David Kabiller and the $50 million teardown (2023)

We hate to digress so early in the week, but Yolanda’s just gotta let the truth be told for a hot minute. Yolanda had an amazing weekend celebrating Nochella. That’s right, y’all. Your gurl did did it big. While all you slobs were making a damn fool of yourselves out in that filthy campground and probably spreading STDs in those high-class bathrooms, Yolanda was enjoying a traffic-free LA and not having to wait for, well, anything. So thank you all, and we’re sorry. But we’re actually not sorry. And for those of you out-of-towners who have no idea what this crazy Yolanda chick is babbling about, consider yourselves fortunate.

Now, If you clear your booze-clogged brains and think back a few days ago, you’ll recall we discussed Maurice Marciano’s new $20 million spec-built mansion in Trousdale Estates. We’re going to piggyback off that story and stay right in Trousdale today. Actually, we’re gonna stay on the very same street.

It’s no secret that Trousdale has been inundated with development like crazy lately (with occasionally fatal results). It’s completely bonkers, really. There isn’t a street in the community without a couple houses surrounded by one of those green chain link fences, a sure sign of an imminent teardown. And it’s perhaps the uppermost portion of Hillcrest Road that is the zenith of this constuction-gone-mad era.

This 10-lot nook at the very top of Trousdale is where Minecraft bazillionaire Markus Persson famously paid a brain-cell-deconstructing $70 million in cash for a spec mega-mansion built by fellow bazillionaire Bruce Makowsky. Then next door is another spec-mansion being built by Nile Niami – he reportedly plans to ask a silly $90 million for the place once complete. Over on the other side of Mr. Persson’s new pad is a massive but depressingly dated mansion that’s currently for sale, asking $135 million. As a teardown. Yes, you read that right. The owner – Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury – wants you to pay him 9 figures for the privilege of bulldozing his house. We want some of whatever Mr. Chagoury is smokin’, pronto.

Just a couple doors away from all that craziness, something equally irrational is going down, albeit with far less fanfare. Last year, a mysteriously-named shell company (“Simba Hillcrest LLC”) paid $35,300,000 for a big Mexican-themed mansion near the end of the road. Rumors ran rampant that the home’s new owner had purchased the property as a teardown, something that his own real estate agent later confirmed.

It wasn’t long before beotches all over the Hills of Beverly began whispering that the buyer was a hedge fund mogul named David Kabiller, something Yolanda was later able to confirm. For a fact.

Where does all that money come from? Well, Mr. Kabiller is originally from Chicago, where he attended and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School of Management. Mr. Kabiller also holds a CFA designation. For those who don’t know what a CFA is, it’s kinda like to finance what a CPA is to accounting. Yolanda knows a little something about earning a CFA and it’s no joke, really.

The obviously-smart Mr. Kabiller was a VP at Goldman Sachs before leaving in 1998 and founding money-managing firm AQR Capital Management with three other former Goldman employees. Though he may not get as much ink devoted to him as the de facto leader of AQR, famously outspoken and idiosyncratic billionaire Cliff Asness, Mr. Kabiller has nonetheless most assuredly amassed an immense personal fortune from his near two decades around the helm of the company, which now controls a breathtaking $140 billion+ in assets under management.

This rather legendary residence was built by master architect Cliff May in 1959 for big-time entrepreneur Cliff Garrett. Mr. Garrett didn’t get to enjoy the house very long – he died in 1963 at the age of 55 – and by the 1990s, the 7,182 square foot house had passed into the hands of Henry Burroughs, a member of an old-money Beverly Hills family. (For what it’s worth: Mr. Burroughs’ brother Jim owns a big pad up in Beverly Park North gated community.)

It was Mr. Burroughs who was responsible for giving the property the Mexican-themed renovation you see in photos here. Though the house is reportedly in top-notch condition and has a rather cool gated motorcourt area, a beautiful paneled office, and a commodious (if dated) kitchen area, Mr. Kabiller really only wanted the spectacular 270-degree views and huge 1.57 acre lot, most of which is actually usable.

Though a $35 million teardown purchase alone might be enough to make your jaw drop, Yolanda’s stunningly-beautifully eyes practically escaped from their sockets when we recently were tipped off that Mr. Kabiller is expanding his Hillcrest holdings. Apparently his new compound needs more space and he’s a wee bit crowded up there. What do all folks with limitless budgets do when they’re feeling crowded and/or bored with their current abode? Buy their neighbors’ houses, of course.

