Madonna Gets a Material Dig


Pop star MADONNA is buying a Bel-Air home for $8-million- plus that had belonged to developer Abraham Lurie, who filed for personal bankruptcy earlier this month. Escrow was due to close after presstime last week.

Lurie, Marina Del Rey’s biggest developer with hotels and other holdings that make up nearly one-fifth of the marina, has been involved in a battle with his Saudi Arabian partners for control of his properties. The Bel-Air house was in the name of Lurie’s wife, Mary Kathryn.

Madonna, whose Blond Ambition tour is the subject of the “Truth or Dare” documentary released last month, has been signed to play Mae, “a worldly ballplayer with a sharp tongue and a fast reputation,” in the upcoming film “A League of Their Own.”


The film, the story of a female baseball team during the 1940s, will be directed by Penny Marshall and will co-star Tom Hanks as the coach. Madonna also co-starred in “Dick Tracy.”

She had been looking to buy another house since last fall, when her neighbor, real estate broker Donald J. Robinson, complained about the height of the trees and bushes surrounding her Hollywood Hills home. In December, a Superior Court judge ordered Madonna to trim her hedges and pay Robinson’s attorneys’ fees.

“She had also outgrown her house and needed more land,” a Beverly Hills real estate broker said, “but she probably won’t list her current residence . . . right away, because her new home needs some work.”

Her new home, a French villa, has three bedrooms and two maids’ quarters in nearly 10,000 square feet. It also has 25-foot-high ceilings in the entry and a garage for three limos.

The four-acre site is on a private knoll overlooking the Los Angeles Basin, with city-to-ocean views and a swimming pool. The home is gated and reached from a long, private drive.

The Luries owned the 21-room home since 1988, when they bought it from Sir Daniel Donahue, a papal count. The house was built in 1971 for Doyle Cotton, a Texas oilman, sources said.


It had been listed at $10.5 million.

VERNA HARRAH, widow of gaming casino king William Harrah, has sold her Holmby Hills home for $8.6 million to Libby Keck, ex-wife of oil baron Howard Keck Sr., sources say.

The property had been for sale at $10.5 million. The two-story home has seven bedrooms plus maid’s quarters in about 10,000 square feet. It also has a pool, tennis court and guest house on slightly more than an acre.

The home was built in 1963 but has been remodeled many times, not always skillfully, realtors say. Keck is planning to rehab it again, sources said.

Harrah bought it about five years ago, after her husband’s death, for about $3 million. Actress Judy Garland is said to have owned it in the mid-’60s.

Harrah has leased a Beverly Hills house at about $50,000 a month, sources say. The one-story, gated home has five bedrooms and a ballroom with a marble floor. Builder/developer Larry Gordon owns the property and just finished remodeling it.

Harrah is building a home on 7 1/2 beachfront acres that she bought in Malibu for about $10 million, other sources said. A wall has been constructed around the home, which is expected to be 14,000 square feet in size.

SARAH BRIGHTMAN, the ex-Mrs. Andrew Lloyd Webber who starred as the original Christine in his London stage production of “Phantom of the Opera” and has been discussed as the possible female lead in the upcoming movie version, has signed a long-term lease for a villa in the Beverly Hills Post Office Area at $7,500 a month, sources say.

The four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot-plus home is owned by Bijou Durden, widow of Wally Durden, who was once the manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel. She lives in a nearby, high-rise condo.

Built about 40 years ago, the house has a poolside cabana lounge decorated like the Polo Lounge in the landmark hotel.

The home also has ocean views and is situated on the same street as residences of actresses Faye Dunaway and Bette Midler.

Paul Czako and Elaine Young of Alvarez, Hyland & Young represented Durden in the lease, and Wayne Blake of Celebrity Properties represented Brightman. None could be reached for comment.

Volleyball star KENT STEFFES, who turned 23 last Sunday and made more than $116,000 playing volleyball last year, has purchased his first home--a two-bedroom, Santa Monica condo--for $350,000.

Steffes, who was represented in his purchase by Bob Matthess of Norton Realtors, has been ranked as the third-leading money maker on the professional volleyball beach tour, behind Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos.

MICHAEL PARE, who starred in the 1987-88 TV series “Houston Knights” and also appeared in the movies “Eddie and the Cruisers” and “Streets of Fire,” has put his Venice house on the market at $595,000.

Pare, who just completed a pilot for an NBC series called “Empire City” and co-stars with Dennis Hopper in an action movie still being filmed, is planning to move to a larger home in Pacific Palisades, said Kathy Villa, who has the listing at Asher Dann & Associates, Beverly Hills.

Pare’s Venice home is Spanish style and has three bedrooms in 2,000 square feet, one block from the beach.

ALEX VAN HALEN, brother of Eddie Van Halen and the drummer in the band Van Halen, has put his weekend retreat in Montecito on the market at $2,195,000.

The 3.2-acre, walled property has a two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home on it that was built as a guest house for a one-story, 15,000-square-foot-plus mansion built in the 1920s on a site that was later subdivided.

The mansion was one of only a couple of homes designed by the late architect Addison Mizner on the West Coast. It has been for sale for several years, most recently at $10 million.

The Van Halen home is listed with Dan Encell of Fred Sands’ Montecito office.

“Alex just isn’t spending much time there,” a Sands source explained.

The band’s newest album, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” was released a few days ago.