A few days ago a friend and I were driving down Sunset Blvd in Beverly Hills and we passed 9577 Sunset Blvd, which went on the market a few weeks ago. I knew construction on this property was just about complete, but i’ve been so busy the last few months I hadn’t had time to slow down long enough to really take a good look at the almost completed house. (And I guess the fact that for once I was a passenger in the car didn’t hurt either since I could actually look at the property without risking life and limb in a high speed accident, hehe).
Anyway after taking a closer look, I decided this is a great home and I really like it, I don’t care what anyone says. Sure it’s big at 36,000 square feet. But hey – this is Beverly Hills, not Des Moines, Iowa, right? At the end of the day, if someone loves the home and can afford the $68.5 million price tag – that’s all that matters. And all the more power to them I say.
Needless to say, i’ve actually had a watchful eye on this property for many years, because it’s got a rather colorful history. I know first hand – because I actually witnessed the original house burn to the ground on New Years day – January 1, 1980.
Back in those days, my aunt and uncle lived up the street in Coldwater Canyon, just up from the fire station. That particular day was New Year’s Day, and the family was visiting. After dinner everyone decided to take a walk because the weather was so nice, so we packed up the strollers and kids and walked down Beverly to Rexford, then decided to turn left on Lexington Drive. That’s when we started hearing sirens and seeing the smoke.
As we got closer to Alpine Drive, I couldn’t believe my eyes – the infamous house was actually burning to the ground. Everyone in the area was very familiar with the house, as the owner had painted the statues that lined the property with actual skin tones and pubic hair. It was quite the scandal at the time! Anyway as a kid I was really into photography, so I decided to run all the way back to the house to grab a camera and take some photos. (Unfortunately they didn’t come out that great but I think I even still have them buried in a box somewhere, probably in my dad’s mini-storage).
As for a little bit of history about the property, back in the late 1970’s the home was purchased by Sheik Mohammad al-Fassi and his wife Dena. Mr. al-Fassi was a wealthy in-law of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, and was known for being somewhat of a partier. There’s an article about him in this link to Time Magazine if you would like more interesting history on this man. At the time he purchased the property, the existing home was a large mansion which had just been renovated by the previous owners. After buying the property however, the first thing Mr. al-Fassi did was redecorate the home to his own personal taste, which included lots of green paint (the new color of the house), and his attempt to bring the nude statues that lined the property to life, by painting them in fleshtones, including pubic hair. Needless to say, the neighbors near the property on Sunset Blvd and Alpine Drive were not impressed, it was definitely very un-Beverly Hills-like!
Fact: If you’re interested in seeing what the original house looked like, it was filmed extensively in Steve Martin’s movie “The Jerk”, in which al-Fassi’s decor was actually incorporated into the movie itself. In the movie, Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters moved into the house when they struck it rich, and upon their move-in Steve Martin comments on how he “always wanted…..” with references to various eclectic items in the house. Aside from the fact that the movie is hilarious, I highly recommend checking it out just to see the house!
The night the house burned down, it was set fire during the course of a robbery by a noted Beverly Hills psychiatrist. The one thing I remember about that night was standing in the middle of Sunset Blvd, which was closed to traffic from Foothill Rd to Rexford, was the festive, almost party-like atmosphere. The neighbors appeared happy as the house burned, it almost reminded me of being at a bonfire at the beach, not watching a notable Beverly Hills residence go up in flames. Oh well, it was what it was, as they say. Although the home was destroyed, it sat undisturbed until it was finally removed in 1985, at which time it sat for almost 20 years as a vacant lot. From there the lot was purchased and subdivided, making way for two new homes on the site – 9577 Sunset Blvd, and 901 Alpine Drive (the property that sits on the corner of Sunset/Alpine is currently under construction), and that brings us to today.
Anyway regardless of what sits on this lot, it’s got an interesting history not to mention that this is a piece of prime Beverly Hills real estate on world famous Sunset Blvd. It should be interesting to see who finally ends up buying the property.
Having said that – if you reading this happen to be interested in this property yourself and have the means available to add it to your real estate portfolio, now is probably a good time to mention I am a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential and Coldwell Banker Previews, Beverly Hills and would be happy to work with you on acquiring it. Feel free to contact me directly with any inquiries
John Merritt is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Previews, Beverly Hills.
*** Update ***
9577 Sunset sold in May, 2012 for $34,500,000. However, 901 N. Alpine which is the adjacent property on the previous existing lot, is still for sale – listing info below. Please contact me if you are interested in this property!
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