Owlwood Estate sells for $90M in year’s second-priciest sale

The Owlwood estate (via Douglas Elliman), Bob Shapiro (via BusinessWire), Sonny and Cher (via Getty Images)
The Owlwood estate (via Douglas Elliman), Bob Shapiro (via BusinessWire), Sonny and Cher (via Getty Images)

The second priciest residential sale of the year just closed in Holmby Hills — and the property is almost as famous, though far less infamous — than the Playboy Mansion.

Sturmer Pippin Investments, an LLC headed by Bob Shapiro, the CEO of Woodbridge Group of Companies, purchased the the former home of Sonny and Cher, in an off-market transaction for $90 million, according to a release from the brokerages on the deal. The seller was Dawn Arnall, the widow of Ameriquest Mortgage founder Roland Arnall.

Ann Dashiell of Douglas Elliman’s Beverly Hills office was listing agent for property, known as the Owlwood Estate. Adam Rosenfeld, founding principal of Mercer Vine, represented the buyer. The Wall Street Journal first reported the sale. 

Hef’s mansion, which sold for $100 million, was the only sale in Los Angeles this year with a steeper pricetag. While the Playboy palace came complete with furnishings — and Hugh Hefner, until he dies, as a deal stipulation — Owlwood, a 12,200-square-foot property at 141 South Carolwood Drive, was delivered empty.

“What was built originally is really intact, the original architecture is there and it is pristine inside,” Stephen Kotler, chief revenue officer of Douglas Elliman, who is overseeing its L.A. expansion, told The Real Deal. “With the Playboy [Mansion], there have been a lot of changes to the house and it was used as an entertaining facility. But [Owlwood] retained its grandeur.”

Elliman got the listing in May 2015, after it had passed through the hands of two other agencies, Kotler said. It sold well below Elliman’s off-market listing price of $150 million.  

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“There was strong interest from multiple parties, so the market for this [kind of luxury product] hasn’t slowed as much as people think but it has adjusted from last year and this closing price is a value,” Kotler said.

Owlwood has nine bedrooms, a dozen bathrooms and a sprawling living room with a marble fireplace and solid oak paneling. Outside, there is a swimming pool, a sunken tennis court, manned guardhouses and two separate guesthouses.The main house, built in 1936, was designed in the Italian Renaissance style by architect Robert D. Farquhar. At the time of its completion, it was deemed the largest private residence in Los Angeles and has since incorporated two additional, adjacent lots, creating a sprawling 10-acre estate.

Over the last 80 years, the property has had a lengthy list of influential owners, including Sonny and Cher, Tony Curtis, Superior Oil Founder William Keck, 20th Century Fox co-founder Joseph Schenck and Hotel Bel-Air founder Joseph Drown.

“The Owlwood Estate has been the unchallenged symbol of uber-luxury since being built during the Great Depression, and we will keep it that way for another 80 years,” the buyer, Shapiro, said. “We fully intend to honor this property’s legendary past by ensuring it remains the absolute definition of luxury living for wealthy buyers from around the world.”

Woodbridge’s Luxury Homes division, which has several spec houses on the market, will oversee future plans for the estate, according to a release. All parties declined to comment on Woodbridge’s plans for Owlwood, saying they have not been finalized. Sources, however, said the property would be modernized and then resold.