While record-breaking “unicorn” sales across Los Angeles have been hogging headlines as of late, the luxury real estate market as a whole is still struggling at best, the peak of this current market cycle seemingly well in the rearview mirror. As a result, an increasing number of L.A. luxury homes have been trading hands at financial losses.
Perhaps the hardest-hit neighborhood has been the “Bird Streets” area of the Hollywood Hills, where prices arguably peaked in the 2014-2015 timeframe and have been on a downward spiral ever since. And days ago, a eye-popping sale recorded that will likely strike fear into the heart of anyone attempting to sell a Hollywood Hills home.
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Back in early 2016, tech tycoon Lynda Weinman paid $27 million in cash for an brand-new contemporary mansion that had once been listed at $38 million. Set on what is arguably the neighborhood’s most desirable street, the house has every high-tech gadget known to mankind and sports views out to the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
But within 2.5 years, for unknown reasons, Weinman had tired of the estate and plopped it onto the market with a $29 million ask. With no takers at that optimistic price point, the list soon plummeted to just under $22 million. And records now reveal Weinman was truly, certifiably desperate to unload the 12,530 sq. ft. beast — she’s accepted an ultra-lowball $16.5 million cash offer for the property. Yes, that’s a shocking $10.5 million loss after less than four years of ownership — not counting taxes, maintenance and hefty realtor fees.
The bargain-bin shopping buyer is billionaire Rockstar energy drink founder Russ Weiner, a man who already owns no fewer than four other L.A. mansions — two estates in guard-gated Beverly Park, one purchased for $15 million in 2007 and the other for $18.6 million in 2015, Madonna’s former compound on Sunset Boulevard, purchased in 2015 for $19 million, and an oceanfront Hermosa Beach mansion, bought in 2013 for $10 million, plus at least two mansions in Florida. Presumably Weiner will, as is his habit, refurbish the Bird Streets estate and attempt to flip it for an exorbitant amount.
Lavish home amenities include an eight-car subterranean garage plus a gated motorcourt, and the three-level mansion additionally features an imposing wood front door entirely surrounded by a glass wall. There are terrazzo floors inside the blocky structure, a kitchen with high-end everything and a train car-sized center island, and selections from Weinman’s extensive contemporary art collection.
Upstairs is a titanic 2,000 sq. ft. master suite with a party-sized shower, soaking tub, and a walk-in closet. Elsewhere there’s a gym, massage room, walk-in wine closet, movie theater and wine bar. The infinity-edged swimming pool lies just beyond a sizable grassy backyard, and there’s a full outdoor kitchen with BBQ and a firepit.
Though Weinman, who was once married to “The Simpsons” guru Mark Kirkland, suffered a rather astonishing loss on this house, she’s clearly not hurting financially. After all, she sold her Lynda.com website to LinkedIn back in 2015 for a whopping $1.5 billion and she continues to preside over a Santa Barbara County real estate empire worth — conservatively — at least $60 million. She owns a $19 million oceanfront getaway in Carpinteria, Calif.; a $5 million Montecito mansion, several smaller multimillion dollar Santa Barbara homes, and an 11.5-acre estate lot in Montecito — purchased for nearly $28 million — where she’s currently in the early stages of construction on a gigantic mega-compound.
So while Weinman can certainly afford to lose a medium-sized fortune on a Hollywood Hills mansion, the transaction bodes very poorly for her neighbors in those foothills, particularly developers — of which there are still many — attempting to eke out profits on a monster spec-houses.