Former Hearst-Davies mansion for sale at $95 million


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In a sign of the times, the onetime Beverly Hills home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and actress Marion Davies, which was listed for sale briefly three years ago at $165 million, is back on the market at the 2010 price of $95 million. Its owner, attorney-investor Leonard M. Ross, filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

The reduced price is not surprising given the condition of the housing market. Median home prices in Southern California have declined 43% since their peak in 2007, according to MDA DataQuick, matching the price drop reflected on the new listing.


Called Beverly House, the 1920s mansion has had fairy tale moments. John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned there. But it was also used to film scenes from the movie “The Godfather,” including the one in which a horse’s head was found in a bed.

The longtime current owner filed for Chapter 11 on Wednesday even though his assets exceed his liabilities, court documents show. A press release announcing the sale said “unusual circumstances” and “bank maneuverings” led Ross to seek protection under federal bankruptcy laws.

The home’s fourth owner, Ross bought Beverly House more than 30 years ago. During his ownership, he refurbished the structure, expanded the living space by adding more than 20,000 square feet and reacquired adjacent property that had been sold off after Hearst’s death in 1951 at age 88.

The more than 50,000-square-foot mansion sits on 3.7 flat acres on a hilltop above the Beverly Hills Hotel. Built by banking executive Milton Getz, the H-shaped Mediterranean was designed by Gordon Kaufmann and retains its original landscaping design by Paul Thiene. Getz sold the compound to Davies in 1946 for $120,000.

The terra-cotta stucco structure blends Spanish and Italian styles. The interiors feature intricately carved ceilings, paneled walls, French doors, balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. Cascading waterfalls lead to a swimming pool and Venetian columns beyond the pool house.

The main level has a 50-foot entry hall with a loggia, a living room with 22-foot-high arched ceilings and a library with hand-carved woodwork and a staircase leading to a second-story wrap-around balcony and bookshelves. The billiard room retains its herringbone parquet floors and carved stone fireplace mantle removed from Hearst’s San Simeon mansion. An outdoor terrace can seat up to 400 diners.


Other features include an art-deco night club, a wine cellar, a gym and two projection rooms.

Jeffrey Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, a Christie’s Great Estates affiliate in Beverly Hills, has the listing. The history of the house is detailed in his book ‘The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills.’

--Lauren Beale

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