It wasn't all that long ago that billionaire Nicolas Berggruen was technically considered homeless. Not homeless in the way you're thinking. Berggruen, who has a net worth $2 billion, previously subscribed to a "no fixed address" lifestyle – and why not? He could afford to stay in the poshest hotel suites and penthouses and the most luxurious beach houses. Apparently his "homeless" days are over because Berggruen just splashed out in a huge way for a historic Beverly Hills estate. He won the iconic Hearst Estate in a bankruptcy auction with a bid of $63.1 million.
He was one of six bidders who convened on the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles in mid-September to bid on the estate. The auction lasted about 45 minutes in total. Bids started at $48 million. Berggruen had placed an earlier bid on the house for $47 million, which was accepted by the estate's former owner, attorney Leonard Ross. The Hearst Estate has been on the market for years with no offers. Ross reportedly owed about $50 million on the house.
Leonard Ross purchased the estate about 40 years ago for $2 million. He's had it on and off the market since 2007. At one point he was asking $195 million.
Last month, we reported that the Hearst mansion sold for $47 million That was actually Berggruen's initial offer to Ross, which was accepted. However, apparently that didn't satisfy the debt Ross owed on the property, so a Chapter 7 bankruptcy auction took place. This is the auction where Berggruen finally became the owner at $63.1 million.
During the auction, bids increased $100,000 at a time until the price hit $52 million and there were just two bidders left: Berggruen and the West Hollywood real estate investment company MBRG Investors. The $63.1 million Berggruen paid is the most ever paid for a home at an auction in Los Angeles.
The estate was built in 1926 for local banker Milton Getz by architect Gordon Kaufmann. Greystone Mansion, the Hollywood Palladium, and Hoover Dam were also designed by Kaufmann.
Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst acquired the property sometime later and lived there with his longtime girlfriend, actress Marion Davies. When Hearst died in 1951, Davies inherited the property. The home has been featured in "The Godfather," "The Bodyguard," and in the video for Beyonce's "Black is King." It is also where President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis spent part of their honeymoon.
The main house has nine bedrooms and 15 bathrooms in its 29,000 square feet. It has two screening rooms, a two-story wood-paneled library, art deco nightclub, billiards room, and Olympic-sized pool on its 3.5 acres. The property also has a pool house, tennis pavilion, a five-bedroom, two-story gatehouse, and two apartments for staff.
French-born Berggruen made his fortune through his private investment company Berggruen Holdings. He more recently established the think tank called the Berggruen Institute on Governance.
The Hearst Mansion is the latest feather in the cap of the vast real estate empire the once homeless billionaire owns. Berggruen owns seven units in a single LA building, spending $20 million over multiple transactions to acquire his condos. In 2017 he paid $41 million for a home in LA's Holmby Hills neighborhood. The 20,000 square-foot home sits on over 2-acres of some of the most desirable land in the world. In August 2020 Nicolas paid $22.5 million for the 2.2-acre property immediately next door. In total, he has now spent $63 million on 4.3-acres in Holmby Hills.