Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rihanna Gets Mad and Sues A Lot of People





Gossip juggernaut TMZ and others reported today that four time Grammy winning superstar Rihanna is hella heated up and hopping mad about (alleged) construction defects that affect the livability and value of the the big ol' Beverly Hills, CA mansion she bought back in September of 2009. The music industry phenom and tabloid headliner is so furious she's filed a lawsuit against just about everyone who had anything to do with the construction and transactional due diligence of the high-priced property.



Property records and previous reports show the Barbadian bombshell–née Robyn Fenty–paid $6,900,000 for her newly constructed/renovated contemporary crib dramatically situated on a promontory at the tail end of a curling cul-de-sac in the Beverly Crest neighborhood.



Riri's lawsuit filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court encompasses a handful of causes of action including fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of implied warranty. The lawsuit claims the seller–named in the lawsuit as Heather Rudomin–was (or should have been) aware but failed to disclose major waterproofing and construction defects that resulted in significant damage to the fancy mansion after what the legal documents called a "moderate rainstorm" in January 2010. The lawsuit claims that the defects devalue the house by millions less than what the sartorial daredevil paid for the place and Riri wants some of her money back plus attorney's fees.



TMZ reported that along with former owner Adrian Rudomin Miss Riri's lawsuit also names a number of others including the property inspector, the engineers who worked on the house, and at least one of the real estate agents involved in the transaction, Shelley Brown of Prudential California Realty who represented Miss Riri in the purchase. Redfin shows the property was listed at the time of the sale with Joyce Rey, one of the highest of the high-powered grande dames of Platinum Triangle real estate. Miz Rey is not named in the suit.



Listing information from that time Miss Riri purchased the property shows the gated contemporary crib sits heavily on .86 hill top acres at the tail end of a short cul-de-sac and measures more than 10,000 square feet over three floors with 8 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms



The heart of the hulking house is a dramatic airplane hangar-sized living/dining area with milk-chocolaty hardwood floors, fireplace, towering walls of glass with city to ocean views, and glass-railed bridge that connects two second floor wings of the modern mansion. Other interior spaces include a den/family room with fireplace, eat-in kitchen with not just one but two gigantic center islands, office, staff quarters, art studio, fitness room, media/music room, wine cellar and home theater with wide screen and state-of-the-art projection equipment.



The gated grounds encompass a tight motor court with two-car attached garage, flat lawn the narrows to a small sun deck with city and ocean views, and a small swimming pool and spa surrounded by an entertainment terrace and deck cantilevered over the canyon.



Anyone want to take bets that regardless of the outcome of her legal matters Little Miss Riri will soon if she doesn't already desire new digs, preferably one not freighted with the psychic weight of judicial trauma?



aerial photo: Google

listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International


A New Chez for Newlyweds Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo









BUYERS: Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo

LOCATION: Encino, CA

PRICE: $2,850,000

SIZE: 8,134 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms



YOUR MAMAS NOTES: One of Your Mama's unofficial celebrity real estate rules states that when a rich and/or famous person marries they frequently also buy a new home. In short, a new spouse means a new house. It makes little matter if the newly betrothed previously shacked up in unmarried sin. They typically still feel the urge to wrap there wedded bliss in the comforts of a new house.



Thanks to the Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial we've learned that such was the case with former boy bander/reality tee-vee star turned singing contest host/sometime actor Nick Lachey (The Sing Off) and his new bride Vanessa Minnillo, a one-time beauty pageant participator who now earns a living as the hostess of various showbiz events and low-brow reality tee-vee programs (Wipeout, True Beauty, Total Request Live).



Mister Lachey and Miss Minnillo, coupled on and off since sometime in 2006 or 2007, have lived together on and off for the last several years in both Los Angeles and New York City. In The Big Apple they were oft rumored and reported to have purchased or possibly leased a 2 bedroom pied a terre at the Atelier building on the far western end of 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan; In The City of Angels they made their unwed nest in a very contemporary ridge top residence Mister Lachey purchased in 2006 shortly after his marriage to wife number one Jessica Simpson swirled down the Tinseltown Terlit of Love.



After years of dating and living together Miss Minnillo finally made an honest man of Mister Lachey in mid-July (2011) when they hitched their semi-celebrity wagons in a quiet ceremony on Richard Branson's private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The main house on Necker Island was badly damaged last week during a fire started by a lightening strike. At the time of the 4:00 a.m. conflagration Oscar-winning British actress Kate Winslet was a guest of Mister Branson and asleep in the house. Not only did Miz Winslet get herself and her two children out of the house unharmed but also managed to scoop up and carry Mister Branson's 90 year old mother out of the house to safety. Brava beotch! But we digress...



