The Hollywood Reporter
The print edition of the Hollywood Reporter goes deep on the story of a coveted parcel of land on the ridge line above Beverly Hills that it calls "the last Los Angeles real estate trophy." At 157 acres, it has room to build several estates, and already has some streets. The property has beguiled celebrity real estate investors for years, including some big Hollywood names.
Perched on a summit ridgeline with huge views looking down on the homes of some of Hollywood's biggest stars, The Vineyard is one of the last undeveloped plots in Beverly Hills, and arguably the most impressive. Visitors can peer down on estates belonging to Warren Beatty, Seth MacFarlane and the rooftop mansions of Beverly Park. For decades, the 157-acre property has bewitched some of Hollywood's most illustrious residents, from Merv Griffin to the Shah of Iran's sister. With little money, no real estate license and a lot of gumption, the de facto owner for the past 11 years has been Charles "Chip" Dickens. "I'm the most improbable character in this whole thing," Dickens, 54, tells The Hollywood Reporter. His main partner is an amiable convicted felon named Victorino Noval; together, the two now are marketing The Vineyard for $1 billion.
The saga behind one of the most pedigreed and controversial pieces of property in L.A. could be torn from the pages of a Coen brothers script. After 15 years of intense legal drama over ownership, family squabbling and an inheritance, The Vineyard might be changing hands again. And what once was no more than a dusty mountaintop has been transformed into an exquisite plateau with a helicopter pad and ample room for any architect's wildest fantasies. "It's the most spectacular property anywhere in Los Angeles," says Robert Mann, an attorney who is familiar with The Vineyard. Now, with real estate prices soaring in Los Angeles and foreign buyers pouring in, The Vineyard is poised to be the most talked-about trophy property in years. "This is one of the most exceptional properties I've ever seen in my 30-year career," says Jeff Hyland, whose agency, Hilton & Hyland, has exclusive rights to The Vineyard. "This is as good as it gets."