The Wall Street JournalKatherine Clarke
Oct. 24, 2019
It went on the market three years ago with a candy room, a crocodile skin-clad elevator and a hefty price tag. Now Bruce Makowsky’s home has sold for $94 million.
After nearly three years on the market, America’s most expensive home has finally sold—for 62% off.
With a price tag of $250 million, “Billionaire”—the elaborate Los Angeles spec house built by handbag entrepreneur Bruce Makowsky —was the priciest in the nation when it came on the market in 2017. After several reductions, it has found a buyer for around $94 million, according to people with knowledge of the transaction.
Billionaire’s variable fortunes reflect the shifting Los Angeles luxury market. One of the most elaborate homes in the country, with a candy room and a crocodile skin-clad elevator, it made its debut at a time when the high-end Los Angeles market was riding high following a couple of record-breaking sales. Listings priced at $100 million or more were the order of the day.
Nearly three years later, despite a handful of major transactions, prices are facing pressure amid an oversupply of extremely expensive homes. Recently, Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone sold her Holmby Hills home, known as Spelling Manor for its longtime resident Aaron Spelling, for $120 million, far less than its original $200 million asking price when it went on the market in 2016. That property was purchased by a buyer from Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with that transaction.
While the deals are evidence of demand for high-end real estate in the Los Angeles area, particularly from overseas, the sales have only made a small dent in the glut of properties on the market.
Unlike a lot of spec home builders who rely on hefty loans to build, Mr. Makowsky was in the unique position of being self-financed. He made a fortune selling affordable leather bags on home shopping channel QVC.
He spared little expense, filling the home with luxurious accessories from designers like Fendi, Roberto Cavalli and Louis Vuitton. The roughly 38,000-square-foot home was advertised as being stocked with roughly $30 million worth of cars and motorcycles and over 125 art installations. Driving through Beverly Hills a couple of years ago, Mr. Makowsky spotted a giant camera sculpture in the center of the Leica camera store. It wasn’t for sale, but Mr. Makowsky secured the piece for roughly $1 million and displayed it in the main living area of the home.
Located in Bel-Air, the four-level home has 12 bedrooms and 21 bathrooms, three kitchens, five bars, two wine cellars, a four-lane bowling alley, a helipad, a gym, a wellness center, a gaming area and an 85-foot-long infinity pool. A massive movie screen rises up from behind the pool.
Mr. Makowsky bought the site in 2013 for more than $11 million from talk show host Michael Strahan. Mr. Makowsky demolished an existing house to make way for this one, and spent about four years in construction.
In a 2017 interview, he justified the price tag by comparing buying a luxury home to buying a yacht: “To me it doesn’t make sense that somebody spends $250 million on a boat where they spend eight weeks a year, but they’re living in a $30 or $40 million house,” he said.
The home is directly adjacent to another spec mansion, which is currently on the market for $180 million.
Branden Williams and Rayni Williams of the Williams & Williams Estates Group at Hilton & Hyland represented Mr. Makowsky in the deal alongside Shawn Elliott of Nest Seekers International. The buyer, whose identity couldn't be determined, was represented by Ben Bacal of Revel Real Estate.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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