Crime scene for sale: Appraiser assesses dark side of famous properties

"You can bulldoze, but you can’t get rid of the stigma"
March 17, 2019 11:00AM

Tate house at 10050 Cielo Drive and appraiser Randall Bell (Credit: Landmark Research Group, Wikimedia Commons)

While Southern California is used to listings that push every connection to the rich and glamorous, L.A.-based appraiser Randall Bell’s work is high profile, but often deals more with the gory and infamous.

He’s known for determining the loss of value at the most iconic crime scenes and disaster sites around the world, Rolling Stone reported. Instead of Frank Sinatra’s old vacation homes, Bell appraised the most “stigmatized” properties in recent history, like the site of the Manson family murders on Cielo Drive, or Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

He said it’s a “wide spectrum” in terms if how crime scenes decrease values, but typically there’s a 10 to 25 percent loss.

His first such job with was the Brentwood home where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered. Nicole’s father thought the property might be more valuable because it became famous. Bell had to explain the opposite was true. Indeed, the property sold for $737,000 in 1991 and then for $625,000 in 1994.

Although initial reactions are to demolish structures, Bell said that doesn’t always happen because “you have not bulldozed the stigma.”

For example, Sharon Tate’s property was bulldozed, but tourists still go there today. “The stigma is attached to the land,” Bell explained. [Rolling Stone] – Gregory Cornfield