Jeff Bezos has set a new property price record in Los Angeles with the purchase of a $165m Beverly Hills estate, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Amazon founder’s purchase of the home from the media mogul David Geffen is the largest amount paid for a single-family Los Angeles-area home. The nine-acre estate originally belonged to Jack Warner, the late former president of Warner Bros Studios. Warner built up the estate’s 13,600-sq-ft Georgian-style mansion in the 1930s, reportedly with the wood floor that Napoleon was standing on when he proposed to Josephine.
Architectural Digest described the estate as “the archetypal studio mogul’s estate”, with its “expansive terraces and gardens, two guesthouses, nursery and three hothouses, tennis court, swimming pool, nine-hole golf course and motor court complete with its own service garage and gas pumps”.
The estate was often the site for a who’s who of the golden age of Hollywood. “I remember one New Year’s Eve party in 1939 or 1940,” Olivia de Havelland said in Architectural Digest. “All the men were glorious in white tie. Errol Flynn was behind the bar, Howard Hughes was my date, and Jimmy Stewart was seated on a stool. Just the four of us having our first drink of the evening. All those beautiful women dressed in wonderful elegance. Dolores Del Rio in a white satin gown that contrasted her dark hair and dark eyes. Ann Warner, herself a striking presence. Those beautiful women, looking marvelous in this wonderful setting.”
Ann Warner, Jack Warner’s widow, reportedly declined a $25m offer for the estate after he died in 1978, saying she would live there until she died. In 1990, Geffen went on to break national records when he purchased the estate for $47.5m and auctioned off about $11m of the mansion’s furnishings, which he thought too musty and museum-like, according to the Los Angeles Times. He kept the imported wood floor, but the continuous work he did on the estate made it one of the city’s longest-running construction projects in the 1990s.
“This is really an act of grandiosity on my part, but the fact of the matter is that I own it,” Geffen told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “And it’s a privilege to be able to live there.”
Bezos, who has a $131bn net worth, had been house-hunting in the Beverly Hills and Bel Air area with his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, the New York Post reports. One of the other properties they visited was Chartwell, a Bel-Air estate used as the Clampett residence in the television show The Beverly Hillbillies. That home previously set the record when it was purchased by Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, for $150m last year.
The real estate deal comes amid concerns from the Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – along with more than a dozen senators – for Amazon worker safety and health. In a letter to Bezos, the senators wrote: “Amazon’s dismal safety record indicates a greater concern for profit than for your own workers.”
Sanders on Wednesday tweeted about Bezos’s real estate purchase, noting that two weeks ago, Bezos had added $13bn to his wealth in 15 minutes.
“$13 billion in 15 minutes,” Sanders wrote. “Think about that compared to the pain and struggle of millions of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck. We have a rigged economy and that has got to change.”
In addition to the Beverly Hills home, Bezos purchased three New York apartments in an $80m deal this year. This month, he sold 2m shares of his Amazon stock, valued at $4.1bn, according to Bloomberg.
Five UK properties Bezos could have bought for £127m
1. The most expensive London house currently listed on the property website Rightmove is a 10-bedroom mansion in upmarket St John’s Wood, which has just gone on the market for £75m. The newly built home aims to provide “a country lifestyle in the heart of London” and boasts a 14-metre swimming pool, 12-seat cinema, two climate-controlled wine cellars and several marble bathrooms.
2. Bezos could then add in a variety of other UK homes. He could snap up Sydenhurst, a 10-bedroom “masterpiece mansion” in Goldalming, Surrey. The property is on the market for £30m, and he throw in a place further north too, such a country house in Antrobus, Cheshire, which is “nestled in about 98.64 acres of gardens, park and farmland” and on the market for £12.5m. He could then splash out on Seton Castle too, a neoclassical 13-bedroom property by Robert Adam in East Lothian, available for £8m.
3. However, £127m would not be nearly enough to buy what is set to be the most expensive house ever sold in the UK: a 45-room mansion that, as of last month, was being bought for between £205m and £210m. The seven-storey property, 2-8a Rutland Gate, is being snapped up by Cheung Chung-kiu, a Chinese property tycoon.
4. A Grade II*-listed Georgian mansion within sight of Buckingham Palace was bought for £95m just over a year ago. The property, 3 Carlton Gardens, which overlooks the Mall and St James’s Park, was purchased by Ken Griffin, a billionaire US hedge fund manager, with the sale being confirmed in January 2019.
5. Alternatively, someone with £127m to spend could buy about 518 flats in Barking and Dagenham in east London. There, a typical flat costs £245,000, according to the latest official Land Registry data. Rupert Jones