Property records and previous reports reveal that in February 2006 Mister Lachey ponied up 5,000,000 clams for a 5,214 square foot house near the tail end of a long gated driveway shared by a few other homes that snakes dramatically along a narrow ridge high in the mountains directly above the hoity-toity Bel Air section of Los Angeles.



The then bachelor purchased the modern mini-mansion from German supermodel/media mogul Heidi Klum and Grammy-winning British R&B singer-songwriter Seal who, as it turns out, have been much in the celebrity real estate headlines lately. The sexy salt and pepper pair paid $14,200,000 in late 2010 for a 12,300 square foot mansion on more than eight hillside acres in the same exclusive gated enclave in Los Angeles' Brentwood area where other residents and home owners include philandering former California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, supermodel Giselle Bündchen and her pigskinner hubby Tom Brady, Libet Johnson (heiress to the Band-Aid fortune), and at least one Middle Eastern political potentate. They subsequently listed their former house, a secluded hillside estate tucked into one of the lesser traveled canyons that cut through the mountains in the Beverly Hills Post Office area, in May 2011 with an asking price of $6,900,000. Records reveal they sold the 6 bedroom and 9 full and 2 half pooper property just a month later for $7,000,000. It doesn't take a genius or a bejeweled abacus to see that's a hundred grand over the asking price but it does take a peep into the property records to reveal it's also $600,000 less then they paid for the property 5.5 years earlier. And there we go digressing again...



Your Mama discussed the Bel Air residence Mister Lachey shared with Miss Minnillo back in June 2010 when he quietly pushed the property on to the market with and asking price of $6,800,000. Listing information indicates house was last listed with a $5,995,000 price tag and property records now show Mister Lachey sold the property on the 10th of August, 2011 for $5,500,000 to an unknown buyer.



The day after Mister Lachey closed on his house in Bel Air he and his new Missus closed on a gated mock-Med mansion nestled into a thickly treed cul-de-sac in the semi-rustic rolling hills above suburban Encino. Although Encino is and has always been a leafy haven for Hollywood types of all stripes, the community none-the-less carries with it the stigma of being a suburban wasteland of vapid and tasteless consumerism. This unflattering image of Encino, at one time only a figment in the snobbish real estate minds of Angelenos who believed they lived in better zip codes, went viral in the early 1980s when L.A.-based music legend Frank Zappa released the song Valley Girl. Anyone over forty certainly knows the song–sung/talked by Mister Zappa's then 14-year old daughter Moon Unit–that openly mocked Valley Girl culture. (O.M.G., children, check out Marilyn MaCoo with her braided headband! Get. It. Gurrl!).



Anyhoo, property records show the newlyweds paid $2,850,000 for their new mansion in Encino. The house, which listing information called "Rustic Tuscan," was purchased with the same trust through which Mister Lachey owned his previous home in Bel Air. Listing information for Chez Lachey shows the house was built in 1981, measures a substantial 8,134 square feet, and includes a family-sized number of bedrooms and bathrooms, 6 and 8 respectively.



Shrubbery shrouded arched wood gates swing open electronically to a stone motor court with two car front-facing garage and adjoining single car carport. A wide, tree-shaded stone stair way connects the driveway to the front door set deeply into an arched porch. The exterior of the house, as far as Your Mama is concerned, ain't nuthin' but an architectural wart with odd proportions and botched massing. Things get a marginally better inside where some of the faux and stone finishes meant to give the house the illusion of being an agéd Mediterranean country house are mildly mitigated by a number of surprisingly voluminous spaces with distressed hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings with exposed wood beams.



A series of stone pillars and wide arched doorways in that airy sky-lit foyer direct traffic into the spacious window-wrapped formal living room with wide plank wood floors, fireplace and French doors that open to a pair of verandas, one covered and one not. The adjacent library/den also has wood floors, vaulted wood beam ceiling with sky lights, fireplace, and French doors that open to a veranda–in this case the covered one. Boozehounds like Your Mama who can not abide the stone veneer only installed to about halfway up one very tall wall in the library/den may feel more architecturally charitable to the space when they learn there's a built-in wet bar with copper sink installed in the corner opposite the fireplace.



The formal dining room opens on one end through wood-framed French doors to a grassy area and on the side through a wider bank of wood-framed French doors to a romantic vine-covered patio with over-sized water fountain. The rather large center island kitchen has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, tile floors with Travertine inlay set at a 45-degree angle, a adjacent pantry/utility room, custom cabinetry that features a built-in buffet with plate rack and microwave oven cubby, two over-sized farmhouse sinks, side-by-side stainless steel fridge and freezer, snack counter, and a breakfast area also with a barrel vaulted ceiling.



