Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's called "high finance" and that means: Hold on to your socks !!!

Even the palatial former Beverly Hills home of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and actress Marion Davies isn't immune to 2010 housing price realities.

The lavish compound, which was listed for sale briefly three years ago at $165 million, is back on the market at $95 million (minus almost 3 acres listed last time) nearly a week after its owner, attorney-investor Leonard M. Ross, filed for bankruptcy protection.

The 50,000-plus-square-foot mansion sits on 3.7 flat acres on a hilltop above the Beverly Hills Hotel and comes with staff accommodations, a security cottage, a separate two-bedroom apartment and a two-story, four-bedroom gatehouse. Built by banker Milton Getz, the H-shaped Mediterranean main home was designed by Gordon Kaufmann and retains its original landscaping design by Paul Thiene.

Despite the property's sumptuous features and storied history, the price reduction isn't all that surprising given the condition of the housing business. Median home prices in Southern California have declined 43% since the 2007 peak, according to MDA DataQuick, matching the price drop reflected on the new listing.

Called Beverly House, the 1920s-era mansion has had fairytale moments. John and Jacqueline Kennedy spent part of their honeymoon there.

The estate also has a lurid side, including a movie career highlighted by the famous scene from "The Godfather" in which a horse's head is found in a character's bed.

The current owner filed Wednesday for protection from his creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code even though his assets of nearly $133 million far exceed his liabilities, listed as about $82 million, court documents show. A news release Monday announcing that the compound was for sale said "unusual circumstances" and "bank maneuverings" led Ross, 67, to seek bankruptcy protection.

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