When last we looked at Malibu, stars like Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel, Pamela Anderson and Leonardo DiCaprio were all trying to unload their multi-million-dollar digs in Malibu, the beach-and-hill-country getaway for celebs and rich folk up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles.
Those estates are still on the market, and probably will be for some time to come. Especially Leo’s place. He wants $23 million for his three-house beachfront Malibu “compound” (which sounds better than it looks — apart from the beach view). “I bought it from Leo DiCaprio” just doesn’t add enough caché to make it worth $23 million.
We’re going to poke around some more celebrity Malibu homes currently on the market or just recently sold. But first we’ll quickly answer the question “Why are the movie stars leaving Malibu?” so we can get on to the fun stuff.
At the end of WATMSLM? Part 1, someone left the comment “… because the state and local authorities have been aggressively enforcing the general public’s right to frolic on the beaches. ”
And that’s partially right, at least for the beachfront properties. Under California law, private property on the coast only extends to the tidal high-water mark. So for about 20 hours of the day, Joe and Jenny Citizen have as much right to access (at least some of) the beach in front of those multi-million-dollar celebrity mansions as do the residents.
The beaches of Malibu can be crowded with well over a million people on a hot holiday afternoon. When you consider Malibu has an official full-time population (including the full-time celebrities who are part-time Malibuites) of only about 13,000, that’s a lot of strangers strolling on the strand.
But that battle over beachfront homeowners’ right to privacy versus the general public’s right to access public property has been ongoing for the better part of a century, so that certainly isn’t the only reason celebs are selling off their Malibu properties.
Up in the hills on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway, there are frequent devastating wildfires in the dry season (like the uncontrolled blaze currently about 25 km from Malibu and heading in that direction) and engulfing mudslides in the wet season.
And all over Malibu there are sewage problems because the municipality operates solely on septic tank systems (to discourage large-scale development) instead of a sewage pipe and treatment system.
As well as endless, ongoing problems for individual homeowners, the septic mess has also led to an ocean contamination problem, especially in Malibu Lagoon where Malibu Creek empties out a stew of polluted water. The lagoon has recently been “rehabilitated” but in the late ’90s, a number of surfers — at least five — died from water-borne diseases they contracted while surfing in the area.
Speaking of pollution, there is endless sensory pollution along the PCH, where every fast-food chain in the world has outlets crammed in between gas stations and “beach” bars. And, of course, the highway itself is a constant, ceaseless traffic jam.
But the real reason movie stars are leaving Malibu is because that’s what movie stars do.
They make lots of money entertaining us and then they buy ridiculously priced properties all over the world with that money (often as an “investment”). They visit their properties occasionally — more often in Malibu, because of its proximity to LA, than in Maui or Mauritius — and then they become bored or dissatisfied with the properties or their financial advisors advise them to unload the “investment” or an ex-spouse gets the property (or cash equivalent) in a divorce settlement or whatever.
Cher’s Malibu mansion has been for sale since 2008, when she listed it for $45 million. Now the asking price has dropped to $41 million. Last year there was a rumour that Beyonce had bought it. No she did-unt.
It’s what movie stars do: They buy, they sell, they move on.
And often when they sell, celebrities sell to other celebrities or semi-celebrities or friends of celebrities or people who used to live next door to celebrities before the celebrities moved somewhere else.
So even though the movie stars are leaving Malibu constantly, new waves of celebrities are constantly flowing in. It’s a tidal thing. Recently rich pop and rock stars have been popping up more frequently in Malibu (U2′s The Edge is apparently buying up lots of beachfront) but the film and TV crowd is still there in abundance.
Kristen Stewart, for example, closed a deal on a $4.8-million beachview (but not beachfront) house last September while she was in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. Latest reports say Kristen is sharing the Malibu house with mom Jules (whose name is also on the deed) and sappy co-star/boyfriend Robert Pattinson whose life in Malibu, according to highly unreliable sources, is being made a living hell by the mother-daughter tag-team.
Kristen Stewart’s living room view, above, and Judd Apatow’s deck, below
On a happier note, golden movie couple Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, just splurged a reported $10.8 million for an oceanfront bungalow on Malibu’s über-upscale Carbon Beach. The four-bedroom, five-bathroom “contemporary cottage” also has a guesthouse tucked away at the back of the property. Just in case Robert Pattinson needs it, I guess.
And singer Dave Matthews just paid $6.5 million for a Malibu spread up in the hills that has its own apple orchard, multi-level terraces and deeded access to the beach.
These people, I should add, own several far more expensive “real” houses elsewhere. These are just their multi-million-dollar Malibu cottages.
A little further up in the hills — not technically in Malibu but within spitting distance — is Calabasas, where Justin Bieber bought a house last year for $6.5 million — a 10,000-square-foot main building and guesthouse which (combined) have seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms. And a movie theatre with stadium seating. The house, by the way, used to belong to Eddie Murphy. And then to Eddie Murphy’s ex-wife. And now to the Biebster.
Also in Calabasas is Will Smith $20-million estate, so big it has its own lake — and its own zip code. Really. It’s that big.
Will Smith’s spread as seen in Architectural Digest magazine
But enough about all these newbies moving in. Let’s look at some of the stars who are getting the hell out of Malibu.
Nick Nolte just put his Malibu home on the market a couple of weeks ago, listing the two-acre estate at 6173 Bonsall Drive up in the hills for $8.25 million. It was this house that Nolte was driving to in 2002 when he fell asleep at the wheel and was arrested for impaired driving. (That’s not Nick Nolte’s official police mugshot above, by the way: Nolte said a couple of years ago that he let one of the arresting cops take his photo on a cell-phone camera at the hospital and this is that photo.)
