Southern California real estate finished 2019 with a big reason to pop the Champagne corks. The storied Chartwell estate in Los Angeles was finally sold, and for a record-breaking $150 million.
The buyer was Lachlan Murdoch, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported news of the transaction. Murdoch is a co-chairman of News Corp., which owns realtor.com®.
While $150 million hardly seems like a bargain, it does represent a 39% discount from Chartwell’s $245 million list price in November 2018. At that time, it was the most expensive listing in the country.
The price dropped in June to $195 million. The reported sale price of $150 million eclipses other $100 million-plus sales in 2019, including Spelling Manor, which was sold in July for $120 million.
The sale also fuels the high-end real estate market in the L.A. area.
“The record sale of the Chartwell estate is a strong benchmark and indicator for the current and continued strength of the ultraluxury Los Angeles real estate market,” says agent Sally Forster Jones with Compass.
Chartwell, Spelling Manor, and a reported $100 million sale in Malibu in 2019 are proof that nine-digit sale prices aren’t a fluke.
“This sale epitomizes the growth of the ultraluxury $100 million [listing], as this decade saw the first-ever sale above $100 million, and this is the first time ever there has ever been three $100 million-plus sales in one year in California,” luxury real estate specialist Joel Goodrich says. “The next decade should bring even more.”
Goodrich is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents the priciest home listing in San Francisco, Residence 950, available for $40.5 million.
Storied estate and TV star
The Chartwell sale adds another chapter to the history of this notable property. Fans of the 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies” will recognize the main house—it was featured in the TV show’s opening credits. The listing described the estate as “the ultimate trophy and a legend for generations.” It spans 10.39 acres of prime property and includes a residence dating to 1930.
Originally designed by Sumner Spaulding in the French Neoclassical style, the main house was apparently built by a property developer as a gift to his wife. However, she never moved in, and the 25,000-square-foot home stood empty until the 1940s, when it was picked up by hotelier Arnold Kirkeby, whose family held it until the 1980s.
In 1986, the property was acquired by billionaire media executive Andrew Jerrold Perenchio, who expanded the estate by buying up three contiguous land parcels.
The mansion, now built for entertaining, offers views from downtown to the Pacific Ocean. Located in Bel Air, the 11-bedroom, 18-bath home also comes with a ballroom, formal salon, and paneled dining room.
The grounds include a Wallace Neff–designed five-bedroom guesthouse, 75-foot pool with pool house, tennis court, car gallery for 40 vehicles, 12,000-bottle wine cellar, and manicured gardens.
For buyers who missed out on this pricey property, fear not. SoCal has a few similarly priced estates on the market.
A 40,000-square-foot mansion known as Casa Encantada is still available for $225 million. There’s also an Italian-style villa in Beverly Park on the market for $165 million.
And the famed Owlwood estate is still available for $115 million. The 50,000-square-foot home has had such notable residents as Sonny Bono and Cher, Tony Curtis, and Esther Williams.
Agents representing Owlwood believe if recent history is a guide, it’s a positive sign for the tippy-top of the real estate market.
“As we head into 2020, we are confident that these trends will continue and new records will be set,” says Forster Jones. “For Owlwood, the recent sales prove what an incredible opportunity the estate is.”
“The number of buyers in the market for a $100 million-plus property is obviously a unique and modest pool,” says Tomer Fridman of Compass, who represents Owlwood. “These buyers are savvy investors and have tuned in to the stable growth of the Los Angeles market, making them more present than ever. This sale absolutely shows confidence in the Los Angeles market.”
But Fridman also sounds a cautionary note: Every megamansion needs to stand on its own outsize merits.
“While the recent record sales are tremendous indicators for the value of Los Angeles real estate, they can’t be the single factor when determining what the next big transaction will be, as each have individual features that support their sale prices,” Fridman explains.
Who knows, 2020 may be yet another one for the real estate record books.