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Photo: Gilbert Flores/Getty Images
Katy Perry is talked about plenty for her music, for her adventurous fashion sense, and for her long run on American Idol. But over the past ten years, she’s been getting a lot of attention for real estate woes too. Between a deal with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese gone wrong and a years-long battle over a Montecito property, there’s been plenty of chatter—and confusion—surrounding Perry’s real estate holdings. This week marks some kind of closure for the latter, with a judge ruling in favor of Perry as reported by People. But for all those wondering how we got there, here’s what you need to know.
The Montecito misfire
The more recent of Perry’s public real estate battles surrounds the $15 million purchase of an estate in Montecito, California, a small town near Santa Barbara preferred by celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow, Oprah, and Ariana Grande. In the summer of 2020, Perry and her fiancé Orlando Bloom were looking for a home in the area for their young family, as she was pregnant with their first child. Perry’s business manager Bernie Gudvi presented homeowner Carl Wescott with a written offer for his home in July 2020. The home was not on the market at the time, and Wescott had been out of the hospital for four days following back surgery and was allegedly on painkillers when he signed, leading Wescott and his lawyers to later contest the validity of the deal. The homeowner and his lawyers attempted to rescind the deal and Wescott filed a suit against Gudvi in August of 2020.
On November 8, 2023, over three years later, the court ruled in favor of Perry. “Wescott presented no persuasive evidence that he lacked capacity to enter into a real estate contract,” reads the court’s decision, per People. According to The Daily Beast, Judge Joseph Lipner said that the medical expert’s testimony did not support Wescott’s claims. Compounding the questionable nature of Wescott’s rescinding is his real estate agent’s claim that he in fact had a backup offer on the home in place from Maria Shriver. Though part of the case has now been put to rest, it was split into two lawsuits, and the damages suit is expected to come to a close in February.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese deal
Back in 2015, Perry was at the center of a far more dramatic—and complex—case with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles against the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and their proposed purchaser, restaurateur Dana Hollister.
The property in question was a former convent in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The eight-acre property includes more than 30,000 square feet of living space and dates back to 1927. Architect Bernard Maybeck designed the home, which was featured in a 1930 issue of AD. According to Insider, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart lived there between the years of 1972, when the home was sold directly to them, per the Times, and 2011, when the Archdiocese forced the elderly Sisters to leave against their will. Though Perry is the big name in the middle of it all, it’s clear that the conflict over the property predated the singer’s involvement.
Archbishop Jose Gomez agreed to sell the convent to Perry for $14.5 million (with $10 million in cash) and the Sisters were concerned they wouldn’t receive any money from the sale. Gomez and Perry had a deal, but the Sisters insisted the property was theirs to sell and quickly sold it to Hollister for $15.5 million (with $100,000 in cash) before Perry’s deal was complete. Hollister promptly moved into the home. Both Gomez and Perry then sued Hollister, and in July 2015 a judge invalidated Hollister’s purchase, though he ruled she could continue living there if she paid $25,000 in rent to the Sisters.
There was plenty of back and forth squabbling—including Sister Catherine Rose Holzman telling Billboard, “Katy Perry represents everything we don’t believe in”—but in March 2017 the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of the archdiocese as the party with the right to sell, firmly invalidating Hollister’s purchase. You might think this is where it ends, but in order to buy the property, Perry would need to get final approval from the Vatican, as all property deals over $7.5 million require. Six months later, the Hollywood Reporter shared that the Vatican would not give approval until Perry found a replacement for the property’s House of Prayer.
In November 2017, Hollister was ordered to pay the archdiocese’s attorney fees of $3.47 million and $1.57 million to Perry’s company. A second phase of the trial was set to find if Hollister owed either party more in punitive damages. Hollister declared bankruptcy. In March 2018, two of the nuns, including the aforementioned Holzman, accompanied Hollister to bankruptcy court. In a final (tragic) twist, Holzman collapsed and died during the court proceeding.
It is unclear who owns the property today, but the site still hosts a House of Prayer run by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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