We decided to keep the Old Hollywood theme going today with this lovely 1935 Mediterranean Revival-style villa in the Flats of Beverly Hills, surely one of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhood pockets in all of Los Angeles County. According to architecture enthusiast Michael Locke, the house was designed and built by contractors Rose & Powell for an H.E. Tappan and was sold in 1946 to a woman named Justine Wenger (we’re not sure who she is). Our Ms. Wenger commissioned celebrated architect Paul László to design a covered terrace for the rear of the residence.
The grand ol’ dame has survived the ensuing decades (mostly) intact and was recently sold for throat-choking $13,900,000 to a young couple named Brandon & Deborah Shainfeld. The Shainfelds — who recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary and now have a couple toddler-age kids — appear to have paid cash for the property, which had been owned since 1994 by a local 90210 dentist and his wife.
Anyway, the house is located on the best block of one of the Flats’ best streets. Should the Shainfelds need to borrow of cup of gluten-free, fructose-free, sympathetically-extracted sugar substitute, they have a variety of celebrity choices: right next door is Larry King, and directly across the street are two large mansions. One is owned by celebrity fitness trainer Gunnar Peterson, and the other by producer Gary Gilbert — who just bought his (from Jared Pobre and Stacy Keibler) for a whopping $26.5 million.
By now you’re probably wondering who the Shainfelds are and where they get almost $14 million cash for a Beverly Hills mansion. So here goes. Our Mr. Shainfeld is CEO of Be Well, the cleanse and detox company founded by South African celebrity Dr. Frank Lipman. As for Mrs. Shainfeld, she is a philanthropist born and raised in South Africa. She’s also the daughter of Wendy Fisher — one of New York City’s top art collectors — and the granddaughter of South African billionaire Nathan “Natie” Kirsh.
Forbes says 86-year-old Mr. Kirsh is worth $4.7 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs his wealth at an even higher $5.77 billion. Either way, he’s one of the richest men on the African continent.
Grandpa Kirsh is a self-made fellow whose money comes from food distribution, supermarkets, and commercial property. Kirsh has real estate holdings all over the globe, on practically every continent. One of his premier assets is Tower 42, which reigned as London’s tallest skyscraper for over 30 years (it’s now only fourth-tallest, but that’s okay). Oh, and Grandpa Kirsh is also a very sassy fellow — one of his best-known quotes is “Real estate is the only sector where stupid people can make money.”
Well, we never! How rude! Yolanda takes serious umbrage at that statement, Mr. Kirsh.
But we digress. Our cross-examination of records indicates this Beverly Hills manse may be owned solely by Mrs. Shainfeld, for what that’s worth.
Now, before we hop into the pictures, we’d like to remind y’all to keep an open mind. Yes, we know this place isn’t perfect. Yes, there are some major updates needed. The kitchen needs to be gutted, the master suite looks straight outta the Reagan Era, and we won’t even mention that leopard-print carpet on the staircase. It’s just all too shocking.
But this house has fantastic bones. That’s an undeniable fact. With the aid of a good interior designer, Mr. & Mrs. Shainfeld could soon have themselves a real stunner, a true gem of a palace. They’ll be the envy of every rich old bat from the Bird Streets to the ‘Bu.
The 4-bed, 5-bath, 5,650-square-foot residence is big but not overwhelmingly gigantic. A red brick walkway leads past perfectly symmetrical formal lawns to the front door. A long driveway is set off by iron gates guarding a two-car garage.
Inside the house and to the left of the entrance foyer is a step-down living room. Guests are meant to be impressed by the salmon-colored walls, hardwood floors, and fireplace with an enormous carved surround.
We don’t love the unusual hardwood floor pattern in the foyer, but we do like the classic curves on that staircase.
Just beyond the foyer is the living room, which is outfitted with a (rather dated) wooden wet bar. French doors lead to the backyard, and a sliding doors lead to an adjacent office/library with plenty of bookshelves and another set of French doors opening to the outdoors.
The formal dining room can easily seat 10 and sports wood-paneled walls and not one or two but three ornate chandeliers. The rather charming breakfast nook has views of the pool and rear lawn. As for the kitchen, well, we’ve already remarked on that. But it’s kitted out with high-quality stainless appliances and there’s space for a small island.
The massive master suite comprises about half the top floor and features a bedroom, a separate sitting room/office, a bathroom with dual vanities, a glassy shower, built-in soaking tub, and a walk-in closet big enough to be another bedroom. We don’t care for the acres of grey carpet, the beige tile or the furniture, but all of those things are simple fixes.
Somewhere off the master suite is a upper balcony with a hokey-lookin’ fountain and a built-in wooden seating area overlooking the backyard. While not exactly pretty, we suppose it gets the job done. The large terrace downstairs is framed by chunky columns and includes multiple outdoor dining areas and a BBQ center.
The .44-acre flat property provides ample space for the pool and spa. Tucked into the northwest corner of the lot is a wee guesthouse of unknown size. But it looks perfect for a live-in housekeeper or nanny.
Before buying the above house, Mr. and Mrs. Shainfeld shacked up in a rented residence elsewhere in the Beverly Hills Flats. The walled and gated Spanish Revival-style casa was built in 1928 and came to be owned by Lita Grey Chaplin — Charlie Chaplin’s ex-wife — in the early 1930s. It was Ms. Chaplin who — in 1933 — leased the property to legend Carole Lombard following her divorce from William Powell.
Today, the B.H. house is owned by Dubai-based property developer Danny Lubert, who paid $7,350,000 for the property in 2012. Records indicate that Mr. and Mrs. Shainfeld are (or were) paying Mr. Lubert a hefty $39,000 per month for their stay.
Many of Mrs. Shainfeld’s family members reside in Manhattan, and several of them seem to favor Trump Tower in particular. Between 2010 and 2012, Mrs. Shainfeld’s aunt Linda Mirels and uncle Philip Kirsh collectively spent in excess of $56 million buying up condo units in the Presidentially-owned building, including the $30 million penthouse.
As for Mrs. Shainfeld, however, she settled in the leafy neighborhood of Greenwich Village — on lower Fifth Avenue’s so-called Gold Coast. In 2012, she scooped up her historic (built in 1900) 22-foot-wide townhouse for $8,950,000. She renovated every inch of the six-story structure in a casually contemporary — if a wee bit generic — manner.
Back in 2015, upon her relocation to the West Coast, Mrs. Shainfeld tossed her dream townhouse onto the market with an eyebrow-raising $25 million asking price. Sadly for her, the property did not sell and was delisted after more than a year. As detailed in recent listing materials, the townhome includes a cellar/basement level, a garden level (with a kitchen and staff quarters), a parlor level (with the main foyer and living room), a third level (with two guest/family bedroom suites), a fourth level (comprised entirely of the master suite), a fifth level (with a family room and wet bar), and an Upper Garden level (on the rooftop).
All 6+ stories of the townhouse are connected by a sculptural staircase, but there is no elevator. Y’all’s glutes will definitely get a workout in this place. (EDIT: Nevermind — we’ve just been informed that there is an elevator).
In 2017, Mrs. Shainfeld gave it another go and re-listed the six-story pad for a discounted $23.5 million. In an effort to unload the spread, she even starred in a marketing video for Open House NYC, giving curious lookie-loos a property tour herself. So if you’d like to see Mrs. Shainfeld’s townhouse from the homeowner’s perspective, simply click the video below.
Guess what? Mrs. Shainfeld’s personalized tour did the trick. The townhouse was in contract within three months and sold in June (2017) for a fat $21,000,000. Unfortunately, the buyer’s identity is shielded behind an entity that we have yet to crack.