Thursday, June 27, 2013

Owlwood (semi-)Officially Listed

Last July Your Mama repeated the white hot and quietly wide spread Platinum Triangle real estate rumor that the famous Owlwood compound in Los Angeles's supremely hoity toity Holmby Hills area was surreptitiously being shopped to qualified buyers with—according to our well-connected informant Lenny Lemmetellya, at least—a knee-knocking asking price of around $150,000,000.

Well, children, thanks to a eagle eyed snitch we'll call Ben d'Yourear, it's come to Your Mama's attention that the undeniably epic Owlwood compound has popped up on The Agency's website with an asking price that is "On Request" and a link to a password protected virtual tour. Your Mama requested the asking price and password from lead listing agent and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills husband Mauricio Umansky* but we have a sneaking suspicion he's not to keen to cough up the digits and details.

Whatever the actual price, the 10-ish acre, triple-gated and fully-landscaped estate includes a newly built gate house on Sunset Boulevard capable of monitoring the entire estate. The approximately 12,000 square foot Italian Renaissance-style main mansion was originally designed by noted architect Robert Farquhar and built in 1936 for Florence Quinn, the well-to-do ex-wife of department store magnate and real estate mogul Arthur Letts, Jr.

Owlwood was later owned by a long list of Los Angeles luminaries including 20th Century Fox founder Joseph Schenk, oilman William Keck, and actor Tony Curtis. Curtis sold the house in 1974 for about $750,000 to Sonny and Cher who flipped it to a carpet tycoon in 1976 for about $950,000. The carpet tycoon sold Owlwood in the late '70s to a flamboyant businessman named Ghazi Aita.**

Mister Aita acquired the estate next door, often referred to as the former home of water baby Esther Williams and where the estate's swimming pool and recreation complex are now located. After several years on the market Owlwood was sold in 2002 to Mister and Missus Arnall. The real estate balling couple simultaneously acquired a third adjacent estate, originally built for crooner Rudy Vallée. The mansion was later owned by pin up babe Jayne Mansfield and beau-hunky actor Mickey Hargitay, the parents of Law & Order queen bee Mariska Hargitay. It was Miz Mansfield who gave the mansion it famously pink paint job. Mister and Missus Arnall, who bought the house from singer Engelbert Humperdinck, razed the Pink Palace and in its place put a mini-mall sized parking lot.

We're not entirely sure how much Mister and Missus Arnall paid for the three properties that comprise Owlwood but most reports and online resources put the total somewhere between 30 and 35 million big ones. We may not know what the Arnall's paid for Owlwood, but public records reveal the Widda Arnall shelled out a stroke inducing $470,553 and 64 damn cents in property taxes in 2012. And that, children, doesn't even include the extraordinary sum most certainly required to maintain and operate an estate of this magnitude.

What Your Mama wants to know is why hasn't Formula One Racing heiress and 20-something year old real estate baller Tamara Ecclestone already snatched this trophy property up? Sure, the main house isn't but a fraction of the size of her younger sister's Petra's 56,000 square foot behemoth around the corner that she bought from Candy Spelling for $85 million. But, at least as far as Your Mama is concerned, the pedigree of Owlwood alone more than makes up for its smaller size. Are we wrong?

Any of the children who want more dish, dirt and details about Owlwood should have a look-see at the above video from when the estate was on the market in the early Aughts and/or snag a copy of Michael Gross's exhaustively researched book Unreal Estate.

*In addition to Mister Umansky, Owlwood is being repped by Agency agents Ann Dashiell and Jeeb O'Reilly

**The Hollywood Reporter described Mister Aita as "shadowy" and this blog, maintained by Mister Aita's former estate manager, claimed in 2009 the "shadowy" Mister Aita was "Hawking Cigars and Jewerly [sic] online." 

listing photo: The Agency