Inside Washington DC’s Most Expensive Home For Sale

Abel Gebremichael
Abel Gebremichael
Published on September 10, 2017
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Sure, Jeff Bezos, Barak Obama, BET CEO Debra Lee, Ian Mahinmi, Jackie Kennedy and Robert Griffin III gorgeous homes in Washington DC community. But, theirs don’t hold a candle to the newly-crowned priciest home in the U.S. right now.

Unlike cities like Los Angeles or New York City, Washington, D.C. isn’t as well known for housing celebrities, unless they’re the political kind. This year, though, there was a good number of celebrity homes that landed on the market or left the market with new owners.

History 

Back in the 1960s, there was barely an adolescent girl in the country that didn’t want to be Elly May Clampett, the animal-loving, Ozark-to-Beverly Hills transplant on TV’s “Beverly Hillbillies.”

It’s no wonder then that the front of the family’s TV home became iconic and, if you’ve ever watched old reruns of the show you’ll surely recognize the nation’s most expensive home for sale — “cement pond” and all — 750 Bel Air Rd. in Los Angeles.

Known as “Chartwell,” to some and “Kirkeby Mansion” to others, the 25,000 square-foot estate was built in 1933 by Lynn Atkinson, the engineer who built Boulder Dam, who never moved in.

Instead, he sold the manse to Arnold S. Kirkeby, “a bond dealer, developer, and hotelier with rumored mob ties who had just bought the Beverly Wilshire” Hotel, according to LA Curbed’s Adrian Glick Kudler. Kirkeby, by the way, paid $250,000 for the home that is now on the market for $350 million.

 

Well, that’s one story. Another says that Atkinson gave it to Kirkeby to pay off a debt. A home that cost $2 million dollars to build ($36,859,847.33 in 2017 dollars), given away to repay a debt.

Chartwell … Or Kirkeby, If You Will

To give you an idea of just how lavish the Chartwell/Kirkeby estate is, “Betsy Bloomingdale supposedly walked into the White House in 1975 and said ‘This looks just like Carlotta Kirkeby’s house in Bel Air,’” according to Kudler.

It was so opulent, in fact, that Atkinson’s wife refused to move into it, considering it too ostentatious.

By 1986, the manse was owned by Jerry Perenchio, former CEO of Univision, and he undertook massive restorations.

Today, the home features 25,000 square feet of living space. Hard to picture? Fenway Park in Boston is about 14,400 square feet. We could squeeze more than two of Jefferson’s Monticello and nine of America’s average sized homes (2,687 square feet) inside of Chartwell.

This massive square footage contains the typical Bel Air-type amenities, with a ballroom, a huge wine cellar, a “formal salon” (do we even know what that is?) and gold-plated doorknobs and fixtures in the bathrooms.

But wait –there’s more (there better be for $350 million, right?). The French neoclassical Beaux Arts-style property also features 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, Baccarat chandeliers, a waterfall and an elevator to whisk residents from the home to the underground tunnels that lead to the 75-foot pool.

Outside, the new owner will have 10.3 acres on which to roam, thanks to the brilliant thinking of Perenchio, who snatched up several homes surrounding Chartwell (including President Reagan’s former home) to provide the estate with additional seclusion.

Impeccably manicured gardens can be seen in the Google satellite view of the home but there’s also parking for 40 cars (covered parking, naturally), a pool house and tennis court.

Finally, it takes three brokerages (and six listing agents), to market the home.

 

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