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Real Estate newsletter: A gold palace chases a record price

A two-story mansion with a pool in front.
Built in 2021, the 15,500-square-foot Newport Beach palace features ostentatious amenities and hardware coated in 24-karat gold.
(David Heath of Western Exposure)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. In Southern California’s luxury market, not all that glitters is gold — but sometimes it is.

This week, a newly built mansion outfitted with Swarovski crystals and 24-karat gold surfaced for sale in Newport Beach at $69.8 million — a price that would smash the home sale record in Orange County. Some houses aim for subtlety. This one doesn’t.

Up in L.A. County, two athletes made big moves off the field. NFL legend Tony Gonzalez found a billionaire buyer for his Georgian-inspired home, and boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard put his longtime estate in the Palisades up for grabs at $46.5 million.

A battle is brewing for the future of Taix, the decades-old Echo Park restaurant set to turn into a six-story complex with housing and retail. The tug of war pits historic preservationists and longtime patrons against the owner himself, who supports the redevelopment.

If you’re brave enough to buy or crafty enough to build in this historic seller’s market, we have you covered. The Times dove into the recent archives and came out with 18 inspiring homes that boast both high-end design and a small footprint.

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While catching up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

A palace of gold in O.C.

Two-story house with columns and a reflecting pond in front.
Palais de Cristal is a celebration of wealth in Newport Beach’s Newport Coast community.
(David Heath of Western Exposure)

In Newport Coast, one of Southern California’s glitziest mansions is aiming for the highest price in Orange County history: $69.8 million.

Dubbed Palais de Cristal, the newly built Palladian-style stunner is a celebration of wealth — a 15,500-square-foot concoction of gold, onyx and glass filled with over-the-top spaces and ostentatious amenities.

It’s owned by Amini Innovation Corp. founder Michael Amini, who grew his furniture company into a lifestyle brand that sells products through more than 3,000 retailers in 80 countries. He’ll own the Orange County home sale record if he gets his price; the current mark belongs to a 19,000-square-foot mansion in the same neighborhood that traded hands for $61 million last year.

Amini outfitted the fully furnished estate with one-of-a-kind pieces and made sure all the home’s hardware — door handles, stairway railings, etc. — was coated in 24-karat gold. In the foyer, a stained glass dome named the “Eye of the Phoenix” draws the eye with gold pendants and a Swarovski crystal-encrusted eye at the center.

Boxer tries to knock out a sale

A mansion with a lawn.
The 1.8-acre spread centers on a 16,700-square-foot villa built by Richard Landry.
(Hilton & Hyland)

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard is trying to knock out a near-record sale in Pacific Palisades, listing his grand villa in the Riviera neighborhood for $46.5 million.

The current record was set this year when media mogul Shane Smith sold his Mediterranean-style compound for $48.67 million.

The listing marks Leonard’s second attempt at selling the prized property. He first offered it up for $52 million in 2019, The Times previously reported.

Spanning 1.8 acres, the leafy spread centers on a 16,700-square-foot house built by Richard Landry, the architect whose mega-mansions have been lived in by stars such as Michael Jackson and Sylvester Stallone. He took inspiration from Florentine villas for the design, and the Italian-style architecture includes grand public spaces with arched doorways, dramatic beams and custom art.

Billionaire buys a football star’s home turf

A house with a two-story wing and a one-story one, with a pool.
The nearly 13,000-square-foot showplace includes seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a pool, tennis court, cabana and subterranean garage.
(Simon Berlyn)

NFL legend Tony Gonzalez found a deep-pocketed buyer in Beverly Hills, selling his 13,000-square-foot mansion to billionaire investor Wayne Boich for $21.15 million.

Boich, who serves as chairman and chief executive of Boich Investment Group, got a decent discount on the property. Gonzalez and his wife, former “Beat Shazam” DJ October Gonzalez, originally sought $30 million for the mansion last summer and trimmed the price to $28 million a few months later.

The star tight end paid $7.1 million for the property in 2016 and quickly tore down the 1950s traditional-style home, replacing it with a Georgian-inspired showplace designed by architect Philip Vertoch.

A fight for Taix’s future

A building with a "Taix" sign.
Taix French Restaurant, an Echo Park favorite for generations of diners and Dodgers fans, is making way for a mixed-use project. It will operate until construction begins, then reopen in the new facility.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Taix French Restaurant has been an Echo Park standby for decades, an old-school gathering place for cocktails and “country French” cuisine that has seen generations of birthday parties, meetings and gatherings after Dodgers games, writes Emily Alpert Reyes.

But a debate has been sparked by a real estate developer’s planned project on Taix’s Sunset Boulevard site that would replace the longtime building with a new complex that would rise to six stories and include housing and retail. Holland Partner Group says the new project would house a smaller version of the restaurant, which has been dubbed “New Taix” by its owner.

Historic preservationists and Taix fans want to protect the building. Owner Michael Taix said doing so would jeopardize the cherished business itself.

The best of SoCal’s small-space living

Two people and a dog in front of a small house.
John Velasco and Ariel Gomez-Hernandez, with their dog Lando, outside the East L.A. ADU they rent from Alexis Navarro.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Small-space living doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or succumb to clutter. It just requires creative thinking, writes Lisa Boone.

Whether you live in an apartment, loft, bungalow, accessary dwelling unit — or even a trailer — living small can be an empowering opportunity for you to think big while living with less.

Southern California homes are known for their architectural variety — Craftsman, Spanish and Midcentury Modern among them. Here are some inspiring homes from our archives that are noteworthy not just for their design, but for their small footprint.

What we’re reading

By now, everyone knows there’s a housing shortage, but this report from the New York Times found that California’s real estate market — at least in terms of supply — has remained relatively stable. Of the nation’s top 50 metropolitan areas, only Riverside saw a dramatic drop-off, losing 64% of its listings year over year. Austin, Texas, topped the list with a loss of 73%.

In such a seller’s market, landing a home over all your competitors might mean making an all-cash offer. According to CNN, 25% of home sales were all-cash deals in April, up 10% compared with last year. Some agents said even an all-cash offer sometimes won’t be enough.


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