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Hot Property

'Bargain' for Millionaires

September 25, 1988|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

What a deal! Remember the 170-room New York mansion that was put on the market last February at probably the highest price ever asked for a single-family home in the United States--$52 million?

Here's even more of a shocker: The place sold just the other day for a measly $22 million! New York prices must be falling faster than anyone thought.

More likely, this report is true: that the former owners/investors couldn't "support it." The run-down, turn-of-the-century house--with 112,895-square-foot house on 23 acres--must take a heap of upkeep.

But here's the clincher: Who were the buyers? The Japanese!

Meanwhile, in a Hollywood trade publication, there was this house for-sale ad the other day: "Beverly Hills Fixer: $3.5 million!"

Eddie Murphy is apparently shopping to buy a house in Beverly Hills. Guess the popular actor is getting tired of renting at such prices as $32,000 a month. (He was paying that for a Trousdale Estates home he rented in 1987 and undoubtedly spent more on the Bel-Air house he leased last January.) Anyway, the East Coast resident can afford to buy here too. Last week, he was ranked fifth in Forbes magazine's list of the 40 highest-paid entertainers--making $35 million this year.

Letter-size gold, embossed invitations don't arrive in the mail every day, but that's just what anybody probably would expect for this: the ribbon-cutting ceremony of "the new Liberace Museum" in Las Vegas, which will be held Thursday at 10 a.m.

The old museum, which opened in 1979 as the main funding arm of the scholarship-providing Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, never really closed and is still at the same address--1775 E. Tropicana Ave. But it is now twice as big as it was (it's 11,000 square feet) and has been completely redesigned, at a cost of more than $1 million, to house some new exhibits.

Among them: his show jewelry, which has never before been exhibited--except in his shows, of course. And, undoubtedly, you've been dying to see that piano-shaped watch, studded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, and that piano-shaped ring with 260 diamonds and keys of real ivory and black jade--a gift from hotel baron Barron Hilton.

Another new exhibit: a re-creation of Liberace's Palm Springs bedroom and office, with a desk once owned by Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Though turned down once by the city, Liberace's heirs are still hoping to turn the Palm Springs home, one of the few real estate holdings not sold in settling the pianist's estate, into another Liberace museum.

The ribbon cutting is being described as a "Liberace-type extravaganza," and a host of celebrities have been invited, but only one was named: Andrew Robinson, star of the ABC-TV movie "Liberace," which will air next Sunday.

Bette Midler, who will headline the "Viva Ann-Margret" Thalians Ball Oct. 8 in Century City, has been so busy making movies that she hasn't had a whole lot of time to fix up the half-finished house she bought last February in Kauai, though the Honolulu-born actress recently added on to her house in Beverly Hills. Now there are signs, though, that her gorgeous 38-acre property in Kilauea is getting some attention.

The grounds, overgrown with vegetation since construction stopped more than a year ago, are now being cleared and soon, hopefully, work will resume on the 5,000-square-foot home, which was started three years ago. (Midler bought the place for $1.5 million from the U.S. Marshal, who had seized it in a drug case.)

Chris Abel of Laguna Beach designed the unusual, three-story, round-shaped house, but as of last week, his office didn't know if he would oversee completion.

Evelyn Francis might not be a big name to many, but she is the star today of a reunion in Hollywood for people who worked for the late architect Richard Neutra and who knew Francis, now 92, when she was a full-time housekeeper in the '50s for the Neutra family. Francis is also being honored as "a poet, vocalist, humanitarian and member of the National Seniors Hall of Fame."

The celebration starts at 2 p.m. in the recreation room of the seniors' apartment complex at 6222 Fountain Ave. (Neutra's son, Dion, has continued the Los Angeles architectural practice started by his father in 1927.)

Like songwriter Randy Newman, international entrepreneur Reymond Voutier loves L.A.!

In a move to bolster the image of Los Angeles as the gateway to the Pacific, Australian-born Voutier--who has homes in Singapore and Japan as well as in Los Angeles--has opened his first Asiontrade (the "o" represents the globe) Center, for small- and mid-sized companies in the export business between Pacific Rim nations.

"It won't be in full swing for a couple of months, but we're making it operational now," Voutier said of the center, a $30-million rehab of five old office buildings--worth, by his estimate, $250 million--near Los Angeles International Airport, at 5757 W. Century Blvd.

The LAX International Business Center (LAX IBC) helped persuade Voutier to open the facility and its showrooms, display area and 100,000-square-foot conference/exhibition center. The governments of Singapore, Japan and Thailand also have what Voutier called "courtesy offices" there. He plans to open a similar center in Singapore late next year and a third one in Japan after that.

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