‘Game of Thrones’ Meets ‘Harry Potter’ Inside This Fantasy-Filled Beverly Hills Home | Kanebridge News
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‘Game of Thrones’ Meets ‘Harry Potter’ Inside This Fantasy-Filled Beverly Hills Home

‘Being “extra” is everything to us,’ say the owners, who also created a Jungle Room and an ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’-themed backyard

By KATHERINE CLARKE
Fri, Oct 7, 2022 9:01amGrey Clock 6 min

Robert and Krystal Rivani posed side-by-side in Medieval attire, she in a gold-trimmed cape and tiara-style headband, he in black fur, armoured gloves and a gold crown. Carrying long, embellished swords, they looked stern.

The resulting oil painting would hang in the Great Hall of their elaborate California home, Castle Rivani.

The couple, both 32, have spent several years and roughly $4 million turning their chateau-style Beverly Hills home into a novelty-filled paradise reflecting their love of fantasy and magic. The living room contains a replica of the spiked iron throne from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The bar has a “Harry Potter”-themed apothecary cabinet, and the backyard is modelled after “Alice in Wonderland.” There is also a Jungle Room with walls covered in faux greenery.

“Being ‘extra’ is everything to us,” said Ms. Rivani. “It makes life fun and interesting and memorable.”

Mr. Rivani, a real estate and hospitality investor, grew up in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. He was a “Harry Potter” fanatic as a child, he said, and loved escaping into the fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry, spending hours in line to get tickets for the movies when they premiered. He met his future wife at a nightclub in Hollywood when both were in their early 20s, and Ms. Rivani quickly got into Harry Potter, too, saying that she found the visuals gave her inspiration for parties and events. The couple developed a similar infatuation with “Game of Thrones.”

The two were married in 2018, and bought their Beverly Hills house in December 2019 for $13.77 million. The roughly 15,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom home, which sits on 1.7 acres, had been previously owned by entrepreneur David Gebbia and his ex-wife, Carlton Gebbia of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Built by Mr. Gebbia’s construction firm and completed around 2014, the house was originally designed to combine Ms. Gebbia’s Gothic tastes with her husband’s penchant for Italian Romanticism, Mr. Gebbia said. It has a decorative stone facade with intricate carvings and arched, church-style windows.

A devout Wiccan, Ms. Gebbia filled the house with cross carvings, wooden gargoyles, an altar and a confessional. After the Gebbias split, the house went on the market and the interior was stripped of some of its more unusual décor to help attract a wider pool of buyers, Mr. Gebbia said. Nevertheless, the property, which was initially listed for $22 million in 2018, lingered on the market for close to two years and underwent several price cuts before selling to the Rivanis.

“It was definitely a unique sell,” said Josh Altman of Douglas Elliman, one of the listing agents. “But, as we always say in real estate, you only need one buyer.”

The Rivanis loved the home’s Gothic aesthetic. “I always joke that if you enjoy living in a glass box, you’re boring,” said Mr. Rivani. “It was so unique to see this style of a house in L.A. It looks more like a castle in Scotland or London.”

A college dropout, Mr. Rivani started out by flipping high-end sneakers in his teens. By his early twenties, he was investing in small real estate deals in markets like Dallas and Atlanta, starting with neighbourhood shopping centres and eventually rolling the proceeds into larger, grocery-anchored “power centres,” he said. In recent years, he has started investing in hospitality, buying up unused restaurant spaces, coming up with a dining concept and wooing restaurateurs. His company, Black Lion Investment Group, recently acquired a prime restaurant space at the One Thousand Museum condo building in Miami and has plans to bring a Michelin star restaurant there, he said. His company also owns the space that houses the famed Gekko steakhouse in Miami. Ms. Rivani, who attended California State Polytechnic University, is a licensed dietitian but doesn’t practice, though she said she loves nutrition and tries out new health trends on Mr. Rivani, calling him “patient zero.” The Rivanis don’t have children but said they are planning on starting a family soon.

As the Covid-19 crisis took hold, the couple had more time to spend outfitting the house. Stuck at home, they spent endless hours scouring Etsy and auction websites for design ideas. It was challenging to find furnishings that fit their style in Los Angeles, they said, so most came from overseas.

The home’s main entertaining space—which the Rivanis refer to as the Great Hall—has roughly 35-foot-high, triple-vaulted ceilings and Juliet balconies. It would have looked strange to have a traditional couch in such a voluminous room, Mr. Rivani said. “Putting a couch that was 4-feet-tall into that room just did not make sense,” he said.

Instead, they commissioned a $50,000 replica of the iron throne from “Game of Thrones.” Unable to find the one they wanted locally, they worked with a craftsman in Siberia, then paid about $15,000 to have the 500-pound throne shipped by air to the U.S. When it finally arrived in 2021, they realised their measurements were a little off: The throne was too deep and took up half the living room. They had it chopped in half, then mounted one side on the wall beneath a dragon gargoyle. It required about 30 people to attach to the wall using boom lifts, the Rivanis said. Most contractors refused the job.

For the sitting room, which they call the Jungle Room, the pair sourced a roughly 25-foot-long, $150,000 chandelier from Dubai made up of 300 glass pieces resembling butterflies, Mr. Rivani said. Inspired by the butterflies, they plastered the walls with faux greenery and flowers, which were painstakingly installed one by one over the course of several weeks. For the centre of the room, they commissioned a custom U-shaped sofa in brown velvet, at a cost of nearly $20,000.

In the barroom, which already had elaborate coffered wood ceilings, the Rivanis installed burgundy-and-black textured wallpaper called Dragon Skin. They added a pair of chairs made of animal bone that they bought in a Santa Monica antique shop, and heavy, red-velvet curtains emblazoned with a lion crest. Ms. Rivani found a 17th-century French cabinet online, which she filled with novelty potions based on the “Harry Potter” films. She spent days during lockdown mixing the colourful concoctions herself, labelling them with names like “Polyjuice” and plopping fake eyeballs into jars.

