Hearst Mansion on the market for $165 million


The rich are getting richer, and their properties are getting pricier.

The 1920s-era Beverly Hills mansion of William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies was put on the market Monday for $165 million, making it the nation's most expensive residential listing.

The pink stucco, H-shaped estate, dubbed "Beverly House" by the late newspaper magnate, is spread across 6.5 acres north of Sunset Boulevard. It has just about everything a billionaire could want &

including three pools, 29 bedrooms, a state-of-the-art movie theater and even a disco.

The compound boasts six residences &

four houses, an apartment and a cottage for the security staff.

"This is the kind of home that comes on the market once in a generation," said Jeff Hyland, a Beverly Hills broker and the author of "The Estates of Beverly Hills."

The seller, attorney-investor Leonard M. Ross, bought the property in 1976 and is seeking "a lifestyle change," said his real-estate broker, Stephen Shapiro.

The asking price surpasses the $155 million being sought by developers of an estate in Montana's Big Sky country and the $135 million price of an Aspen, Colo., compound being sold by Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

In the past year, six U.S. residences have come on the market with nine-digit price tags, according to Rick Goodwin, publisher of Ultimate Homes magazine, an annual compendium of the world's hottest properties.

Yet, so far, no U.S. house has broken the $100 million mark. The record home sale remains the $94 million paid by former telecom mogul Gary Winnick for a Bel-Air estate in 2001.

"It's only a matter of time" before the record falls, Goodwin said.

With its dramatic asking price, the latest Beverly Hills listing adds more luster to the region's "Platinum Triangle," the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Holmby Hills, where the pace of multimillion-dollar sales has outshone the rest of Southern California's slumping housing market.

Between January and May, the number of homes in the Triangle that sold for at least $10 million more than doubled compared with the year-earlier period. In contrast, Los Angeles County overall saw a 19 percent decline in sales for the same period.

Experts say the high-end trend reflects the growing ranks of the wealthy, who so far have been immune from the troubles besetting the lower rungs of the housing market.

"There are many more people with much more money, and they are all chasing the elusive 'great estate' that is hard to find," said Shapiro, co-owner of Westside Estate Agency.

Built in 1927 for banker Milton Getz, the estate was designed by Gordon Kaufmann. He also was the architect for the nearby Greystone mansion, considered by many to be the finest home in Beverly Hills.

Hearst bought the Getz property in 1947, paying about $120,000. He promptly moved in his paramour Davies, as well as life-size paintings of the actress and statues from the gardens of his Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The power couple was renowned for frequent parties attended by the toast of Hollywood, politics and the media.

Hearst's time at the compound was short-lived. He died there in 1951 at age 88.

Davies married movie extra Horace Brown 10 weeks after Hearst's death and continued to play host to the glitterati. John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jacqueline, spent part of their honeymoon at the estate in 1953. The pair later returned when the mansion was used as the West Coast campaign headquarters for Kennedy's presidential campaign.

Davies died in 1961, and Brown subdivided and sold the property in 1966.

Ross, the current owner, bought it in 1976 and restored the structures, gardens and fountains. He also bought back some of the subdivided acreage. The estate was used in the film "The Godfather," including the scene in which a horse's head is found in a movie producer's bed.

The house was on the market 20 years ago with an asking price of $25 million, one of the highest listings of the time, but was taken off the market without being sold.

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