To call 924 Bel Air Road a house seems inaccurate. Even describing it a mansion is somehow amiss. The colossal spec-home, which is currently on the market for USD 250 million floats on the hillside above Elizabeth Taylor’s former residence like an oversized yacht. The property is all blues and whites and greens with pools and terraces and a water feature that runs along the parameter. In the evening, it glows like a hilltop citadel.
Built by luxury developer Bruce Makowsky, who made his fortune in handbags and leather goods, it is the most expensive home ever listed in the United States and it joins a wave of American spec-homes being built to satisfy the whims of the super-rich. Last year, properties priced upwards of USD 100 million were listed in California, Florida, New York and Nevada. Recently, Nile Niami, an LA-based film producer-turned-developer announced he is building a mansion he plans to sell for USD 500 million.
As the spec-home trend gains momentum, developers continue to raise the stakes. 924 Bel Air Road come with 150 pieces of original artwork, around USD 30 million worth of classic cars, a dozen high-performance motorcycles and a deactivated helicopter.
“The house comes with a lot of great toys”, Mr. Makowsky grants as we begin our tour on the ground floor, passing a car gallery, a four-lane bowling alley, custom-made glass ping-pong and pool tables and a wall-mounted candy dispenser. Showpieces certainly abound. Also on this floor is a champagne pinball machine, a chrome-plated machine gun sculpture and diamond encrusted Fender guitar.
“There are five bars in the property”, Mr. Makowsky tells me as we round the corner and ascend to the next level, but I quickly lose count. There are wine and champagne cellars, televisions at every turn, including a giant outdoor hydraulic screen that rises up behind the infinity pool. If that’s not enough to entertain, there’s a 40-seat Dolby home theatre with surround sound that shakes my plush leather armchair.
Makowsky loves leather, marble, and polished steel. Occasionally he also likes wood, evidenced in a giant teak accent wall on the second floor. He also likes vintage cars, airplane parts, antique meat cutters, helicopters and boats. When it comes to furniture, he tends toward Italian design, though he also has a soft spot for Hermès and German hardware for the bathrooms.
What doesn’t he like? Imperfections. These are scarcely found across 38,000 sq. ft. of carefully curated living space. And if they appear, they don’t last long. When the wind sweeps tree pollen in through the retractable glass walls, Mr. Makowsky snatches up the tiny brown pods from the buffed marble floor before I can tread on them. When we pass the third floor lounge area, he notes a minute smudge on the blue Potrana Frau chairs like an eagle might spy the tail of a mouse in a mountain valley. To keep up appearances, the house comes with seven full time staff. They follow our tour, offering water, popcorn and candy, and I imagine, sweep up in the wake of our footsteps.
Those who toss around the phrase “attention to detail” casually haven’t met Mr. Makowsky. He supervised every last detail of the property down to the door handles and tapped into his wide-reaching network of luxury tastemakers to get the crème de la crème. After extensive negotiating he paid USD 250,000 for a large purple crystal he had his sights on, and had it carved into a sink for the powder room. When he saw a sculpture of a Leica camera he was keen on, he commissioned artist Yibai Liao to create another one and placed the oversized model, made from polished stainless steel at the bottom of the free-floating staircase.
Nothing is accidental here, and nothing is lacking, except perhaps a sense of organic comfort – the home isn’t exactly cozy. But then, that isn’t really the point. The property is meant to offer up every imaginable detail for its future magnate owners to have a good time. And according to Mr. Makowsky, they’ll be willing to pay for it.
“Until now, the ultra-luxury market was void of homes that even came close to matching the level of mega-yachts and private jets that billionaires spend millions of dollars on every year”, he says. “There are hundreds of new billionaires created each year and they are increasingly setting their sights on this coveted enclave of California for everything the state has to offer”.
The home includes a massage studio and wellness spa, a Technogym fitness centre, 85-foot glass tile infinity swimming pool, 40-seat 4K Dolby Atmos Theater, a four-lane bowling alley, an auto gallery with cars valued at more than USD 30 million, seven full time staff, over 100 curated art installations, an outdoor hydraulic pop-up theater, two fully-stocked champagne/wine cellars, two commercial elevators and 270-degree views of Los Angeles.
Size: 38,0000 sq. ft.
Outdoors: 17,000 sq. ft.
Bars: 5 Price:
This article was first published in Palace 19.