It doesn’t happen so often, but every once in awhile Yolanda hears something through the real estate gossip grapevine so damn juicy that it sets our Chanel-clad thighs all a-quiver. And trust us, Yolanda’s long legs were doin’ the full-blown hokey pokey when we heard strains of the following chatter.
You see, whispers have begun to circulate through the Platinum Triangle that one of the 90210’s largest and undeniably most lavish and celebrity-pedigreed estates may soon be available for the first time in nearly 20 years. Oh baby, we got the tingles!
Let’s properly set the stage. Rewind the clock back to the mid-1970s, when everyone’s favorite High Priestess of the Undead (aka Cher) had just split from her caterpillar-mustachioed man. Perhaps emboldened by a desire to escape the drama of her personal life, or perhaps just because she’s Cher (more likely), our gurl acquired a 4-acre vacant property deep in Benedict Canyon, way up in Beverly Hills Post Office. She then commenced construction of what became a 30-room, 10,000 square foot “Egyptian palace”. An homage, if you will, to King Tut.
The construction took nearly five years and was, by all accounts, a hell of a ride for everyone involved. After all, Cher is not like other big stars who sit back and don’t associate with the construction crew. Oh no. We’re dealing with a big ol’ diva here. She reportedly showed up at the work site nearly every day for years, making typically silly diva demands that eventually drove even her mild-mannered architect Ted Grenzbach bonkers. He up and quit in the middle of the job, leaving his employees to finish up the work alone! Poor fella. But seriously, who did ya think you were working for? Liza Minnelli or some bullshit?
Famed interior designer Ron Wilson then spent years working over the property in a style to suit her majesty. Remember, this was during Cher’s “Egyptian” phase. Any of you recall that, 40 years ago? Yolanda certainly doesn’t, of course. Wink wink.
We’re not sure how much Cher spent on the house during the time she owned it, but we’ve seen a variety of estimations from anywhere between $3 million to $10 million, an incredible amount of money at that time. Years later, after selling the property, Cher commented that the house nearly bankrupted her. Among the extravagances the property included were a moat stocked with Japanese carp, slanted doors inside and out to create a pyramid effect, and a retractable roof (it’s the Mercedes SL of houses!).
In late 1988, after enjoying the property for about 10 years, Cher managed to unload the beast for $5,900,000 to his comedic highness Eddie Murphy. The house had every luxury feature known to mankind at that time, including a pool, spa, gym, granite-slathered kitchen, 6 bedrooms/7.5 bathrooms plus a couple additional maid’s rooms, and no fewer than 10 fireplaces. Cher later said of meeting Mr. Murphy for the first time in the house, “he was so ethereal …. if he could see the beauty of the house, he should have it.”
But for some unknown reason, poor Mr. Murphy’s love affair with the property was cut short. Maybe he caught a classic case of the real estate fickle, as Your Mama would say. Within a year or so, the house was back on the market, asking $9 million. After a long and woefully fruitless slog, he finally sold the house in 1995 at a big loss, receiving just $4,000,000 from Mexican investor Roberto Trouyet.
Mr. Trouyet reportedly removed most of Mr. Murphy’s rather ugly interior decor and added a 4,000-square-foot wing to the house (bringing it to a total of 14,000 square feet) before quickly putting it back up for sale the following year for an optimistic $9,900,000.
In April 1997, the house passed into the hands of a couple named Raul & Vicki Walters, who paid Mr. Trouyet $6,395,000 for the property. The Walters, who both hail from Missouri, reportedly decided to move to Beverly Hills on a whim after Mrs. Walters fell in love with the 90210 while on a shopping trip. As she would later recount, “We had no Neiman’s in Missouri… our version of exotic was Taco Bell.” Dayum! No Neimain’s?! Oh hell no. But we don’t know ’bout that Taco Bell crack, gurl. Taco Bell is pretty damn exotic if you ask Yolanda. But that’s another debate for another day.
Mr. Walters, you may be interested to know, astutely aligned himself with Sam & Bud Walton at a very early age, developing shopping centers anchored by some of their earliest Wal-Mart stores. As the Waltons grew tremendously rich, so did Mr. Walters through his developments. By the time he reached his 30s, he was already a massively successful (and wealthy) developer.
In 1975, he offered to take a gangly young college kid under his real estate wing and mentor him in the business. Within a few years, the ambitious young fellow had become Walters’ business partner and together they quickly amassed an incredible fortune in Middle America real estate. The young fellow remained his partner until the mid-1980s, when the pair had a very bitter falling-out after the younger guy decided to go solo. The particularly nasty breakup and fight over their business assets took nearly 10 years to settle. Oh, the young fellow’s name? Stan Kroenke.
