Start your timer: Leonard Ross has 4 months to sell Hearst mansion

Judge gives financier until May to use fabled estate as cash collateral

Jan.January 28, 2020 05:00 PM
A judge will let Hearst estate be used as cash collateral (Credit: iStock)
A judge will let Hearst estate be used as cash collateral (Credit: iStock)

Real estate investor Leonard Ross has bought himself some time – four months, actually – to sell the grand William Randolph Hearst estate in Beverly Hills for possibly over $100 million after a favorable court ruling on Tuesday.

Vincent Zurzolo, a federal bankruptcy judge in downtown Los Angeles, gave a limited liability company started by Ross (entitled TBH19) until May 31st to use the fabled 40,000-square-foot Hearst estate on Beverly Hills Drive as cash collateral in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

The lawyers for the creditors, to whom Ross owes more than $60 million, did not voice any objections to Zurzolo’s terse ruling from the bench, despite their call to put the mansion into receivership. The judge’s ruling did come with the stipulation that the parties must reconvene in Zurzolo’s court one month from today.

Ross’s lawyer Robert Yaspan said after the hearing that his client has not found a buyer for a mansion, which Ross has claimed to be valued at $125 million. Yaspan said Ross planned to place the house on the Multiple Listings Service.

The house is currently advertised on the website of The Agency, the Beverly Hills-headquartered real estate brokerage, with Mauricio Umansky and Santiago Arana listed as its agents.

The property should be placed on the MLS shortly, according to an Agency spokeswoman.

The bankruptcy case is the latest twist in a years-old saga featuring Ross’s precarious finances, and the historic 40,000-square-foot mansion that he (or his LLC) has owned since 1976.

TBH19 LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, listing $65 million in debt, primarily to DBD Credit Funding, an offshoot of Softbank subsidiary Fortress Investment Group.

Ross claimed in a November filing that he could pay off his debts soon, because a Saudi Arabian prince was interested in buying the estate for $125 million, but there is no longer a specific buyer in the picture.

Umansky put in a court declaration earlier this month that the mansion at 1011 N. Beverly Hills Dr. is an, “iconic, one of a kind, estate full of history and is poised to be the next sale in the Beverly Hills area over $100,000,000 and likely closer to at least $125,000,000.”

The agent stated that the listing price is appropriate given the recent $150 million sale of the Chartwell Estate in December, and the $119 million sale by Petra Ecclestone of the Spellman Estate in July.

“We feel confident that now is the perfect time to market and fully expose the property as it is unique and the only property of its kind on the market,” the declaration reads

Ross’s creditors are skeptical, stating in court records that general analysis of the west Los Angeles luxury real estate market is tantamount to inadmissible evidence.

Besides its former Hearst ownership, the Beverly Hills estate is famous for being a film site to “The Godfather” scene in which a Don Corleone foe wakes up to find a severed horse’s head. It was also visited by John and Jacqueline Kennedy during the couple’s honeymoon.

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