L.A. businessperson Charles Cohen bought Makowsky’s “Billionaire” house

Fawaz Alhokair is renting out the lavish Bel Air estate

Feb.February 28, 2020 03:34 PM
Charles Cohen and the mansion (Credit: Berlyn Photography via Dirt.com)

The mystery of who bought Bruce Makowsky’s “Billionaire” spec mansion for $94 million — a question complicated by the typical use of limited liability companies and atypical issue of mistaken identity — has been solved.

Charles Cohen, a Los Angeles businessperson, is listed as the landlord at the mansion’s address, 924 Bel Air Road in Los Angeles, in a lease agreement obtained by The Real Deal.

The listed tenant is Carsten Arns, chief human resources officer at the Saudi Arabia-headquartered Fawaz Alhokair Group. Fawaz Alhokair himself is actually paying the lease and inhabiting the property, according to a source close to the mansion sale. However, contrary to previous reports, Alhokair was not a buyer of the 38,000-square foot abode

Instead, Cohen — armed with a $58 million, 10-year loan from HSBC Bank — purchased the mansion under an entity called WinterSun Properties LLC with the intention of leasing it out to Alhokair, a retail and hospitality entrepreneur who three years earlier paid $88 million for a New York City penthouse.

Per the source, it “made sense economically” for Cohen to buy the mansion since he had a deal in place with Alhokair, and took out a loan at a low-interest rate.

Alhokair began his year-long lease Nov. 1, and the lease copy provided redacted how much he pays in rent.

Messages left with Cohen, Alhokair, and Makowsky were not returned. Makowsky has not spoken to TRD since the sale was completed. Agents on the deal — including Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland, Shawn Elliott of Nestseekers, and Ben Bacal of Side — have declined comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

Buyer Charles Cohen, the Angeleno, is not to be confused with Charles S. Cohen, the chief executive of New York City’s Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation. That Charles Cohen has a net worth of $3.5 billion, per Forbes, and owns several high-profile properties including the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

Charles Cohen, the Makowsky buyer, has less well-known business ventures.

He is listed as chief commercial officer at Sky Power Global, a Toronto-headquartered solar energy company with an office in Los Angeles’s Century City neighborhood.

Cohen is also founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of TransCash, a Century City-headquartered prepaid debit card company. According to TransCash’s website, the prepaid card is only sold in France and Italy.

Additionally, Cohen is president of BCBG MaxAzria, a women’s fashion wear company, and founder of The Seck Group LLC, which has a stated mission of investing in L.A. condos and townhouses.

The “Billionaire” mansion has been an object of fascination and occasional ridicule by the L.A. real estate community for its initial $250 million asking price, and features that include a room filled with candy, a $30 million car collection, and Louis Vuitton designed bowling alley.

The lease agreement accompanying the mansion, meanwhile, hews to the California Association of Realtors paperwork for any renter. The tenant is informed that onsite parking is available, he must pay utilities, and that he can have pets so long as they are “common household pets.”

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