California’s Hearst Estate, set of Beyoncé’s music video “Black is King” can be yours for less than half the original price
As far as notoriety goes in real estate, it doesn’t get any more infamous than California’s Hearst Estate. This opulent mansion was home to a celebrity who starred in The Godfather and The Bodyguard and was a honeymoon spot for Jack (JFK) and Jackie Kennedy. The home was previously known as The Beverly House, and a frequent set for movies as well as Beyoncé’s music video, “Black is King”.
The love stories
First, some quick background. The Hearst Estate was named after William Randolph Hearst – the inspiration for the character of Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. Hearst is a newspaper magnate and two-term Democratic congressman from New York. As a 53-year old married man, his affair with 19-year old chorus-girl-later-actress Marion Davies was scandalous, to say the least.
Hearst and Davies initially moved into his 69,000 square feet estate, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Later, they downsized to a smaller mansion in Beverly Hills, which Davis bought Hearst. This became the Hearst Estate – previously known as The Beverly House. They lived there until his death in 1951.
The home became a home for Jack and Jackie Kennedy during the Southern California leg of their honeymoon in 1953. Mrs Kennedy wrote a four-page letter about her stay gushing over the beautiful estate, which is now framed and displayed at the home. Senator Kennedy used the mansion as the West Coast headquarters for his 1960 presidential campaign.
The mansion impresses with its sheer size – even for California standards. The property rests on 3.5 acres of land. Its iron gates open up to an 800-foot driveway past a five-room gatehouse before leading to the 30,000 square feet mansion.
The living room features 22-feet tall, hand-painted arched ceilings and comes with a screening room with wooden shutters. Inside the billiard room is a fireplace that came from Hearst Castle and is one of eight in the house. The pool table is from 1868 and is one of only three of its kind still in existence. On the lower floor, you will find an Art Deco nightclub. This was modelled after Hugh Hefner’s former Beverly Hills club, Touch, with the club’s original etched glass and doors.
Its outdoor Olympic-sized pool is fed by two reflecting pools surrounded by terraces, manicured lawns, columned pergolas and splashing fountains. This little oasis can accommodate up to a thousand guests. A tennis court with its own pavilion is tucked into the landscaping. Ancillary improvements include two staff/guest apartments, a pool house and a two-story, five-bedroom gatehouse.
But it’s not all just wild fun and entertainment. There are areas for contemplation and relaxation too. A magnificent two-story, hand-carved, wood-panelled library may just be the mansion’s feature room where the carpet patterns replicate the ceiling pattern for a grand effect.
The big question now is: what is its final price?
The estate has been on and off the market for 40 years. In the four decades, it was owned by financier and lawyer, Leonard M Ross, who was forced into bankruptcy in 2019. The Hearst Estate was listed in August 2020 at US$125 million. In April 2021, the price dropped to $89.75 million and in June down to $69.95 million. After reaching the June price, the estate received multiple offers which were reviewed by the bankruptcy court. A price of $47 million was accepted by the court. However, a brief auction will be held during the final proceedings in an attempt to garner a higher price before the gavel falls.