Billionaire bidder behind $47M Hearst estate offer revealed

Bankruptcy court accepts Nicolas Berggruen's bid for Beverly Hills estate, which once asked $195M

Nicolas Berggruen with the Beverly Hills Hearst estate (Hilton & Hyland, Getty)
Nicolas Berggruen with the Beverly Hills Hearst estate (Hilton & Hyland, Getty)

A famed Beverly Hills estate once owned by William Randolph Hearst might finally sell — after years of bankruptcy proceedings, scrapped listings and a dramatic price cut.

A $47 million offer submitted by the family office of billionaire Nicolas Berggruen has been accepted by a California bankruptcy court, according to court documents.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the offer Thursday, but the party behind it has not been previously revealed.

Owner and attorney Leonard Ross has been trying to sell the the 29,000-square-foot mansion at 1011 North Beverly Drive for years, once asking $195 million in 2016. Ross then dropped his asking price to $135 million, and eventually to $125 million. In 2019, in an effort to avoid a foreclosure auction, Ross’ LLC that owns the estate filed for bankruptcy.

Fortress Investment Group, a lender on the property, claims Ross owes more than $70 million in unpaid loans, plus interest, on the property, according to court documents.

While the court has approved Berggruen’s offer, overbids will still be accepted and an auction is set for September 14. The court said the offer was “the highest and best offer” it has received since proceedings began.

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While brokers from Rodeo Realty and Hilton & Hyland, who are marketing the property, recommended a listing price of almost $90 million earlier this year, people that viewed the property told the court-appointed trustee that it needs “substantial repairs and remodeling.”

Built in 1926, the estate sits on 3.5 acres and also includes a pool house, tennis pavilion and gate house.

If the sale goes through, the Hearst estate won’t be the only pricey L.A. home Berggruen has bought in recent years. A year ago, the billionaire investor paid $22.5 million for a portion of the former Goetz estate in Holmby Hills, three years after he bought half of the property for $40.8 million.

“I like to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles,” Berggruen said in a 2012 interview. “It’s a place where nobody goes out, where people will leave you alone.”

Berggruen Holdings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.