There’s Koch money in Rustic Canyon

Yolanda would like to apologize for going all AWOL the past couple days. She didn’t plan that. And no, she wasn’t on some fabulous, sporadic Caribbean vacay. Unfortunately, your gurl got stuck in a stall in the ladies’ room of a Van Nuys pizzeria. Don’t ever ask. But thanks to the friendly EMTs who extracted us from there. Whew. We’re dictating this post to Siri while we finally put that treadmill to good use.

Now then, we know we missed a lot during those 48 hours we were stuck. We know you’d probably prefer we write about the $40 million house that Tom Cruise is selling to bonafide mega-baller Leon Black. Or maybe you’d rather we discuss Kelly Wearstler’s house for which Tom Ford (allegedly!) outbid showbiz superstars Beyonce and Jay-Z (Oh puh-leeze. Don’t even get Yolanda started on that one). Thanks go to our very own Rabbi Hedda for pointing us to those. And yes, we will write about both of them. Very soon. We promise. But not today.

You see, today we’re going to shift out of high(-end) gear for a moment and exit the flashiest real estate autobahn. We’re going to slow the roll, take a Sunday stroll through some backwoods, through some dark, twisty, tree-canopied canyons. We’re heading back to Pacific Palisades’s Rustic Canyon.

As you might have heard (tee-hee!), it’s election season. Everyone everywhere is talking about it. Think a real estate blog run by an old bat like Yolanda is immune from the craziness? Think again. Here we go!

Folks in Pacific Palisades have a bit of a rep for being very wealthy but very politically liberal. And hippy-dippy Rustic Canyon, situated down between the eastern Palisades and Santa Monica, is perhaps the epicenter of the area’s liberalism, with practically every other driveway sporting a Prius or Chevy Volt adorned with at least one Sierra Club or Co-Exist bumper sticker. Obama posters in the front yard. That sort of thing.

Which is why you may be surprised that certain members of the Koch family, perhaps America’s most (in?)famously generous and influential conservative political donors, own and reside in a compound smack-dab in the middle of this unlikely neighborhood.

It all began back in December 2013, when a large “architectural” home just a few doors down from Bradley Cooper’s crib sold for $5,250,000. Though the residence had been on the market, it was yanked off the MLS just prior to the sale. Whenever that happens, kids, it’s almost always a sign that the buyer is a high-profile person of some sort (or part of a high-profile family, in this case).

The buyer’s identity, of course, is carefully cloaked behind a shell company.

You may remember that word originally spread that the house had been purchased by Charles Koch, currently the world’s 9th richest man (per Forbes). That turned out not to be the case, though Yolanda still strongly suspects the house was purchased with money originating from Mr. Koch.

You see, the house was bought by a guy named Jason Kakoyiannis and his wife Elizabeth Koch. Ms. Koch, if you didn’t already figure it out, just happens to be the only daughter of our boy Charles Koch.

The Princeton- and Syracuse-educated Ms. Koch seems to be a different and perhaps more free-spirited animal than her more buttoned-down dad. As dug up by a fellow blogger, she has previously written frankly and articulately about her own struggles with depression, sex, drug use, and mental illness.

Today, Ms. Koch is a publisher with a publishing company (Catapult, formerly Black Balloon Publishing) of her own. She also appears to have distanced herself from much of her family’s causes by self-identifying as apolitical.

Mr. Kakoyiannis, for his part, is an eclectic fellow. He’s an attorney with a background in art history who also happens to be the founder of Bioscentric, a “fragrance, flavors, and cosmetics biotech” firm. Fancy!

Despite their otherworldly wealth, we hear from someone who has met them that Mr. Kakoyiannis & Ms. Koch are actually very nice, down-to-earth folks. That’s refreshing. But we digress. Back to the house.

Despite the intriguing front facade, Yolanda personally finds the rest of the structure to be rather a letdown. It’s nice enough but all those acres of uninspired grey and beige decor seem to hark back to the Reagan ’80s era a bit too openly. (Maybe dad told Ms. Koch to buy this place?)

