hullaballo and brouhaha about legally embattled bazillionaire Rupert Murdoch revealing via his Twitter feed that he'd snatched up Moraga Vineyards in the uppity L.A. community of Bel Air, one of the few commercial vineyards in the City of Los Angeles. It's not yet been revealed how much Mister Murdoch paid for the spread that was last listed for $29.5 millon.
The octogenarian media tycoon reportedly became interested in the vineyard estate that sprawls over rolling hillsides in the heart of an affluent enclave after reading about it in the Wall Street Journal, which, of course, he owns.
As was noted in Mister Murdoch's tweet, the approximately 16-acre estate and its 13-ish acres of grapevines has been owned since 1959 by Tom Jones. No, children, not the famously hirsute Welsh singer Tom Jones but rather the much more staid aeronautical engineer Tom Jones who, until the late 1980s, was the CEO of aircraft manufacturer Northrop Corporation for 30 years.
The vineyard property occupies a former horse ranch once owned by Victor Fleming, the stuntman turned Oscar winning director of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
Although the gated estate includes a roomy 7,724 square foot single story residence with three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, plus an additional two bedroom guest house and 4,400 square foot office building, it seems highly unlikely Mister Murdoch and his much younger, wickedly smart and fearsomely feisty wife Wendi Deng will move in since they already own an even more spectacular, horseshoe-shaped Wallace Neff-designed hacienda style mansion perched on a snaking ridge line high above Beverly Hills.
listing photos: Surterre Properties
What TMZ did not reveal is that the high-maintenance estate with its exceptional, stone built 1929 Italianate villa was previously owned by legendary decorator John Saladino. Your Mama discussed the elegant spread back in August 2010 when Mister Saladino first heaved the two pacel property—which he called his "opus"—on the open market with an asking price of $24,500,000.
Property records show Mister Saladino sold the 13-plus acre, two-parcel property in March 2012 at a steep discount off asking for $16,500,000 to American-born and New Zealand-based corporate businessman Tom Sturgess and his wife Heather. The Sturgesses sold the house and its 9.9 acre parcel to a trust connected to Missus Degeneres and de Rossi but—as of this instant—we haven't yet uncovered a recorded sale price.
A second, 3.18 acre lot that Mister Saladino sold to Mister and Missus Sturgess does not appear, according to the property record data bases we accessed, to have been transferred to the Missus Degeneres and de Rossi.*
Listing details from 2010 up show the 13 acre ocean view estate includes a completely updated and upgraded 10,522 square foot main house with six bedrooms, six full and two half bathrooms and nine fireplaces. The mansion oozes with earthy Tuscan character that's juxtaposed against sleek and modern, bathrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities. Numerous loggias and terraces extend the indoors to the out and the extensive, painstakingly groomed grounds include a swimming pool set into a flat lawn with a long view over the tree tops and mansions to the Pacific Ocean.
This is not, as avid celebrity real estate watchers well know, the Missus Degeneres-deRossi's first home in Montecito. In early 2006 they paid $15,750,000 for a downright impeccable George Washington Smith designed estate that—as they're prone to do—they flipped back on the market less than a year later for $24,000,000. They sold the property in November 2007 for $20,000,000 to multi-billionaire Eric Schmidt, currently the executive chairman of Google.
The Missus Degeneres-de Rossi's property portfolio currently includes—but may not be limited to—an iconic mid-century modern in the Trousdale Estates section of Beverly Hills and a 26-acre, multi-residence equestrian ranch near Thousand Oaks, CA that they've had on and off the market for years.
Miz Degeneres and Miz de Rossi have bought and sold a slew of properties including—but not limited to—a couple of ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley and a bluff-top beach house in Malibu they bought from Brad Pitt and quickly flipped for a million more than they paid. And, of course, they compiled the multi-residence compound above Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills that they sold at a staggering multi-million dollar loss last year for $39,500,000 to Ryan Seacrest.
NOTE TO THE CHILDREN: Listing photos here show the house as it was gussied up by Mister Saladino. It's not known—not to Your Mama, anyways—if Mister and Missus Sturgess purchased and/or retained Mister Saladino's decorating handiwork.
*That does not mean the Missus Degeneres and de Rossi did not also buy the smaller 3.18 parcel. It could be that the transfer records simply have not been recoreded. Or it could mean Mister and Missus Sturgess opted to keep it or sell it separately. Time will tell...
listing photos: Village Properties