In the dining room, the Rivanis installed crown-shaped chandeliers. The 15-foot-long dining-room table has chairs with tall, thin backs. For the primary bedroom, they paid about $45,000 for a roughly 250-year-old Austrian church altar to serve as their headboard.

In keeping with their mantra of going over the top, the pair tried to give their guests an experience they would remember in the bathroom: They hung a dragon-shaped gargoyle on the wall opposite the toilet, which often comes as a surprise to unsuspecting guests.

“I call it the “Scare-Everyone-and-Your-Mom Bathroom,’” Mr. Rivani said. Some particularly tipsy guests have screamed when they looked up at it.

For the most part, the couple agreed about the home’s aesthetic, though Ms. Rivani said her husband’s style leans a little darker and more Gothic than hers. They did clash over a pair of chairs in the Great Hall that feature a variety of skulls, with horns on the armrests and headrests. Ms. Rivani wasn’t a fan, although she said she has started to come around. They also battled over a pair of roughly 15-foot-tall warrior statues made of recycled motorcycle parts for the front of the house. Mr. Rivani had spotted a similar pair at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and decided he must have them. Ms. Rivani thinks they are a little much.

“The sculptures almost caused our marriage to go sideways,” Mr. Rivani said with a laugh.

As a concession, Mr. Rivani said he gave Ms. Rivani full control over the outdoor garden, which she revamped in an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. The grounds were redone in a harlequin pattern, with colorful flowers interspersed with pavers. She also added a vegetable garden and a life-size chess set, though neither of the Rivanis knows how to play chess.

It should come as no surprise that the Rivanis love to throw costume parties. Last year they dressed up as a witch and a wizard to host a Harry Potter-themed Thanksgiving party, transforming the Great Hall to look like the dining room at Hogwarts, the fictional wizarding school in the series. Guests sipped from goblets of butter beer and took pictures with actors posing as Voldemort and Dumbledore.

Mr. Rivani said Mr. Altman has often warned him that the specificity of the couple’s design choices could impact the home’s resale value, especially since the previous owners had to neutralise the décor and make several price cuts. But Mr. Rivani said he simply doesn’t care, and wants his home to reflect his tastes. He also said he feels confident they’ll be able to find a buyer when the time comes.

“Isn’t there always that crazy, dysfunctional person like myself that would overpay for something? Yes,” he said. “I’ll just need to find that person.”

In the short term, the Rivanis plan to rent out the mansion while they relocate to Miami, where many of Mr. Rivani’s business interests are now located. They have listed their Beverly Hills home for $150,000 a month.

Still, the Rivanis said they have no intention of selling anytime soon. If anything, Mr. Rivani said he wishes he could physically move the house to Miami.

“I always tell Krystal that I want her to bury me in this house,” he said.

Ms. Rivani said she would go along with that plan.

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Property values have fallen hard and fast in this popular city, but it’s done little to dent pandemic rises

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Highest property values, biggest dip the next. That’s the outcome for Australia’s northernmost capital on the east coast, with Brisbane property values recording their largest and fastest decline, data from Corelogic reveals.

The fall comes just seven months after values hit their peak after a population surge driven by the pandemic saw an increase of 43 percent. Home values hit a record high on June 19, 2022 but have since declined 10.9 percent, in parallel with eight consecutive interest rate rises since April last year.

Historically, peak-to-trough declines in Brisbane have lasted 14 months and have ranged from value drops of -2.9 percent to -10.8 percent. While the new record is just -0.1 percent compared with previous figures, that fall came over 21 months between April 2010 and January 2012. The latest decline was a much swifter seven month drop.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said it is worth putting the Brisbane figures into context with the rest of Australia’s capital cities, as well as considering the significant rise in property values in the Queensland capital over the pandemic.

“Brisbane now stands out as one of two capital city markets with record declines, the other being Hobart,” Ms Owen said. “Sydney continues to have the largest peak-to-trough falls of the capital city markets (currently at -13.8 percent), while peak-to-tough falls remain mild in some cities (such as Perth, where values are down just -1.0 percent from a recent peak in August 2022).” 

“The record fall in Brisbane home values has not made much of a dent in the gains made during the upswing. The fall in the Brisbane daily HVI follows an upswing of 43.5 percent between August 2020 and 19 June 2022, which was the fastest trajectory of rising values on record. This leaves home values across Brisbane 27.9 percent higher than at the previous trough in August 2020.” 

The median dwelling value in Brisbane jumped from $506,553 at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to $707,658 by the end of last year, Ms Owen said.

“Despite the large decline from peak, Brisbane maintains the third highest gain in value of the capital cities since the start of the pandemic,” she said. 

“Only Adelaide and Darwin, which are 42.8 percent and 29.6 percent higher respectively than at the onset of the pandemic, have performed stronger. 

“For this reason, there is marginal risk of negative equity for Brisbane homeowners, with the exception of very recent buyers, who purchased around the peak in June 2022 with less than a 20 percent deposit.” 

However, there are signs of resilience in the market. Brisbane remains a more affordable option compared with the other east coast capitals, Ms Owen said.

Although housing values remain higher than pre-COVID levels, Brisbane retains a lower price point than Sydney, with a $435,170 difference in median house values and $280,749 difference in median unit values,” she said. 

“The gap between Brisbane and Melbourne housing values is also significant, with a $119,697 gap between median house values and $97,692 difference in median unit values.

“This could encourage ongoing housing demand from those willing to migrate to the state, or own an interstate investment.” 

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