Hollywood mansion, once home to Cher, sells for $88M at a loss
If walls could talk, this Tuscan estate would be worth its millions in gossip alone.
Robert Shapiro, the alleged originator of a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, lost his historic Los Angeles mansion when his business, Woodbridge Securities, came crumbling down in 2017. Now, the liquidation trust managing his former assets has sold the property for $88 million — $2 million less than Shapiro paid for the property in 2016 and less than half his original $180 million asking price in 2017 when Shapiro was first charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But that’s not where the intrigue ends with this wood-paneled estate. Its juicy journey began in the 1940s, when a 21-year-old Marilyn Monroe had a rumored live-in affair with the home’s owner at the time, 20th Century Fox founder Joseph Schenck — who was 69 and married at the time.
In 1966, actor Tony Curtis, who was also rumored to be a Monroe lover, bought the nine-bedroom, 10-bathroom estate and hosted lavish parties there. Pop duo Sonny and Cher fell in love with the house at one of Curtis’ parties and purchased the 12,200-square-foot home from him in 1974 for $750,000 — what would come out to about $4.2 million today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Carolwood was mind-boggling,” Curtis said in a 2010 interview just before he died, referring to the home on Carolwood Drive. “It was the grandest house I ever owned.”
Sonny and Cher filmed part of their TV show “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” at the house, and when the couple hit rocky times, CBS threatened to cancel “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” if either moved out — so the pair inhabited separate wings of the estate. They finally divorced in 1975, and music industry mogul David Geffen moved in with Cher for a few months before they sold the house.
Next up, reported arms dealer Ghazi Aita bought the house for $4.2 million in 1978 before selling the property to Roland Arnall, the founder of subprime mortgage lender Ameriquest Mortgage, in 2002. Arnall died of cancer in March 2008, soon after the subprime mortgage market came crashing down, and his widow sold the combined three-lot mansion to Shapiro in 2016.
The mansion with hardwood floors and decorative moldings also served as a Grammy Awards brunch site for Jay-Z in 2017. Guests including Rihanna, Nick Jonas and DJ Khaled, according to the Daily Mail, entered the two-story stair entryway and roamed about the baronial living room, a library, a formal dining room and a sun-soaked oval sun room.
The house has an owner’s suite, a generous wine room and guest quarters, according to the listing. It also has marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, hand-carved mantles and 24-karat gold fixtures and fittings, according to a 2017 marketing pamphlet for the property.
Named Owlwood estate for the multitude of owls on the property, the large lawn has a full-size tennis court, an Olympic-size pool and a pool house where Monroe lived. Residents can lounge on the patio or walk among the estate’s many fruit trees.
The house was built in 1936 during the Great Depression by architect Robert D. Farquhar for Florence and Charles Quinn for $150,000 — or about $3 million today. Florence was the widow of British department store entrepreneur Arthur Letts, who purchased the lot but died in 1923 before he could develop the property.
Compass’ Sally Forster Jones, Tyrone McKillen and Tomer Fridman and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland had the listing.