From bankruptcy to bidding war? 157-acre Mountain of Beverly Hills to be sold at auction

Listed on the market for $1B last year, the owners now need at least $200M just to avoid losing the mega land parcel entirely

Aug.August 13, 2019 05:00 PM
1652 Tower Grove Drive or "The Mountain" (Credit: Realtor and iStock)
1652 Tower Grove Drive or “The Mountain” (Credit: Realtor and iStock)

It has been a little over a year since the Mountain of Beverly hit the market for $1 billion, but despite a dramatic price cut earlier this year, there still hasn’t been a buyer. But that could soon change.

The 157-acre plot of land will be auctioned off on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. It it attracts a buyer, the long and storied — and troubled — history of Los Angeles’ most expensive listing will likely be over. Or at least a chapter of it will be over.

The auction, to be held at the Civic Center Plaza in Pomona, marks the latest and likely the final attempt at preventing the enormous plot of dirt from ending up in foreclosure.

The property’s price tag was already slashed to $650 million in February. Now, if a buyer doesn’t shell out at least $200 million, it will likely become the lender’s property. That lender is also the previous owner, the estate of Herbalife founder Mark Hughes, who loaned roughly $190 million to fund The Mountain’s sale in 2004.

Interested bidders will have to pay by cash or check, according to the Journal. It’s likely an auction will result in a much lower sale price for the spread, meaning creditors might not be repaid.

Secured Capital Partners, the ownership entity controlled by the family of convicted fraudster Victorino Noval, has been trying to keep the Beverly Hills spread in the family for nearly two decades. Secured Capital acquired the property with the liens attached from Tower Park Properties — another entity controlled by the Noval family — in 2016.

But the firm has been unable to repay the debts, and on May 29, a day before the Hughes trust could foreclose on the four liens, Secured Capital filed for bankruptcy protection. A judge denied that request roughly two months later, setting the stage for the property’s foreclosure, The Real Deal previously reported.

Potential buyers may be put off by the history and complexities of the property, and financial burden that would come with developing on the land. That has deterred many high-profile buyers from taking the plunge. Even Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, deemed it too expensive and too risky. [WSJ]Natalie Hoberman

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