Cosmetic Surgeons Are Building L.A. Megamansions
And the results are over the top.
And the results are over the top.
It could only happen in Los Angeles: Celebrity plastic surgeons are getting into the megamansion-building business.
The latest entrant to the market is Alex Khadavi, a 48-year-old dermatologist known for everything from Botox to buttock-enhancement procedures as well as for a clientele that has included singer Lance Bass and actor David Hasselhoff. Dr. Khadavi is listing his recently completed Bel-Air megamansion for $87.777 million, making it one of the highest-priced properties to have gone on the market in recent months.
Dr. Khadavi joins the likes of Raj Kanodia, doctor to the Kardashian clan and so-called “King of L.A. Rhinoplasties,” and Paul Nassif, a facial-plastic surgeon known for his role in the reality-television series “Botched,” in diverting their attention to the high-end development game. Dr. Kanodia first listed his Bel-Air megamansion for $180 million in 2018, while Dr. Nassif is listing a nearly completed mansion in the same area for US$32 million.
Dr. Khadavi—whose jet-black eyebrows, chiselled features and perfectly coiffed hair allows him to seamlessly blend in with his clients on his Instagram account—says he got carried away with the project. He says he paid US$16 million for the existing property in 2013 and had planned to spend roughly $10 million more on a new glassy contemporary home. Instead, he devoted seven years and roughly $US30 million to the more-than-1950-square-metre compound.
“It’s like when you go to a car dealership to buy a Toyota and they show you a Ferrari or a Lamborghini,” he says of choosing the materials and finishes. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I want that one!’ You can’t pass it up.”
The result is over-the-top, even for Los Angeles. Known as “Palazzo di Vista,” the modern seven-bedroom contemporary sits behind enormous mirrored-steel gates on an elevated parcel of land with 360-degree views spanning from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Channel Islands.
In the middle of the grand foyer, a push of a button reveals a surprise: The floor opens up to reveal a DJ platform on a hydraulic lift. Push another button, and smoke machines send fog throughout “the cube”—the surrounding glassed-in living room area that also has a glass-bottomed bridge overlooking the space.
In the pool outside, several powerful jets are set to automatically begin pumping the water in time with music, so guests in the water can feel the bass. The pool also is the setting for a digital show that Dr. Khadavi likens to Disneyland’s elaborate “World of Color” attraction. A rotatable 3-D laser projector on the roof casts light in a rhombic-shape up to 153sqm over the pool.
The purpose of the light show isn’t to project princesses; it is designed to display the latest art-world craze: NFT artwork. An NFT, which stands for “nonfungible tokens,” is a digital asset that serves as a kind of deed to prove ownership of various digital artifacts, like works of art.
In addition to the NFT pool display, the home also includes a “multisensory” NFT art gallery comprising seven indoor large-screen media displays dotted throughout the house. Valued at $7 million, the art collection is also available for sale and includes pieces by Ghost Girl—a 3-D artist who offers visual experiences for “VJing,” a kind of real-time visual performance—and Bighead, a record producer and DJ who worked on the production of the 2017 hit “Gucci Gang” by hip-hop artist Lil Pump.
The home also includes a glass elevator that is positioned to look as though it is plunging into a koi pond as it heads to the basement. There is also a formal dining room, a Champagne-tasting room, a movie theatre, a massage room, a car museum and a detached guesthouse with an outdoor tequila bar, according to listing agents Aaron Kirman of Compass and Mauricio Umansky of the Agency. Dr. Khadavi planted 56 Moroccan date palm trees around the perimeter of the property for privacy.
Dr. Khadavi, who oversees two dermatology practices in Los Angeles, says his pursuit of perfection became all-consuming. Within the first year, he had fired his architect. Soon after, he replaced his contractor and got rid of his interior designer. “I’ve pretty much been doing it myself,” he says. “I tell people I got a degree in interior design from Pinterest.”
There were other sources of inspiration. The doctor says the proportions of the house were inspired by the “golden ratio” of Italian mathematician Fibonacci. The sevens in the asking price are a nod to Dr. Khadavi’s favourite number; he and his family moved to the U.S. from Iran when he was 7 to escape the revolution.
No expense was spared. “Instead of going for the $10-a-square-foot marble, I went for the $150 to $200 a square foot marble,” Dr. Khadavi says. “This property deserves the best.”
When it came to refining the aesthetics of the house, the dermatologist says he drew on his work. “When I do injectables in people’s faces… I always look and see what I could do above and beyond to make this person better, “ he says. “Every person is beautiful, you have to make them more beautiful.”
Plastic surgeons like Dr. Khadavi are among a larger group of high-net-worth individuals who piled into Los Angeles’s luxury housing development space over the past few years. With the market heating up in the early 2010s, many wealthy people with well-positioned parcels of land began building properties geared toward foreign buyers and billionaires, says Stephen Shapiro of Westside Estate Agency, who is not involved in the home. Suddenly, everyone was a developer, including those with limited or no real-estate experience. That boom resulted in an oversupply of spec homes.
For some of these surgeons, building a distinctive architectural home is a way to express themselves in a new way. “One of the reasons I built [my house] was to express my artistic vision through another medium, in addition to the scarless rhinoplasty and facial enhancement,” Dr. Kanodia says.
For his part, Dr. Nassif says he found that the patience and attention to detail he honed in his surgery work proved useful in real estate. “You have to look at everything with very scrutinous glasses in surgery,” he says. “I’m doing the same thing with the house.”
In real estate, like in surgery, it’s wise to expect the unexpected, Dr. Nassif says. “You’re dealing with problems all the time,” he says. “An issue comes up with a contractor or you can’t get marble into the Port of California because of Covid delays. It’s never as easy as you think it would be.”
The rush of new contemporary spec homes built in the Los Angeles area has put downward pressure on prices. While Dr. Nassif says he’s had significant interest in his home since listing it earlier this year, Dr. Kanodia recently slashed the asking price of his home to US$99 million from US$180 million. Developers like Nile Niami, known widely as the king of Los Angeles spec homes, handed the keys over to his lenders on at least one project and is facing default on others, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The spiralling costs of Dr. Khadavi’s project also had consequences. While he initially thought he might live in the property, Dr. Khadavi says he is now selling it largely because he can’t afford to keep it. It’s also too large for him, his girlfriend and his Goldendoodle Cheetos. “I don’t have a large family, and I don’t have the financial capability to enjoy the house,” he says. “I borrowed a lot of money to get it to this level, and I can’t afford living in it.”
Anyone living in the mansion would “need to probably have a couple of butlers and a couple of maids,” he says.
Mr. Umansky says the house is an entertainer’s paradise, and he is confident he will find a buyer looking for that party lifestyle.
“In order to be great you have to dare to be bad. You have to take risks,” Mr. Umansky says, noting that cookie-cutter houses don’t stand out in a crowded market. “There are these tech and cryptocurrency guys who are still young and who want to have fun.”
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 8, 2021.
Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
Amid looming rate rises, there are reasons to be cheerful as mortgage holders head into 2023
Mortgage holders should brace themselves for more pain as the Reserve Bank of Australia board prepares to meet tomorrow for the first time this year.
Most economists and the major banks are predicting a rise of 25 basis points will be announced, although the Commonwealth Bank suggests that the RBA may take the unusual step of a 40 basis point rise to bring the interest rate up to a more conventional 3.5 percent. This would allow the RBA to step back from further rate rises for the next few months as it assesses the impact of tightening monetary policy on the economy.
The decision by the RBA board to make consecutive rate rises since April last year is an attempt to wrestle inflation down to a more manageable 3 or 4 percent. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the inflation rate rose to 7.8 percent over the December quarter, the highest it has been since 1990, reflected in higher prices for food, fuel and construction.
Higher interest rates have coincided with falling home values, which Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee says are down 6.1 percent in capital cities since peaking in March 2022. The pain has been greatest in Sydney, where prices have dropped 10.8 percent since February last year. Melbourne and Canberra recorded similar, albeit smaller falls, while capitals like Adelaide, which saw property prices fall 1.8 percent, are less affected.
Although prices may continue to decline, Ms Conisbee (below) said there are signs the pace is slowing and that inflation has peaked.
“December inflation came in at 7.8 per cent with construction, travel and electricity costs being the biggest drivers. It is likely that we are now at peak,” Ms Conisbee said.
“Many of the drivers of high prices are starting to be resolved. Shipping costs are now down almost 90 per cent from their October 2021 peak (as measured by the Baltic Dry Index), while crude oil prices have almost halved from March 2022. China is back open and international migration has started up again.
“Even construction costs look like they are close to plateau. Importantly, US inflation has pulled back from its peak of 9.1 per cent in June to 6.5 per cent in December, with many of the drivers of inflation in this country similar to Australia.”
Becoming Australia’s most expensive property sale of 2021.