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Tuesday, 30 April 2019


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Conspicuous consumption is just a way to transfer money from persons who have an excess to those of us in the working classes. I used to build houses.

I'll bet that the owner of that Bel Air shack never had to clip coupons!.
Rich Palmer

Totally agree with your "what I really think of the place"

The photo almost looks like a Michael Wolf.

I don't envy the rich. They often have incredibly bad taste. Look at that kitschy James Bond illustration in the personal movie theater. Or the giant camera sculpture. Or the dwarf paintings. Horrid.

What I do mind is when the wealthy use their money and influence to take advantage of others and game the system. For example, my taxes went up several thousand dollars this year - the year of the mythical tax cut. Meanwhile, large corporations like Netflix and Amazon pay $0 in taxes. That's just a plain and simple FU to me and most Americans. The problem is much worse than taxes of course, as the rich and powerful decide who wins our elections and what laws are on the books.

The problem isn't wealth itself (and resulting bad taste) but that the system is actively rigged in favor of the rich - to the detriment of the majority. This is not a sustainable situation.

That house, oh dear: so much money, so little taste.

The latter-day Morgan 3-wheeler that looks like it's never been driven: once, Morgan 3-wheelers were driven by people who couldn't afford a sports car but wanted something exciting to drive, now they are shiny toys for plutocrats who don't understand what they once were because they don't understand what it means not to be able to afford something.

More tax cuts needed.

That house is probably a rundown dump - it just looks better than it is because of a realtor's clever 'staging.' :-D

As an aside, I'll fully second David Comdico's long middle paragraph.


I am sure that you will get some pushback for political content. So for what it's worth, just wanted to let you know at least one of your readers thinks you are spot on.

Here's a quote I have been forwarding around lately: from 4/15 New Yorker review:

And now comes a devotee named Colin Asher, who has produced a wonderfully readable, passionately partisan biography of Algren, “Never a Lovely So Real” (Norton), the title a line from Algren’s book-length paean to Chicago. In the course of making the case for Algren’s neglected work, Asher does something else nearly as valuable, which is to reframe—and to free from myth and obfuscation, much of it Algren’s own—the life: a life not just entertainingly full of incident but also inspiring and exemplary in a time when Sent questions of art’s role in resisting the enemies of democracy and economic justice are newly immediate.

The asking price for this home is $150,000,000 -- enough to cover the annual budget of Dominica or Somalia. It probably won't sell for that -- monuments to vanity like this one seldom do -- but if you're wondering who could possibly afford a place like this, consider that Disney's CEO, Bob Iger, made $65.6 million in 2018, and that's just one year. Small wonder that many of those with such wealth are so big on liberty and freedom but don't have much to say about equality.

If that's the same house I've seen in the Wall Street Journal, it's a "spec" house, still owned by the builder and his banks. Those aren't real decorations, either, for the most part -- they've been staged, if this is the same house as in the WSJ. Whatever stager put in the seven dwarfs should be taken outside and shot for aggravated assault on good taste. The real question is, is the helicopter real? Or is it a shell?

I have to say, not to get all political on a photo forum, but I really don't care for the attacks on corporations, as if they're the great evil. Most people in the US work for corporations, and most aren't large. When the corporate tax rate was cut, it was done so to match other corporate tax rates around the world -- like Sweden's, and Norway's, and Denmark's. (Sweden's is 22%, the others only slightly higher, none more than 25%.) Most people don't realize that the Scandinavian countries, often held up as models of "democratic socialism" aren't socialist at all -- they're hardcore capitalist, but with very high individual tax rates and expansive social safety nets. They take care of their corporations because they provide jobs, then tax the resulting salaries at very high rates to provide social services. We could do the same thing here without changing much except our tax rates, which, IMHO, would be a good idea. I also don't mind that a few geniuses rack up huge fortunes, but I don't like the idea of an inherited aristocracy, even one based on money, rather than blood. So, let them make their billions -- then have a 99.9% estate tax for everything over some relatively large amount ($50 million?) and harsh penalties, like mandatory jail time, for avoidance.