A wide doorway with a pair of thin columns separates the breakfast room/kitchen from the family room where there's distressed wide-plank wood floors under foot and a vaulted, wood-beamed, and sky lit ceiling over head. One entire wall was covered floor to ceiling in the same stone veneer as in the library/den. All we can say about that is at least this time the stone facing reaches all the way to the high ceiling. An arched inset in the stone-faced wall holds a wide-screen boob-toob and built-in cabinet for all the various cable boxes and wireless routers required for a modern upscale lifestyle. The home's third fireplace was crammed awkwardly between the wide media archway and a much less wide archway that connects the room to the rest of the house.



A vestibule on the lower level has double doors that open into a home office with built-in cabinetry, desk top, wet bar and corner seating unit. A short hall connects the office space to the master bedroom and en suite bathroom, both of which have fireplaces set into full walls covered with stone veneer, both of which have access and/or views to the garden and swimming pool, and both of which have wall-t0-wall sand colored carpeting. That's right, puppies, there's wall to wall carpeting in the bathrooms that encircles the free standing tub and runs right up to the sinks and shower. Your Mama hopes that Mister and Missus Lachey heed Rule Number 12 in Your Mama's Big Book of Decorating Dos and Don'ts that explicitly states that due to what should be obvious sanitary issues no bathing or terliting facility of any kind in any home of any size or value shall have wall-to-wall carpeting. Bath mats and area rugs are acceptable solutions to cold feet as are, for those with the budget, radiant heated floors.



The remainder of the mansion's sleeping chambers, each of them en suite as per listing information, are sprinkled throughout the house and configured such as to allow for flexible use as guest suites, offices, game rooms, fitness chambers, children's play rooms, massage facilities, scrap booking factories or what-have-you rooms.



In addition to the various covered patios, porches and verandas that surround the house the grounds include a flat patch of grass surrounded by mature trees and landscaping. Does anyone else besides Your Mama think Missus Lachey would like to see a celebrity-style jungle gym set up out there soon? Exterior stairs connect the long dining and lounging veranda on the second floor to the multi-level lower terrace where there's dining and sunbathing areas, built-in fire pit with built-in stone bench, a swimming pool with lap lane and, tucked into a quiet corner of the yard, a foliage-surrounded spa where Mister and Missus Minnillo can film another of their outdoor sexcapades should they be so inclined.



Your Mama, who has never spoken to nor seen Mister Lachey or Miz Minnillo in the flesh, certainly hasn't any idea or inside information about why these two sometimes volatile lovebirds would opt to trade in their sexy house in Bel Air with jet liner views over Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean for a significantly larger but far less exciting mansion in Encino. Perhaps they just wanted some thing less expensive–if not less costly to maintain and operate–where they'll have plenty of room to bring up babies when the time comes.



listing photos: Michael Andrew McNamara Photography for Partners Trust

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tidbit: Did Roman Abramovich Do It Again in London?

International Real Estate rumor has it that Russian oligarch and globe-trotting trophy property collector Roman Abramovich may have purchased a humongous house on Kensington Palace Gardens, the most expensive and security conscious gated enclave in all of hyper-pricey London.



Did y'all get that? This is just rumor and gossip at this point. Your Mama did not find any reports on the interweb that provide or claim definitive proof Mister Abramovich actually bought the house in question, a gleaming white, civic-looking Neo-Georgian limestone edifice owned by Belgian hedge hogger Pierre LaGrange and his wife Christina.



At least one report from mid-August relayed whispers that the wildly wealthy lover of über-luxurious living was interested in Mister and Missus LaGrange's behemoth house on Kensington Palace Gardens. Those property gossips heard through the real estate grapevine the LaGrange's mansion was quietly available for around £30,000,000. More recent reports, such as in the Daily Mail, suggest Mister Abramovich may have paid somewhere in the neighborhood of £90,000,000 for the house that reportedly has upwards of 12 to 15 bedrooms. We have no idea why there's such a wild discrepancy between the gossiped-about price tag and reported sale price. Make of that what you will children.



Most discussions of the matter indicate the LaGrange mansion is currently under construction with a massive subterranean extension to include an a "health centre," private museum, and indoor tennis court. Whaaaat? Do these reports mean that an indoor underground tennis court is planned? That sounds awfully odd, doesn't it? Would this be the first and only private residence in London with an indoor and underground tennis court?