But as usual, we digress. At the time the Walters acquired the estate in 1997, it was still “just” 4 acres. But that wasn’t nearly enough space for the extravagant couple. Do you know what they did? We know what they did. Surely you can guess, too. Like so many of their Wal-Marts decimated the mom-and-pop-shop competition, the Walters swooped into 90210 like an enormous, sinister, hovering bird of prey and began picking off their neighbors one by one, methodically and surgically.
By the turn off the century, all their neighbors were gone. Just every single one. They executed their plan marvelously. Yolanda was so proud of them. Their estate swelled to five contiguous parcels of land (they razed all their neighbors’ houses, natch) and at least 16 (!!!!!) acres of land. Yes, you read that right. 16 usable acres just 10 minutes’ chauffeured car ride from the Beverly Hills Hotel and Rodeo Drive.
Then they redid every inch of the estate, top to bottom, side to side – but retained Cher’s Egyptian theme.
In total, the Walters remodeled the whole main house, added not one but two horse riding rinks, not one but two guest houses/staff houses (both of which are larger than the average American home, FYI), stables, new front gates, a guard house, a tennis court, extensive landscaping for the entire property, and meandering hiking/horse riding trails. No wonder Mrs. Walters admitted they employ 8 full-time gardeners. two maids, and a Moroccan chef. We would bet they also have a full-time guard for the gate house and horse people to groom and exercise the horses.
Think about that for a moment, kids. We think the Walters employ 15 full-time staff members to keep this estate running. And that’s a conservative estimate. Even by Beverly Hills standards, that’s extreme. Yolanda wouldn’t want a small army hanging around our big-ass house all the time, but that’s just us.
In early 2009, Mr. Walters passed away of cancer. Many folks on the real estate scene assumed the Widow Walters would unload her mammoth high-maintenance estate quickly. That’s one of the main reasons people sell homes, after all – death.
But what she did was surprising even to Yolanda. Not only did she opt to keep the house, she initiated another complete remodel. This involved tearing out the entire moat and ripping out and replacing most of the interior walls. We found a very brief YouTube video that shows the “new look” for the estate’s atrium.
Unfortunately, in our research and conversations with others about the property, we haven’t located any good interior photos of the estate, new or old. Beyond that tease of a Youtube video, we have no idea how the house’s innards appear today, though we believe it is still being renovated.
So why are hoes whispering (again) that this pile may soon be sold?
We think it’s because Mrs. Walters finally decided to downsize. Last October (2015), she secretly bought a penthouse apartment in “The Century” building in LA. In case you’re wondering, we think it’s only two floors below the residence of our favorite Tinseltown granny herself, Candy Spelling. Property records show she forked out – hold your jawbones – $22,500,000 for the full-floor pad. That’s big, big money, kids. Beverly Park-type money. Did we ever mention that “downsizing” has an entirely different meaning when you’re ludicrously rich?
Mrs. Walters’ new mansion in the sky has 9,343 square feet of interior space with 4 beds/5.5 baths, wrap-around terraces with 360-degree views, a private elevator lobby, a formal dining room capable of seating 25, floor-to-ceiling windows, and carries whopping HOA fees of $7,338 per month. Those fees provide Mrs. Walters access to all the building’s additional amenities, including the Pilates studio, yoga studio, “Equinox design gym”, lap pool, spa, 24-hour doorman, guard, valet, and concierge.
So will she actually sell the pyramid compound? We think so, but we can’t say for certain. After all, we believe the property is being renovated yet again (for the umpteenth time). Mr.s. Walters may have just moved out temporarily. Yes, $22 million is a lot to spend on a crash pad, but our gurl could probably lose $22 million in her imported French couch cushions and not ever notice. What’s money to a lady as rich as Mrs. Walters, right?
But our gut? It says she’ll sell. We think it may be only a matter of months… perhaps even weeks.
Yolanda doesn’t care to speculate on what this property might be worth today – we’ll leave that to y’all – but we’re absolutely certain Mrs. Walters and her late husband poured tens of millions into the estate during their ownership and expansion of the premises. And this sort of celebrity pedigree on 16 totally private acres? Whatever you think of the house’s style, that’s gotta be worth big, big money to someone. For sure.
Even King Tut probably couldn’t afford it.