Bel Air estate the US' priciest listing at $477m

Chartwell sits on 4.1ha of land and boasts a 25,000 sq ft mansion inspired by French neoclassical design.
Chartwell sits on 4.1ha of land and boasts a 25,000 sq ft mansion inspired by French neoclassical design. PHOTO: COLDWELL BANKER/ INSTAGRAM

LOS ANGELES •The story of Jed Clampett is, by now, a legend.

A hillbilly living in the mountains, he could barely feed his family of four. But one day, while hunting for food, he fired his rifle into the swamp behind his shack - and struck oil.

The sale of the resource-rich land netted him millions, so he moved his clan to Beverly Hills, where their adventures would be the subject of nine seasons of the popular 1960s television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962 to 1971).

While the family is fictional, the Bel Air estate featured in the show's opening credits is real.

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And it is now for sale - for US$350 million (S$477 million), making it the most expensive listing in the United States.

The estate, which is called Chartwell, sprawls across 4.1ha of land. The centrepiece is a 25,000 sq ft mansion inspired by French neoclassical design.

Designed by architect Sumner Spaulding, it was built in the 1930s as a gift for a property developer's wife. But she never moved in so it was sold in the 1940s to a hotelier, reported Bloomberg.

Billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio, who bought the estate in 1986, hired well-known French decorator Henri Samuel, whose clients include the wealthy Vanderbilt and Rothschild families, to spruce up the property, reported trade publication Variety.

Mr Perenchio, who helped produce sitcoms such as Sanford And Son (1972 to 1977) and The Facts Of Life (1979 to 1988) and who was once the chairman and chief executive of broadcaster Univision, died in May.

The mansion is designed to pamper its residents with a ballroom, a formal salon and a big, temperature-controlled "world-class" wine cellar.

The new owner may want to consider stocking it with bottles from media mogul Rupert Murdoch's winery, a nearby neighbour.

On the grounds are gardens, a tennis court, a 23m pool with the pool house connected to the main house by a tunnel, plus covered parking for 40 cars.

That parking space is larger than that in smaller malls.

Guests should also be impressed by Instagram-worthy views of the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles.

And if they are still bored, they could indulge in a game of trivial pursuit themed on Chartwell, Bloomberg noted.

Question: Which African nation has a gross domestic product worth US$350 million?

Answer: Sao Tome & Principe, which logged that output last year.

Question: Can a modern-day Jed Clampett afford Chartwell now?

Answer: That depends.

His US$25 million to US$100 million haul in 1962 is equivalent to US$200 million to US$800 million now.

Hence, if the oil company that bought his swamp was generous, then, yes, Chartwell could be his.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2017, with the headline 'Bel Air estate the US' priciest listing at $477m'. Print Edition | Subscribe