Judge puts Hadid’s Bel Air mansion on demolition fast-track

Court rules bankruptcy is a ploy to delay mansion demolition

Dec.December 17, 2019 03:00 PM
Mohamed Hadid and the mansion (Credit: Getty Images, iStock, and Mega via TMZ)
Mohamed Hadid and the mansion (Credit: Getty Images, iStock, and Mega via TMZ)

Mohamed Hadid’s sprawling Bel Air spec mansion is on the verge of being demolished after a federal judge issued a fiery ruling Tuesday against the developer.

Federal bankruptcy judge Sheri Bluebond dismissed a bankruptcy filing by 901 Strada LLC, the limited liability company that Hadid created to operate the 901 Strada Vecchia Rd. property.

Bluebond repeatedly blasted Hadid’s LLC as filing for bankruptcy in order to avoid state court judge Craig Karlan’s ruling to tear down the saucer-shaped, 30,000-square-foot mansion on a hill.

“This is an attempt to use me to undo what the state court has done,” Bluebond said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.

“The judge is concerned about this thing coming down the hill and killing somebody. I’m not going to second guess that,” Bluebond added.

In effect, Bluebond’s order kicks a lengthy dispute back to state court, which has repeatedly ruled against Hadid. The nine-year saga has spanned an FBI investigation into bribes of city inspectors, and Hadid’s no contest plea in 2017 to misdemeanor charges of building without a permit.

Hadid’s neighbors John Bedrosian and Joe Horacek filed a civil lawsuit against the developer last year demanding a judge order the mansion demolished and appoint a receiver to wrest the property from Hadid.

Karlan sided with Bedrosian and Horacek in a Nov. 20 ruling, finding the mansion foundation wobbly enough that it could tumble down the steep hill it was built on.

“I don’t even see this as a close call, ladies and gentlemen,” Karlan said, according to the court transcript. “This seems to be a clear-cut case where the property has to be torn down.”

A week after Karlan’s order, Hadid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stating he owed creditors about $28 million, including $17 million to Hollywood-based lender First Credit Bank, which specializes in short-term, high-interest real estate bridge loans. He said he didn’t have enough money to demolish the structure.

Bluebond went beyond just temporarily blocking a bankruptcy filing; her ruling prevents 901 Strada LLC from re-filing for bankruptcy for at least six months.

After the hearing, Hadid’s attorney Bruce Rudman said that his client might appeal Karlan’s demolition order, but said he is still considering next steps in preserving the mansion.

Karlan has scheduled a hearing Friday on the case, in which he may formally appoint Douglas Wilson of San Diego-based Douglas Wilson Companies as property receiver.

The tale of the mansion – dubbed “Starship Enterprise” by critics – still has many unanswered questions, including who would pay for demolition, and the status of a federal probe into the Department of Buildings.

A declaration in the civil case by former mansion project manager Russell Linch claims that several members of the Los Angeles Department of Buildings accepted bribes from Hadid, or frequently dined and socialized with the high-profile developer, whose daughters Gigi and Bela are celebrity fashion models.

Hadid – who did not appear in court on Tuesday – has adamantly denied being involved in any bribery, and has said that Linch is disgruntled. He said in an interview last month the FBI has not questioned him in the matter.

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Art Caption: Clockwise from top left: Assemblyman David Chiu and Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for a statewide rent control law, L.A. mansions that sold for combined $400+ million, developer Mohamed Hadid battled to save his Bel Air project, Frederik Eklund of Douglas Elliman moved to L.A. and (inset) streaming services gobbled up more space.

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