Inside America’s Most Expensive Home for Sale

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on September 11, 2017

Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston and hubby Justin Theroux, and Jay-Z and Beyonce may own drop-dead gorgeous homes in LA’s swanky Bel Air community, but their homes don’t hold a candle to the newly crowned priciest home in the United States.


Back in the 1960s, there wasn’t an adolescent girl in the country who 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 reruns of the show, you’ll recognize the nation’s most expensive home for sale – “cement pond” and all – 750 Bel Air Road 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. He 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. Imagine that: 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 that Atkinson’s wife refused to move in, 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. Finding that 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 Chartwell.

This massive square footage contains the typical Bel Air-type amenities, including 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, of course), a pool house, and tennis court.

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

Leonardtown MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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