Situated on a summit ridgeline boasting magnificent views of some of the homes owned by Hollywood’s biggest stars, The Vineyard Beverly Hills is one of the last undeveloped plots in the exclusive community. Yet, despite being arguably one of the most impressive pieces of real estate in Beverly Hills, the 157-acre property can’t seem to find a buyer. Throughout its long history, however, the land has been held in the hands of some impressive owners, though it is currently owned by a man who purchased it with little money and no real estate license in partnership with a convicted felon. Together, the partners have held the property for 11 years, and they currently have the land on the market for an astounding $1 billion.
The History of The Vineyard Beverly Hills
The history of The Vineyard Beverly Hills is quite long and complicated. Long before becoming the “real estate trophy” that it has now become, a piece of The Vineyard was owned by Hollywood producer Jack Bean and his wife, actress Mitzi Gaynor. According to title deeds, a single buyer later purchased several small lots and combined them into one. It was at about this time that Shams Pahlavi became interested in the property. The elder sister of Iran’s last shah, Princess Shams left Iran in the 1970s and settled in California with her husband. She purchased The Vineyard around 1977, after which she began grading and permitting the slopes with the intent of creating a single estate. In response to rising tensions related to the revolution in Iran, Princess Shams was forced to leave the property and seek refuge.
Following Princess Shams’ exit, the property sat vacant until Hollywood mogul Merv Griffin purchased it in 1987. Griffin took steps to rework the zoning of the property while reducing the number of buildable plots. He then carved off the top of the mountain, moved the dirt and leveled it out. Due to financial struggles, however, Griffin was forced to put the property back on the market. The property was then purchased by Herbalife founder and CEO Mark Hughes in 1997 for $8.5 million. Soon after, Hughes began working on plans to develop the property, but died just a few years later. The property was willed to Hughes’ only son, 8-year-old Alex, who was to inherit the property when he turned 35.
In 2003, Charles “Chip” Dickens entered the picture. After befriending the man overseeing the trust, Conrad Klein, Dickens managed to convince him to simply give him the property in order to avoid potential legal troubles. Dickens remains the owner of the property and has since turned the Vineyard into a high-end event space. The first event thrown at the property was for a charity started by Charlize Theron. Despite the many problems that took place at the event, celebrities continue to hold their events at The Vineyard.
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(all data current as of 6/24/2017)
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