There was no truth that Barbra Streisand was planning to sell her Hollywood home and buy a mansion in London, we were told last fall, but there is lots of evidence now that the so-called "Duchess of Brooklyn" is buying British actor Richard Harris' Beverly Hills-area house.
Stephen Stills--of the rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young--has been leasing Harris' house and was even interested in buying it himself, but Streisand apparently won out. Asking price was $7 million, but it's going for $5.5 million.
Streisand still owns a Holmby Hills home and a Malibu residential compound, which was listed in June, 1987, at $18 million. Six months later, the price was raised to $19.5 million. It's still on the market.
As for her new digs, they are on a promontory, consisting of nearly 6 acres. And there is talk that she may have the house demolished.
Merv Griffin has been quietly looking for a buyer of his 157-acre mountaintop overlooking Beverly Hills, real estate sources say.
"He's been trying to keep it low key," an agent who declined to be identified, said, "but when you're asking $25 million for anything, that's hard to keep low key."
The property was once owned by Princess Shams, a sister of the late Shah of Iran. Griffin bought it with much fanfare in October, 1987. He has been having it graded for a 16-acre pad to accommodate a mansion designed by Waldo Fernandez. (The planned house grew in size from 25,000 to 58,000 square feet, at last count.)
Griffin reportedly paid about $5.5 million for the property but has already had an offer of $18 million.
Why the talk-show host-turned-tycoon is selling remains, for the moment, a mystery. Perhaps the planned house was becoming more of a hotel, and he already owns (and is buying) several of those. Perhaps he needed more funds for his Trump deals and his hotel renovations. Or, maybe he planned all along to use the property strictly as an investment.
"He possibly wants a little more liquidity," an agent speculated, "but he was willing to take back some secondary financing, so money doesn't appear to be the issue." Hopefully, we'll hear more from Merv, who was not available last week.
Cliff Petersen, who says he owns the world's largest collection of U.S. Patent Office models, has had samples in every room of his 15-room, 8,000-square-foot Beverly Hills home, but no more:
He's shipping the 40,000 models to a New York warehouse he owns and is moving as fast as he can to a Hollywood Hills hideaway that he just bought. "The collection has taken over my life," he said. "I'm beginning to get intimidated, even by the house."
He has lived in the house, built in 1911 as a wedding present for the daughter of Silsby Spalding (Beverly Hills' first mayor), for 25 years, but the home is now listed with Constance Chesnut and Cris Forrest (actor Steve Forrest's wife) at Jack Hupp & Associates. Price: $6.5 million.
"The house might be torn down because it's on two lots," Hupp said, "but about half the people looking intend to restore it."
The house next door is also on two lots, but its new owner, Georges Marciano (one of the two brothers who own Guess Jeans), has been restoring it. That house, much newer than Petersen's but of pre-World War II vintage, was owned by former talk-show host Mike Douglas before Marciano bought it for $7.3 million.
As for the collection of patent models, Petersen hopes to sell it to an American museum or "someone with great resources who can take care of it," he said. "I had offers of $15 million, but I broke off negotiations because I didn't want to see a Japanese or Canadian buy it, though I have sold 45 models to a museum in south London." The collection has been valued at $17.5 million.
Gene Klein, who made a fortune owning movie theaters before buying the San Diego Chargers and then training and racing such thoroughbreds as his "Winning Colors," has been developing homes with partner Guy Gardner at Del Rayo, Klein's Rancho Santa Fe project, for three years, but what Klein is doing now takes nerves that only a fellow like Klein could have:
He's developing, on his own, eight houses averaging $6 million plus change, and he's doing it, though he hates the expression, "on spec." He doesn't say "on spec," because he figures that the houses are so fine they will sell with no trouble.
Getting $6 million-plus for even one house without a specific buyer in mind seems riskier than any horse race, but Klein is confident he'll come out a winner. He bases this on what he deems is a need ("I know there is a great number of people moving to San Diego, looking for residences like these") and his knowledge of what goes into such houses. He has owned several mansions: a 9,000-square-footer in Trousdale, a 16,000-square-footer behind the Beverly Hills Hotel, and, currently, an 18,000-square- footer in Rancho Santa Fe.
Brooks Barton, a first vice president of Coldwell Banker (formerly western regional vice president of Previews), says his firm has just formed an exclusive agreement with Citibank's Asian Bank Division to represent Citibank's Asian clients who are shopping for real estate in the United States.
"This is interesting," Barton said from his Santa Barbara office, "because we will bring in a lot of large buyers who are pre-qualified by the bank." By "large," Barton means he will work with clients who are pre-qualified to buy residential properties, even single-family homes, for as much as $50 million each.