Real Estate newsletter: A penthouse full of secret rooms

A colorful room dominated by a couch
Combining four units, Jimmy Fallon’s three-story home holds a saloon room, hidden playroom and primary suite with a massage bed.
(Evan Joseph)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter, your weekly peek into Southern California’s surprising and ceaseless housing market.

High-profile listings have poured in as athletes, actors and talk show hosts look to make a quick buck — or several million bucks — for their prized properties. The homes themselves are about as different as they could be. We have a Beverly Hills mansion with a star-studded past, an eco-friendly beach house built for sustainability and a New York penthouse filled with secrets.

L.A.’s busiest celebrity home flippers are at it again, as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are eyeing an $11-million profit for a place they bought from Adam Levine in 2019. Bryan Cranston offered up a home he built from scratch, while over on the East Coast, Jimmy Fallon listed a whimsical penthouse that he’s been piecing together for the last two decades.


Meanwhile LeBron James is about to take a bath on his Brentwood home sale. His asking price is already half a million shy of what he paid for the place in 2015.

While you’re at it, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find Real Estate stories and updates throughout the week.

Ellen eyes yet another flip

House with trees
The ivy-draped traditional spans 10,400 square feet with five bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
(Anthony Barcelo)

Another year, another house flip for Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The power couple are asking $53.5 million for a pedigreed Beverly Hills mansion that they bought from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine for $42.5 million in 2019.

DeGeneres and de Rossi have been buying and selling estates at a blistering pace the last few years. In 2018, they hauled in $34 million for their 17-acre spread in Montecito. In November, they sold a Bali-inspired spot in the same community for $33.3 million.

This time, they’re chasing a profit of $11 million. When they bought it two years ago, they became the latest in a long line of celebrity owners. Over the years, it has belonged to tennis star Pete Sampras and “Will & Grace” creator Max Mutchnick before Levine scooped it up for $33.9 million in 2018.


Claiming an acre just above Sunset Boulevard, the ivy-draped traditional is tucked behind gates on a landscaped lot with a swimming pool, tennis court and guesthouse. Inside, there’s a wood-paneled library, gourmet kitchen, movie theater and gym.

It won’t be a slam dunk sale

Aerial view of homes with swimming pool
The gated traditional holds six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and an elevator in 9,440 square feet.

Maybe it was the construction noise next door. Maybe it was the fact that he upgraded to a $36.75-million home in Beverly Hills last year. Whatever the reason, LeBron James is ready to sell his Brentwood home at a loss.

The Lakers star listed a traditional-style estate in Brentwood Park at $20.5 million — about half a million shy of what he paid for it in 2015.

It’s one of two homes that the 17-time All-Star, who led the Lakers to an NBA championship last season, owns in the posh Westside neighborhood. Four years ago, he shelled out $23 million for a newly built spec mansion just up the street from the one he’s selling.

At 9,440 square feet, it’s the smallest of James’ three Southern California homes. Built a decade ago, it features six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a media room, playroom, paneled library, gym and elevator.


An actor’s earth-friendly abode

Two-story house
The two-story home was built with an emphasis on efficiency and boasts a net-zero carbon footprint.
(Jake Cryan)

Bryan Cranston’s Ventura County home — an eco-friendly beach house with a net-zero carbon footprint — surfaced for sale at $5 million.

That’s double what the decorated actor from “Breaking Bad” and “Malcolm in the Middle” paid for the property in 2007, records show. Back then, it held a drab single-story home in need of an update, but Cranston razed it and erected a sleek, one-of-a-kind residence with an emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency.

Dubbed Three Palms, the house was finished in 2013 and enjoys an oceanfront lot in the unincorporated community of Mussel Shoals in northern Ventura County, between Ventura and Carpinteria. The two-story floor plan spans 2,450 square feet with three bedrooms and four bathrooms, as well as custom furniture and a personal art collection that can be purchased with the home.

“I put my heart, soul and blood, sweat and often tears into it, and I’m glad because it was such an artistic endeavor, and yet functional,” Cranston said in a statement.

Three stories of hidden rooms and custom spaces

Saloon room with bar at left
Combining four units, the three-story space holds a saloon room, hidden playroom and primary suite with a massage bed.
(Evan Joseph)

Jimmy Fallon’s New York home — a quirky penthouse that he’s been compiling for the last two decades — hit the market in Manhattan for $15 million.

The whimsical, one-of-a kind space spans three stories and combines four units for nearly 5,000 square feet in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park — about two miles from Rockefeller Center, where Fallon films “The Tonight Show.”

Most spaces look straight out a storybook, as Fallon and his wife, film producer Nancy Juvonen, created imaginative rooms with secret passageways for their two daughters during their stay. Below the staircase, a hidden playroom features monkey bars, a chalkboard wall and a “jailhouse intercom” that connects to a phone on the upper level. A secret hatch in the pantry leads to the nook.

Off the foyer, a living room lined with skewed wood-planking adds a plush custom sofa and projector built into the ceiling. Another highlight comes in the saloon room, a lodge-like space made for entertaining with a vintage bar, stained-glass accents and a gas fireplace. A stone hearth holds a “Weekend Update” sign, which Fallon anchored on “Saturday Night Live” from 2000 to 2004.

Newsman tracks down a buyer

A living room with a TV and scattered couches
The three-bedroom unit includes a private balcony and access to a rooftop deck.
(Douglas Elliman)

CNN anchor Don Lemon sold his three-bedroom condo in New York’s Harlem neighborhood for $1.525 million, about $37,000 more than he paid for it in 2013.


The sale comes a few years after he picked up a place near the Hamptons, paying $3.1 million for a quaint cottage in Sag Harbor in 2016.

The condo is the smaller of his two properties, with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in just over 1,400 square feet. According to the listing, Lemon configured the space as an open-concept layout with two bedrooms during his stay.

Lemon joined CNN as a correspondent in 2006 and began hosting “CNN Tonight” in 2014. The 54-year-old Louisiana native has won multiple regional Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

What we’re reading

Mohamed Hadid’s Bel-Air mega-mansion may be doomed, but that doesn’t mean the controversial real estate developer is slowing down on other fronts. The New York Times checked in on his plans for Franklin Canyon, which include building a gated community of mega-mansions near a beloved park on a hill so steep that equipment would have to be transported by helicopter. The project’s future is being fought over in court.

Rehabbing a home — especially one that used to be an abandoned group house — can be costly. One D.C. couple funded their renovation by selling off a collection of 4,000 comic books, the Washington Post reported.