I'm pretty sure that I saw that house on some TV show a year or two back. It was being built on spec and, if I recall it correctly, was going to be stocked with the delightful goods that are shown in it. Pretty sure that the target buyer was expected to be some Middle East dude. My guess is that it has not been lived in.

This house is not really for Americans to purchase. It, and much other real estate like it, are mostly sold to foreigners, money launderers and criminals of one sort or another. These houses are not much lived-in once they are purchased because it's just a place to park money.

You might think it says something about America, but it really says something about the state of the world. London is the world capital of this sort of real estate as I understand it, but in most every cosmopolitan City the top of the market is being driven by this kind of money. Non-domestic money, if you will.

Just google this man's name

"Egyptian émigré Mokless Girgis"

and you will get a sense of what the racket is, and this has the double-bonus of Donald Trump's involvement in the crime. Now there's a real story about the current state of the nation.

Mike, I'm with you on Bernie (or Liz), but what can be done about people who think that wretched excess is their right and privilege? Outside of putting them in jail for the pillaging of society, the only solution is to separate them from a large portion of their wealth. I don't see that happening anytime soon, meaning that the empire is indeed on its last legs.

I wouldn't live there if they PAID me.


Places like this feel so sterile to me. The roped off sections make it feel like a hotel or conference center. The candy dispensers make the room seem like a cafeteria. I don't want to live in a place that feels like that - it would never be "home". That's not to say I'm against expensive homes. Some are very attractive while still being over the top.

I second (third) your "what I really think of the place" comment, though the issues go well beyond just the current Sulla, and to me at least, seem more rooted in the income inequality that results in homes costing a significant portion of a billion bucks. The amount of political influence this much money is buying is mind boggling.

The post would make sense as a critique of bad taste, but turned out into a display of envy and politics. I love seeing wealth around; envy leads to a corrosive society.

A case can be made that the problem with this monstrosity is that it (house and site) is not big enough, not ambitious enough. It was built too cheaply. It looks like crap. It will be demolished soon enough to make way for another monstrosity.

Wealthy folks spending large sums building lavish estates is not the problem. Otherwise, we would not have the Isabella Stewart Gardner, the Frick, the Getty (Villa, not center), the Borghese, the Marmottan... We love those, don't we?

The lot is only 1.08 acres! Thus the helicopter. Too small for a proper airstrip.

BTW, the owner appears to be Ennio Morricone, composer of spaghetti western film scores, not a vulture capitalist at all.

Can you imagine waking up to find yourself living in an emporium?

No matter how much money, that scale of material overkill and noise would finish me off, if only on tranquillisers. But it's little better in Europe where rather than glitz they tend to use tat: old stuff and style that recreates the worst of a-hundred-and-fifty years ago. There is even a market for selling old portraits of unknown, military-clad men that might suggest you had heroes in your tree.

If you want to research this, find some old copies of the Spanish version of Hola magazine where they do the homes of the "rich 'n' famous" who get a buzz out of advertising their wares to the criminal fraternity worldwide.

Well, I guess if you have an emporium you have to advertise for folks to come visit.

Single-family? LOL

The ad says it comes with 7 full time staff people. What it did not say is they are probably "fully armed"

Two motorcycles on display in the little room on the roof top, behind the two white deck chairs.

Wondering if they are still good for ridin' on the road.

So much money and so little taste.

You should have seen the dining room in the small house my grandmother's sister had let build for herself. (Later my grandmother took it over and then her daughter.)
A small room with a three seat bench along each of two opposite walls with the table in between, you had to slide in. Above the benches were cupboards in the walls. We occasionally dined eight there with two on a loose bench on the short side opposite the window. Very cosy! The larger living room had a small fireplace where I as a kid was allowed to build and light a fire and then sat close to it on a pillow woven by my grand aunt.

