Saturday, June 16, 2012

In Other Restaurateur Related Real Estate News...

It was a week or more ago now that Your Mama received a brief and covert communique from Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air who relayed to Your Mama that scuttlebutt on the Platinum Triangle real estate street is that high-profile, Los Angeles-based (former) restaurateur and hotelier Peter Morton dropped just shy of $25,000,000 for an off-market fixer-upper perched prominently on a long promontory high above the back fairways and greens of the Bel-Air Country Club.

Mister Morton, of course, co-founded the heavily merchandised Hard Rock Café chain (sold in the mid-1990s for $410 million), opened the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas (sold to Morgans Hotel Group in 2006 for $770 million) and, for nearly 3 decades, owned one of Tinseltown's most popular and difficult to get in to power lunch hot spots, Morton's (shuttered in 2007).

Property records, at least the ones we peeped, do not yet reflect a transfer of ownership of the Bel Air estate in question but they do show the 1.5 story, many-dormered mansion—it might (or might not) be French Provincial—was originally built in 1936, measures 7,692 square feet and contains 7 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms. Those numbers may (or may not) accurately reflect the current size and configuration of the existing residence.

Other bits and pieces of information about the property we gleaned during our interweb research shows the house has a double-gated, parking lot sized motor court; a flat lawn that wraps around three sides of the house; various covered and open-air stone terraces and walkways; a swimming pool with adjacent cabana; and a waterfall of terraced gardens and sterling views over Los Angeles from downtown to the ocean. 

Some of the nearby mansions are owned by smoldering-eyed fashion designer Tom Ford, Tinseltown legend Clint Eastwood, boo-toob bigwig Darren Star (Sex and the City, Beverly Hills, 90210—the original one—and Melrose Place), and former rom-com queen Meg Ryan who has—so the story goes—just about sold her rambling Spanish-style mansion she's on the market for some time.

Again, children, property records do not yet reflect a transfer of ownership so for now this is just some high end real estate rumor and gossip. There isn't, however, a dedicated Platinum Triangle property watcher who should be the least be surprised by the alleged purchase since Mister Morton regularly shakes up his property portfolio, and with all that shaking he's hardly a been stranger to the property gossip columns.

The children may recall that in February 2010 Mister Morton—not to be confused with his son Harry who owns a couple of epic-sized Mexican eateries luridly-named Pink Taco and also trades expensive Los Angeles area properties at a whiplash pace—sold a dour and musty-looking Tudor-style pile in Beverly Hills for $22,950,000 to superstar actress Sandra Bullock. He bought the hilltop spread in September of 2006 for $18,500,000 and was said to have big plans to do it up big but, as far as we know, never moved in.

Since early 1996, Mister Morton's in-town residence has been a rather spacious and spectacular, gated estate in the north-of-Sunset heart of Holmby Hills bought from entertainment industry exec Robert A. Daly for $9,250,000, according to property records. The 1.3+ acre estate has a main house originally erected in the mid-1930s that measures, as per tax records, 13,423 square feet with 8 bedroom, 8 bathrooms, and 5 fireplaces. He scooped up the next door neighboring property (for unknown reasons) in August 2010 for $3,750,000.

More recently, in February 2012, he sold an ocean front house on Malibu's star-lined La Costa Beach for an unknown amount of money to a couple from Phoenix. Lest anyone worry Mister Morton might be without a beach house this coming summer should know that in addition to at least one other ocean front residence in Malibu (near Big Rock), records show he continues to own a downright incredible, very contemporary, custom-built Richard Meier-designed compound situated on a double (or maybe triple-) wide lot on Malibu's billionaire-strewn Carbon Beach.

As it turns out, a 1930s, Paul Williams-esque residence in the quietly swank Little Holmby 'hood (near Westwood) owned by Mister Morton—and long occupied, according to Our Fairy Godmother in the Holmby Hills, by his ex-wife Tarlton—is up for sale with an asking price of $4,495,000, recently lowered from $4,795,000. Property records we perused show Mister Morton bought the property (shown above in listing photos) from Hollywood scion and Vanity Fair contributing editor Wendy Stark Morrissey in January 1998 for an undisclosed amount of dough. The purchase appears to have been part of their (famously acrimonious) divorce.

Much to our surprise Your Mama uncovered and discovered evidence during our rudimentary and unscientific pore though digital property records that in mid-March of this year (2012) Mister Morton shelled out $4,100,000 for a dated but dynamic and potentially spectacular mid-century modern in the trendy Trousdale Estates neighborhood.

Of course we don't know a pin prick from a bullet hole but it seems to Your Mama that Mister Morton thought he saw an opportunity to make some easy money, or maybe he just caught an almost-immediate case of The Real Estate Fickle. Thirteen days after the property transfer documentation and deed was recorded the property (shown above in listing photos) popped back up on the open market with an asking price of $4,395,000. As of yesterday, the property was in escrow.

Current listing information shows the swinging-sixties single story pad has 4,110 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, vaulted ceilings, vast walls of glass, over-the-rooftops city and sky view, dark bottom free-form swimming pool and really porn-y spa set upset into an raised deck over the hillside to take best advantage of the city views.

Will Mister Morton decide to flip the Bel Air spread he (allegedly) just acquired? Could be. Would anyone be surprised? No. Such are the mysterious and sometimes wacky real estate ways of the rich and/or famous, right?

listing photos (Little Holmby): Westside Estate Agency
listing photos (Trousdale Estates): Coldwell Banker / Beverly Hills North

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