By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
4:05 PM PDT, May 31, 2012
Even the rich love a half-off sale.
A transaction in the mid-$30-million range in Beverly Hills just set the mark for the highest-priced residential closing so far this year in L.A. County.
The 36,000-square-foot house, which came on the market two years ago at $68.5 million, was built by C. Frederick Wehba, who co-founded the international real estate investment firm BentleyForbes. It was most recently priced at $49.5 million.
The sale is far from the realm of Candy Spelling's $85-million mega-deal last year of the Manor in Holmby Hills, which went to British heiress and socialite Petra Ecclestone. That estate had been priced at $150 million.
Several large L.A. County sales this year have yet to make their way into the public record. Still in escrow is Ryan Seacrest's purchase of Ellen DeGeneres' Beverly Hills compound for an estimated $37 million. The most expensive sales that have appeared are all in the low-$20-million range.
The French Palladian-style three-level house, which Wehba sold furnished, features a hand-carved limestone exterior, marble columns and bronze beveled double-pane windows and doors.
Columns continue inside the home, which is entered through a two-story circular grand foyer with dual staircases that is topped by a skylight. The formal dining room looks out on a wide terrace and can easily accommodate a table that seats 20. There are nine bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, underground parking for eight cars and gold-plated doorknobs.
The 2 acres of grounds include a central fountain, a pool with a pavilion entertaining area, a tennis court and gardens.
The house sits on part of what was once Beverly Hills co-founder Max Whittier's estate. In the late '70s, owner and Saudi sheik Mohammed al Fassi drew the ire of neighbors by painting his white mansion green and its plaster statues of nudes in multi-color anatomical detail. That house was gutted by fire in 1980 and later razed. Eventually the lot was subdivided.
Wehba and his wife, Susan, bought the property for an undisclosed amount in 2004 and starting building the family home in 2006.
"They built it for well over $40 million to $45 million," said Mauricio Umansky, one of the listing agents. They sold, Umansky said, because their plans changed as their family has grown up.
BentleyForbes' portfolio includes the Prudential Plaza office high-rise in Chicago, Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta and the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., according to the company website. Wehba, a noted philanthropist, has served on the boards of the Institute for Social and Economic Policy and the Associates for Breast Cancer Studies.
Umansky of the Agency in Beverly Hills and Joyce Rey and Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker's Beverly Hills South office were the listing agents. Joan Cohen of Sotheby's represented the buyer.
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