Known as “The Mountain,” the 157-acre plot was listed for $1 billion last year. As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, a lengthy legal and ownership battle led to it being sold to its lender, the Mark Hughes Trust, at a fraction of the original price.
The trust, named after the Herbalife founder Mark Hughes, was the only bidder at the foreclosure auction in Pomona, California on Tuesday. Its representative claimed that it was owed more than $200 million in liens on the property, which would mean that any other interested bidder would need to offer at least that to recoup the debt.
Located at 1652 Tower Grove Drive, the undeveloped plot has a storied past. The Shah of Iran’s sister and producer Merv Griffin each owned it at different points.
So how did such a high asking price fall to such a low sale? Compass agent Aaron Kirman set the high price as a way of rebranding and attracting attention to the property. Secured Capital Partners, the company tied to investor and convicted felon Victorino Noval, hired Kirman to represent that sale last year.
At the time, the high asking price caused consternation and even light derision in real estate circles and a few months later the price was reduced to $650 million. And not long after that, Secured Capital filed for bankruptcy protection that was denied by a judge and ultimately led to the space being sold at Tuesday’s auction — and, ultimately, handed over to the lender.
But even that doesn’t mean the saga over who owns this land has come to an end. Ronald Richards, the attorney representing Secured Capital, said he intends to challenge the decision.
“We have to wait until they change the title, then we can bring a wrongful foreclose action against them,” Richards told The Hollywood Reporter.