Curtis Buys Home, Leaves 'Best Wife'

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Actor TONY CURTIS, a Hawaii resident who once described his second home at the Hotel Bel-Air as "the best wife" he ever had, is moving from the hotel in June, when he closes escrow on a house being built in Bel-Air.

Since 1986, when he kicked his drug dependency and sold his homes, he has rented a one-bedroom suite at the hotel when he is not in Hawaii or traveling. In a 1987 interview, Curtis said the recovery program "told me to change to a less-stressful environment."

When choosing the house in Bel Air Crest, a development of the Goldrich & Kest affiliate Prestige Homes, Curtis reiterated his need for a "quiet" and "secluded" yet "secure" environment, said Carla Pasch, who handled the $1-million-plus sale.

Curtis is buying one of 135 Canyon Homes, priced from $875,000 to $1.48 million. There will also be 151 custom homes--one as large as 11,000 square feet--built on the site, said Bruce Froehlich, director of housing for Goldrich & Kest.

Curtis' house will be about mid-range for a Canyon Home in price as well as size, at 2,919 square feet. It will have four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, a family room, two fireplaces, a deck, an optional master retreat, wet bar (which Pasch says he calls his "water bar") hot- and cold-water spas just outside his master suite, and a large yard with a view on what Pasch described as "one of the best lots, tucked into a corner."

"He likes to paint outside," she said. Curtis has become known as an artist as well as a movie star and drew a sizable crowd last April at a viewing at the Beverly Hilton Hotel of his acrylics, pen-and-ink drawings and sketches, most done at his home in Hawaii.

He's also painted more than 50 canvases on the terrace of his suite at the Bel-Air, which he once said he would marry if he could. Speaking of the hotel, he said, "She makes my bed every day, feeds me regularly, takes my messages faithfully and puts my laundry in those little boxes tied up with ribbon."

He won't get such service at his home. Then again, he won't be paying a daily room rate. Curtis was spending $285 a night in 1987 for his Hotel Bel-Air accommodations, but a one-bedroom suite now rents for $585 or $735, depending on location.

Thanks to actor JACK NICHOLSON, movie producer BOB EVANS has regained ownership of the Beverly Hills house he sold last March to international entrepreneur TONY MURRAY for about $5 million.

Murray bought the house--with a north/south tennis court, pool and separate projection/guest building on 1.44 flat acres--just before the trial started in the so-called "Cotton Club" murder case, in which Evans was implicated but not charged.

" . . . Evans was so depressed (then that) he just wanted to move away from Hollywood," Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd wrote earlier this month.

Said Barbara Duskin of Jon Douglas Co.'s Beverly Hills office:

"Bob just felt that he needed a change, and it would be nice to live part of the year in Europe, part of the year in Palm Springs and maybe have a place in New York, where he was from originally. He had been happy in the house all those (23) years but had spent so much time there that he thought it would be good to sell it, then rent a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he came to town."

She sold Evans' house within 40 days of listing it to Murray, a mutual friend of Evans' and hers. "The deal was that Bob was to lease it (from Murray) for four months, but shortly after he sold it, he decided he had made a mistake. He loves Los Angeles. He doesn't want to leave. His friends, including Jack Nicholson, live here. Jack comes over to play tennis every day, and he watches first-run films all the time at Bob's. Jack didn't want Bob to sell."

In August, Nicholson went to Monte Carlo to talk Murray into selling back Evans' home. The actor had just completed nine months of filming "The Two Jakes," a co-production of Evans and Harold Schneider, due to be released in March.

Duskin was at a party in St. Tropez, France, when Murray told her that Nicholson was about to meet him in Monte Carlo. She recalls saying, "I have another house for you. Bob can buy back his house and you can have a property you'll like."

Evans repurchased his house earlier this month "at no profit to Murray except payment of interest on the purchase moneys and an agreement not to sell it without giving Murray first refusal at a 15% annual increase in selling price," according to Archerd. Then, represented by Duskin, Murray bought the other house for $6,159,000, closing escrow last week.

"Both houses are one-story, (architect) John Wolfe Regencies in Beverly Hills with a tennis court and pool, but Tony's property is bigger; it's on 2.02 flat acres," Duskin said. Murray also owns Sheik Mohammed Al-Fassi's former Sunset Boulevard property, now bare land that is on the market at $20 million.

The late newspaper publisher WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST bought a nine-acre, 1920s-era Beverly Hills estate for his mistress, actress MARION DAVIES, in 1947, and a new home has just been completed on an acre where the old stables once stood.

The house is on one of several lots created in the 1960s when the property was subdivided, leaving the original house on three acres. The new home--for sale at $7.35 million through Alvarez, Hyland & Young--has a 12,000-square-foot main house, 650-square-foot guest cottage, 900-square-foot entry hall, six bedrooms and nine baths.

Joseph Dabby built the house on spec for sale. He and his wife, Yvette, are being honored for their charitable contributions by the City of Beverly Hills, which proclaimed today "Joseph and Yvette Dabby Day."

Hillel Hebrew Academy will honor the couple tonight at a black-tie dinner; the Dabbys, who run their own development firm, have been overseeing a $7-million expansion at the school, designed by the Harshad Patel Design Consortium.

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