At first several news accounts, citing unnamed sources, said it was a Russian billionaire (also unnamed) who supposedly picked up the 9.5-acre property for $75 million - what would be the priciest real estate deal in Malibu. Then on Tuesday the Real Estalker website said it was actually James Jannard, the founder of the OC-based eyewear company Oakley. But Real Estalker updated the post later in the day with word from a source (also unnamed) that Jannard is not the buyer after all. At some point the real story might come out, though these mega-deals often don't list the real purchaser. Whoever is writing the check will be getting a 20,000 square feet home with eight bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, two guesthouses, a standalone gym, tennis courts, and a pool facing the ocean. The sale came up in this week's Business Update on KPCC:
Steve Julian: This is not Motel 6, no offense. When did Marks buy the property?
Mark Lacter: He bought it in 2002 for $31 million, so he appears to be making millions of dollars on the sale. I bring this all up because when we talk about City Hall and campaign contributions, some perspective is in order on real power in L.A. Howard Marks has a net worth estimated at $1.4 billion - that's according to Forbes. And his firm is one of the major creditors of the Tribune Co., parent company of the Los Angeles Times that's just out of bankruptcy protection. Marks is certain to have a big say in determining who ends up buying the L.A. Times, and I'd say that's a pretty powerful position.
Julian: Is he involved in local politics?
Lacter: I didn't see his name on the list of contributors to the mayoral campaigns, and he's not among the high-income guys who you find focusing on local issues. People like Eli Broad or Rick Caruso. He's virtually invisible, at least as far as City Halls politics is concerned. But he's a very big deal.