‘Vice’ Star Stakes Out Beverly Hills

Times Staff Writer

“Miami Vice” star DON JOHNSON has bought a home in what is known as “the Beverly Hills Post Office” area. The house was built in 1941 for, the seller says, the late actor Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Johnson’s new 1.3-acre property doesn’t have a yellow brick road, but it does have a nine-room English Colonial house, strolling paths, trees, gardens and a tennis court--all behind gates.

The house was designed by the late architect Paul Williams, according to the seller. The one-story, recently remodeled home has four bedrooms and six baths--in 5,847 square feet. “It’s a perfect retreat,” said a real estate source.

Neither Marge Oswald of Merrill Lynch/Rodeo Realty, who had the $3.5-million listing, nor David Perry of Fred Sands’ Estates Division, who represented Johnson, would discuss price. However, Johnson’s business manager, Stan Kantor, acknowledged that the actor paid “in excess of $3 million.”


Johnson previously lived in Florida for nearly five years, while he was making “Miami Vice.”

Johnson, who took possession as an unmarried man, and actress Melanie Griffith were expected to get remarried in April, but no date has been set yet.

The seller was Michael Chapman, a rock ‘n’ roll producer/composer who bought a 25-acre country home, with a music room, in Connecticut.

Good news for neighbors of SHEIK MOHAMMED AL-FASSI’S former Beverly Hills property on Sunset Boulevard.


The smaller of the two lots in the parcel is being sold to the same man who bought the larger lot in January. So the 3.58-acre site will be in the hands of one owner again, and he plans to build just one house there.

The mansion that the sheik once called home fell victim to an arson fire in 1980 and was bulldozed in 1985. Since then, there have been no structures on the property.

The Florida doctor who acquired the site after the sheik left town subdivided the property into two parcels. He sold a 1.58-acre lot in January, 1988, for about $3 million.

Then the doctor gave Bruce Nelson of Asher Dann & Associates the listing on the larger 2-acre lot, and Nelson sold it to Tony Murray--a Frenchman with real estate in Acapulco, Paris and New York--this January for nearly $6 million.

Now Murray is buying the smaller lot for about the same price. The paper work, expected to be completed last week--after our press time--was being handled by Nettie Becker Escrow.

“With this sale, the property will have nearly tripled in value since the doctor bought it for $4.25 million about three years ago,” Nelson said.

If you consider what Murray will have invested in the dirt, about $12 million, that could be the most ever paid for an unimproved property in Beverly Hills, or even Holmby Hills.

“It’s even more than Aaron Spelling paid for Bing Crosby’s house--$10.25 million,” Nelson pointed out, “and that had a house on it.”


Murray also recently bought a 3.2-acre Bel-Air lot, across the street from Gregory Peck’s house, for $8 million through Valerie Fitzgerald of Alvarez, Hyland & Young. Murray lives in Barbara Stanwyck’s former Beverly Hills home.

As for the sheik . . . the rumor is still strong that he is coming back to buy a major property in town.

PLACIDO DOMINGO may still have his condo on the Westside, but he also has a pied - a - terre just steps away from the Music Center. We just learned that he bought the 1,300-square-footer with two bedrooms and a greenhouse, at Promenade West, for $260,000 in January.

Former baseball commissioner BOWIE KUHN and his partner in the New York-based law firm of Myerson & Kuhn have leased space for a Los Angeles office.

They signed a $6-million, 10-year lease for about 25,000 square feet on the 19th floor of one of the Century Plaza Towers. The firm also has offices in Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas.

LIBERACE’S Las Vegas villa will reopen Tuesday with a dinner/dance, by invitation, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the nearby Liberace Museum.

The house, listed at about $2.8 million, was sold at auction for $325,000 on Dec. 10, but that sale fell through, and shortly thereafter the 10,549-square-foot house went to Mr. and Mrs. T. Vance Turner of Atlanta, Ga., for $450,000.

The Turners just completed a $500,000 “refurnishing"--in what they perceive was the Liberace style--and they plan to rent the house, when they aren’t using it, to celebrities and corporations--at what price, nobody contacted knew.


A Calabasas mansion will be open Friday through May 21 for a tour and fine art/antique auction to benefit the San Fernando Valley chapters of the American Cancer Society and the International Society of Interior Designers.

James R. Gary & Co. is the sponsor and has the $3-million listing on the 10,000-square-foot home, which is owned by a young couple who are buying a house in Malibu. The Calabasas mansion has a private lake, tennis court and the wrought-iron gates used for the home Tara in the film “Gone With the Wind.”

Tickets, at $15 each, are available from the Cancer Society, 14602 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys.