Real Estate newsletter: ‘Homeless billionaire’ wins historic estate


Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. There’s an odd new trend happening lately: More and more of Southern California’s iconic estates are getting auctioned off.

It’s a real estate tale as old as time: A developer shoots for the stars with an overly ambitious project and racks up millions in debt on the property. But now they’re being forced to sell them at foreclosure auctions to make up the debt.

Two such incidents were the week’s biggest headlines, and one broke the record for the priciest house to ever be auctioned off. Known as the Hearst estate, the famous mansion tied to William Randolph Hearst once listed for $195 million but ended up selling to the highest bidder at a Los Angeles courthouse after the owner, attorney Leonard Ross, accrued around $50 million in debt on the property. The highest bidder turned out to be “homeless billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, a think tank founder who earned his moniker with his jet-setting…

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