Bankruptcy judge denies latest attempt by The Mountain of Beverly Hills owner to avoid foreclosure

Last week, the owners of the 157-acre spread delayed a planned auction by transferring ownership, essentially to itself

The Mountain and Mark Hughes (Credit: Realtor, Wikipedia)
The Mountain, whose owner owes the estate of the late Mark Hughes $200 million, photo above (Credit: Realtor, Wikipedia)

A bankruptcy court judge overseeing who gets to own the 157-acre plot of land known as The Mountain of Beverly ruled Monday that lenders can foreclose on the property.

The decision, court documents show, marks a near death blow for the owner, Secured Capital Partners, which put the property on the market last summer for a whopping $1 billion. Secured Capital had filed paperwork for bankruptcy protection in May, and temporarily delayed a planned auction of the property by transferring ownership to Tower Park Properties last week. The property remains on the market, now for $650 million.

The auction, which was planned for Aug. 15 in Pomona, is now scheduled for Tuesday. It is unclear whether Secured Capital or Tower Park, whose owners are tied to convicted felon Victorino Noval, will mount another attempt to keep the land.

Any interested buyer would have to bid at least $200 million to cover the existing liens on the property, from the previous owner, the estate of Herbalife founder Mark Hughes. The Hughes trust has been trying to foreclose on The Mountain for several months, but has been delayed by Secured Capital’s legal tactics.

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Lawyers representing both parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Noval family was able to prevent last week’s auction by transferring ownership of The Mountain from Secured Capital to Tower Park. Both entities are controlled by the Noval family.

Tower Park — which also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — had a reorganization plan that specified the lenders had to provide a 21-day notice before they could foreclose on The Mountain. They also had to prove that Tower Park was at risk of defaulting on its loans.

But the bankruptcy court judge has ruled that Tower Park’s bankruptcy case “does not prevent the lenders from proceeding with the foreclosure sale.” It also struck down Secured Capital’s request for bankruptcy protection last month, siding with the lenders in both cases.