Listen chickens, despite our daily intake of the devil's water Your Mama has been known to scoot our fat backside out on to the tennis court every now and then. That's why we know of what we speak when we tell the children y'all need a very high ceiling to accommodate an indoor tennis court. Do the children understand just how far a person would have to dig down in to the firmament below London to allow for a ceiling sufficiently high for the wild, top-spinning arches for which our boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau is famous? Yes, puppies, she may be a walking, talking and often drunk disaster but when ol' Fiona steps on to the tennis court in her high-heeled platform sneaker-shoes beehotch does it down something fierce like that shrieker Maria Sharapova.



Anyhoo, Your Mama can't claim any intimate or actual knowledge of what goes on in Mister Abramovich's multi-billionaire brain but most reports suggest he and his art loving heiress baby momma Daria Zhukova have grown weary of the planned expansion and renovation of a decidedly decadent double-wide townhouse on Lowndes Square in London's hoity-toity Knightsbridge neighborhood.



When and if completed as planned, Mister Abramovich's Lowndes Square residence would measure an epic 30,000 square feet and include–according to the 2009 floor plans Your Mama had the pleasure to peep–multiple elevators, 8 bedrooms plus several staff apartments, a drawing room that spans the full width of the two townhouses, a swimming pool in the basement, and a sprawling full-floor master suite comprised of bedroom, two large bathrooms, two large windowed dressing rooms–one with walk-in safe–and a service kitchen/pantry connected to the subterranean main kitchen via a dumbwaiter.



In mid-March 2011 Your Mama discussed a rambling 13,000 square foot mansion on London's bohemian-chic Cheyne Walk that Mister Abramovich reportedly purchased for around $40,000,000. This house was to be a temporary residential weigh station until the work on the yacht-loving jet setter's house on Lowndes Square is finished.



If these newest reports are true–and we really don't know if they are or are not–it appears that Mister Abramovich would scrap the planned expansion of his mansion in ritzy Knightsbridge, bail out of his house on Cheyne Walk and high-tail it to the even more exclusive and expensive Kensington Palace Gardens where other residents include bajillionaire industrialists like Lakshmi Mittal, Foxtons founder Jon Hunt, a Saudi royal or two and a long list of international ambassadors. We shall see, puppies, we shall see.



In addition to his London property holdings–whatever exactly they may be–Mister Abramovich's property portfolio bulges with more than a dozen homes in far-flung and exorbitantly high-priced locales that include Moscow, the Côte d'Azur, St. Barts in the Carribbean, and Aspen, CO.



photo: Chris Eades via The Daily Mail

Tuesday Tidbit: Mitt Romney Clarifies Plans for La Jolla Hideaway

We hesitate to bring this matter up again since we received some rather ugly and disturbing hate mail the last time we discussed, but...



Last week former Massachusetts governor and current GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney took it on the real estate chin when it was reported here, there, and everywhere that he'd submitted plans to nearly quadruple the size of an architecturally insignificant beach front house he owns in the wealthy seaside enclave of La Jolla, CA from around 3,000 square feet to more than 11,000 square feet.



Mister and Missus Romney purchased the posh pad about three years ago for a whopping $12,000,000. Alas and despite the hefty purchase price, according to Mister Romney himself, the 3 bedroom and 5 bathroom beach house just isn't large enough to accommodate his five adult children, their spouses and 16 grandchildren. Hence his plans to expand the residence.



There's certainly nothing inherently wrong or unusual about a multi-millionaire like Mister Romney who embarks on a significant expansion and/or full-scale renovation of a luxury vacation residence. However, given the flailing economy and his White House aspirations some folks–people on both sides of the political aisle, mind you–felt Mister Romney's plan for an extensive and expensive expansion was ill-timed.



Yesterday, in an attempt to clear up and clarify the what's-what about his property plans in La Jolla, Mister Romney told Joe McQuaid, publisher of the Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire that the gossip and reports were not entirely accurate.



According to Mister Romney, the plans and application for the expansion were filed two years ago, long before he tossed his hat in to the GOP presidential hopeful ring. Mister Romney's campaign previously stated that any construction to or expansion of the house would not begin until after the 2012 campaign. Furthermore, the application submitted calls not for a quadrupling of the living space but rather a doubling achieved by the addition of a second floor that would bring the interior living space to around 6,000 square feet. That's gigantic by most standards but hardly an unusual size for an ocean front home in the exceedingly affluent community of La Jolla. The remaining 5,000 or so square feet in the submitted application, as per Mister McQuaid's reports, are accounted for in "nonliving space" that includes the garage and a basement.



When asked by Mister McQuaid if he issued a press release that more succinctly and accurately lays out his actual plans for the property Mister Romney reportedly "shrugged his shoulders with a 'why bother?' look."



photos: Google Maps

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