Niami’s The One goes for $126M at auction

Sale ends long saga for what was once the country's priciest listing

Nile Niami and the mansion (Getty, Concierge Auctions)
Nile Niami and the mansion (Getty, Concierge Auctions)

UPDATED, 10:50 a.m., March 4: After years of controversies — and a flurry of last minute bidding — Nile Niami’s “The One” sold at auction on Thursday for roughly $126 million. The sale of the Los Angeles megamansion, once slated to list for $500 million, must still be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

The undisclosed buyer’s final price tag will amount to about $141 million, which includes the winning bid of $126 million plus an additional 12 percent commission to the auction house, Concierge Auctions. It’s a figure that shatters the record for a home sold at auction in the U.S.: The previous record, $63.1 million, was set last year by The Hearst Estate in Beverly Hills. A mansion in South Florida had also sold at auction in 2018 for $42.5 million. The One’s selling price also ranks the property among California’s most expensive homes: In October, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen set that mark with a $177 million Malibu purchase.

The sale of the property, however, still falls well short of covering the debt on it, which amounts to over $200 million.

“Nobody can question that this property has been exposed to the world,” said Chad Roffers, president of Concierge Auctions, about an hour before the auction was scheduled to close. The property received an immense amount of publicity in the run-up to the auction — it even appeared on the Super Bowl broadcast — and Roffers said that whatever price was ultimately reached would establish the property’s fair market value.

“Our function was to figure out what a property like this is really worth,” he said. “Asking prices can be arbitrary. How much somebody’s willing to loan on a property can also be arbitrary.”

Bidding began slowly: On Monday, one suitor placed a $50 million opening offer, which was followed a day later with a $60 million bid. The high price remained $70 million until within three minutes of the scheduled closing time, when a new $90 million offer kicked the process into overtime. Multiple bids, overbids and time extensions prolonged the process for about another 15 minutes, when the bidding closed at $126 million.

All bidders were anonymous. The billionaire Don Hankey, the largest creditor on the property, had said he would enter the bidding if the price appeared to be too low. A representative for Hankey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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After the sale Branden and Rayni Williams, who shared the most recent listing, said in a statement that the buyer was an Angeleno who “believes in the property and is passionate about owning a piece of LA history.” Hankey also told media that he was not the winning bidder.

The One was originally conceived by Niami as “the largest and most expensive property in the urban world.” It is located on nearly four acres on a Bel-Air hilltop, the 105,000-square-foot contemporary spec behemoth has 21 bedrooms, dozens of bathrooms, a nightclub and full-service salon and spa — a massive build that Niami even floated as potential event space for concerts and events such as boxing matches.

For years, however, the project has been beleaguered by various construction delays — it still has not received a certificate of occupancy — and financial trouble. Niami, through an entity called Crestlloyd, took repeated loans on the project from  lenders including Hankey Capital and Joseph Englanoff. Last September, after Niami defaulted on $106 million in loans, the property entered receivership, and Crestlloyd subsequently filed for bankruptcy in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent an auction.

The property was most recently listed at $295 million; on the eve of the auction announcement, Niami made a last ditch effort to stave off the process by offering the mansion as a digital currency.

“Hopefully, there’s someone out there that is going to want to walk hand-in-hand with me into the stratosphere,” he said in a video. “However, this house will go to auction — and this house will be sold to the highest bidder.”

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This story was updated to more accurately reflect the previous American auction record and with additional details about the anonymous winning bidder.