Yolanda heard whispers about it before, of course, but — even so — we were still shocked that the whole thing went down so quickly and for such an awe-inspiring amount of money.
Property records now reveal that Hong Kong native Ms. Karen Lo did, in fact, acquire Malibu’s gigantic and highly-visible “Lady Malibu” or “Sweetwater Estate” (or whatever you’d like to call it) in an off-market $70 million deal in late March (2017).
Well, actually, her name (or her husband Eugene Chuang’s, for that matter) does not appear in property records. Technically speaking, the estate was acquired for $69,900,000 by an enigmatic offshore corporation. But everyone who’s anyone says the person behind the corporate veil is Ms. Lo (and Mr. Chuang) and that’s not really something folks would make up. So there.
To give you an idea of how quickly this deal was put together, signed, sealed, delivered, recorded, etc — it was only nine short months ago that the then-bedraggled and long-abandoned property was acquired for $33,500,000 by a Mexico-born Beverly Hills guy named Mauricio Oberfeld. So we were told, the deal was brokered by uber-agent Mauricio Umansky, who is either a familial relative or close associate of Mr. Oberfeld.
Lickety-split came the renovations and in early March (2017), a scant eight months later, we heard rumors the estate was in escrow with the Lo-Chuangs at $75 million. The actual sale price was a mite lower, of course, but it’s certainly no less impressive or unprecedented. Not only is this (easily) the biggest sale ever for a non-oceanfront property in Malibu, it’s a close second place in the list of biggest Malibu residential transactions ever, topped only by Jim Jannard’s $74.5 million splurge in early 2013.
What Ms. Lo got for that price is Malibu’s most epic estate. By far.
Yes, kiddies, we know the above is a strong statement and some folks might take umbrage with that. Bill Bell’s certainly got a nice place above Paradise Cove. Laurene Powell Jobs’ unfinished compound will certainly be something to behold upon completion. Mr. Jannard’s place at nothin’ to sniff at, either. But in terms of the location, the property size, the unsurpassed views, the house, Yolanda thinks this place simply cannot be beat. About the only quibble we have is that the 15-acre property has no direct beach access.
In fact, if she really gets a hankerin’ for an evening stroll on the sand, Ms. Lo must pop into her chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, Bentley, or Mercedes-Maybach and have the driver peel down the driveway, zoom out the massive front gates, haul ass around a few tight corners, exit the gated community, navigate always-busy Pacific Coast Highway, and then drop her off to hang out with the hoi polloi on Malibu Road or at Nobu or some other such commoner silliness. The indignity of it all!
But you know what? Yolanda doesn’t care. We’ve lived in LA all our long lives, kiddies, and as much as we love California — our ocean is damn cold. And the beaches ain’t really world-class. We’re just keeping it real.
For those of you who want a more thorough backstory or more exterior photos of this property, go here, here, or here. We’ve written about this place so many times that Yolanda just can’t be bothered to rehash it all again. Sorry! And unfortunately, we really don’t have any decent interior photos to share with y’all. Despite the property having changed hands multiple times since its 1992 completion date, it has never once been listed on the open market.
Despite this, however, it seems that Kyle Richards hosted some sort of boozy soirée at this house in a recent episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Did y’all get to see the interiors then? Please let us know. We don’t watch that botox-laden trainwreck any longer.
Anyway, back to the buyer. If you read Yolanda’s previous story you should already know that this is not the only luxury property in California owned by Ms. Lo. Back in April 2013, she paid a still-very-A-list $8,125,000 for two adjacent yet uncombined apartments in what is arguably LA’s best condo high-rise — Sierra Towers. The seller of both units, y’all may be interested to know, was fellow Malibu homeowner Cher.
Back then, rumors ran amok that Ms. Lo planned to combine both units into one supersized mansion in the sky, but apparently the lady done changed her mind. In 2014, she sold the smaller unit to real estate super-agent Kurt Rappaport, who flipped it just two months later to a local jewelry designer. Property records indicate Ms. Lo continues to own the larger apartment, at one time reported to be the only duplex in the entire building. (Although we aren’t sure that’s the case anymore).
So y’all might be wondering where Ms. Lo gets $70 million for a big ass, high-maintenance estate in Malibu. We wondered that too! But after some research, we discovered she comes from a very, very wealthy clan. Our Ms. Lo’s grandfather, you see, was a billionaire guy named Dr. Lo Kwee-Seong. This Dr. Lo happens to be the founder of Vitasoy, which apparently is a highly-popular soymilk drink in Hong Kong. This venture made Dr. Lo rich enough to the point where he became one of the city’s major philanthropists. And the rest is, well, history.
In addition to whatever money she got from good ol’ billionaire granddad, Ms. Lo’s sister just happens to be married to another billionaire fellow named Lawrence Ho, who himself is the son (and presumptive heir) of yet another billionaire — Stanley Ho — aka the “King of Gambling”. For more than 40 years, Mr. Ho held a monopoly-mafia-style stranglehold on the international gambling mecca of Macau. Also at one point, we believe, Mr. Ho was one of the top 10 richest men in Hong Kong.
Although we really have no knowledge of their financial arrangements, Yolanda assumes that Ms. Lo and her hubby (Mr. Chuang) have forged their business empire and luxury property portfolio with some assistance from Ms. Lo’s multi-billionaire extended family. Maybe? Maybe.
And yes, kiddies, this is (so far) 2017’s biggest residential real estate transaction in Los Angeles County, beating out Evan Metropoulos and his $65 million Trousdale Estates throwdown. Congrats, Ms. Lo (& Mr. Chuang). Now burn some sage or feng shui this place up. With a sordid history of divorce, death, and money laundering — it’s damn well gonna need it. You hear?
Listing agent: Mauricio Umansky, The Agency