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Beverly Hills estate which appeared in The Godfather snapped up by ‘homeless billionaire’

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The French-born investor known as the ‘homeless billionaire’ because of his constant travel and lack of a permanent address is the new owner of the Beverly Hills mansion made famous in The Godfather’s ‘horse’s head’ scene as well as the Mood 4 Eva music video by pop star Beyoncé.

Nicolas Berggruen, the 60-year-old real estate mogul whose wealth has been valued by Forbes at $1.7billion, plunked down $63.1million for the famous Hearst estate known as Beverly House, the most ever paid for a home at an auction.

It is the same house where John F. Kennedy honeymooned after his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1953. 

The seller, attorney Leonard Ross, initially sought $195million for the home, which was first listed for sale in 2016. Since there were no takers, Ross had to slash his asking price repeatedly.

Berggruen emerged as the winner of a competitive auction for the home that was held in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Nicolas Berggruen

Berggruen, the 60-year-old real estate mogul whose wealth has been valued by Forbes at $1.7billion, plunked down $63.1million for the famous Hearst estate known as Beverly House, the most ever paid for a home at an auction

Nicolas Berggruen, the 60-year-old real estate mogul whose wealth has been valued by Forbes at $1.7billion, plunked down $63.1million for the famous Hearst estate known as Beverly House, the most ever paid for a home at an auction

The image above shows Beverly House, the estate once owned by publishing giant William Randolph Hurst, in Beverly Hills, California

The image above shows Beverly House, the estate once owned by publishing giant William Randolph Hurst, in Beverly Hills, California

The home was featured in the hit 1972 film The Godfather. It appeared in the famous scene where film producer Jack Woltz, played by John Marley (above), wakes up to find the severed head of a horse in his bed

The home was featured in the hit 1972 film The Godfather. It appeared in the famous scene where film producer Jack Woltz, played by John Marley (above), wakes up to find the severed head of a horse in his bed

The home also serves as a backdrop in the music video to the song Mood 4 Eva by Beyoncé (seen above)

The home also serves as a backdrop in the music video to the song Mood 4 Eva by Beyoncé (seen above)

It is the same house where John F. Kennedy honeymooned after his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1953. The future president and first lady are seen above after their wedding in Rhode Island in September 1953

It is the same house where John F. Kennedy honeymooned after his wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1953. The future president and first lady are seen above after their wedding in Rhode Island in September 1953

The bidding, which began at $48million, was more intense than initially anticipated.

Berggruen’s original offer was $47million, which was accepted by the seller, attorney Leonard Ross.

The accepted offer led to a bankruptcy sale through auction.

In 2019, Ross filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on the Fortress Investment Group, limited-liability company that owns the property, to avoid a foreclosure auction. 

The seller, attorney Leonard Ross (seen above in 2009), initially sought $195million for the home, which was first listed for sale in 2016. Since there were no takers, Ross had to slash his asking price repeatedly

The seller, attorney Leonard Ross (seen above in 2009), initially sought $195million for the home, which was first listed for sale in 2016. Since there were no takers, Ross had to slash his asking price repeatedly

The property, called Beverly Home, was listed for almost $90million in April 2020 after he was appointed a bankruptcy administrator to sell it on behalf of Fortress, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Fortress reported that it owed over $70million in unpaid loans and interest on the house. The asking price has since dropped to $69.95million.

Property taxes and maintenance might be factors in the dipping price and why the house has been difficult to move. Beachamp Estates, a UK-based brokerage company, estimated only 20 international families could buy and maintain the home, making this the most expensive home in the US. 

Those who file for Chapter 11 usually propose a plan of reorganization in order to hold onto their assets and pay creditors back over time. 

He purchased the 19-bedroom, 29-bathroom home for $2million in the mid 1970s – just years after it was used to film the iconic horse’s head scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film, The Godfather.

The financier embarked on a large-scale renovation of the home in the 1990s, and began renting it out for events.

It also appeared in 1992’s The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston. The home also served as a backdrop in Beyonce’s music video for her hit song Black Is King.

The house was built in 1925 by English born architect Gordon Kaufman, the man best known for his work on the Hoover Dam.

At 50,000 square feet of interior space, Beverly House quickly became known as one of the country’s most opulent homes.

It was bought by banker Milton Getz but its most famous owner was publishing giant William Randolph Hearst.

The media mogul was given the property as a gift by actress Marion Davies in 1946, with his ‘mistress’ paying just $120,000 for the mansion.

The 29,000-square-foot Spanish-style home was initially listed for the asking price of $195million

The 29,000-square-foot Spanish-style home was initially listed for the asking price of $195million

The home is built with extremely high ceilings - a 22-foot ceiling in the living room is hand-painted

The home is built with extremely high ceilings – a 22-foot ceiling in the living room is hand-painted

An Olympic-sized pool is in the backyard and has appeared in Beyoncé's Mood 4 Eva music video

An Olympic-sized pool is in the backyard and has appeared in Beyoncé’s Mood 4 Eva music video 

The property has several fountains surrounded by lush greenery and bright flowers, including one in the driveway

The property has several fountains surrounded by lush greenery and bright flowers, including one in the driveway

Real estate pictures from the 2018 listing show Beverly House as it is today.

