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Is World's Richest Man Buying Hotel?

September 27, 1987|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Sultan Muda Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei--the world's richest person, according to last week's Fortune magazine--is purported to have made an accepted offer on the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the rumor is that an announcement will be made this week.

A representative of the owner, a partnership controlled by oilman Marvin Davis, said last Tuesday that she had had a few inquiries about an impending sale Monday but added, "At this point, I don't know anything about it." A query weeks earlier by this reporter about the reputed sale was then denied.

The Davis-led group bought the hotel last December for $136 million, but we hear that the sultan is paying more than $200 million. Not a bad profit, if it's true, but why the quick turnaround? Our sources say it was because of the large overhaul needed at the 60-year-old landmark--major work that Davis and his group didn't realize until their purchase was completed.

The sultan should be able to afford the rehab. Fortune said he's worth $25 billion. But he does have at least one other major hotel restoration in mind. It's at the Dorchester in London, which he purchased at the end of 1985 for more than 40 million ($65.5 million by today's rates).

When we rang up the Dorchester, we were told that the staff is "waiting for a report back from the sultan to hear when a full renovation will begin" there.

The sultan would be no stranger to quick turnarounds in the hotel business, by the way. He bought the Dorchester only six months after the former owners, Regent International--now owners of the Beverly Wilshire--purchased it.

Bruce Willis isn't only enjoying the Emmy he just won for best dramatic actor. He's also basking, we hear, in the beautiful home he bought recently on Malibu's Carbon Beach. The two-story, contemporary--right on the water--was sold through Fred Sands Realtors for close to its $2-million asking price.

It wouldn't take a Valley girl to call Robert and Gene Woolf's mansion in Montecito "awesome." The 17,000-square-foot, 38-room house, practically all on one floor, is so spacious, yet ornate, that it reminded visitors dining there last week of a Spanish cathedral.

A buffet dinner was held at the mansion after the opening last Monday of an exhibit featuring the designs of Robert Woolf and his father, the late and famed architect John Woolf.

"It was a dream house for my father and myself, and its beautiful detail, especially in its ceilings, influenced our work," Robert Woolf said.

The Woolfs didn't design their Montecito home, though. It was designed by Addison Mizner, a famous East Coast architect who built many landmark houses in Palm Beach, Fla.

Mizner finished the Woolfs' mansion in 1932 for the head, at the time, of Union Carbide. The Woolfs, the third owners, acquired it about seven years ago. "I still love it here," Robert Woolf said, "but now I'd like something a little more modest." The mansion, on 10 3/4 acres, is listed with William Capp of Alexander Velto Real Estate in Santa Barbara at $8.9 million.

Speaking of architect John Woolf, the Norton Simon estate on Malibu's Carbon Beach is in escrow, we hear.

Simon and his wife, actress Jennifer Jones, bought a house designed by Woolf there and then purchased an old Spanish house next door and had it remodeled by architect Frank Gehry.

Together, the houses have 160 feet of beach front.

They were given recently to UCLA, which put them on the market, with TV producer/director Pierre Cossette buying one of the houses and J. P. Guerin, former chairman of PSA, buying the other. The whole package is going for about $4 million.

The sellers were represented by Previews and Jim Retz & Associates, and the buyers were represented by Carol Rapf, Linda Hamlin and Terry O'Connor of Jim Rapf & Associates.

St. Josephs Center for the Homeless in Venice will benefit from a dinner Tuesday, hosted by Cecelia Waeschle of Rodeo Realty and her husband, Clifford, at the Beverly Hills home of Joyce Rey, general manager of Rodeo Realty.

Waeschle is the one who had the listing on the late British pop-singer manager Gordon Mills' house (the former David Wolper estate in Holmby Hills), where the American Cancer Society fund-raiser was held in June. That house--a 1937 28-room place built for an unnamed silent-screen star--sold for $3.6 million. (The asking price was $3.65 million.) A heart surgeon from Lancaster paid for it in cash.

"I had such a good year, I had to give something back," Waeschle said of the dinner, which she and her husband are underwriting. The $50 per-person donations will go directly, she said, to the center.

Joan Collins' former house, the one her estranged husband Peter Holm occupied by himself for several months until it was sold to movie producer Freddie Fields in July, has been sold again--this time to John Prell, owner of the 24-Hour Nautilus Health Spa in Downey.

Prell--who bought the Beverly Hills-area place, we're told, for "significantly under market value"--owns several other homes in Beverly Hills and adjacent areas. He plans to renovate the Collins house and put it up for sale again at $1.5 million. Or, he says, if somebody is interested in it as is, he would sell it for $1.2 million. Or, he might move into it himself if he can't find a larger, permanent residence that he likes better. He's actively looking.

Prell bought the former Collins house for $785,000--"the first day it was on the market," Johanna Falduto of Stan Herman & Associates remarked.

Falduto says she also sold the house to producer Fields ("Tender Mercies"), who bought it from Collins for his daughter for $675,000--"sight unseen."

Collins moved out of the 4,800-square-foot house last December after renovations were completed on the 12,000-square-foot mansion she bought the previous May.

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