Yeah but the library man? It's listed so it should be there somewhere. maybe behind the candy wall? Wanna see the books that go with that exquisite taste display. Then I can calmly turn off my screen comforted by the feeling that all is well and that the mega wealthy will never be a threat to the intellect of mankind. Safe. For now.

Next season on Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

To follow up on the comment of John Camp. The average income in Denmark was $43,900 in 2016. That persons income tax rate is 45%. The sales tax is 25%. The Social Security tax is 8%, all out of the employees income. There are a number of deductions. And people with children get a payment of almost $12000 per child.

O.M.G.! I know BS is now a millionaire, one of the detested class... but is he really in the market for a house like that...?!? S.M.H. How low our country has stooped.

John Camp. High taxes to fund a social safety net are what socialism IS. At least it is outside of the USA where socialism is equated with communism (which is a completely different philosophy). This is in order to frighten voters into voting against anyone who displays even the slightest trace of humanity in their politics.

If I had 150 million bucks to spare I wouldn’t want a house that looks like a gussied up parking garage covered in green AstroTurf. The house seems to be designed more for cars and helicopters than people. I was scouring Photo 17 looking for a Flight Status Board showing arrivals and departures.

My wife and I and most of our friends are feeling the Bern, as they say, so we are with your footnote. I don’t think I have ever experienced such simultaneous hope (for what he might bring) and dread (for climate change). Tomorrow I’m photoshopping some Medicare for All signs for a demonstration. Time to put my skills to use.

So that's what one does with large prints.

And I thought it was a brothel …

Guessing the realtor hasn't a clue that the huge number of views is due to traffic from here - if it sells to a TOP reader, Mike should get commission! Would 1% be ok for you?

Mediocre taste comes with a price tag you could avoid with good taste and with the feet on the ground mentality.

I sort of agree with John Camp but not completely. Nothing wrong with Corporations as he says, but then they got bigger than governments, got themselves all kinds of rights without accompanying responsibilities, and manage to lobby some countries into creating tax havens for them. The problem arises when we start to behave as if society is a support system for commerce, when it's the other way round. I don't understand why we forget this.

Glad you put that in, 'Duncan from the UK'. A bit of terminological education would help those on the other side of the pond a great deal; so would a little adoption of political normality...
As for the house, anyone whose idea of luxury is one wall covered in gobstoppers and another covered in Disney art is obviously plumbing some fantastic depths in regression!! Either that or they're not yet old enough to drive the cars locked in the basement... begging the question as to why they would own a house on this scale, if indeed anyone does.

Very carefully cropped photos to hide the fact that this "showroom" is cramped into a wee 0.87 acre lot.

Getting here very late but feel compelled to remark.
- That Belair joint is really something, isn’t it? I caught sight of it a year or so ago while it was being built. From a distance it looked like a hotel project! And yes, subsequently reading a couple of articles about it confirmed that it is purely a spec development project, probably envisioning a Middle Eastern buyer, by a guy who loves to go all-in. The asking price started out at $188 mil.

- I very much liked David Aschkenas‘s “bird” portfolio! Not knowing its background I’m guessing he curated it from his existing photos rather than shot it as a project? I know there must be quite a few TOP readers with large collections of images from their earlier days. Culling through them to curate such small thematic portfolios is a really terrific pastime! (Speaking from personal experience.)

I read elsewhere that all the furnishings were carefully chosen and are included with the house. And that the seller would be insulted if you offered to buy it without them. I think it has been on the market 2 years. It has not been occupied.

I forget where too find three reference now about a Roman chronicler who wrote that celebrating cooks was a sign of the decadence of the Empire.

Saw your real estate deal in this clip!


In another article about the ridiculous house, it mentioned that "also included in the asking price is a full time staff of seven". Wait a minute, didn't we once fight a war about buying and selling people? Wasn't it very specifically outlawed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution? I'm sure the staff are paid (possibly even well paid), and their contracts are covered by some sort of interest-bearing account - but it's still uncomfortably close to slavery to say "these people come with the house".

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