Directly next door is (or was) a 1960s mid-century modern tour-de-force. Built in 1963 by little-lauded but masterful architect George MacLean, it was published in Architectural Digest in September 2012 and was most recently the longtime residence of legendary photographer Steven Meisel. If Mr. Meisel’s name isn’t familiar, you probably don’t follow fashion at all. Mr. Meisel is the guy who is widely credited with launching and/or promoting the careers of supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and in particular, his longtime muse Linda Evangelista.

If architect Mr. MacLean’s name rings a bell, it might be because a few weeks back, your gurl Yolanda briefly discussed a much larger house nearby that was also designed by him. That house, at 1312 Ridgecrest, was built for billionaire D.K. Ludwig and is now owned by a member of the Saudi royal family.

Mr. Meisel purchased the property in 2001 and shortly thereafter engaged the services of prominent LA-based home builder/restorer Marmol Radziner to give the ol’ gurl a much-needed renovation and expansion. The result of their work is shown in the pics above.

While the unabashedly in-your-face nature of this particular MCM might not be to everyone’s taste – particularly the oddball shower/office combo and the brutally spare kitchen – Yolanda happens to love it. Well, we’re not sure if we’d enjoy living in it, but we do love looking at it.

But as always, we digress. After several years being marketed on and off the market, Mr. Meisel finally sold his 6,350 square foot Trousdale house in April 2014 for $11,360,000 to a New York-based energy tycoon named Sam Nappi. Mr. Nappi was not shy about admitting he bought the place purely for its development potential. In 2015, he attempted to flip the house for an insanely ballsy and downright greedy $24,000,000. Unsurprisingly, with no takers, Mr. Nappi removed the property from the open market but continued attempting to unload the crib.

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Nappi finally flipped the prime parcel in an off-market deal. Records reveal the purchase price was a big-time $15,600,000 and the buyer was – are you ready for this? – “Simba Hillcrest LLC”, the very same shell company Mr. Kabiller used to acquire the house next door last year.

What that means, y’all, is that Mr. Kabiller has spent a mind-boggling total of $50,900,000 for two adjacent parcels that combined contain 3.12 acres of dirt and some plywood. And keep in mind that not all of that hillside acreage is usable. The former Meisel property, in particular, has very little flat, buildable land. Yolanda would guess that the real usable space is closer to 2 acres for both parcels combined.

Also, don’t forget that the $50.9 million Mr. Kabiller has sunk into this so far does not include the demolition costs for the larger parcel, permit costs, landscaping bills, taxes, real estate fees, and the insanely-exorbitant costs of building whatever sort of crazy compound Mr. Kabiller plans to build up here. Knowing his taste, it will be something as ultra-modern as they come. More on that in a moment.

Mull over that, beotches. Only a handful of residential homes in the Los Angeles area have ever sold for more than $50 million. Off the top of our head, we can’t recall more than 10. Now here’s Mr. Kabiller spending $51 million for land alone and God only knows how many more untold millions on construction of a new residence that’s probably gonna sit pretty much right hard up on the street. Nutso!

Oh, and in case any of y’all have got tons of cash burnin’ a hole in your pocket and are thinking about saving the former Meisel mansion from destruction, don’t bother. The house is long gone. Mr. Nappi tore down the place himself a couple months ago. Yep. Mr. Kabiller paid $15.6 million just for the dirt.

We can’t wait to see what Mr. Kabiller installs up there, but what Yolanda really wants to know is what Mr. Kabiller plans to do with his new compound once it is completed. Will he move in or attempt to flip it for $250 million or something equally bonkers? We were chatting with our gurl Your Mama over at Variety about this the other day and we are both of the opinion Mr. Kabiller will try to sell. We could be wrong, of course. But in any case, Mr. Kabiller will probably need a sale price of $100 million – minimum – just to realize a decent return for all that money and time he has and will invest up there. Yolanda is highly skeptical about anyone being willing to part with that much cash, especially in this time of economic uncertainty, but then again we never thought anyone would pay $70 million for a house in Trousdale, either.

Okay, now for the good shit. We know some of you might be worried sick about poor Mr. Kabiller. Where is he gonna live in LA while he builds his new compound? Is our boy gonna have to bunk up with one of his Trousdale neighbors? “Don’t tell us he is homeless!!” you might be wailing right about now.

