In 2022, Southern California real estate once again lived up to its reputation as one of the weirdest, wildest, most dramatic markets in the country.
While the lower end of the market cooled as interest rates forced buyers and sellers to rethink their strategies, the luxury market raged on with significantly more blockbuster sales than last year.
Celebrities, tech moguls and CEOs spent fortunes on their dream homes. Battles were waged over the profits of mega-mansions. Here are the top sales of the year.
Sylvester Stallone kicked things off by selling his 21,000-square-foot mega-mansion in Beverly Park for $58 million — a blockbuster deal, but not quite a knockout for the “Rocky” star, who originally wanted $110 million for the trophy home.
The high-profile sale included a high-profile buyer: pop star Adele. She joins a bevy of stars in the affluent enclave including Denzel Washington, Magic Johnson and Mark Wahlberg.
Michael Rubin, the chief executive of sports e-commerce company Fanatics, set an all-time record in Hollywood Hills when he shelled out $70 million for a property once owned by Ronald Reagan.
The sale redefined what a home could fetch in Hollywood Hills, which has historically seen sales top out in the $30-million range. The staggering price was due to the estate’s rare size and scale. Newly rebuilt, it sits on three-quarters of an acre above the Sunset Strip with unobstructed views of the city.
Records show the seller was Francesco Aquilini, a Canadian businessman best known as the chairman of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. A regular in real estate headlines, he set the neighborhood’s previous price record when he sold a spec mansion for $42.5 million in 2020.
Kim Kardashian got in on the action as well, buying yet another home in Southern California. The reality TV star has owned properties in Hidden Hills and Calabasas but picked up one in Malibu this time, spending $70.4 million on a bluff-top mansion once owned by Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber.
Set on more than 3 acres overlooking the ocean, the coastal estate centers on a 7,450-square-foot villa surrounded by a swimming pool, tennis court and meditation deck.
It was sold by hedge-fund manager Adam Weiss and “Yellowstone” actress Barret Swatek, who originally asked $99.5 million for the place.
For months, rumors swirled on where Drake — perhaps the world’s biggest hip-hop star — would buy a home. The rapper toured the finest estates of Southern California but eventually settled for something off-market, quietly paying $75 million for a Beverly Crest mansion owned by fellow music star Robbie Williams.
Drake’s new place is comically large, clocking in at more than 20,000 square feet on more than 20 acres — a rarity for the area. Across those 20,000 square feet, it manages to squeeze in 10 bedrooms and a staggering 22 bathrooms, as well as an elevator, wine cellar, gym, game room and 11-car garage.
Malibu’s massive year continued thanks to video game designer Jon Burton, who sold his 6.6-acre spread in Paradise Cove for $91 million — a nice improvement on the $36.5 million he paid for it in 2012, but a bit less than the $125 million he originally wanted.
The price jump is mainly thanks to a face-lift Burton gave the place during his decade-long stay. Listing photos show he remodeled the living spaces with rich woods and large windows, as well as amenities such as a movie theater, tennis court, swimming pool and mini golf course.
The biggest highlight comes out back, where the 17,000-square-foot mansion descends to 340 feet of beach frontage.
Only three sales surpassed the $100-million threshold this year, and one of them belonged to Tamara Gustavson, daughter of late Public Storage founder B. Wayne Hughes. She wanted $127.5 million for her sprawling compound on a Malibu bluff and sold it for $100 million.
The buyer, records show, is Byron Allen, the billionaire media mogul who founded Entertainment Studios.
The stunning spread has the usual laundry list of amenities but adds a few custom spaces such as a wood-and-glass guesthouse outfitted with a gym and yoga studio.
The profits are a drop in the bucket for Gustavson, who has a net worth of $7.59 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel finally closed his deal in Holmby Hills, spending $120 million on a property across the street from the Playboy Mansion. The sale process started last year, but he couldn’t close until the summer because the house wasn’t yet finished.
With the move, Spiegel joins one of the ritziest pockets in the country. The Playboy Mansion is the neighborhood’s most famous estate, but the area also holds iconic homes such as Owlwood and the Manor, which set the L.A. County price record at the time when it traded hands for $119.75 million in 2019.
What more can be said of “The One”? When the country’s largest modern home was auctioned off for $141 million to the founder of Fashion Nova, it brought an end to a years-long saga of ambition and greed, a battle that’s been documented over and over again but remains hard to believe.
Once touted as a $500-million home, then listed as a $295-million home, then sold at a foreclosure auction as a $141-million home, the still-unfinished mega-mansion comes in as both a crowning achievement and utter disappointment. It ranks as the top sale of the year, and one of the priciest home sales ever in California, but couldn’t fetch anywhere near its original price, and leaves the buyer with millions more to spend to finish up the place.
In many ways, The One is the perfect encapsulation of Southern California’s luxury market, where developers chase bigger and bigger price tags for bigger and bigger homes until, oftentimes, it all blows up in a dramatic display for all to see.