Property Newsletter: The Feds are trying to seize a Holmby Hills mega-mansion

Welcome back to the real estate newsletter. It’s been a juicy week on the luxury beat, and our top stories have a bit of everything: bribery allegations, celebrity, eye candy and a small dose of dangerous ambition.

First alleged bribery. When a Holmby Hills mega-mansion a few houses down from Playboy Mansion appeared for sale for $ 63.5 million, it seemed like just another luxury listing. But federal prosecutors moved to seize the estate, claiming that its owner, a powerful Armenian politician, bought the 33,652-square-foot exhibition space with bribes.

We spoke to the rental agent, who said that after all the drama, the home is still up for grabs.

Second, celebrity. This week’s biggest headlines centered on a couple of high-profile sales – a post-move and a posthumous.

The deal after the move was made by Adam Levine, who moved into Rob Lowe’s $ 52 million Montecito mansion in March. A few months later, the Maroon 5 frontman unloaded his Pacific Palisades property for $ 51 million, making it one of the most expensive transactions in the history of the coastal community.

The posthumous trade was made by Alex Trebek – in fact his widow, Jean – who sold the deceased “Jeopardy!” the host’s longtime home in Studio City for $ 6.45 million. Trebek owned the site for nearly 30 years before his death in 2020, and the 1.5-acre spread is about a 30-minute drive from the Culver City studio where the game show is filmed.

Third, eye candy. This week’s biggest “must-click-for-the-pictures-alone” story belongs to Roger Vincent’s tour of the Riot Games, the game developer responsible for the hugely popular “League of Legends”. The expansive headquarters of West LA is a gamers paradise complete with a dining room free of charge for staff, an auditorium built for e-sports competitions and a coffee shop designed to resemble Bilgewater, a mythical port city from the hit game.

Finally a dangerous ambition. The story takes us back to 1998, when a landslide caused several homes to slide down a rain-soaked hillside. Houses were destroyed, condominiums were damaged, and now a developer is seeking to build an apartment complex on the same site 24 years later. Needless to say, the residents are worried.

As always, while staying updated, you can visit and like our Facebook page where you can find property stories and updates throughout the week.

The Feds seem to be seizing the mega-mansion

A mansion in Holmby Hills has a pool and lawn in front and is surrounded by tall hedges.

A French castle-style mansion in Holmby Hills has 11 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms and a price of $ 63.5 million.

(Hilton & Hyland

For sale: a French chateau-style mansion in one of Los Angeles’ most exclusive neighborhoods, Holmby Hills, complete with 11 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms and priced at $ 63.5 million.

At 33,652 square feet, it’s among the largest homes on the market in Southern California, but there are a few issues. First, the interior is not yet finished. And this week, federal prosecutors moved to Los Angeles to seize the estate, claiming it was the fruit of corruption that involved a powerful Armenian politician and his children.

The U.S. Department of Justice outlined in a lawsuit how the property on South Mapleton Drive – a few doors down from Playboy Mansion – was bought in 2011 for $ 14.4 million with bribes to the family of Gagik Khachatryan, Armenia’s former finance minister, from a prominent businessman there. .

Khachatryan, 66, his two sons and the businessman are all facing criminal charges in Armenia; the businessman is accused of giving more than $ 20 million in bribes.

Adam Levine picks up a fortune in the palisade

A plant-covered roof is among the buildings shown on a property in the Pacific Palisades.

The three-acre area includes a ranch-style home, four-bedroom guest house, gym, yoga studio, swimming pool and chicken coop.

(Anthony Barcelo)

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine quickly found a buyer in the Pacific Palisades, and sold his valued connection for $ 51 million. It is Southern California’s third most expensive home sale this year and one of the largest deals ever in the coastal community.

Levine and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, bought the park-like property from Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner for $ 31.95 million in 2018 – so the sale marks a huge gain for the power couple. Over the years, other high-profile owners included “To Kill a Mockingbird” actor Gregory Peck and Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer.