Let Yolanda put your minds at ease. Mr. Kabiller won’t be setting up a street corner tent anytime soon. You see, this is not the only prohibitively-pricey hilltop complex Mr. Kabiller owns. Oh no.

Mr. Kabiller lives in the Bird Streets, actually. On what is probably the most expensive Bird of them all – Oriole. The house in question was spec-built by prolific mansion-developer Nile Niami (he just pops up everywhere, don’t he?) and was purchased by Mr. Kabiller in an off-market deal back in November 2012. Records show he forked out a very serious $18,900,000 for the ultimate coked-up party palace. The property is just .3 of a mile (as the crow flies) from his Hillcrest compound.

By the way, Mr. Kabiller did not use his buddy Simba in this purchase but rather the “Oriole Nala 2012 Trust”. For those who ain’t know, Nala is Simba’s childhood best friend in The Lion King. Apparently Mr. Kabiller is a big Disney fan. Hey, your gurl Yolanda is too.

Though packed tight on an uber-steep lot, the developer somehow managed to horseshoe in three floors of living space, in addition to the separate two-car garage. The lower, subterranean level contains a couple bedrooms/bathrooms, a snazzy cinema, a lavish wine tasting room, and a gym. The main floor contains the master suite, kitchen, dining room, and a two-story living room. The third level has a couple more bedrooms and bathrooms. Yolanda thinks the place has about 8,000 square feet of living space with at least 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, but that’s just your gurl’s somewhat-educated guess. And the house has pretty much every shade of black, white, and grey. There’s marble, terrazzo, titanium, and a lot of other cool sh*t.

Mr. Kabiller’s nearest neighbors in the Birds are some of the richest folks in Los Angeles: private equity pasha Alex Soltani, internet bazillionaire Lynda Weinman, Wal-Mart heiress Sybil Robson and her financier hubby Matthew Orr, comic book legend Stan Lee, Oscar-winner Leo DiCaprio, and spectacularly legally-embattled Malaysian money launderer Jho Low.

Anyway, this is where Mr. Kabiller lives whenever he is in town. One time he threw a downright decadent Valentine’s day bash at the property. Yolanda managed to get in possession of a couple photos showing the outdoor scenery that night. Damn, y’all, this is a really insane view. But what Yolanda really wants to know is how our invitation got lost in the mail yet again? We’re gonna have to speak to the postman about this. This ain’t cool.

So, whaddya think? Will Mr. Kabiller hire McClean Design to build his new big-ass pile over in Trousdale? Will he then try to sell the new compound for an ungodly price? Or will he move in and flip his Bird Streets mansion? We’ll just have to wait and see, kids. It’s all we can do. Wait, isn’t that a song or something?

Oh, and Mr. Kabiller, baby, won’t you invite your gurl Yolanda over? We don’t mean to be presumptuous but it’s about damn time. Don’t you agree? We promise we’ll be on our best behavior. Just keep our boy Jack Daniels locked up good and tight. Bust him out and it’s game over. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya.

Last but not least, Mr. Kabiller lives primarily in Greenwich, CT (when he’s not in LA). As far as we can tell, he purchased his 11,239-square-foot traditional primary residence there way back in 2004 for $7,425,000. That means, kids, Mr. Kabiller currently owns a stupefying $77,225,000 worth of real estate at the moment. And those are just the four properties we know about.

One final thought. Sorry, we know this is getting way long. Yolanda stumbled across a transcript of a university speech Mr. Kabiller gave nearly a decade ago, when the economy was still flying high just before the big market crash/recession. “We live in a world that’s a bit irrational right now,” he stated. “I don’t think it’s sustainable.” And Mr. Kabiller was right, wasn’t he? Yolanda couldn’t have preached that better herself. And it still seems applicable to the most recent high-end real estate craze, no?

Regardless, Mr. Kabiller is a very smart guy. What does he think of the fact that he stands to potentially lose big bucks if he ever tries to sell his future compound? Whatever your opinion of the economy’s future trajectory, the odds are undeniably against him. No house has ever sold for $100 million in LA.

But we’d like to think Mr. Kabiller would quote Simba himself if he were asked. “I laugh in the face of danger,” our boy famously and braggadociously claimed. Y’all can stick that in your juice box.

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