The Beverly Hills estate once owned by media-titan William RandolphHearst with actress Marion Davies is back on the market this week for a whopping $195 million. The storied listing ties the Ziff familycompound in Manalapan, Fla. as the most expensive homes officially for sale in the country.
The mansion was designed in 1927 by Gordon Kaufmann, the architect of the Hoover Dam, for banking executive Milton Getz. Hearst and Davies bought the Mediterranean style mansion in 1946 and the couple shared the home until Hearst’s death in 1951. (Hearst died long before Forbes began publishing wealth lists, but his decedents remain among America’s richest with a $28 billion fortune between the family members.)
A portrait of Davies hangs in a billiards room with herringbone parquet floors and an intricately designed ceiling and carved fireplace from the Hearst Castle. (Image courtesy: The Agency)
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy visited the property on their honeymoon in 1953 and JFK used it as his West Coast headquarters during the 1960 presidential campaign. However, the compound is most recognizable for its role in films including The Godfather and The Bodyguard. In an iconic scene from The Godfatherthe sun rises over the mansion as its owner screams upon discovering a horse’s bloody head in bed with him.
In real life, the home is now owned by Leonard Ross, a lawyer and real estate investor. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ross bought Beverley House four decades ago for less than $2 million as an investment. He renovated the property in the 1990s, adding 20,000 square-feet and bullet-proof windows.
Ross has taken the property on and off the market since at least 2007, when he was asking as much as $165 million. The price went as low as $95 million in 2010, as Ross filed for bankruptcy. He didn’t sell and in 2013 started renting out the home for $600,000 a month, which was thought to be the most expensive rental in the country at the time.
(Image courtesy: The Agency)
Price tags in this stratosphere are always hard to justify, but it’s clear the Beverley House has value beyond provenance.
The compound’s main home is 50,000 square-feet, or 18.6 times the size of the typical single family home built today. It features 19 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms (most new homes have 2.5 or fewer baths) and is reached by a 725-foot-long driveway. This original home shares a roughly five-acre plot with five other structures that bring the property total to 28 bedrooms and 38 bathrooms. (A portion of the compound including the main house can be had for $175 million.)
(Image courtesy: The Agency)
Inside a two story library features hand carved wood-paneling and a wraparound walkway. A formal living room boasts 22-foot hand painted ceiling. Some of the more ornate features have been taken from the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, now a museum. The property also features a near Olympic-size swimming pool, a lighted tennis court and two screening rooms. Terraces can accommodate 400 guests for a seated dinner and the grounds can accommodate more than 1,000 people.