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‘Beverly Hillbillies’ estate sells to media heir Lachlan Murdoch for about $150 million

A. Jerrold Perenchio’s Chartwell estate in Bel-Air | Hot Property
Once offered for as much as $350 million, the Bel-Air estate known as Chartwell just set the record for the priciest residential sale in California history at about $150 million.
(Jim Bartsch)

Some know it as “The Beverly Hillbillies” mansion, others as Chartwell. Now, it has a new name: California’s chart-topper.

The Bel-Air residence of late media mogul A. Jerrold Perenchio has sold for the highest price in California history, about $150 million. The buyer is Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and co-chairman of publishing company News Corp., The Times has confirmed.

Although the exact number isn’t clear, people familiar with the deal who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to comment told The Times the closing price was well above the $119.75-million sale of the Manor in Holmby Hills earlier this year.

Priced as high as $350 million as a pocket listing, the estate centers on a 1930s French neoclassical-style chateau of 25,000 square feet that sits on 10 acres. Also trading in the deal was the former home of President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, which sits behind the main estate.

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The sale of Chartwell is just the latest for a high-end market that has seen a surge of huge deals in recent years.

Since 2016, Los Angeles has had six sales of at least $100 million or more. Of California’s seven sales of $100 million or more, only one sits outside of L.A. County: the $117.5-million deal for a massive compound in Northern California’s Woodside community in 2013.

Classic television watchers may recognize Chartwell as the home of the Clampett family from the credits of the sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies” (it was not used in the actual filming of the series). However, in real estate circles, it has long been considered among L.A.’s great estates.

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Designed by architect Sumner Spaulding, the limestone-clad estate includes such Gatsby-esque features as a ballroom, scaled formal rooms and a vaulted foyer. The custom wine vault can hold 12,000 bottles. There’s also a paneled dining room.

The 26-room mansion was commissioned by contractor and civil engineer Lynn Atkinson. In the 1940s, it was acquired by Chicago and Los Angeles hotelier Arnold Kirkeby at a cost of $200,000.

Atkinson had the home built as a surprise for his wife, a prominent socialite. However, the Atkinsons reportedly never lived in the house.

Often referred to as the “house with the golden door knobs,” the estate became something of a white elephant during Atkinson’s ownership because of its gargantuan tax bill.

Atkinson for years battled with the county Board of Equalization over the assessed value of the house before successfully having its value reduced in 1943 from $165,000 to $70,000.

“I can’t live in the property with the taxes as high as they are, and no one else can,” Atkinson bemoaned at the time.

The new owners face a more modern total. The estate carries one of the highest annual tax bills in the Los Angeles area at $1.3 million. In all, the estate contains 18 bedrooms and 24 bathrooms.

The famously private Perenchio, who died in 2017 at 86, acquired the main estate for nearly $14 million in 1986, and added three contiguous parcels in the 1980s. Under his direction, the main residence was enhanced and restored by designer Henri Samuel and architect Pierre Barbe to create a Versailles-like palace that accommodated his growing art collection and a cellar for one of California’s largest private wine collections.

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In 2016, he spent $15 million for the Reagans’ longtime home in Bel-Air.

Obscured from the street by walls and hedges, the grounds contain manicured gardens, elaborate fountain features, a tennis court, a 75-foot swimming pool and a pool house. A separate guesthouse was designed by noted architect Wallace Neff.

A secret tunnel, accessed from the basement, runs beneath the home to the swimming pool. Also buried below: a subterranean garage with parking for as many as 40 vehicles.

Drew Gitlin and Susan Gitlin from Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices California Properties; Drew Fenton, Gary Gold and Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland; and Joyce Rey, Jade Mills and Alexandra Allen of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury were the listing agents. Fenton also represented Murdoch in the deal.

Since his death, Perenchio’s estate has listed and sold a number of properties, including large holdings in Malibu. Across from Chartwell, a vacant property Perenchio used as a private vineyard sold in November for $12 million.

Lachlan Murdoch is the third of Rupert Murdoch’s six children and the elder of two sons. Rupert Murdoch is in the process of handing off operation of his media empire to Lachlan.


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