Millionaires' Row Residences Bought

Times Staff Writer

Remember those five expensive town houses that were planned last year on Millionaires' Row in London's fashionable Hampstead?

Now two of three completed have been sold to international buyers who come to London on business and/or pleasure. The second sold for $2 million. (With each sale, the price of the remaining town houses is increased by $250,000.)

That's quite a sum for a second or third home in London, but the developers, H. B. Construction Co. of London (who have a representative in New York), claim the compound could be the "first of its kind in all of Europe" and "the only multimillion-dollar town-house complex of its kind in England."

The units, with American-style security (gatehouse and doorman) as well as 24-hour concierge and other U. S.-type features (state-of-the-art kitchens with built-in, double-door refrigerators and baths with spas and special showers that shoot water from several directions), were designed by de Brant, Joyce & Partners of London, which also created the interiors of Kenstead Hall, across the street. It's a palace belonging to Saudi Arabia's King Fahd.

The same firm also designed interiors of palaces in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain and Brunei.

The "Ric-Su-Dar" (named for his children--Richard, Susan and Darrylin) Palm Springs estate of the late Darryl F. Zanuck is on the market for $1.45 million.

When the late movie mogul and his wife of 55 years, Virginia, lived there, they held some parties in the '30s, '40s and '50s that were the talk of the town.

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Greta Garbo even stayed there and danced in the ballroom of the guest house, which also has four bedrooms, four baths and a wet bar. The whole estate has nine bedrooms and nine baths and is on 1 1/2 acres (with a 70-foot-long swimming pool, croquet lawn and tennis court) behind white walls.

Zanuck's daughter Darrylin Zanuck de Pineda of Beverly Hills owns the property now. Her father, a founder of 20th Century Fox, died in 1979 at age 77, and his wife died in 1982 at 75. In February, a judge ruled against a former French model who claimed to have been his mistress and contested Zanuck's will.

Eli Birer & Associates of Palm Springs and the Jon Douglas Co. of Beverly Hills have the listing.

The El Greco, built in 1929 as a replica of the painter El Greco's home in Toledo, Spain, was saved from demolition last year when the 12-unit apartment house was moved from Westwood to the Beverly/Fairfax area and was renovated by Alternative Living for the Aging, formed in 1978 to provide housing alternatives to seniors.

Now the L. A. cultural landmark will be dedicated April 5 as The El Greco--The David & Sylvia Weisz Family Courtyard Apartments.

Big sale, big lease:

--In New York, the 21-story Royal Insurance Building in Lower Manhattan just sold for $61.5 million--all in cash!--to a partnership headed by New York real estate investor Moses Marx. That news from Landauer Associates, whose John Sheehan represented Royal. (Royal sold the 56-year-old building because the insurance company relocated its national headquarters to Charlotte, N. C.)

--In Beverly Hills, the entertainment law firm Cooper, Epstein & Hurewitz agreed to lease 40,000 square feet in the brand new Maple Plaza building for 10 years at a value of about $10 million. Negotiated by Allen Bixen of Greenwood & Co., the transaction is being called "the largest office lease in Beverly Hills in recent years." (The law firm plans to move from the Bank of America Building in Beverly Hills in August.)

Managers of the Racquet Club of Palm Springs, a celebrity retreat for 54 years, have an idea for turning the cool condo market into a hot tax advantage: second-home ownership with losses that are 100% deductible.

Operation of a condo hotel is not considered a passive rental activity, they say, so "a person who materially participates in a unit or any number of units in a condo hotel can qualify for trade or business treatment even if it is not his principal business."

And, they add, the individual can deduct all losses from the trade or business from the earned income.

The Racquet Club has fully furnished units, from $59,900 to $129,900, which its general manager, William Barnett, claims "may qualify for such tax treatment." Twenty-eight of the 100 condos built at the 25-acre resort remain for sale. (Monthly homeowners fees are $200-$300.)

Condos are a new feature of the club, which was opened Christmas Day, 1933, by owners/actors Charlie Farrell and Ralph Bellamy, who wanted a place away from the studios to play tennis and entertain friends.

When not partying at Darryl Zanuck's, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard could be found at the Racquet Club when they were in Palm Springs. Other famous regulars in those good old days were Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn and John Barrymore.

Today, the Racquet Club is operated by the Hotel del Coronado Corp. of San Diego and boasts such condo owners as actor Dustin Hoffman and music director Andre Previn.

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