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Cornfeld Home Listed; Ownership Disputed

November 08, 1987|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Grayhall, the 39-room mansion owned for years by the first mayor of Beverly Hills and later by actor George Hamilton and then international financier Bernard (Bernie) Cornfeld, is on the market--again.

Sherry Green at Rodeo Realty has the $6.85-million listing. "I represented Mr. Hamilton when he sold it to Mr. Cornfeld about 16 years ago, and now I am representing Mr. Cornfeld," she said.

The property is owned by Grayhall Inc., which Cornfeld heads, but developer Steven M. Powers claims that he acquired controlling interest in Grayhall Inc. last May.

"He is still an owner, but I'm trying to buy him out," Powers said of Cornfeld last week. "He is living in the house, and I'm trying to get him out."

Powers said he wants Cornfeld to move so that the 71-year-old house can be refurbished before it is aggressively marketed, but Powers acknowledged that he agreed to put it up for sale with Green.

David Rudich, Cornfeld's attorney, said that all the shares of Grayhall Inc. are owned by a Geneva trust set up by Cornfeld in the '70s to benefit his mother and daughter. "Powers has no stock in it," he asserted.

Lt. William Hunt of the Beverly Hills Police Department said that police officers responded to a call at the house a week or so ago. "There is some dispute over who actually owns the house," he said, "and we just tried to keep the peace."

The three-story, 13,894-square-foot house, at 1100 Carolyn Way, has 14 bedrooms, 12 baths, and a wood-paneled music room with hand-painted, coffered ceiling.

Silsby Spaulding, the first mayor of Beverly Hills, added the music room after he bought the mansion a couple of years after it was built. He installed a pipe organ, which he later gave to Stanford University. His wife sold the house after he died in the late '40s.

The house was rented to actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. before he and actress Mary Pickford turned an old hunting lodge into Pickfair, and Powers has said that there is a sealed-up tunnel connecting Pickfair to Grayhall.

Rudich, Cornfeld's attorney, also has listed his own house for $1.3 million.

"It once belonged to (actress) Carole Lombard," he said, "and she wrote her name and put her footprints in the cement kitchen floor.

"I also found her sterling silver--flatware and candelabra--in a wall panel."

The house was built in the '30s on three lots in what is known as the Beverly Hills Post Office area in Benedict Canyon. Beth Lipton of Stan Herman & Associates, Beverly Hills, has the listing.

Rudich wants to sell because he has put an offer on another house.

Sylvester Stallone has sold his Pacific Palisades house.

The gated and walled home went for nearly the asking price of $4.9 million. Linda G. Scott of Rodeo Realty's Brentwood office had the listing.

Jim and Tammy Bakker have indeed rented a place in Malibu, but they aren't apparently paying $7,000 a month, as was reported elsewhere. They're paying more, we hear, but just how much more, we don't know.

The Bakkers opted for Malibu over Beverly Hills. We reported last week that they looked at a house there that was for sale at $1.8 million or for lease at $7,000 a month.

Merrill Lynch's Pacific Palisades office represented the unemployed TV evangelists in Malibu.

The late comedian Dick Shawn's Santa Monica house is for lease, unfurnished, at $4,200 a month through Caroline Lembeck at Stan Herman & Associates, Beverly Hills.

"It's a charming Spanish house down a private drive with views of the ocean," Lembeck said. The 2,000-square-foot home was built in 1926, three years before Shawn was born.

It was his last residence before he died last April. The house is now owned by his children, Lembeck added.

More on that house once owned by actress Pola Negri:

Richard Bann, who identifies himself as producer Hal Roach Sr.'s biographer, says the Beverly Hills home was not built in the '20s for Negri but for actress Priscilla Dean, who is now living in New Jersey. Bann also noted that the home was later owned by Roach Sr. for about 30 years.

Many people may not realize it, he added, but Roach--who created such classic comedies as the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang series--is still alive and, at age 95, living in Bel-Air. Roach's producer son, Hal Roach Jr., died at 53 in 1972.

"$1 Million Down"--that hilarious book about Beverly Hills broker Elaine Young's exploits, co-authored by Ray Loynd, has been optioned for a TV sitcom by producer Ron Samuels (former business manager/husband of actress Lynda Carter), says Young. "Now all he has to do is put together a deal."

Seems a natural. As Young puts it: "After 30 years in real estate, I have enough stories to do something like the Beverly Hillbillies for 10 years. This is, after all, the zaniest, campiest town in the world."

The Dell paperback was originally published in 1978.

Speaking of books, there will be an autograph party today from 3-6:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for Marianne Morino's new book "The Hollywood Walk of Fame," published by Ten Speed Press. The book will be the primary information source for a daily game show produced by Bob Rice and Tery Kyne, and it will be in the "Hollywood: Legend and Reality" exhibit at the county's Natural History Museum from December through February.

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