly rates that begin at £225,000. (In case you American ballers and wannabe ballers might have wondered, that's 362,374 U.S. dollars, at today's rates.)

exterior photo (Fifth Avenue, New York City): Scott Binter for Property Shark
aerial photo (Beverly Hills): Bing; floor plan (Beverly Hills): Moule & Polyzoides
listing photos (vineyard, Bel Air): Surterre Properties
listing photos, Rosehearty, the estate: Sotheby's International Realty
listing photos and deck plan: Rosehearty, the boat: Camper & Nicholsons
listing photos, Vertigo: The Yacht Company

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