Merck billionaire plans to tear down 1 Electra Court and go twice as big

Frank Binder bought 1 Electra Court from now defunct Woodbridge Group of Properties for $30M

Frank Binder and Alexandra Schuck, with 1 Electra Court (Credit: Hilton & Hyland)
Frank Binder and Alexandra Schuck, with 1 Electra Court (Credit: Hilton & Hyland)

Billionaire Frank Binder, heir to the fortune of pharma giant Merck, wants to demolish a  Hollywood Hills mansion he bought last year from Ponzi schemer Robert Shapiro and build a new home nearly double the size.

Binder purchased the 9,200-square-foot property at 1 Electra Court for $29.5 million from Woodbridge Group of Companies, the now defunct luxury home developer that Shapiro headed.

According to documents filed with the Los Angeles City Planning Department, Binder proposes to build a 17,415-square-foot home on the 4.5-acre property off Mt. Olympus Drive.

Built in 1990, the mansion changed hands several times over the years. In 2013, Hollywood producer Megan Ellison purchased the property for $20 million, and subsequently expanded it by purchasing surrounding parcels.

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Ellison sold the expanded property, which was more than nine acres, to Woodbridge for almost $36 million. Woodbridge subsequently sold some of the land in 2016 for $12 million, shrinking it to 4.5 acres.

According to documents filed with the city, Binder’s contractor plans to export about 6,500 cubic yards of dirt in association with the demolitions of the existing structure and the construction of the new dwelling.

In October, Shapiro was sentenced to 25 years in prison for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme in which he was said to defraud over 7,000 property investors. The 1 Electra Court manse was one of the more prominent properties once owned by Woodbridge. Last month, five other Woodbridge properties under receivership sold for a total of $69.1 million, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of them, the Carla House, a 20,500-square-foot Beverly Hills home designed by Noah Walker, sold for $35 million, The Real Deal reported.

One Electra Court has also gained notoriety for a seven-year-old commission dispute between former partners Ben Bacal and Ryan Davis. Davis, now at Compass, claims that Bacal, now at Revel Real Estate, still owes him over $300,000 in unpaid commission splits for Ellison’s 2013 purchase of the property.