Yesterday Yolanda did a quick story down in Manhattan Beach. So since we’re now well into July, Yolanda thought we should continue the trend and keep things beachy today. We want to help y’all cool off from this blazin’ heat, after all. Let’s depart The Strand and head north by northwest, up to the amazingly expensive communities of Malibu and Pacific Palisades.
Now, this may seem bizarre to y’all, but despite the fact that the ‘Bu and the Palisades neighbor each other, many super-rich folks — the .00001%, if you will — own homes in both locations. Many wealthy people don’t want to deal with the long trek down PCH every day, so they live in the Palisades during the week and Malibu on the weekends and holidays. And if you can afford it, why not?
However, Yolanda would personally prefer a place on the sand in the Caribbean where we can sink our toned footsies into the sand and splish-splash in the warm (!!!) ocean water. Can’t do that in Malibu. But we do appreciate the geographic convenience of this beach location. And we digress!
Today we are going to discuss a couple that has so much cash they basically don’t know what to do with it all. So they have amused themselves by dropping a total of $26,000,000 over the last couple years on significant homes in both communities (Malibu and PP).
Before we get started, however, we are gonna need y’all to step into our commodious time machine and travel back to the early 1980s. Did you know that in the midst of all the big hair, neon tracksuits, and E.T. there was an actual, real international scandal involving the US and Saudi Arabia? Well, not really a scandal — more like a major crisis, if you will. And it was all kickstarted by one willful young man. It’s a case of once upon a time…
Once upon a time, in the early 1980s, there lived a fella named Tarek Abdulhadi Taher. Our Mr. Taher was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, where he enjoyed a ultra-privileged upbringing. His father Dr. Abdulhadi H. Taher was governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Petroleum and Mineral Organization, which basically means he had gazillions of bucks in oil money. He was also frequently described as one of the most powerful figures in all of Saudi Arabia, perhaps only behind the most prominent members of the Al Saud royal family.
As a young man, Tarek Taher was sent by his father to university in the United States — UC Santa Barbara, to be precise. And it was not long before the spoiled Saudi youth ran afoul of law enforcement officials.
It seems our boy Mr. Taher had a penchant for racing very expensive automobiles around town. He received a multitude of tickets, but reportedly paid them no heed. That’s what y’all can do when your family has oodles of money. Eventually, however, Mr. Taher was caught racing his Ferrari on the 101 freeway, was convicted, and — in late 1981 — was sentenced to 45 days in the slammer.
Forty-five days in jail is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but would you flee the country over it? Because that’s just what Mr. Taher did. He vanished soon after his conviction and was not heard from again until 1985, when he was arrested in Boston. Once out on bail, however, Mr. Taher fled the country yet again.
After having fled the country not once but twice, one would think Mr. Taher might stay gone, right? But there were other outside complications.
Alfred Tennyson famously once said “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” and so it was for Mr. Taher. Sometime in the early-to-mid ’80s, the Saudi youth fell in love with an American lass — a beautiful blonde from Pacific Palisades named Janet Brown, to be precise. The couple married and had a daughter by the name of Renna Brown-Taher.
Yolanda is quite certain that most folks back then probably thought the wild Saudi and his American wife would be headed quickly for an end with buckets of tears. But somehow, it was not to be!
Here we are 30+ years later and Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown are still married, still living together. Ain’t it sweet?
Perhaps Ms. Brown and their daughter tamed Mr. Taher. He returned to the United States in 1989 with his tail in between his legs. He turned himself in and willingly served his time behind bars. Nowadays, he is still rich and still drives fancy cars. But he has turned his racing aspirations to horses. Mr. Taher is now an accomplished and respected equestrian with multiple horses of his own.
Oh, and Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown’s daughter — the aforementioned Renna Brown-Taher — was recently married! Congrats. Her new hubby is Michael Tisch of the multi-billionaire Tisch family of New York. They own the New York Giants and are one of the very wealthiest Big Apple-based clans.
Cha-ching! Well, not like she needs the cash. Our Ms. Brown-Taher’s parents can easily play in the billionaire real estate arena, too. Let’s take a look at their holdings, shall we?
Way back in 2004, Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown paid $2,330,000 (through a corporation) for a comfortable but not huge house in the lovely (if a bit tightly-packed) Alphabet Streets area of Ms. Brown’s hometown — Pacific Palisades. The Traditional-style structure was completed in 2003 and has 5,000-square-feet of living space with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.