The composition extends over three acres and has three structures: a ranch-style home of 9,000 square feet, a guest house with four bedrooms and a separate building with gym, office and yoga studio. Midcentury architect Cliff May designed the ranch, which blends smart, modern design with luxury amenities including a Dolby cinema, games room, marble bar and walk-in fridge.

‘Danger!’ the host’s home changes hands

The front of a two-story home opens onto a large lawn.

Alex Trebek’s Studio City property includes five bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a handful of sumptuous living areas.


Alex Trebek’s Studio City property – as the deceased “Jeopardy!” host owned for three decades until his death in 2020 – has been sold for $ 6.45 million.

That’s exactly three times the price Trebek paid in 1991 when he bought it for $ 2.15 million, records show. His widow, Jean, built the house for $ 7 million in January. His daughter, Emily Trebek from Compass, was in charge of the sale.

The $ 6.45 million deal ranks as Studio City’s second most expensive home sale this year, and this tab should come as no surprise. The 99-year-old home spans 10,000 square feet and is located on 1.5 acres in Fryman Estates, one of the neighborhood’s most expensive pockets.

Inside, there are five bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a handful of sumptuous living areas. There is a two-storey entrance hall with double stairs, a lounge under a dramatic rotunda and a gold-and-white bar.

Riot Games’ home in LA is a haven for gamers

Two men are sitting at a long bar inside a coffee shop in Riot Games' headquarters.

A coffee shop inside Riot Games’ expanded West LA headquarters is the theme of a city in its “League of Legends” game.

(Allen J. Cockroaches / Los Angeles Times)

Riot Games’ headquarters on Olympic Boulevard in West LA are almost invisible to passers-by, much of it a discreetly screened campus where security is tight to secure work that can sponge far beyond games to the riches promised by television and film, writes commercial real estate reporter Roger Vincent.

The Times got a rare peek inside the Riot Games’ recently expanded home base, which delivers distinctive movie studio vibes. Here are the highlights.

  • Three theaters, two of which were previously used by the legendary film directors James Cameron and George Lucas.
  • A dining commissioner named Noms, which includes one of the largest commercial kitchens on the west side, serves a wide variety of dishes that change daily and are offered free of charge to the company’s 3,100 employees.
  • A re-creation of a Korean arcade called PC Bang, where employees can play multiplayer computer games like “League of Legends” – without the hourly fee that arcade patrons have to pay.
  • Giant statues of Annie and Tibbers, characters from “League of Legends”.

And much much more.

Developer appears to be building on the site with devastating landslides

An aerial photo of two houses in Laguna Niguel that collapsed down a hillside.

An aerial photo of two houses on Via Estoril in Laguna Niguel that fell in 1998 when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed.

(Geraldine Wilkins-Kasinga / Los Angeles Times)

In 1998, after a winter of heavy rain, the hill below Via Estoril in Laguna Niguel collapsed. Several homes slipped down, others were destroyed, and the condominiums below were severely damaged, writes Hannah Fry.

Now a developer is proposing new condominiums at the bottom of the hill. Improvements made since the landslide will prevent the disaster from hitting again, say project proponents.

Residents, however, fear that the new project will destabilize the hill and cause it to crash again.

What we read

As the California real estate market leaps away from the middle class, the concept of pay-it-forward is on its way into housing. Fortune tells the story of a Silicon Valley woman whose house is worth more than $ 1 million, but decided to sell it to a trust for half its market value as part of an “age-in-place” initiative, who let long-term owners stay in their homes while the trust deals with maintenance. When she dies, the valuable property will be turned into affordable housing.

Enough words. If you have come this far, I offer an interactive map from MarketWatch. It tracks housing availability across the country and found that inventory in LA County has fallen by 25% since 2017. Dropouts are becoming even more dramatic up and down the coast, with Orange County’s inventory falling by 38%, Ventura County’s decline by 45% and Santa Barbara County is down 56%.

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