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Real Estate

Brentwood's Rare 48-Acre Amber Hills Estate Up for Auction

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Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 7:35 AM
click to enlarge Amber Hills in Brentwood, complete with lake. - COURTESY MARK SINGER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy Mark Singer Photography
  • Amber Hills in Brentwood, complete with lake.
Up for auction, if you've earned sufficient riches in your joyful world: a rare 48-acre estate in the Brentwood Hills (about as big as, oh, 48 football fields) once home to film stars Dick Powell and June Allyson. The elegant ranch house of 12,000 square feet comes with a lake, guest houses, tennis court and "meditation area." An acquaintance of seller Glorya Kaufman recalls "a fine-looking, willowy Mrs K. laughing and dancing quite energetically on the deck, full-skirt swirling, as the sun set over the hills" at one of her parties. 

We'd get in on this, sure. But that'd mean a $250,000 deposit just to bid. A trust connected with Kaufman, who is the widow of Donald Kaufman, California's co-king of suburban sprawl, last year asked $40 million for the house. But it didn't sell. Which is ironic:

Mega-developer Kaufman, who died in the 1980s in a plane crash, and Eli Broad (the L.A. billionaire and civic leader) are widely hated - and widely admired - for being two of the key enablers of America's yearning for cul de sacs and fenced yards.

The two friends from Detroit founded Kaufman & Broad in 1957 (now known as KB Home) and went on to sell tens of thousands of inexpensively designed homes, unfurling them across California's topography, and that of other states, and giving birth to many a distant suburb. 
click to enlarge The museum-quality kitchen. - COURTESY MARK SINGER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy Mark Singer Photography
  • The museum-quality kitchen.
These two guys changed the face of SoCal, for better or for worse.

Now, Kaufman's ghost is unloading a final chunk of sprawl, of the high-end sort. The driveway alone is one-quarter mile long.

The estate, known as Amber Hills (though the hills are pretty green up there at the end of Mandeville Canyon Road), went on the market more than 400 days ago. The trust and Kaufman lowered the price to $34.995 million in November, but apparently didn't like whatever offers came in.

According to Concierge Auctions, which is handling the auction Saturday for a cadre of real estate agents from Hilton & Hyland, Coldwell Banker Previews International and others, 70 people recently eyeballed Amber Hills during an open house - loads of Asians, Persians, Americans and others.

And you can still take a look, by appointment, every afternoon this week. 
click to enlarge Better infrastructure than City Hall. - COURTESY MARK SINGER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy Mark Singer Photography
  • Better infrastructure than City Hall.
Laura Brady, president of Concierge Auctions, says that on Saturday, June 28, it will hold a "live outcry auction with a number of bidders in the room and people potentially bidding over the phone or represented by proxy." The reserve is set at  $14.5 million.

She says the scene will be "very akin to a fine art auction. Once the bidding starts, it lasts for a few minutes to a couple of hours - if bidders take time-outs to consult their representatives. We can give a time-out to bidders to contemplate the purchase. But the average time to sell a property such as this is about 30 minutes."

Which is so much better than 400 days.

Our prediction is for a successful sale.

The property is horse-zoned, yet just a short drive down to Sunset Boulevard and civilization. And your $250,000 deposit will be promptly refunded if you don't win. 

Our source, the acquaintance of Glorya Kaufman, adds that, "I remember there were white-washed stables and outlying structures sprinkled around. ... And beautiful grounds. ... The property overlooks the canyon and the former Robert Taylor ranch property directly to the west, on the other side of Mandeville Canyon Road."

The estate's exterior was used as a key scene-setting shot for TV's 1970s show Hart to Hart, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a wealthy couple who keep life interesting by moonlighting as detectives.

The auctioneer will be Frank Trunzo, who has run thousands of auctions and was named a "world champion auctioneer." It promises to be a diverting afternoon next Saturday, with serious money showing up to play.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the auction will be held at the estate site at 3100 Mandeville Canyon Rd. But Brady says the auction location "is not being released. RSVP only."

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