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$40-Million Sales Tag Cited for Hawaii Estate

April 10, 1988|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Here we go again in the "Can You Top This?" housing game.

Or as Honolulu realtor John Poss put it: "Can you believe $40 million for a home?"

Greg Wiles, a reporter for the Honolulu Advertiser, broke the news in the islands a few days ago, saying that Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto, who bought one of three houses on the Kaiser Estate in East Oahu earlier this year, has submitted an offer to purchase the rest of the estate "in a deal that will be the most ever paid for a residential property in Hawaii."

Wiles might have said that it could be the most ever paid for a residential estate in the country! If you've heard of a higher sale, let me know. Wiles wrote that "real estate sources believe Kawamoto's purchase of the entire estate will total more than $40 million when completed in April." Escrow is expected to close in two weeks.

Less than a month ago, a Japanese company topped the highest selling price I knew then ($20.5 million in Beverly Hills) when it paid $21 million for another Oahu home.

Kawamoto reportedly already paid $4.55 million for the 10,000-square-foot "Picnic House" on the Kaiser Estate, and at the time of that purchase, obtained a "first right of refusal" option on the rest of the property.

And get this: Kawamoto also purchased at least 119 other houses or apartments on Oahu in the past several months for a total of about $34 million! (The rumor is that he bought them to sell to retirees from Japan.)

If the Japanese keep this up, they'll surpass the $12.7 billion they spent on U.S. real estate in 1987, and that was an increase of 70% over the previous year, according to a report issued last week by L.A.-based Kenneth Leventhal & Co.

The $40-million offer also substantiates the report's findings that the Japanese investment boom is diversifying into residential property and that Hawaii is the Japanese's favorite market.


Liberace's furnishings and collections will be auctioned again today (the four-day auction started Saturday at the L.A. Convention Center), but some of his real estate already has been sold.

The office building that housed his L.A. penthouse was purchased in February by investor Sedighan Bahman for $2.55 million, $250,000 more than its appraised value. Why? Because Liberace was the former owner?

"I think so," said Bill Weatherby, the listing broker, "and Mr. Bahman also thinks that neighborhood--Hollywood adjacent to Hancock Park, also known as Beverly-Fairfax--is on its way back. Of course, Joel Strote was delighted at the selling price."

Strote is executor of the Liberace estate and president of the board of the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, which will benefit from the auction and real estate sales. At a press preview of auction items last week, Strote said, "I want to liquidate as much as I can to benefit the foundation, because that's what Liberace was about."

As the "Liberace Collection" opened for public inspection, a USC student on a foundation scholarship played the mirrored piano from Liberace's L.A. penthouse, at 7461 Beverly Blvd. The penthouse is now for lease through Neil Resnick and Daniel Marzban of Coldwell Banker at $6,900 a month.

"I'm positioning the penthouse as a residential/office opportunity, though Liberace used the main apartment as his L.A. residence and the other apartment, also on the fifth floor, for his guests," said Resnick, who is also handling office leases in the rest of the building.

As for Liberace's other real estate:

Weatherby, a Santa Monica broker, still has the listing on a 1,930-square-foot ocean-front condo in Malibu, originally priced at $695,000, subsequently reduced to $625,000, and just cut again to $595,000. A smaller unit in the same building, which Liberace used for guests, was sold a few months ago to a movie producer. And Liberace's Tahoe house also sold during the past month.

The 10,500-square-foot Las Vegas house is expected to be reduced from its current $2.7-million tag, and Liberace's Las Vegas restaurant, Tivoli Gardens, is for sale, not including the real estate, at $300,000, said Scottie Moore, who has the Las Vegas listings with Tim McKenna at Jack Matthews & Co.

The late entertainer's New York home, in Trump Tower, was a rental, but he owned his house in Palm Springs and hoped it would become a museum someday. The city's Planning Commission rejected that idea, but Strote said, "The foundation's board will meet in the fall and decide whether or not to reapply."


"Bella Vista," a walled hacienda built in the early '30s on a cul-de-sac overlooking the Beverly Hills Hotel and owned for years by the late ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his wife while they raised their daughter, actress Candice Bergen, is in escrow and due to close in June.

In her 1984 autobiography "Knock Wood," Candice Bergen, now 41, wrote: "High on a mountain, at the end of a steep, twisting road . . . 'Bella Vista' was not readily accessible to the timid or fainthearted.

"On the mountain that loomed above us lay the John Barrymore estate. Katharine Hepburn lived in the old Aviary, a couple named Grimaldi in the large main house, and the conductor Lukas Foss in the guest house."

Comedian Shelly Berman later bought Bella Vista and sold it. The current buyer, an unnamed film director, bought the 3.34-acre property, which had been listed with Barbara Palmer of the Jon Douglas Co., for close to its $2.75-million asking price.

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