For the record, Yolanda happens to know that Ms. Koch & Mr. Kakoyiannis did major interior alterations to this crib before moving in, so it probably looks nothing like those photos above anymore.

The property sits on a compact 0.28 acre lot but comfortably with a completely private, hedge-shrouded backyard replete with extensive terraces and a slim pool shaped like a half-arrowhead. The house was completed in 1990 and contains 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms in 5,493 square feet. Big enough, right?

But wait! There’s more. Mr. Kakoyiannis and Ms. Koch weren’t done spending the cash.

In February 2014, a house two doors down from their new “architectural” crib was stealthily acquired by a different shell company.

The perfectly private redwood “treehouse” looks like something straight from Big Bear, but the $2,900,000 sale price for the 3,853 square foot residence on a quarter-acre lot confirms that it definitely lies in good ol’ LA. There are 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in the 1981 structure, a lot of wood, and a rather ugly family/living room with what appears to be polished black tile floors, a stainless steel chimney, a bunch of small palm trees, and a deeply unattractive cloth couch. Not that Ms. Koch or Mr. Kakoyiannis care much about that, because Yolanda suspects this house was purchased to house either bodyguards or other staff.

And finally, in June 2014, the last piece (so far) of the couple’s real estate puzzle fell into place.

Directly behind that redwood treehouse we just discussed, there’s a petite mid-century shack on a big, mostly wooded lot. In June, as previously mentioned, the property sold for $3,900,000. The buyer was yet another different shell company. Yolanda just happens to know that, again, Ms. Koch and Mr. Kakoyiannis were behind this acquisition.

Though the 3-bed, 2-bath house has barely 2,000 square feet of living space, the generous .58-acre end-of-cul-de-sac lot makes the nearly $4 million pricetag worth it, in your gurl’s opinion. Of far more interest to Yolanda than the hopelessly dated residence is the classic Porsche 356 parked in the driveway. Yolanda’s always had a thing for Porsches, especially classic Porsches. That baby is gorgeous. Love it.

We’re not sure why Mr. Kakoyiannis & Ms. Koch acquired this third property, which is not on the same street as the other two and is only contiguous to one. We suspect it may be a buffer property or shelter for security guards or some such billionaire-type necessity.

All told, Ms. Koch and Mr. Kakoyiannis have spent a total of $12,050,000 to quietly assemble their non contiguous compound that contains a total of 1.11 acres and nearly 11,500 square feet of interior space.

You may notice that there is a fourth property circled in blue above. That one is not currently owned by the couple, though it’s pretty much right in the middle of all this craziness. So why haven’t they bought it yet?

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Ms. Falconer

Yolanda did a little digging and discovered that the modest ranch-style home on that property was acquired in February 2012 for $3,625,000 by a blind trust well-known to be a front for actor Robert Downey, Jr.

At first, Yolanda wondered why our boy RDJ would need yet another LA property in his portfolio, but then we heard from a little birdie that the house is actually occupied by Deborah Falconer, his first wife and the mother of his son Indio.

Apparently Ms. Falconer loves her Pac Pal house and just won’t sell to Mr. Kakoyiannis & Ms. Koch. Homegurl’s playin’ hardball! Well, maybe. We’re really not sure if the Koch couple has even approached Ms. Falconer with an offer yet. But given the house’s location, Yolanda can only assume it’s just a matter of time. We shall wait and see what happens.

Given that her family has essentially unlimited funds (her father and her uncle David’s combined net worth reportedly exceeds $85 billion), Ms. Koch and Mr. Kakoyiannis naturally could have chosen any property in Los Angeles they so desired. And apparently what they desired was a deceptively-modest compound tucked into the forest in an ultra-low-key and family-friendly area, instead of a big showplace up in Trousdale Estates or the Bird Streets.

“I do not toss money around like garden fertilizer, especially not in places where anyone is likely to see me,” Ms. Koch herself said many years ago. If that’s still her philosophy, we think gurl made a good choice with Rustic Canyon. It’s definitely not a place where people go to flaunt their cash, though most folks there are firmly within the 1%. Or on top of it, in this couple’s case.

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