When lean times come to the housing market, even the rich and famous can feel the pinch.
Consider Nicolas Cage. The Oscar-winning actor paid $7 million for his Bel-Air mansion in 1998. Then, in autumn 2006, he listed it at $35 million. Local Realtors termed the house overpriced, but Cage, a savvy investor, held tight. Finally, earlier this month, he took the property off the market.
He can wait for things to heat back up. In the meantime, a book about Gerard Colcord, designer of Cage’s landmark home, is in the works, with publication expected in 2008. The house, built in 1940, is an English-style manor on slightly more than an acre with nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms in close to 12,000 square feet. It has a 35-seat theater, wine cellar, game room, pool and circular driveway with a fountain.
And the house has a pedigree when it comes to owners. Besides Cage, whose “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” was No. 1 at the box office last week, it was owned by Welsh singer and entertainer Tom Jones and actor-singer Dean Martin. Jones owned the home for 20 years.
Cage’s case of home-seller blues is somewhat unusual. Despite a general housing slump, celebs fared well during 2007 in buying and selling homes on the Westside and in Malibu, according to Cecelia Kennelly-Waeschle of Sotheby’s International Realty in Malibu.
Tom Cruise bought in Beverly Hills at about $35 million; Courteney Cox and her husband, David Arquette, sold in Malibu at nearly $33.5 million (and then bought another house there for $17 million), and St. Louis Rams owner Georgia Frontiere sold in Bel-Air at close to $30 million.
Madonna’s former home in Beverly Hills -- the one redone by Diane Keaton -- just closed at almost $17 million.
Add to that: Johnny Carson’s Malibu home, which sold for about $38 million.
Overall, sales in the multimillion-dollar price range were strong. Beverly Park had a sale in the $20-million range, and Brentwood Country Estates, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lives, registered a sale slightly below $30 million.
A look at the closings shows 63 home sales over $10 million for the area in 2007 compared to 55 in 2006. There were 12 over $20 million in 2007 in contrast with 10 over $20 million in 2006.
“So the rest of the market may be feeling the sting from the sub-prime, but it has not affected the upper price ranges, as you can see from the stats,” Kennelly-Waeschle said.
New and nutty in the neighborhood
Bill Richmond, the comedy writer and producer who wrote eight movies for Jerry Lewis including the original “The Nutty Professor,” has purchased a town house overlooking the lake in Calabasas Park for close to its asking price of $1.3 million.
Richmond wanted to live closer to family who live in the area.
His 1974 town home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,000-plus square feet. The unit was recently remodeled. It has a courtyard and a corner fireplace plus a master-bedroom suite with a balcony.
Richmond started in show business as a jazz drummer with bandleaders Harry James and Les Brown.
Both buyer and seller were represented by Karyn Foley of the Calabasas office of Coldwell Banker and Dave Yobs of the West Valley-Woodland Hills office of Coldwell Banker.
Trainer hopes his sale is shaping up
Gregory Joujon-Roche, a personal trainer to many A-list celebs, has listed his Malibu condo at just under $2.7 million.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit is on Carbon Beach, where DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen purchased and just reopened the Malibu Beach Inn, and Oracle Corp.'s Larry Ellison has bought many properties.
Celebrity decorator Jeff Andrews, who recently completed a renovation of TV host Ryan Seacrest’s home, designed the interiors.
The 1,200-square-foot condominium has a one-touch lighting system, glazed concrete floors and an outdoor living area overlooking the Pacific. The area also has a steam shower and a soaking tub.
Joujon-Roche’s company, Holistic Fitness, was responsible for getting Tobey Maguire in shape for his starring role in “Spider-Man” and helping Brad Pitt add some extra muscle for “Troy.”
Madison Hildebrand of Coldwell Banker, Malibu West, has the listing.
He’ll cut to the Hollywood Hills
Peter Shin, supervising director of the TV show “Family Guy,” bought a contemporary-style house for $1.3-plus million in the Hollywood Hills. He had been living in the Burbank area.
His new home has four bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms in 2,100 square feet. The house, built in 1966, has an open living room, remodeled kitchen and a master bathroom with a soaking tub and steam shower.
Shin listed his 1948 Burbank home at $799,000. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a pool.
Merry Prestidge and Manvel Tabakian of Coldwell Banker, Los Feliz, were the selling agents and have the listing.
To see previous columns on celebrity realty transactions, go to latimes.com/hotproperty.