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Marion Davies' Former Home for Sale

January 11, 1987|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

The mansion that was once purchased by newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst for film star Marion Davies is for sale at $25 million, making it one of the highest-priced houses in the United States, maybe even the world.

Hearst bought the Beverly Hills home, which he named "Beverly House," in 1947 for $120,000.

That per "The Estates of Beverly Hills," which Jeff Hyland (whose Beverly Hills firm Alvarez, Hyland & Young has the listing) co-authored with Charles Lockwood.

The book also lists Gordon Kaufmann as the architect. Kaufman designed the large (about 20,000-square-foot), pink stucco, H-shaped house for banker Milton Getz. Getz and his family moved there from Hancock Park in 1927.

After Hearst bought it, the book says, Miss Davies hung a dozen larger-than-life paintings of herself along the first-floor hall walls and placed statuary from Hearst's castle, San Simeon, in the elaborate gardens, but Hearst's days there with Miss Davies were brief, since he died in Beverly House at age 89 in 1951.

Ten weeks later, Miss Davies married Horace Brown, an ex-merchant marine and movie extra who looked remarkably like Hearst. Brown outlived Miss Davies, but moved out of the house when she died in 1961.

Brown sold the property, which was subdivided in 1966, and the current owner bought it about 11 years ago, Hyland, the newly installed president of the Beverly Hills Board of Realtors, said by phone.

In recent years, the mansion and its gardens, fountains and reflecting pools have been restored and seen in such movies as "The Godfather."

There are only a couple other houses for sale in the whole country at such a whopping price. The two that come to mind are "Montsorrel" in Florida and "The Coler Mansion" in Beverly Hills.

Both are listed at $25 million, but the Coler Mansion, a new house, was built on spec for that price! Dale Meyerhoff of Rodeo Realty, a division of Merrill Lynch Realty, has the listing.

Designed and built by architect Aleck Dugally, the house has an etched glass floor in the dining room that serves as the ceiling for an indoor lighted swimming pool below. The mansion also has a ballroom, bowling alley, gym and eight-car garage with marble floors.

"Montsorrel," an older estate that has been on the market for a number of months, is listed with Sotheby's. The seller is the estate of Anita O'Keeffe Young, widow of Robert R. Young, who made a fortune in railroads and the stock market.

The $120-million Grand Champions, Indian Wells resort opened the other day with a champagne lunch, hot-air balloon rides, buffet dinner for 1,500 guests and a sit-down dinner for 200.

Among the guests were entertainers Trini Lopez, who said he has lived in the desert area for the past five years, and Alan King, who is vice chairman of the development. Don Budge led the list of tennis legends at the opening.

Among the others there were Alice Marble, who played doubles with Bobby Riggs at Wimbledon in the 1940s, Alex Olmedo and Pancho Gonzalez.

Riggs, Olmedo and Gonzalez also participated in Tennis Fantasy Week, held in conjunction with the opening. Sixty participants played tennis for a week with these tennis greats and Jack Kramer, Roy Emerson, Gardnar Mulloy, Frank Parker, Fred Perry, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Tony Trabert, Sven Davidson and Tom Brown.

The next big tennis event at the resort will be the Volvo Classic, which will be held when the project's tennis stadium, the third largest in the United States, is completed in February.

The 340-suite hotel is strongly reminiscent of La Mamounia, that great old hotel that Winston Churchill frequented in Marrakech, Morocco. Morocco was one of the last stops on a three-year resort-hopping project that developer/tennis champ Charles Pasarell Jr., his associate Al DeVaul and architect Bob Yamafuji undertook to come up with the resort's design.

It was a tough assignment, but somebody had to do it.

Now that the Miller-Klutznick-Davis-Gray partnership, controlled by Marvin Davis, has purchased the Beverly Hills Hotel, the well-known Denver oilman is planning to invest about $40 million in refurbishing the public areas and 260 guest rooms and cottages. The hotel already has been undergoing some upgrading in preparation for its 75th anniversary this year.

The partnership--which also owns the Pebble Beach Co. in Monterey, Calif., and the Aspen Skiing Co. in Aspen, Colo.--is in the process of completing the 270-room Spanish Bay Resort adjacent to Pebble Beach and has plans for a luxury hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain.

Closer to the Beverly Hills Hotel, the partnership is developing the Fox Plaza, a 34-story office tower in Century City. It's the partnership's first project in the Los Angeles area and may not be the last.

In a prepared statement, Davis said that the Beverly Hills Hotel acquisition was "in keeping with our objective of owning and operating high quality assets" and called it an "affirmation of our confidence in the continued high quality growth and expansion opportunities in Southern California."

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