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Hot Property: The making of a real estate mogul

Much like a game of monopoly, celebrities often look at real estate as a means to build wealth. A single transaction may actually be the start of creating a larger estate, padding one’s portfolio or simply making a savvy buy at the right time.

This week’s Hot Property tour centers on moguls expanding their empires, notables cashing out and homes with a bit of history.

Neal J. Leitereg


She’s in the mood to buy

Count Oprah Winfrey among early buyers of 2016. The media mogul this month closed sale on an equestrian ranch in the Santa Barbara area that she acquired at auction for $28.85 million.

Found near her longtime Montecito estate, Seamair Farm sits on 23 acres with a Cliff May-designed ranch house, a manager’s cottage, paddocks and irrigated pastures.

Coastal California isn’t the only area where Winfrey’s empire has grown. In December she bought a high-tech ski home in Telluride, Colo., near another of her many properties.

Oprah Winfrey bought a 23-acre horse farm at auction in Montecito, Calif., for $28.85 million. (Jim Bartsch | Inset: Getty Images)

Westside estate takes shape

Canadian billionaire and NHL owner Daryl Katz has added another piece to his estate in Bel-Air. After buying the onetime Art Linkletter home last year for $34.5 million, Katz recently shelled out $9.1 million for an adjacent property.

Formerly owned by Arthur Marx, the son of Groucho Marx, the midcentury home is highlighted by open common rooms, walls of glass and a swimming pool and spa. The one-third-acre site also takes in panoramic city and ocean views.

Daryl Katz added another home in Bel-Air to his portfolio. (Shooting LA | Getty Images)

Looking for a big score

If he has his way, Lakers co-owner Jim Buss could see a sizable return on investment from his penthouse in downtown L.A. The three-bedroom unit at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live hit the market this week at $8.8 million, or more than double what Buss paid for it in 2013 — $4.05 million.

The southeast-corner unit has a polished vibe with wood floors, lavish chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows. A remodeled kitchen and an office/study are among amenities.

Jim Buss has put a corner penthouse in downtown L.A. on the market for $8.8 million. (Shooting LA | Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A weekend spot in Malibu

Singer Miley Cyrus, who bought a ranch in Hidden Hills last year, recently picked up a second home in Malibu for $2.525 million.

The two-story contemporary on a wooded lot is designed for indoor-outdoor living and has bi-folding glass doors, a modern kitchen and a balcony overlooking the two-plus-acre grounds. Fountains, gardens and a covered patio complete the park-like setting.

Miley Cyrus bought a house in Malibu for $2.525 million. (Simon Berlyn | Getty Images)

Scripting his exit

“Magnum, P.I.” and “NCIS” creator Donald P. Bellisario made quick work of selling his golf course estate in Montecito. The French Regency-style house recently closed sale in about a month for the asking price of $5.895 million.

Fronting the private Birnam Wood Golf Club, the home has a formal entry, living and dining rooms and a sun room in more than 4,500 square feet of space. A lap swimming pool, gardens and a wide patio make up the grounds.

Donald P. Bellisario sold an estate on a golf course in Montecito for $5.895 million. (Realtor.com | Los Angeles Times)

A swingin’ sale in the Palisades

In Pacific Palisades, a onetime home of “King of Swing” bandleader Benny Goodman has a new owner after selling last week for $5.85 million.

Set on roughly a third of an acre in the Palisades Riviera, the 1920s Spanish-style house offers classic curb appeal with original windows, wood-burning fireplaces and wrought-iron details. Decorative tile risers lend a pop of color to the 5,000 square feet of living space.

A former stomping ground of "King of Swing" band leader Benny Goodman sold in Pacific Palisades for $5.85 million. (Shawn Cordon)

Mediterranean takes a star turn

Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley is rocking to the beat of a new home. The guitarist and vocalist last month paid $2.8 million for a Mediterranean villa-style spread in the Encino area.

The double-gated 6,300-square-foot home is prime for entertaining with a custom wine room, a kitchen with two center islands and a game room with a wet bar. A swimming pool and spa with blue mosaic tile highlights the exteriors.

Deryck Whibley bought a house in Encino for $2.8 million. (Realtor.com | Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

From the archives

Thirty years ago this week the Kirkeby Estate, the Bel-Air home that gained notoriety from 1962 to 1972 from its appearances on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” came to market for $27 million — making it the most expensive home for sale at that time.

More recently, another property with a “Hillbillies” connection caught our eye: the Toluca Lake retirement home of the show’s creator Paul Henning. Built for Henning in 1971, the Tudor-style house recently sold for $2.8 million.

A decade ago this week, Oscar winner Cher became the latest celeb to buy at the Sierra Towers. The actress-singer paid about $4.5 million for a unit in the West Hollywood high-rise that was previously owned by producer David Geffen.

What we’re reading

— The evolution of Playa Vista as a hub for tech and creative professionals took another major step this week with the $475-million sale of a mixed-use project. The Los Angeles Times' Andrew Khouri reports that the property known as Runway Playa Vista — a mix of retail, residential and office developments — is envisioned as the city’s downtown area.

— Call it an encore performance for Stan Kroenke. The billionaire L.A. Rams owner, who navigated the team’s move back to the Southland this year, is in the process of buying a storied ranch property in Texas. L.A. Times reporter Nathan Fenno details Kroenke’s purchase of the W.T. Waggoner Ranch, which, at 535,000 acres, is larger than the city of Los Angeles.

For more luxury real estate, visit us at the Hot Property blog and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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