Our esteemed Rabbi Hedda LaCasa reminded us of something important. About how there’s other, far more significant issues happening in the world at this very moment. More significant than our mindless real estate gossip drivel, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, we neglected to mention anything about the recent Orlando tragedy yesterday. It’s times like this when these silly little real estate blogs seem especially irrelevant, right? Rest in peace to all those killed in a tragic and senseless massacre.
Onward we march. Yolanda’s plate is chock-full of juicy real estate tales, so we’d like to issue a public apology if we haven’t gotten to your specific thing yet. We do appreciate all y’all’s tips and we promise we will write about all your tidbits, eventually. But first, here’s a return to one of our favorite real estate subjects. It’s time for our weekly dose of legally-embattled Nigerian billionaire Kola Aluko!
We’ve already extensively and thoroughly covered Mr. Aluko’s recent desperate quest to unload the $130,000,000+ in luxury U.S. real estate he snapped up about four years ago. We think he’s trying to get all that cash back outta the country before the properties are seized or somethin’. We’re just guessing.
Though he has been called an “oil magnate” in previous years, it’s been widely rumored recently that Mr. Aluko has all along been little more than a pawn of the real “magnate”, Nigeria’s former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is also the first female president in the history of OPEC. While in her position as oil minister, it’s been alleged that Ms. Alison-Madueke may have embezzled more than $6 billion from Nigeria’s treasury, which she then sought to launder abroad — through Mr. Aluko and others — in a global spending spree of epic proportions. Unfortunately for our shady crew, the scheme is presently unraveling.
So, as y’all know — Mr. Aluko sold his Beverly Hills mansion at a loss (Ariana Grande lived there!), he sold his Montecito compound at a loss (Gwyneth Paltrow bought it!), he sold his Bel Air stunner at a HUGE loss (Nile Niami built it!) He’s taken a $5.26 million total hit, so far.
Anyway, the Nigerian government has found out about Mr. Aluko’s sneaky off-loading of his US properties and they are mad as hell.
Documents filed within the past month in Nigeria plainly allege that Mr. Aluko — through Ms. Alison-Madueke — indeed hijacked billions belonging to the country of Nigeria. Through this, Mr. Aluko (as our gal’s alleged agent) assembled a worldwide collection of every conceivable luxury, a list that rivals even the world’s biggest billionaire ballers. According to the official Nigerian court (we’re not sure if there is an unofficial one), Mr. Aluko spent nearly $1.8 billion on:
– Luxury homes in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Montecito, Manhattan, Dubai, London, & Switzerland
– 58 automobiles
– 3 private jets
– 65-meter yacht christened Galactica Star
– Watch collection
Now that many of his holdings are gone, we come to what Yolanda believes is the only West Coast property still owned by our Mr. Aluko. And it is, in your gurl’s opinion, the most impressive (and expensive) residential property to populate his California portfolio. Located up on a prominent ridge above Montecito, the villa has spectacular vistas of the mountains above and the ocean below.
That’s right, kids. That Montecito compound he sold to Gwyneth Paltrow a couple months ago wasn’t even Mr. Aluko’s main residence in the area. In August 2012, he cut a check for $21,500,000 that he spent on the 12,000 square foot mansion above, which sits on 5 acres. In November of that same year, he quietly paid another $6,250,000 for the vacant 5 acre parcel next door. For the math geeks out there, his total outlay for the properties was $27,750,000.
She’s a bit ashamed to admit it, honestly, but Yolanda is not certain who sold the mansion to Mr. Aluko for 21.5 million bucks, though we strongly suspect it may be embattled Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager Raaj Shah (last month, he sold another Montecito house for $16 million to billionaire Bruce Halle, but we digress). Records show the spec house was completed in 2008 and bought the following year for $18,500,000 by a mysterious LLC that may or may not have been (but probably was) a front for Mr. Shah.
As for the vacant parcel, Yolanda dug up evidence that Mr. Aluko submitted plans to Santa Barbara County and received permits in late 2013 to construct a new compound anchored by a 14,038-square-foot mansion. The architect was mega-mansion specialist Marc Appleton. Unfortunately for Mr. Aluko (and Mr. Appleton), kids, the project clearly never got off the ground because the parcel remains vacant.
Anyway, in October of last year (2015), Mr. Aluko hoisted the two properties up for sale as a single 10-acre compound — with a spine-straightening $45,000,000 pricetag. Though the property has sat unsold for 8 months now (and counting), Mr. Aluko has so far refused to budge on his ask.
Of course, the biggest selling point of the estate are the 360-degree views of the mountains, valley, and sea just beyond. The grounds are painstakingly manicured and include wide, bright green swaths of lawn, whitewashed brick pathways, native landscaping, fruit trees, and formal gardens.
The house itself was built — as previously mentioned — in 2008 in a sort of Mediterranean meets Spanish slash Tuscan style. There are 5 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, and 3 additional powder rooms.
Interior spaces are formal while being comfortable and not overtly stuffy. A whole bunch of different colors and cuts of hardwood provide the estate’s flooring. There’s a wood-paneled library with a massive black marble fireplace, a living room with another fireplace, a family room with a fireplace, and a formal dining room with another gosh-darn fireplace!
P.S. Yolanda is quite positive that our parents — Mr. & Mrs. Yakketyyak — have that exact same red-and-gold rug pattern you see above in the formal dining room of their own big house.
Damn boy, you been copying our clan? Come on now Mr. Aluko! Don’t play your gurl Yolanda like that. You know Mrs. Yakketyyak will drive on up to Montecito just to slap a beotch. Oh yes she will! Nobody steals her decorating cues and lives to tell. At least not before they give a gal some credit.
