- A 157-acre piece of undeveloped land in the Hollywood Hills sold on Tuesday for $100,000.
- The plot — called "The Mountain" — had been listed for a breathtaking $1 billion in July 2018, but even after a $350 million price cut there were no takers.
- Ultimately, the land was bought back by its original lender, The Mark Hughes Trust, after a complicated legal drama.
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An undeveloped plot of land in the Hollywood Hills was sold on Tuesday for just $100,000, according to multiple reports — an enormous fall from its asking price just one year ago of $1 billion.
The 157-acre plot, called "The Mountain" overlooks Los Angeles and Bel-Air and has been the subject of intense media coverage.
While it was on the market, property experts poured scorn on the idea that the property was worth even a fraction of $1 billion, but that did little to stop developer Charles Dickens, and later a firm called Secured Capital Partners LLC, trying to sell it.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the land was bought at an auction in Pomona, California, by the only bidder — the legal entity which owned it in the first place.
The Society Group
The bidder was The Mark Hughes Trust — founded to manage the estate of Mark Hughes, the former CEO of Herbalife, including the plot, which he bought in 2004 for $8.5 million.
According to a 2015 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the trust then entered a complicated legal relationship with Dickens which left him in control of the property and in charge of selling it.
The trust also lent Dickens tens of millions of dollars to develop the land. The arrangement, broadly, was that if the property were sold both Dickens and the trust would stand to profit enormously.
According to the Wall Street Journal, after Dickens hit financial difficulties, he partnered with Secured Capital Partners to continue marketing the land.
In July 2018, the plot was put on sale for $1 billion, complete with its own website and videos, like this one, designed to show it off:
Nobody bought it. In February 2019, after 9 months on the market, the plot’s price was cut to $650 million, according to Los Angeles real estate news site, The Real Deal.
This too was not enough. In the end, the property was taken to auction and ended in the $100,000 payment to Secured Capital Partners LLC.
However, according to The Mark Hughes Trust, the low price was only possible the house also came with a vast debt to the trust.
Ronald Richards, a lawyer for the trust, told the Wall Street Journal: "any other buyer would have had to pay at least $200 million which comprised of late fees and interest for the property."
The Mountain has a colourful history, having previously been owned by the former Shah of Iran’s sister Shams Pahlavi and American television host and media mogul Merv Griffin.
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