It’s too early to be certain, but there are signs L.A.’s ultra-high-end property market may be cautiously emerging from its coronavirus-induced cocoon. David Geffen recently downsized to a $65 million Beverly Hills estate, Elon Musk sold his $29 million Bel Air main residence to a Chinese billionaire, rapper Travis Scott inked a $23.5 million deal in Brentwood and Seagram heiress Ellen Bronfman and her husband Andrew Hauptman shelled out $21.5 million for a sprawling Malibu compound.
Pacific Palisades resident Hillary Thomas recently went hunting for a residential upgrade, quickly falling for an all-new estate with every designer amenity imaginable and mesmerizing Pacific ocean views. Still-ongoing pandemic notwithstanding, records reveal she received only a small discount on the property. Originally listed with a $26 million pricetag earlier this year — at that time the most expensive listing in the Palisades — the house transferred for $24 million.
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Despite the sky-high number, the buyer can easily afford this deluxe estate. Thomas is the only daughter of New York billboard tycoon Richard Schaps, founder of Van Wagner Communications. Now in his 70s, Schaps bootstrapped Van Wagner from just another small ad shop into the world’s largest privately-owned billboard/outdoor advertising company, flaunting hundreds of millions in annual revenue and lucrative ad space on NYC’s Times Square.
In 2014, CBS purchased Van Wagner’s outdoor assets — now known as Outfront Media — in a whopping $690 million, all-cash deal, the biggest-ever exit for an outdoor advertising company. That acquisition made the Schaps family unimaginably wealthy; today, Schaps and his wife own landmark residences in Manhattan and Palm Beach.
For what it’s worth, Thomas is also the first cousin of businessman Spencer Rascoff, the co-founder and longtime former CEO of Zillow. And she’s married to Brett Thomas, a venture capitalist who runs CAVU Venture Partners, a VC firm dedicated to investing in early-stage consumer goods businesses. (CAVU, perhaps unsurprisingly, has heavily utilized billboard advertising to promote their various brands.)
Set on one of the best streets in town, the lavish Thomas villa is sequestered behind manicured hedges and an enormous driveway gate, and additionally guarded by a state-of-the-art security system with numerous cameras. The triple-level house was designed by husband-and-wife team David and Eliana Rokach, boasts more than 13,500 square feet of living space with nine bedrooms and 12 baths, and additionally includes a 10-car “auto gallery” for an automobile-collecting owner.
Wide-plank hardwood floors blend well with the home’s soft neutral tones, and the main level features public spaces all open to each other — the living, family and dining rooms seamlessly flow together, while floor-to-ceiling walls of glass flood the rooms with natural light. In the living room, electronic steel doors open via a button’s touch to the grassy backyard, where there’s a BBQ area, alfresco dining and an infinity-edged swimming pool. The Architectural Digest-worthy kitchen, for its part, is sheathed in a gorgeous blue-grey marble and offers designer appliances, a snack bar and separate butler’s pantry.
Almost every room on the home’s main and upper floors opens to various balconies and terraces with spectacular views. Upstairs, the master suite includes dual bathrooms decked out in a rare quartzite stone, while the bedroom has bi-fold steel doors that open to a private patio. The lower level, meanwhile, packs in a gym, a sizable media room, a wellness center with a sauna and an elevator. And from the backyard, there are epic sightlines that soar over woodsy Santa Monica Canyon and summit at the deep blue sea, with Catalina Island a distant mass on the horizon.
Thomas is not new to the Palisades — back in 2018, she paid nearly $14 million for a Cape Cod-style mansion sited on one of the best streets in the fashionable Riviera neighborhood. That “starter” house, with its striking all-white interior, was placed on the open market this week with a $14.995 million asking price.
Launch Gallery: Inside Hillary Thomas' $24 Million Palisades Contemporary