The house is crammed on a tiny .12-acre lot — see what we mean when we say tightly-packed? — and as such there are only tiny slivers of front and back yards. The property has no pool (nor does it really have any place to put one).
The Brown-Tahers also own a second house in the area — this one a 2,781-square-foot tract house-lookin’ thing originally built in 1995 and up in the breezy (and somewhat geographically removed) Highlands section of the Palisades. It appears from property records that this house was inherited by Ms. Brown from her mother, a lady named Ann Allen. Our Mr. Taher’s name also appears on the deed.
Yolanda finds evidence that Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown briefly listed this house for sale in 2015 with an asking price of $2,175,000 before it was yanked off the market and rented to an unknown tenant at a rate of $7,000/mo.
In the meantime, Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown have been extremely busy on the real estate front. A couple years ago, y’all see, they decided to majorly upgrade their residential circumstances in Pacific Palisades.
In January 2015, to be precise, Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown forked out a righteous $17,500,000 for a huge (and historic) blufftop house in the super-prime Huntington area of the Palisades. In case y’all care, the Brown-Tahers purchased the .7-acre mini-estate through an entity calling itself “Endurance Horses LLC”.
The 6,273-square-foot residence was never officially listed on the MLS, but it had been not-so-quietly shopped around off-market by one of the premier real estate agents in town. Called the “Mccormick Estate” in marketing materials, the property has a properly chi-chi history.
Built in 1929 as the vacation home of Mary Mccormick — an heiress to a substantial manufacturing fortune — the Spanish/Santa Barbara-style architecture was courtesy of the noted Pasadena-based Garret Van Pelt. The home towers far above busy Pacific Coast Highway and features awe-inspiring sightlines of the Pacific, up the coast to Malibu, and down the coast to Palos Verdes and Catalina.
In all, the home features 7 bedrooms and 6 baths. It is also one of the only homes along this bluff to features its own private swimming pool — kidney shaped, in this case.
Naturally, there is a formal living room, a formal dining room, and a solarium. According to the listing, all formal rooms feature original moldings, light fixtures and casement windows. The master suite sports a marble shower and radiant heated floors.
Though the home’s landscaping is exquisite, Yolanda actually saw this house around the time it sold. It was apparent to us that the structure itself needs a bit of TLC/renovations/maintenance. Perhaps that is the reason Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown scored a major discount on the estate — though the historic house had an off-market asking price of $23 million, the couple paid only the aforementioned $17.5M.
Still, that number was still big enough for this to be — at that point — the biggest sale ever in the Huntington Palisades. However, that record was broken just a few months later by the larger house immediately next door, which sold for $21,000,000 to NBC/Universal chief Steve Burke in April 2015. (But we digress yet again!)
Not content with their three expensive homes in Pacific Palisades, Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown headed out to Malibu, where they wrote a fat $8,500,000 check for a house out on the celebrity-infested Point Dume neighborhood.
Built by Griffin Enright Architects in the mid-2000s, the swoopy contemporary sits privately behind the big wooden front gates and a massive hedge. It has a sizable (but not mega) 5,618-square-feet of living space with 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. Although the property is not oceanfront, it sits high on a knoll that gives the enormous second-floor master suite panoramic views of the Point Dume basin and the Pacific, down towards Palos Verdes.
The home features a large rectangular pool, spa, temperature-controlled wine cellar (with space for 1,500 bottles!). Other nifty features are the two outdoor firepits, limestone walls, and polished concrete floors.
The house was originally owned by insurance mogul Michael Thaxton, who had the house featured in the New York Times during his ownership. Our Mr. Thaxton sold the house in a secret off-market deal for $8,000,000 back in early 2012. The buyer at that time was a rich guy named Kevin Young, who is a bigwig exec (COO) at biotech company Gilead Sciences. It was Mr. Young who sold the property to Mr. Taher and Ms. Brown.
Some of the Brown-Tahers neighbors on Point Dume include a whole slew of celebrities — Shaun White, Julia Roberts, Chris Martin, Matthew Mcconaughey, and Bob Dylan. One of Mr. Taher & Mr. Brown’s nearest neighbors is the $50+ million compound of Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, who is currently in a heap of trouble right now for his role in the 1MDB international money-laundering scandal. Oh dear!