Real Estate Newsletter: A fraud for the ages

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter, which this Thanksgiving week finds celebrities and foreign investors with plenty to be thankful for.

Matt Damon is grateful to his real estate agent, who helped sell his Pacific Palisades mansion to the CEO of Warner Bros. Ann Sarnoff for $ 18 million. It’s a nice holiday bonus for the Oscar winner; he paid $ 15 million for the house in 2013.

Henry Rollins of Black Flag Fame is thankful for LA’s buzzing real estate market. He’s aiming for a sizable profit in the Hollywood Hills, asking for $ 3.9 million for a custom complex perched in Nichols Canyon that he bought for $ 2.2 million in 2009. Clad in concrete and steel, the hyper masculine house has a rooftop patio and a check-in booth.

Chinese investors are grateful to the judiciary, which recently found Serena Shi guilty of using $ 23 million of their down payment for a ghost resort project to fuel her candle-filled lifestyle of designer clothes and of luxury cars. The three-year scam started with Shi’s promise to build a trendy Coachella Desert resort and ended with her stinting in an LA courtroom in a beige prison jumpsuit with chains. cuffs and ankle chains.

Our account of the investigation, currently only available to LA Times subscribers, is a must read.

If you’re jam-packed with leftovers and bored of reading, we’ve got you covered. In the latest “Gimme Shelter” podcast, Liam Dillon delves into his investigation of how highway construction half a century ago still harms residents living in black and Latino neighborhoods today.

While keeping up to date, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

Mansion goes from movie star to CEO

At the heart of the house, there is a voluminous atrium beneath 35-foot mahogany vaulted ceilings.

(Alexis Adams)

In one of the most expensive deals of the year from Pacific Palisades, Matt Damon sold his Zen-inspired retreat in the Riviera District for $ 18 million.

The buyer, according to the records, is television director Ann Sarnoff, who became the first female CEO of Warner Bros. in 2019 and now oversees WarnerMedia Studios and Networks.

Damon, the Oscar-winning actor who starred in the films “Stillwater” and “The Last Duel” in 2021, had purchased the architectural mansion year round, initially posting it for $ 21 million in January – or $ 6 million. more than what he paid. in 2012. He moved to the East Coast in 2018, paying $ 16.7 million for a penthouse in Brooklyn.

At 13,500 square feet on two-thirds of an acre, its place in the palisades has a little more space. It was designed by Grant Kirkpatrick, founding partner of Los Angeles-based architecture firm KAA Design, who brought a tropical touch with warm wood, natural stone and Asahi glass to three floors.

The punk icon lists the hyper-masculine house

Clad in concrete, the three-story house is protected by steel doors and a steel front door.

Clad in concrete, the three-story house is protected by steel doors and a steel front door.


Henry Rollins, the punk icon who rose to prominence in the 1980s as the singer of Black Flag, is offering his unique home in the Hollywood Hills for $ 3.9 million.

Rollins bought the custom compound, perched in Nichols Canyon, for $ 2.2 million in 2009 and quickly got to work adding bold accents and a host of amenities. He remained busy around LA over the 12-year period, hosting a weekly radio show on KCRW-FM and column writing for LA Weekly.

Steel portals and steel entry doors set a masculine tone to the front of the property, and the living spaces carry the same energy, with concrete walls and steel beams across three floors. A 60-foot-long living room serves as the centerpiece, opening onto a balcony overlooking the surrounding canyon.

The thief’s plan ends

Serena Shi makes a sales presentation in Beijing for condos at her proposed Coachella resort in November 2015.

Serena Shi makes a sales presentation in Beijing for condos at her proposed Coachella resort in November 2015.

(James D. Clark)

Serena Shi’s taste for luxury seemed insatiable, writes Michael Finnegan.

His bills at a Beverly Hills “lifestyle design” firm that advised clients on wardrobe, cosmetics, and high-end purchases reached nearly $ 800,000. A travel concierge service that caters to the jet set billed him $ 2.2 million for trips around the world.

Those traps of the high life were gone when Shi, 37, was taken to a federal courtroom in Los Angeles one recent afternoon.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, Shi admitted that she tricked dozens of investors in China into making $ 23 million down payments on condos in California. They thought they were buying units at a trendy resort that Shi was supposed to build on a 47-acre desert plot in Coachella.

The project never saw the light of day.

Podcast probes housing survey

Alex Contreras, left, and his daughter, Alex Contreras, hold photos of him at his childhood home.

Alex Contreras, left, and his daughter, Alexandria, hold photos of him at his childhood home in Boyle Heights. Contreras showed his daughter, an activist against freeway expansion in Los Angeles, where his home was located.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Over 200,000 people have lost their homes to the construction of highways over the past three decades across the country. And in some of the larger modern projects, residents living in black and Latino neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by displacement, writes Liam Dillon.

A new Los Angeles Times investigation examines how the decisions of highway planners to route America’s highway system through black neighborhoods half a century ago continue to resonate today. The Times found that the expansion of existing highways through cities in recent decades has inflicted a second round of upheaval and disruption on largely black and now Latino communities.

At “Gimme Shelter: Podcast on California Housing CrisisDillon discusses the Times’ findings in depth, examining the effects of modern freeway expansions in Los Angeles, Houston and Tampa. Guest on the podcast is Alexandria Contreras, whose great-grandparents saw 101 Freeway build a block from their home in Boyle Heights in the 1950s. Today, Contreras is battling an expansion plan. from Interstate 5 near Contreras ‘parents’ house in Downey.

What we read

President Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better law includes roughly $ 170 billion in affordable housing provisions. CNBC took a look where will this money go, including $ 65 billion to preserve and rebuild social housing and $ 25 billion for rent assistance?

Even in LA’s ultra-expensive housing market, $ 2.4 million still goes a long way. In Decentraland’s online world, he just bought a virtual piece of land. The massive deal marks the world’s most expensive purchase to date and covers virtual 6,090 square feet in the Fashion Street area, according to Reuters.

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