Gary Winnick's knoll-top property adjoins several holes on the private… (Google Earth )
Word is out that financier Gary Winnick is quietly floating his storied estate in Bel-Air for sale at $225 million.
Winnick, who founded and later sold Global Crossing, bought the Bellagio Road mansion in 2000 from Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock. The $94-million deal, which involved the telecom mogul ponying up a parcel of land, stood as the highest-priced home sale in California for years.
Although a seller can ask any amount for a property, the 8.4-acre trophy home is for sale at the right price, said a person familiar with Winnick's real estate dealings who wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Renovated extensively during Winnick's ownership, the estate has seven bedrooms, 20 bathrooms and 28,725 square feet of living space, tax records show.
Winnick, the founder and chief executive of the investment firm Pacific Capital Group, declined to comment.
A home price of $7,833 a square foot is not outside the realm of possibility. A mansion roughly a third the size sold for $13,158 a square foot this year in the wealthy Northern California community of Woodside.
Although the $3-million-and-up market is doing exceptionally well, other factors can come into play with home transactions in the upper reaches, said John Karevoll, an analyst for San Diego real estate information company DataQuick.
"You're dealing with people for whom a dollar isn't necessarily a dollar," he said. "If you get into swaps, you can almost assign any value."
Some home sales have included other land or properties, stocks, car collections, jewelry and race horses, Karevoll said. "If you go way back, there was one that even included a daughter's hand in marriage."
That deal fell apart when the bride-to-be was determined to be "unpure."
"It would be incredibly shocking," he said, "if somebody actually walked up to the table and wrote a check for that amount."
Low interest rates are pushing the wealthy into riskier investments such as stocks and properties.
"Cash is a very unattractive place to park assets," said Paul Habibi, a real estate lecturer at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. Plus, consumers — sensing that inflation is right around the corner — see real estate as a hedge.
Low numbers of houses for sale, bidding wars and a scarcity of new home building are creating an attractive scenario for sellers.
"There is a finite housing stock on the Westside," he said, "and that's prime land."
Winnick's Casa Encantada was named in the 1930s by its original owner, glass manufacturing heiress Hilda Boldt Weber. Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels, owned the estate for three decades starting in 1950.
The knoll-top property adjoins several holes on the private Bel-Air Country Club, affording the owner a degree of privacy that would be difficult to duplicate on the built-out Westside. The grounds include a swimming pool, a pool house and a tennis court.
Winnick has been toying with changes in his residential holdings since last year, when he was eyeing the nearby Hannah Carter house and UCLA's Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. The Georgian Colonial house, with two dining rooms, five fireplaces and staff quarters, came on the market at a minimum bid of $9 million. Including the Japanese Garden, priced then at a minimum $5.7 million, the combined properties encompass 2 acres. The sale stalled when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge found that UC regents had agreed to keep the garden in perpetuity.
The most expensive home for sale currently on the Multiple Listing Service is Fleur de Lys in Holmby Hills at $125 million, according to Realtor.com. The 4-acre-plus estate centers on a French-inspired mansion with 12 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms.
The highest recent transaction locally was the 2011 sale of Candy Spelling's 56,500-square-foot mansion in Holmby Hills for $85 million. Spelling, the widow of famed TV producer Aaron Spelling, had listed her longtime residence at $150 million.
Naming a price in the Los Angeles luxury market can fall into be-careful-what-you-wish-for territory.
Randy Phillips, chief executive of concert-promotion powerhouse AEG Live, sold a gated estate he had renovated in Beverly Hills for $15.5 million after he was asked how much it would take for him to sell.
"I was experimenting," he said in an interview last year. "I came up with a price that I didn't think anyone would match or meet, so I didn't think I was in trouble of losing my house."