The kitchen has dark wood flooring that sets off the milky white of the cabinets and center island. There’s also a second island that does double-duty as an eat-in bar. All the appliances, of course, likely cost more than a damn warehouse full of Chanel hula hoop bags.
Outdoor balcony living spaces are every bit as posh as those inside. Not bad, Mr. Aluko, not bad at all.
The master suite has yet another marble-slathered fireplace indoors, and a second fireplace just a few feet away — on the outdoor balcomy. In all, we count no fewer than nine (!!!!!) in the entire house. Mr. Aluko must employ at least one gal named Bessie as a full-time chimney-sweep.
There’s also a monochromatic lounge with grey-upholstered couches and chairs that doubles as a full-size screening/media room.
The mansion also sports a very large courtyard replete with (mostly) native and drought-resistant plants, a couple wooden benches, and even a shady olive tree.
The properly-aligned north-south tennis court makes choosing sides as easy as “I’ve got the ocean view, you take the mountains.”
Mr. Aluko’s estate sits in a small very posh gated community off hoity-toity East Valley Road. The enclave sports just eight properties, each of which spans a minimum of 5 acres. Two of the parcels, of course, are currently owned by Mr. Aluko. With the exception of one particularly legendary property — more on that one in a minute — the other neighboring homes were all built within the past decade.
But we digress. Yolanda can’t fathom why Mr. Aluko thinks these two properties that he bought less than four years ago for $28 million (and with which he has done nothing) are now worth $45 million. This guy’s got some real estate cojones, y’all. Especially since a quick peak at property records show that none of the other homes in the community have sold for anywhere remotely close to that ask.
Now let’s have some fun and take a gander at the owners of the six other parcels in this tiny and seriously expensive gated community.
The most recent home sale in the neighborhood occurred in July 2014, when LA-based private equity player Kovi Elkus paid $12,000,000 for an 8,000-ish square foot mansion right next door to Mr. Aluko’s house. He’s already got the thang back up for sale at $14,900,000.
In 2013, a real estate guru named Jonathan Weiss shoveled out $10,850,000 for a 12,000 square foot spec mansion across the street — unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to have an ocean view like Mr. Aluko’s house.
The biggest sale to occur in the neighborhood happened way back in August 2008, when multi-billionaire Steven Rales paid a blistering $26,400,000 for a 22,000 square foot mega-mansion known as the “Cima del Mundo Estate”. Built in 1924 and carefully restored since then, the neighborhood centerpiece is the only historic home in the ‘hood. It’s also reportedly one of the most legendary estates in the Santa Barbara area — Charles Lindbergh landed a plane there, after all. It was designed by noted architect Myron Hunt.
The smallest house in the neighborhood – just 6,200 square feet – is owned by prolific songwriter and composer Tom Snow (he wrote the #1 80’s anthem “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”!) and his wife Mary Belle. The couple are major Republican donors.
Finally, at the very end of the dead-end road are two vacant, adjacent lots that total a massive 15 acres. The owner of both lots, property records reveal, is billionaire Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph. He picked the land up in 2008 and 2009 for a total of $12,000,000, but construction is only just beginning, according to recent aerial imagery. And no, we don’t have a clue as to why a 94-year-old like Mr. Joseph is building a massive compound in Montecito. We’d guess it’s for one or another of his five children.
Given all this, wouldn’t you say Mr. Aluko’s compound is overpriced? We would. But that’s just us.
Before we jet off for the day, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Mr. Aluko’s real estate in New York City. Our boy has not one but two obscenely expensive cribs in the city. The first was scooped up by him in 2012 for $8,625,000 and is located in the former Adams Hotel condo conversion on Fifth Avenue.
The snazzy duplex condo has approximately 4,000 square feet of living space with 4 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. Monthly maintenance fees and taxes combine nearly top $12,000 per month (scary!).
Mr. Aluko threw the property onto the market with an ask of $8,995,000 in September 2012. “VERY MOTIVATED SELLER!” shouted the listing. Yes, dear, we’re well aware that Mr. Aluko is desperate — er, “motivated”. The list price dropped all the way down to $8,100,000 in April (2016) — or $525,000 less than the purchase price — before being mysteriously yanked off the market last month.
As of today, as far as we can tell, Mr. Aluko remains the owner.
But wait, y’all — we’re just coming to Mr. Aluko’s biggest real estate splurge of all! This isn’t his only residence in Manhattan. And it’s nowhere near the cost of his other big baby.
In January 2015, Mr. Aluko finally closed on a full-floor spread at one of NYC’s biggest, baddest, tallest and trendiest condo buildings of all — One57.
Our boy bought the full-floor unit on the 79th floor (the Midtown building stands 90 stories tall). Records show he paid an outrageous $50,916,000 through a shell company called “One57 79 Inc.” Yolanda found evidence that indicates Mr. Aluko unsuccessfully attempted to flip the spread in summer 2015 for $57 million, but he remains the owner as of today.
As crazy as a $50 million condo may sound to those of you not acquainted with NYC’s sometimes sanity-defying high-end real estate scene, it’s not even close to being the most expensive unit in the building. That honor goes to the $100.5 million duplex penthouse on the 89th and 90th stories that sold to something called “P89-90 LLC” also in January 2015. The buyer has been identified by the developer only as “a very nice family,” and “someone that people would recognize.”
But heck, if Yolanda were paying some developer $100 million for a condo, they’d better damn well describe our family as very nice — and they’d best be recognizing who we are. Can we get an amen?!