Last year was the best for high-end home sales since the housing bubble burst, and among those making the A list for celebrity mega-deals were Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Aniston.
Twice as many homes were sold in the $5-million-plus range in Los Angeles County than three years ago, the low mark after the housing crash, according to the real estate information firm DataQuick. Through November, the latest month for which counts are available, 296 home sales had appeared in the public record above $5 million, the most since 2007, as the top of the market reflected the growing strength in overall home sales during 2012.
Topping sales locally was Oracle Corp. head Larry Ellison's purchase of a three-structure, copper-roofed compound along Malibu's Carbon Beach for $36.944 million, according to public records. Former Yahoo Inc. Chief Terry Semel and his wife, Jane, were the sellers.
A close second in price was Seacrest buying DeGeneres' three-property compound in Beverly Hills for $36.5 million. (Tying the amount the "American Idol" host paid was a non-celebrity transaction: an 11,313-square-foot beachfront mansion on nearly 7 acres in Malibu that closed in late December for $36.5 million.) Seacrest also offloaded his Mediterranean villa in Hollywood Hills West for $11 million.
DeGeneres and spouse Portia de Rossi moved to an 8,500-square-foot house in Beverly Hills designed by acclaimed midcentury architect Hal Levitt. The purchase price was $17.4 million.
The daytime host and comedian also sold her 4,088-square-foot Malibu house — on 1.26 bluff-top acres with a tennis court, a lap pool and beach access — for $13 million. DeGeneres bought the ocean-view place from acting couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in late 2011 for $12 million.
In a third transaction topping the $30-million mark, C. Frederick Wehba, co-founder of the international real estate investment firm BentleyForbes, sold his 36,000-square-foot French Palladian-style mansion in Beverly Hills for $34.5 million.
Leading lady and "Friends" star Aniston was involved in one of several 2012 deals in the $20-million range. She bought a Midcentury Modern-style house in Bel-Air from former Maguire Properties Chief Executive Robert F. Maguire III for $20.97 million. The restored 8,500-square-foot house sits on a 3-acre-plus promontory with unobstructed ocean and city views, a guesthouse, swimming pool and vineyards.
Unusual and awesome amenities
If one is good, two may just be better. Investor and pro soccer team owner Gabriel Brener put his Holmby Hills estate up for sale last year at $90 million. The 35,000-square-foot mansion comes with two safe rooms.
Donald Abbey, founder of a commercial real estate investment and management firm, made a splash in the San Gabriel Valley community of Bradbury asking $78.8 million for his estate. But what really distinguishes the property, which has more than 47,000 square feet of living space, are the temperature-controlled trout pond with two-story waterfall and subterranean firing range.
Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre sold his 4-acre-plus estate in Bradbury for $17.4 million — complete with batting cage.
A whimsical "Flintstones"-esque house owned by the late television personality Dick Clark came on the market in Malibu. Looking like "a page right out of history," as the "Flintstones" theme song says, the one-bedroom retreat and its 23 acres are priced at $3.5 million.
And what better Hollywood amenity than an early film vault? The former retreat of silent and talking movie star Lewis Stone, who appeared with Greta Garbo in multiple films, has a walk-in vault and is on the market in the Valley Glen area at $1.75 million.
POTUS slept here, here and here
In something of an election year hail to the chiefs, several presidential homes made the scene in Southern California.
Actress Jane Fonda and music producer Richard Perry sold a house in Hollywood Hills West that was built in 1942 for actor Ronald Reagan and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman. The traditional-style home went for $8.5 million.
A 30-acre equestrian property that was once part of ranch land owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan when the former president was governor of California is for sale in Murrieta at $3.9 million. Another former Reagan home in Pacific Palisades is on the market at $4.999 million.
The desert retreat of former President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford sold in Rancho Mirage for $1.675 million.
Getting in on the act
Leading man Leonardo DiCaprio put a three-house compound in Malibu up for sale at a commanding $23 million.
Actress Meg Ryan has sold her romantic two-story house in Bel-Air for $11.125 million.
Ashton Kutcher, who stars in "Two and a Half Men," bought the glass-walled home he had been renting in Hollywood Hills for $8.455 million.
Box-office star Harrison Ford sold his compound — with his carpenter workshop — in Brentwood for $8.195 million.
On the musical score