Don’t quote Yolanda on this, but we are pretty damn sure that Southern California has more luxury residential gated communities than any other region of the United States. And maybe even more than any other region of the world, but that’s really a far too aggressive statement so we won’t go there. But there’s a lot of gated communities down here. Trust.
For as long as Yolanda can remember, there has been one gated enclave to rule all SoCal gated enclaves. All the biggest, baddest, most expensive homes anywhere are there. It’s called Beverly Park. And although it ain’t actually located in Beverly Hills (it’s in the Beverly Hills Post Office area), it does have a private, residents-only park.
There are a few reasons why Beverly Park is considered the ne plus ultra gated community. Firstly, all the homes are gigantic. The smallest house in Beverly Park is roughly 8,000-square-feet. We’d guess that the average size is about 15,000 and the very largest homes can exceed a mind-numbing 30,000, which is probably bigger than some suburban shopping malls. Just sayin’.
Then there are the residents. Beverly Park is famous for its famous folk. Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jami Gertz, Rod Stewart and Sylvester Stallone are longtime residents. Billionaire moguls also pollute the streets — Alec Gores, Haim Saban, Steve Udvar-Hazy, Sumner Redstone and Peter Sondakh. Throw in several Saudi princes and some shady Russians and you’ve got a regular Beverly Park cookout. (As if that ever happens!)
Security measures are Presidential. There are at least three full-time gate guards at all times, plus mobile security folks patrolling the streets. No photography is allowed behind the gates (except on one’s own property) and folks must let the guardshack know at least 24 hours in advance and hire their own valet service if they plan to have a party of any size. In addition to the stringent security measures, many of the residents also have their own private security teams. It’s all a bit overkill and ridiculous, in Yolanda’s opinion. But hey, some folks like living in a very swanky fortified compound.
Beverly Park can be accessed from two different guarded gates, neither of which is particularly convenient for anyone. There’s a gate up on Mulholland Drive that’s sorta out in the middle of nowhere and several minutes’ drive from the nearest canyon road, which is itself several minutes drive’ from the nearest commercial businesses. The other gate lies at the top of a long, narrow road that begins in the northern section of the city of Beverly Hills and goes way, way up past a bunch of (mostly) smallish houses until it dead-ends at the guard shack.
Unfortunately for Beverly Park folks, however, Yolanda believes the community has seen better days. While hotspots like Trousdale Estates and Holmby Hills seem to set new price records every year, the handful of homes for sale in Beverly Park have been languishing on the market for months, suggesting there just ain’t many people interested in owning one of these bodacious behemoths. At least not at these current price points. It could have something to do with the location or the fact that most rich folks want ultra-modern homes these days, not the old world-style palaces that fill the whisper-quiet B.P. streets.
Well, maybe there’s still one or two interested buyers out there. In late December (2016) a mansion listed at $31 million recently sold. That’s right, sold. SOLD. S.O.L.D.!
So who could the buyer be? Surprisingly, it isn’t an A-list movie star, big-name billionaire mogul, or a shady Russian. Rather, the stupendously wealthy buyers are an ultra-low-profile married couple from Arcadia (CA) named Yongbin Luo and Ruixue Huang.
Our Mr. Luo is or was CEO of OneWorld Star International (OSI), a Hong Kong-based garment manufacturer with additional facilities in Los Angeles. In October 2016, just two months before he and Ms. Huang spent a fat $26,500,000 on a mammoth Beverly Park palace, Mr. Luo sold OSI to a larger, publicly-traded Chinese company for $280 million USD.
So rest assured that Mr. Luo and Ms. Huang can well afford just about any house they want.
In a strange coincidence — or perhaps not — Yolanda’s research suggests that Mr. Luo has business connections with at least two other current Beverly Park residents. One is Mexican investor Fabian Oberfeld, the owner of apparel manufacturer Unger Fabrik. Mr. Oberfeld’s company was — at least until the recent sale — in a parnership with Mr. Luo’s Oneworld Apparel LLC.
Could Mr. Luo & Ms. Huang have been convinced to buy in Beverly Park after seeing how Mr. Oberfeld and Mr. Gores were living? Don’t laugh. Yolanda wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
The Tuscan-style mansion spans a plus-size 17,100-square-feet with 7 bedrooms and 12.5 bathrooms. It was originally spec-built back in 1999 by a developer who sold the property in 2000 to a Houston-based couple named Kenneth & Grace Jacobson. The Jacobsons, in turn, flipped the property in 2002 for $8,700,000 to retired professional slugger Barry Bonds.
