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Inside Jeff Bezos’s new $165m Beverly Hills mansion

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Amazon founder breaks record for most expensive LA property

In Depth The Week Staff
Friday, February 14, 2020 - 11:51am

Jeff Bezos has broken property price records in Los Angeles by buying a $165m Beverly Hills mansion.

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The Amazon founder’s purchase is “the largest amount paid for a single-family Los Angeles-area home”, says The Guardian.

What’s the history of the house?

The nine-acre estate originally belonged to Jack Warner, the late president of Warner Bros Studios.

Warner built the estate’s 13,600-sq-ft Georgian-style mansion in the 1930s, with materials reportedly including the wooden floor that Napoleon stood on when he proposed to Josephine in 1796.

The estate was a popular hangout for stars in the golden age of Hollywood. As Olivia de Havilland said in Architectural Digest: “I remember one New Year’s Eve party in 1939 or 1940, all the men were glorious in white tie. Errol Flynn was behind the bar, Howard Hughes was my date, and Jimmy Stewart was seated on a stool.” 

Ann Warner, Jack’s widow, declined a $25m offer for the estate after his death in 1978, saying she would live there until her death.

Media mogul David Geffen broke national records when he purchased the estate for $47.5m in 1990. He auctioned off around $11m of the mansion’s furnishings but kept the famous wooden floor. The ongoing work he did on the estate made it one of the city’s longest-running construction projects of the 1990s, says the Guardian.

“This is really an act of grandiosity on my part, but the fact of the matter is that I own it,” Geffen told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “And it’s a privilege to be able to live there.”

What’s features does the estate have?

It is “the archetypal studio mogul’s estate”, says Architectural Digest, with its “expansive terraces and gardens, two guesthouses, nursery and three hothouses, tennis court, swimming pool, nine-hole golf course and motor court complete with its own service garage and gas pumps”.

“Outside, the property holds a golf course, a series of fern gardens, fountains and sculptures. A 300-foot, tree-lined drive ends at a circular motor court. Elsewhere on the grounds are a pool and tennis court,” says the Los Angeles Times.

“It looks like Versailles,” Geffen said when he bought the estate and its mansion, which at the time featured eight bedrooms, a card room, a screening room and a domed bar.

The mansion was originally designed in Spanish Colonial Revival style, says the LA Times, before Warner had it reimagined as a grand Georgian mansion by architect Roland Coate in the 1930s.

Why Bezos?

Bezos is one of the few people rich enough to afford the estate, thanks to his $131bn net worth.

“David has the best taste of anybody, so you have the richest guy in the world buying the best of the best,” Stephen Shapiro, of Westside Estate Agency, told the LA Times. “Why would he settle for anything less?”

Bezos had been house-hunting in Bel Air and Beverly Hills with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, with “price no object”, says the New York Post.

Another property the couple visited was Chartwell, a Bel Air estate that set the previous record when it was bought by Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, for $150m last year, reports the Guardian.

The 2019 Land Report, which lists the country’s 100 largest landowners, ranked Bezos in 25th place.

Bezos’s purchase comes amid concern from leading US Democrats over how Amazon treats its employees.

In a recent letter to Bezos, the senators wrote: “Amazon’s dismal safety record indicates a greater concern for profit than for your own workers.”

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders tweeted about Bezos’s purchase on Wednesday, noting the billionaire had added $13bn to his wealth in 15 minutes two weeks earlier.

“$13 billion in 15 minutes,” Sanders wrote. “Think about that compared to the pain and struggle of millions of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck. We have a rigged economy and that has got to change.”

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