It took two years for Univision chair Jerrold Perenchio’s 11-acre estate and mansion, Chartwell, to sell, but the still-youngish billionaire co-chair of News Corp. has manned up where many others have not, and made the move on the iconic property for a semi-bargain-basement deal of $150 million. There are five dwellings on the massive property, assembled over the years by Chartwell’s most loving owner, Perenchio, including the acre-sized lot he acquired shortly before he died from the estate of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, which house and grounds he bought for $15 million after Nancy Reagan died in 2016, promptly razing the Reagan’s rather plain house so that he could have at the grounds for his endlessly splayed-out gardens.
Lachlan Murdoch will have plans for the empty adjacent “Reagan” lot, but there’s no hurry. Perenchio’s meticulously planned gardens, 70-foot pool, tennis courts, fountains, and arboretum will occupy the young Murdoch mogul and his family for some time to come. You could keep a string of polo ponies on the place comfortably, if not entirely legally, since Bel Air zoning is rather strict.
Chartwell is most famous for its own appearances on American television between 1962-71 as the house inhabited by the inimitably scuff-toed Clampetts as they moved to Bel Air after striking it rich in The Beverly Hillbillies. In a fine comedic set-piece dreamed up by the scriptwriters, as the Clampetts drove up to the place in the very first episode, Jed and family thought that the French-chateau-style designed in the Thirties was, in fact, a prison. The story behind the house is legend, as Perenchio patiently, over decades, bought up literally every neighboring property, expanding the footprint of the estate and collecting other dwellings along the way. For his part, Murdoch has shown some taste. The mansion is a bit austere, French inflected, and certainly huge, but it is well-loved and has functioned as a home since the 1940s.
For all of its old-Hollywood glamour, Chartwell’s real estate agents had a whale of a job moving the big place into and through the market since it was first listed in 2017, when it was — some say, foolishly, but certainly over-ambitiously — put at an eye-watering $350 million. In L.A.’s cut-throat movie-mogul driven real estate market, that ask got chopped down fast, first to $195 million, and ultimately to Lachlan’s one-hundred-fifty. In other words, Chartwell dropped down $200 million in the space of 24 months.
Still, it’s a ton of money for a house, no matter where you have it. It registers now as L.A.’s own most-expensive private home, but clearly, what L.A.’s take-no-prisoners party-planners and Fox studio and West Coast News Corp. execs will be now counting on are some fantastic hilltop parties. It’s a flagship show place, and a long-term one at that. It isn’t the sort of house that one buys in order to flip.
Not simply because of the estate’s long and winding sales road, but also because of the stable, landed-gentry kind of palace that it is, the message within the purchase is that Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, not to mention News Corp. and that firm’s vast holdings, will not be moved from this perch easily.