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Is Elon Musk really trying to sell his L.A. homes? Himself? On Zillow?

Elon Musk with a Tesla in the background
Elon Musk said he was selling the bulk of his possessions. Then two of his houses were listed on Zillow.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

On Friday, Tesla CEO and occasional troll Elon Musk made waves on Twitter once again, declaring that he was selling almost all his physical possessions — including his luxury real estate portfolio.

The billionaire appeared to double down on the promise over the weekend, listing two of his Bel-Air homes for sale on Zillow for a combined $39.5 million. Or did he?

Musk owns a handful of homes on the Westside of L.A. and bought the two Bel-Air properties in separate transactions in 2012 and 2013 for $17 million and $6.75 million, respectively.

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The houses, which are adjacent on Chalon Road, include the longtime home of comic Gene Wilder, a ranch-style abode that is apparently up for grabs at $9.5 million. The other residence was built in 1990 and has more than 20,000 square feet of space with a two-story library, a wine cellar and a theater. Its asking price is $30 million.

Two homes owned by billionaire Elon Musk sit across from each other on Chalon Road.
(NearMap)

Both properties are listed on Zillow “for sale by owner,” and a phone number listed as that of the owner went straight to voicemail for a “Google subscriber” when called. A Google search for the phone number produced few actual results.

Whether the billionaire listed the homes himself was a mystery even to those with knowledge of the property. One real estate source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the notoriously unpredictable Musk was “too smart for his own good.” But did he list his own properties? “We don’t know — everyone is trying to find out.”

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Neither residence is listed on other major real estate websites or in the Multiple Listing Service, the tool most homeowners use when putting their properties on the market.

In addition, the prices of both homes were increased on Zillow the day they were listed. The former Gene Wilder residence was originally asking $9 million before a price change brought the tag up to $9.5 million. The 20,000-square-foot mansion first listed for $29.9 million and was quickly changed to $30 million.

Could someone have hacked the listing and put them on the market? There’s precedent for such a situation, as the two properties show similarities to the hijacked listing of Bruce Makowsky’s “Billionaire,” a four-story giga-mansion in Bel-Air that sold last year for $94 million.

Prior to the sale, the stunning spec house was listed at $150 million on Zillow before an unknown user with a Chinese IP address sidestepped the website’s security measures and falsely reported that it sold for $110 million, then $90.54 million, then $94.3 million.

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Makowsky sued Zillow for $60 million in damages.

The company allows homeowners to claim ownership of their properties online using a free Zillow profile. The feature requires the homeowner to complete an owner verification. Once completed, the owner can change the property details to their liking as well as list the property for sale by owner.

“Any home on our website can be claimed by the homeowner,” Kim Nielson, senior lead counsel for Zillow Group, said in an email last year that was among court documents. “There are a series of questions that must be answered, but if someone attempts to claim it enough times, they will know the questions asked (and be able to figure out what information they need to verify their identity).”

Messages to representatives of Zillow were not immediately returned on Monday.

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If Musk is the one behind the listings, then he apparently has just one demand: Don’t tear down Gene Wilder’s house.


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