Built out of terra-cotta stucco, the H-shaped residence combines Spanish and Italian style. It has intricately carved ceilings and paneled walls, French doors, balconies, arched ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlook cascading waterfalls to the pool and the Venetian columns beyond the pool house.

Outside, the property boasts 3.7-acres of landscaped gardens, and includes a 75-foot long swimming pool, two tennis courts and a sit-down dining area for up to 400.

The home has 19 bedrooms, 29 bathrooms, a tennis court, two theater rooms, a two-story library and a billiards room containing herringbone parquet floors and a massive carved stone fireplace mantle from San Simeon.

In recent years, Ross repeatedly tried to sell off the mansion with debts catching up to him.

Back in September 2016, Ross listed Beverly House for $195 million, with The Real Deal reporting at the time that he had $60 million in debts linked to the estate.

The home was eventually taken off the market, before it was put back up for sale in September 2018 for the reduced price of $135 million.

The pink stucco house was designed in 1926 by Hoover Dam architect Gordon Kaufmann and sits on 3.5 acres of property with eight bedrooms, 15 baths and a four-car garage

The pink stucco house was designed in 1926 by Hoover Dam architect Gordon Kaufmann and sits on 3.5 acres of property with eight bedrooms, 15 baths and a four-car garage 

The house, known as Beverly Home or as the Hearst Estate, has many living spaces available and can accommodate up to 1,000 guests

The house, known as Beverly Home or as the Hearst Estate, has many living spaces available and can accommodate up to 1,000 guests

With wide windows and high ceilings, there is plenty of natural light in the legendary LA home

With wide windows and high ceilings, there is plenty of natural light in the legendary LA home 

The property also has a bar, billiards room, an art-deco style nightclub, two projection and screening rooms, grand state public rooms, and entertainment areas

The property also has a bar, billiards room, an art-deco style nightclub, two projection and screening rooms, grand state public rooms, and entertainment areas 

It was not sold.

At Tuesday’s auction, the bids increased at $100,000 increments.

Toward the end of the auction, there were just two competing bidders left – Berggruen and MBRG Investors, a West Hollywood-based real estate investment firm.

The previous record set for the most a home has sold for at auction was the winning $51million bid for a Beverly Park mansion earlier this year.

Berggruen is the founder of Berggruen Holdings and the independent think tank Berggruen Institute.

In 2000, he sold his Fifth Avenue home in New York City as well as his private island off Miami – and focused instead on his hotel-hopping travels, staying at some of the world’s finest establishments such as Claridge’s in London.

Mingling with the rich and famous, he holds an annual Oscars party at Los Angeles Chateau Marmont hotel, where he hosts celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Paris Hilton.

Berggruen is the founder of Berggruen Holdings and the independent think tank Berggruen Institute. He is seen above with Sofia Vergara in November 2018

Berggruen is the founder of Berggruen Holdings and the independent think tank Berggruen Institute. He is seen above with Sofia Vergara in November 2018

He told the Daily Mirror: ‘I have always spent a lot of time in hotels, so it started to seem easier to do this. I feel happier.

‘I am not that attached to material things. I have very few possessions. Luckily, as a man, you don’t need much.’

Berggruen is one of more than 50 billionaires who have agreed to give away at least half of their fortunes.

He spends millions buying artworks by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst just to hand them to museums for free. 

The lavish life of media mogul William Randolph Hearst 

William Randolph Hearst (pictured) was born into wealth and built a publishing empire on the back of his own father

William Randolph Hearst (pictured) was born into wealth and built a publishing empire on the back of his own father

William Randolph Hearst was born into wealth and built a publishing empire on the back of his own father, who gave him control of The San Francisco Examiner in 1867.

Hearst then moved to New York, where he found great success thanks to his brand of sensationalizing stories, a practice which came to be called ‘yellow journalism.’

He soon owned 30 newspapers around the country, and successfully ran for a seat in the US House of Representatives.

He was hit hard by The Great Depression however, and died with little money, but never sold his holdings.

Once put in good hands, Hearst grew into a multibillion-dollar corporation that has provided his heirs millions of dollars a year.

Hearst Castle, which was built from 1919 to 1947, is now a National Historic Landmark. The estate was designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan over the span of 28 years.

Media mogul William Randolph Hearst had commissioned the lavish castle but died soon after its completion.

He did, however, get to enjoy the mansion because it was functional during its nearly three decade long construction. Hearst famously played host to many decadent parties in the mansion before his death in 1951.

The castle had its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s with Hollywood stars flocking to the grounds to rub shoulders with politicians for the outrageous parties thrown by its powerful and influential owner.



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