These days, not many of us have $25 going spare, let alone $25 million. But if you’re one of the lucky few, you might want to put all that dosh to good use by investing in some property… something billionaire investor Howard Marks did in 2015 when he purchased a 1932 mansion in Beverly Hills for that exact same amount. Those with a passion for the good old days of entertainment might remember Nick Vanoff, the dancer, producer, and prolific do-gooder who spent his life appearing in the likes of Kiss Me Kate, City of Angels, and The Perry Como Show, not to mention donating vast sums of money to various good causes. Prior to his death in 1991, Vanoff and his wife, Felisa, along with their two sons, Nicholas and Flavio, resided in a sumptuous residence in Beverly Hills, California. After Vanoff passed away, Felisa stayed on in the house – little wonder, considering it had been the family’s main home since the 1960s. When she died of cancer on May 29, 2014, the house was put on the market.
It sold in May 2015 for a whopping $23.7 million, just a smidgeon under the original asking price of $25 million. As The LA Times reported at the time, Mauricio Umansky and Jeff Kohl of The Agency were the listing agents, while Bridget Martens of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer. At that stage, no-one was quite sure who the mystery buyer was. After digging through public records, Forbes later unearthed that the buyer was none other than billionaire investor Howard Marks, who’d purchased the property under his company name, Speakman Holdings LLC.
Marks has a history of investing in high-value properties, having previously forked out $52.5 million for the privilege of residing at Courtney Sale Ross’ former 20-plus room apartment at uber-swanky 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan’s most illustrious address. As Variety reports, he also made a mint from selling his Malibu estate for a massive $74.5 million to athletic eyewear tycoon and digital camera entrepreneur Jim Jannard, along with a 1.9-acre Brentwood compound for more than $33.7 million to Bruce Karsh.
But it seems Marks has grown fond of his Beverly Hills abode, and is showing little signs of flipping it for a profit anytime soon. Vanoff’s former home is still firmly among his list of residences… no doubt to the chagrin of its many admirers. But what if he had a change of heart and decided Beverley Hills wasn’t all that after all? What could the lucky buyer expect? A massive mortgage, for one thing, but other than that, one very plush new home indeed.
The house (if you can call an 8,800 sqm, nine-bedroomed residence with parking for up to 25 cars simply a ‘house’) is built in a traditional 1930s style, and has more than just a touch of old school Hollywood glamor about it (which is little wonder really, considering both where it’s located and who its previous owner was). Thanks to its nine sumptuously decorated bedrooms (most of which open to the loggias and offer stunning views over the lush grounds), guests will never need to bed down on the sofa. The presence of an equally grand guest house, meanwhile, is ideal for visitors who like to maintain a bit of privacy (or owners who like to keep theirs). In the main residence, there are 12 bathrooms to choose between, all decked out with full baths and (we like to imagine at least) a full complement of luxury toiletries and soft, downy towels.
The living and dining areas put the luxe in luxurious, with an old school elegance that’s perfectly complemented by the vaguely European vibe (Felisa Vanoff’s father was Italian, and she would regularly visit the Old Country to pick up little bits and pieces for the house, including a stunning wrought-iron entry gate that still stands today).
The European feel of the architecture continues in the recreational area, as witnessed by the 2 foot raised edges of the swimming pool – something that as toptenrealestatedeals.com notes, is directly inspired by the pool at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Spread around the pool (which, naturally enough, comes with plenty of comfortable poolside seating and is overlooked by a very impressive looking concrete statue) are 1.23 acres of gorgeously landscaped gardens. Curving walkways, a flagstone patio topped with trellises and fragrant creeping plants, all add to the Italian feel. The 25 car parking space, meanwhile, suggests function hasn’t been overlooked amongst all the splendor. For owners looking to keep their staff on hand at all times, there’s even a very convenient section of the residence given over to staff quarters.
Quite how Marks’ has chosen to decorate the house, no one quite knows. But if his tastes run similar to Nick and Felisa’s, we can take a pretty good guess. The pictures taken of the property at the time of its listing in 2015 show a property of elegant refinement, with as much attention given to comfort as to style. Asides from the library, which is decorated in rich tones of red and comes complete with built-in bookcases, sumptuously comfortable velvet chairs, and a polished wooden fireplace, most rooms stick to a beige color-scheme, complemented by a variety of red, blue, green, and yellow accents. Glowing chandeliers can be found in most rooms, while the roaring fireplaces add a sense of cozy warmth. The furniture is traditional rather than contemporary, with plenty of polished wooden tables, antique cabinets, and big, comfortable sofas.
Unquestionably, this is a house that’s been lived in and loved for decades. Gorgeous and glam though it may be, it’s clearly been designed as a family home, with a firm emphasis on comfort and convenience. You don’t often see celeb houses that combine style with substance, but here you do. No wonder Nick and Felisa were happy to call it home for so many years.