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One of the most expensive listings in the United States is an estate built by ... Danny Thomas? Of "Make Room for Daddy"?
So says the Wall Street Journal. Several local real estate agents tell the paper that the property, in Beverly Hills' celebrity-ridden Trousdale Estates, is seeking $135 million. The agent for the listing, Aaron Kirman, declines to disclose the price tag.
Only three homes we could find across the nation are on the open market for more: Le Palais Royal, under construction in Florida, asking $139 million; Briar Patch in the Hamptons at $140 million; and billionaire Jeff Greene's Palazzo di Amore, asking a whopping $195 million. That last mansion is in Beverly Hills, too, just outside the Trousdale Estates neighborhood.
Thomas' Moorish-style mansion was built in 1970 and clocks in at 18,000 square feet on a 2.5-acre promontory (make room for Daddy, indeed!). His daughter Marlo married talk show host Phil Donahue there in 1980.
Thomas died in 1991, but the home stayed in the family until the death of his widow in 2000, when it sold for $15 million.
That buyer — the current owner, unnamed by the Journal but reportedly billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, a major Clinton donor — executed a renovation worth millions to emphasize the Moorish design, listing agent Aaron Kirman told the newspaper.
It's next door to Minecraft founder Markus "Notch" Persson's new spec mansion, dubbed "L.A.'s most extreme home" by the Los Angeles Times. He bought it late last year after a reported bidding war with Beyonce and Jay-Z, paying $70 million in cash and breaking records for the most expensive home sold in Beverly Hills. It was originally listed at $85 million and was represented by John Aaroe Group, the parent company of Kirman's Aaroe Estates luxury division.
Kirman told the Journal that this mansion is worth considerably more than Notch's house, because the property is double the acreage and is positioned atop a hill for 360-degree views. (Notch's views are a mere 280 degrees.)
"What makes this estate so valuable is its site, the grounds and the view that is absolutely the best view in the city," he said in a news release. He believes it will have strong appeal for international buyers, as its neighbor did when Persson, a Swedish billionaire, bought it.
But we'd point out that Notch's house was a new build — 22,000 square feet of opulence that included a dedicated "candy wall," an $85,000 bathtub, and a car elevator that brings showpieces into the tequila-bar area for display on giant turntables.
Trousdale Estates has long been a celebrity magnet. Around Thomas' day, it was home to stars like Frank Sinatra, Groucho Marx, Fred Astaire and Elvis Presley — whose fans used to steal the King's mailbox, his address numbers, even his bricks, according to the late L.A. Times columnist Jack Smith. Future President Nixon was an early resident; neighbor Groucho said he'd "rather have Nixon in that house than the other House." More recently, it's attracted Jennifer Aniston, Jane Fonda, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John.
Cult director John Waters has described the neighborhood and Thomas' estate perhaps most colorfully — but blisteringly — in a 1986 collection of essays called "Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters." He called Trousdale "the most nouveau of the nouveau riche neighborhoods":
"If anyone publishes a parody of Architectural Digest, this enclave should make the cover. It's true state-of-the-art bad taste, Southern California style. Every house looks like Trader Vic's. Now climb Hillcrest Drive to the top and shriek in amazement at Villa Rosa, Danny Thomas' garish estate, which boasts more security video cameras than the White House. Stop and gawk and wonder why he's so paranoid. Who on earth would want to assassinate Danny Thomas? It wouldn't even make the front page!"
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Here's a trailer for "I'll See You in My Dreams," the 1951 musical biopic in which Danny Thomas starred as lyricist Gus Kahn (not to be confused with the unrelated 2015 movie of the same name):