Out Mr. Bonds held onto the property for a dozen years and significantly expanded it during his ownership tenure. In early 2014, after more than a year on the market, he managed to unload it for $22,000,000 to a low-profile Russian merchant trader named Alexei Kourotchkine or Alexey Kurochkin or something like that.
Mr. Kurochkin bought the place to flip, so it would seem. Only a year after purchasing it, he threw it back on the market with an asking price of $36,000,000. That’s a rather shocking $15 million more than he paid for the unchanged house scarcely more than a year prior.
Anyway, the property entered escrow about a year ago — Yolanda heard a Saudi Prince was the buyer, but we can’t confirm that. However, something must’ve happened because that escrow went kaput! and the house languished on the market until along came Mr. Luo & Ms. Huang who paid $26,500,000. That’s a gasp-worthy $9.5 million less than Mr. Kurochkin originally wanted, but it’s also still $4.5 million more than he paid less than three years ago.
Things get very beige indoors. A spacious living room has a barrel vaulted ceiling with a fireplace and an ornate, carved mantel. Several sets of French doors lead out to a covered terrace and the grassy backyard beyond. The double-height family room has cathedral-esque arched overlooks above and another fireplace below. On either side of the bigscreen TV are two massive aquariums.
The library goes for an old world look with wood-paneled walls, garden views, heavy duty curtains, and even a few bookcases. The huge, shiny Mac computer seems a bit outta place here — we’d have expected a typewriter, ya know?
The kitchen looks woefully 90s and far too dated for a $26.5 million house, but at least there’s no pot rack. And we love the hardwood floors, which are so highly polished that Yolanda thinks it might be dangerous for a lady with a short skirt to stand on it with other folks around.
There’s a beige formal dining room that seats 10 and a beige informal breakfast room that seats 8 and is bigger than most formal dining rooms. Sets of French doors lead out to the covered terrace, which has a circular table for playing cards or enjoying an outside snack.
Naturally, $26.5 million buys a lot of extravagant amenities. There’s a rather Roccocco home theater with raised seating and a massive wet bar. The murals of Tuscany are a bit much for Yolanda’s design point of view, but they appear to be well done. Elsewhere there’s a gym with lots of very scary-looking equipment.
Yolanda was surprised that there were only a couple photos of the master suite, one of which is in the upper left-hand corner. It’s big and very beige and has all the requisite amenities.
Outdoors there’s a basketball/sport court, a swimming pool w/ spa, and a soccer-sized lawn.
Oh, and the 1.85-acre lot also comes with convenient pool changing facilities.
Behind the garage is a two story guest house that’s sort of a mini-replica of the main house. The rooms are smaller but equipped with the same finishes and materials and things are equally beige.
As for Mr. Luo and Ms. Huang, we’re not sure when they plan to officially move into their big Beverly Park behemoth, but we do know that they currently reside out in the San Gabriel Valley region of LA, in the heavily Chinese city of Arcadia (CA).
Back in March 2012, Mr. Luo & Ms. Huang paid $3,300,000 for a 5,905-square-foot luxury tract house in the guard-gated Anoakia Estates community in the Upper Rancho area of Arcadia. This particular gated community was master-planned by a developer from Orange County. There are 31 homes, all of which are 5,000 or 6,000-square-foot mini-mansions built in a faux-Spanish or faux-Tuscan style.
Just to give you an idea of how Asian Arcadia has become, nearly all the 31 homes behind the Anoakia Estates gates are owned by folks with Chinese-sounding last names. And don’t laugh or spout some nonsense about “who would wanna live in the San Gabriel Valley?!”. The current average price in Anoakia Estates is about $4 million, so it’s still plenty pricey.
But look at Mr. Luo & Ms. Huang’s house. A multi-million dollar McMansion in Arcadia and no pool? Damn! Sorry, Yolanda ain’t feelin’ it.
Now then, Arcadia may not be known as a particularly sexy place to live. True enough. But it is widely (and sometimes snidely) referred to as the “Chinese Beverly Hills” for the vast amount of wealthy Mainland Chinese who have purchased real estate there. Chinese businessmen and corrupt government officials will often buy Arcadia mansions for their wives, mistresses, and even high school-age kids. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bentleys are common sights out there — as are spec-mansions worth up to $10 million. All these changes have goaded decidedly mixed reactions from onlookers.
But we digress.