The most expensive residential property in the United States is now on the market. The stylish and storied Beverly House is priced at an eye-watering $119 million and is described as “one of America’s finest mansions and estates”.
Owned by the couple who inspired ‘Citizen Kane’
The Beverly House was built in 1926 by architect Gordon Kaufmann (the man who designed the Hoover Dam) for banking tycoon Milton Getz. Actress Marion Davies bought the property in 1946 for her partner, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and it remained the couple's Beverly Hills residence until Hearst's death in 1951. The duo's love affair is the inspiration behind Citizen Kane.
JFK and Jackie’s honeymoon spot
In 1953, the estate was the honeymoon destination for JFK and Jackie Kennedy, and it later served as Kennedy’s West Coast presidential election headquarters.
It’s easy to see why it proved such an alluring, and private, bolthole. Tucked away in 3.5 acres of landscaped grounds, the striking pink terracotta stucco mansion is designed in classic Italian and Spanish palatial styles, with long colonnades, wide balconies, several grand entertaining rooms, panelled walls, intricately carved ceilings, French doors and arched floor-to-ceiling windows.
Filming ground for ‘The Bodyguard’, ‘The Godfather’ and Beyonce
Accessed by high-security gates and an 800-foot driveway, the property lies a couple of blocks away from Los Angeles’s Sunset Boulevard.
It has also featured in numerous films over the years. Viewers of The Bodyguard – starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston – might recall scenes featuring a swimming pool bordered by pillared Roman temple facades, in the style of the famous Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle.
The Godfather's notorious "horse head in a bed" scene was also filmed in one of the 18 bedrooms, and eagle-eyed Beyonce fans might recognise the pink stucco background in her album Black Is King.
Opulent interior with an Art Deco nightclub
Few can claim such a history, with fewer still boasting Versailles-style landscaped grounds filled with Venetian columns and cascading waterfalls, designed by landscape architect Paul Thiene and inspired by Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, built by the Roman emperor.
Inside, it's a long walk along the 25-metre-long entry hall, which leads to a state room with a hand-painted arched ceiling and a two-storey library with hand-carved panelling, plus a wraparound galleried walkway.
The grand hallway upstairs boasts a 12-metre wide and almost three-metre tall Dennis Abe mural. The billiards room features herringbone parquet flooring, and an intricately designed ceiling and carved fireplace, both almost identical to ones at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The tiled formal dining room is surrounded by terraces able to seat 400 guests, although there is a cosier breakfast room and family room.
Downstairs, an Art Deco-style nightclub has been likened to Hugh Hefner's former Beverly Hills club Touch. More than 3,250 square metres of living space includes staff accommodation and a four-bedroom gate lodge. Lit tennis courts and an eight-car garage make this the ultimate trophy home.
Aimed at the Gulf market
The property was on and off the market for some years, having been owned by financier Leonard M Ross, for more than four decades. London agency Beauchamp Estates is marketing the estate and managing director Jeremy Gee says this is the first time the focus hasn't been on a US buyer. Gee intends to aim for "clients and contacts" in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
“A buyer could be highly likely to come from Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Saudi Arabia, quite simply because there has been a long association between nationals from these three states buying homes in Beverly Hills.”
Gee also finds that many Saudi and Emirati families own holiday mansions in California, where their children are educated, and where a pleasant climate and retail opportunities often seal the deal. “The luxury shopping boutiques, hotels and resorts of Beverly Hills have always appealed to families from the Gulf,” adds Gee.
However, he admits that the holiday home market is a small gene pool. "There are [very few] families in the world who have the resources to buy the Beverly House as a holiday home and use it perhaps once or twice a year," Gee explains, but adds that while Dh460 million may seem like a lot, it's all relative.
“In London, a home may cost anything that’s the equivalent of Dh205 million to Dh1 billion, and in the South of France anything from Dh128 million to Dh767 million.”
The Beverly House is for sale for $119 million through Beauchamp Estates. More information is available at beauchamp.com