And here’s Nick’s Malibu house. Grand indeed, but it has character and looks comfortable.
As I mentioned before, celebs like to buy houses from other celebs. Nolte’s 1963 house was previously owned by Canadian songwriter-music producer David Foster, Don Felder of the Eagles, and another Canadian classic, Tommy Chong. (Did I really just call a human being a “Canadian classic?” Yes, I did — I must end this toxic tinsel-town tomfoolery soon.)
Speaking of stars arrested for drunk driving, Mel Gibson finally — FINALLY! — sold his Lavender Hill Farm up in the Malibu hills at 23353 Palm Canyon Lane for $9.26 million. That’s a sharp drop from the $14.5 million Mel was originally seeking when the 3.45-acre hacienda estate first went on the market in March 2010.
Mel still owns a couple of other pieces of Malibu real estate although — like the rest of his fortune — they’re gradually slipping into the melting pot of his 2011 divorce settlement — reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars — with ex-wife Robyn Moore Gibson.
Lavender Hill Farm was where Mel was living when he went on his infamous drunken/racist rant against traffic cops who had pulled him over: “Do you know who I am? I am Mel Gibson! I OWN Malibu!”
Not any more, Mel. Of course, Mel hadn’t actually lived at Lavender Hill since Robyn kicked him out around the time of the 2006 rant. Whether Mel still visits the $4-million church and retreat for Franciscan friars he built nearby is unknown.
What is known is that the new owner of the six-bedroom, 10-bathroom mansion is “Reality TV King” (seriously, that’s what he’s called — by himself, I think) Mike Fleiss, creator of such gems as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad, and producer of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2011′s Shark Night 3D. And, yes, he’s related to Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss. They’re cousins.
A Malibu property for sale even longer than Mel Gibson’s was singer Barry Manilow’s beachfront compound, which finally sold in October for $5.45 million — exactly half the $10.9 million he listed it for in 2009.
The compound has a main house with five bedrooms and almost as many bathrooms and a one-bedroom guesthouse on the other side of a courtyard. I’m not sure what was wrong with the property to cause such a price drop. Surely a faulty septic system isn’t worth a $5.45-million hit. Maybe rowdy neighbours. Could Barry’s place be next door to another Mel Gibson Malibu property?
Now here’s a nice enough beach house. But I just don’t understand the price.
Actress Charlize Theron bought the three-bedroom “shack” in 2001 for $2.2 million. In May 2011, she sold it to Glee creator Ryan Murphy for three times as much — $6.6 million.
Really? This place is worth $6.6 million? Murphy obviously didn’t like it as much as he thought he would. He put it back on the market last summer — for $6.995 million. As far as I know, there have been no takers yet.
Here’s another flipper.
Brad Pitt bought this “Mid-Century Modern” (as it’s known in the California real estate trade) for $8.4 million in late 2004, a few months before then-wife Jennifer Aniston filed for divorce.
Shortly thereafter, Brad moved in with new love Angelina Jolie elsewhere in the L.A. area and hasn’t lived in the Malibu digs since.
It’s a nice place. Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, tennis court, lap pool on 1.26 acres overlooking the ocean with a path down to “a sandy beach cove” (which seems redundant to me — although I suppose it could have been a “pebbly beach cove” or a “muddy beach cove”).
Pitt put the place on the market in August 2011 for $13.75 million and sold it to Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia De Rossi in December of that year for $12 million. The staggering thing is that this house is just a beach getaway. Around the time she was dickering with Brad for the beach house, Ellen was putting her “real” L.A. house on the market — FOR $49 MILLION. Lord love a duck.
Again, things change quickly in celebrity-ville. Ellen decided she didn’t want Brad’s old place after all and, almost immediately after buying, put in back on the market. It sold quietly in June. I don’t know the price and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
I think I’ve exceeded my tolerance level for ostentatious wealth and entitlement, so we’re going to bid a not-so-fond farewell (forever) to Malibu.
As for the future, here’s what agent-to-the-stars Michael Gardner had to say on his Malibu Real Estate Blog in January:
“So here’s what I see going on in Malibu right now. There is a tremendous amount of money coming from overseas buyers. In the ’80s and ’90s, the large transaction buyers were mostly Hollywood celebrities looking to get away from “town” as we say. In the early 2000s, there were a few Persian spec builders developing properties in Malibu and the first wave of wealthy Persians purchased properties in Malibu. The last few years, my showings to foreigners have been dominated by Russians, Middle Easterns, and the Chinese. It seems that these foreigners are enjoying economic booms in their countries and seeing the luxury market in the US as a great investment.”
One Russian couple bought a Malibu bluffs estate in 2012 for a record $75 million. The previous high for a single piece of property was $68 million for a Carbon Beach mansion in 2008.
And then there’s Oracle CEO/computer billionaire Larry Ellison who — despite Mel Gibson’s rant claim — really does own much of Malibu. He has restaurants and a shopping mall in Malibu as well as as at least 10 residential properties — including one block of five adjacent lots that cost $65 million and this mansion (below) for which Ellison paid $36.9 million in 2012.
Obviously some people have money to burn. Which may account for that wind-whipped, out-of-control wildfire currently rushing through the backcountry canyons toward Malibu. There’s always a day of reckoning.
DISCLAIMER: I’m sorry if I became a bit snarky in this piece — it’s sort of like someone bitching about the topic of a conversation that they started. I really did get sick of these rich celebrities and their expensive houses but I had all this information rattling around in the cupboard and had to clear it out to make room for new mental clutter. My apologies for dumping my old clutter on your doorstep. There were some pretty pictures, though, weren’t there?