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Petra Ecclestone buys Spelling mansion for $85 million

Candy Spelling, widow of TV producer Aaron Spelling, had asked $150 million for the 56,500-square-foot house in Holmby Hills, but sells it for $85 million to British socialite Petra Ecclestone, 22, the daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone.

July 15, 2011|By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times
  • British socialite Petra Ecclestone bought Candy Spelling's mansion in an all-cash deal for $85 million.
British socialite Petra Ecclestone bought Candy Spelling's mansion… (Reuters / Associated Press )

The biggest home in Los Angeles County is ready for a new nickname: The 56,500-square-foot Manor, dubbed Candyland after owner Candy Spelling, has been sold to another wealthy socialite, British heiress Petra Ecclestone, in an all-cash deal for $85 million.

As steep as that price is, it's not a record or even close to what Spelling was asking. The priciest Southland home transaction was the 2000 sale of an 8-acre estate in Bel-Air to financial executive Gary Winnick in a deal that included the trade of other land, for a total value of about $94 million. A $100-million sale in the Silicon Valley this year is believed to have set a U.S. record.

On the market for more than two years at $150 million as the highest-priced house in the U.S., the 4.7-acre Holmby Hills estate is designed for a life of glamour and grand living to which Ecclestone is no stranger. She is the daughter of self-made Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and former Armani model Slavica, who are divorced. The Ecclestone family ranked 254th this year on Forbes' list of wealthiest people, with a net worth of $4.2 billion.

The 22-year-old, a beneficiary of the family trust, also is no stranger to property ownership. She already has a Georgian mansion in Chelsea, England, valued at an estimated $90 million.

In one respect, the $150-million price tag for the Spelling mansion made the jobs of the listing agents easier.

"Rick Hilton and I had no problems with pre-qualifying buyers," quipped Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate. "If they or their party were not on the Forbes list, it was very easy to decline the showing."

The sale takes place at a time when deals in the $20-million-and-up range on L.A.'s Westside have outpaced last year, with more than a half-dozen closings already recorded. It's not uncommon for asking prices in this upper sphere to be lowered 40% or more as a property lingers on the market. Spelling, however, held firm to her original price even as the housing market sank, but ultimately sold at a 43% price chop.

In this housing stratosphere, determining an asking price is an inexact science.

"Generally speaking, you are not going to have matching comps because every estate is different when you get to that price range," said Jordan Cohen, estates director for Re/Max Olson & Associates, Westlake Village.

Cohen, who closed a $19.2-million sale last month and has opened new escrows in excess of $45 million, has represented professional athletes and celebrities including Kobe Bryant, tennis star Pete Sampras and Sylvester Stallone.

"Usability of the lot, its size, finishes and other factors" all play a role, Cohen said. A high-priced estate is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay, he said.

Ecclestone's new L.A. digs are about 1,500 square feet larger than the White House. Spelling, the widow of famed TV producer Aaron Spelling, has claimed that she never counted the number of rooms even though she oversaw construction of the chateau-style residence, built in 1991. A blend of over-the-top extravagance and practicality, the house is estimated to have about 123 rooms. Many are customized for their purposes, such as the flower-cutting room and a humidity-controlled silver storage room.

The basement bowling alley frequented by Aaron Spelling was a hangout for family and friends. A closet contained bowling shoes in nearly every size.

The house has 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Plus there's a 17,000-square-foot attic where mechanical lifts raise and lower chandeliers in the rooms below and extra pieces from Spelling's many collections are stored.

Designed for large-scale entertaining, the manicured grounds include parking for more than 100 vehicles, a swimming pool with a pool house, a citrus orchard and a tennis court.

In her 2009 book "Stories From Candyland," Spelling tells of her unfamiliarity with the building process: "We didn't set out to build the largest house.... Because I couldn't read blueprints, I was often surprised by what was eventually built."

Among things she would have done differently: the gift-wrapping room would have been larger, as would have two of the powder rooms. She devoted two extra attic rooms to gift-wrapping to make up for the miscalculation.

Even without the book title, the Spelling Manor could have qualified for the nickname Candyland. The former owner collected candy jars, candy dishes, candy dispensers and antique candy machines, many of which would be filled when royalty — Hollywood or otherwise — came to visit. The name originally considered for the manse was L'Oiseau, for bird, to reflect its W-shape layout.

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