BERRY GORDY JR., founder of Motown Records Corp., has sold his Malibu home for close to $6 million, according to industry sources.
The buyer was reported to be former Disney executive MICHAEL OVITZ, but Malibu sources have indicated that Ovitz transferred his interest to Universal Studios chief RON MEYER before escrow closed. The asking price was $5.7 million.
Ovitz and Meyer, founding partners of Creative Artists Agency, both left the firm nearly two years ago, and since then Ovitz left the Walt Disney Co. after a year as president there, with a severance package estimated to be worth $96 million. Meyer left CAA to head MCA/Universal and is now president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios.
Gordy had owned the four-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot house on three acres with a pool, almost since the house was built in 1975, but he hadn't used it much lately, locals say. Gordy's main residence is in Bel-Air, where he has owned a house about the same size as the one in Malibu since 1976. The Bel-Air house was built in the 1930s.
Gordy, 67, founded Motown Records in 1959 and moved himself and his company from Detroit to Los Angeles in 1970. He sold Motown to MCA Records for $61 million in 1988, the year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Motown was sold to PolyGram in 1993 for $325 million.)
While president of Motown, Gordy signed a stable of singers who later became famous. Among them: the Temptations, the Supremes (with Diana Ross), the Miracles (with Smokey Robinson), Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 (with Michael Jackson). Gordy also wrote or co-wrote many of the Motown hits and he wrote a number of songs that have been featured in such movies as "Sister Act 2" (1993).
Gordy produced the movies "The Wiz" (1978), "Mahogany"(1975) and "Lady Sings the Blues" (1972), starring Ross, the mother of one of his eight children by five women, according to his autobiography, "To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown."
Meyer was in escrow on another Malibu home but couldn't get an easement that he wanted as part of the deal, so Ovitz worked it out for Meyer to buy Gordy's house instead, local Realtors say.
Meyer plans to tear down the existing house and build a new home, to be designed by New York architect Charles Gwathney, who is known for his contemporary designs. Gwathney has designed several houses in the L.A. area for well known people.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.
VERNA HARRAH, co-producer of the movie "Anaconda" and widow of gambling czar William F. Harrah, has listed her Malibu home at $40 million, public records show.
Last year, Harrah bought the Beverly Hills home of the late jazz great Ella Fitzgerald for about $2.5 million.
Harrah, 52, built her gated Malibu estate on about seven acres in 1993. It includes a Mediterranean-style 18,000-square-foot main house with nine fireplaces and a screening room.
The property also has a guest house, formal rose garden, pool, spa, covered parking for nine cars and about 300 feet of beach frontage.
The asking price includes some furnishings. Barbara Duskin of the Prudential-Jon Douglas Co., Beverly Hills, has the listing.
CHASTITY BONO, daughter of Sonny and Cher, has become a first-time home buyer at 28.
Entertainment media director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Bono appeared on TV for the first time in years on the May 7 episode of "Ellen," playing a counselor at a support-group meeting for parents of gays and lesbians. She sometimes appeared on her parents' popular variety show, "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," before they were divorced when she was 5.
Bono, who "came out" to the public a couple of years ago, is working on her book, "Family Outings," which she describes as "a coming-out guide for gay people and their families."
She bought a two-bedroom, two-bath house in West Hollywood with her companion, Laura LaMastro, for just under $300,000. The 1,100-square-foot house was built in the 1920s but has an updated kitchen and baths.
Bono and LaMastro moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco when Bono took the GLAAD job. They leased the house for three months before deciding to buy it.
Nancy Sill of John Aaroe & Associates, Beverly Hills, represented the buyers, and Patty Fischer of Nourmand & Associates was the listing agent.
Newlyweds CHARLES RUSSELL, a producer and director, and PATTI RAO RUSSELL, a top model, have purchased a contemporary nearly 7,000-square-foot house with five bedrooms and a tennis court for just under $2.1 million. The asking price had been about $2.5 million.
Russell, 42, was executive producer and director of Arnold Schwarzenegger's action film "Eraser" (1996) and Jim Carrey's comedy hit "The Mask" (1994).
The couple plans to completely remodel the house, built in 1967, and will lease elsewhere in the meantime.
Craig Blanchard and Jerry Primack, both with John Aaroe & Associates, Pacific Design Center office, had the listing, and Kathy Fisher with the Prudential-Jon Douglas Co., Brentwood, represented the buyers.