A plot of undeveloped land in Beverly Hills — once listed for $1 billion — sold for just $100,000 after a decadelong quest to sell it went sour

The 157-acre plot of undeveloped land overlooks Bel-Air and Los Angeles.

The 157-acre plot of undeveloped land overlooks Bel-Air and Los Angeles.
Youtube/[Matthew Momberger]
  • A 157-acre piece of undeveloped land in Beverly Hills, California, sold on Tuesday for $100,000.
  • The plot, called “The Mountain,” had been listed for a breathtaking $1 billion in July 2018 – but even after a $350 million price cut, there were no takers.
  • Ultimately, the land was bought back by its original lender, the Mark Hughes Trust, after a complicated legal drama.
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An undeveloped plot of land in Beverly Hills, California, was sold on Tuesday for just $100,000, according to multiple reports – an enormous fall from its asking price of $1 billion just one year ago.

The 157-acre plot, called “The Mountain,” overlooks Los Angeles and Bel-Air and has been the subject of intense media coverage.

While it was on the market, property experts disputed the idea that the property was worth even a fraction of $1 billion, but that did little to stop its developer, Charles Dickens – and later a firm called Secured Capital Partners LLC – from trying to sell it.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the land was bought at an auction in Pomona by the only bidder: the legal entity that owned it in the first place, the Mark Hughes Trust.

beverly hills mountain

The Society Group

The trust was founded to manage the estate of Mark Hughes, the former CEO of Herbalife, including the plot, which he bought in 2004 for $8.5 million.

A 2015 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter found that the trust then entered a complicated legal relationship with Dickens that left him in control of the property and in charge of selling it.

The trust also lent Dickens tens of millions of dollars to develop the land. The arrangement, broadly, was that if the property sold, both Dickens and the trust would stand to profit enormously.

According to The Journal, after Dickens hit financial difficulties, he partnered with Secured Capital Partners to continue marketing the land.

In July 2018, the plot was listed for $1 billion. The listing was complete with its own website and videos designed to show it off, like this one:

Nobody bought it. Nine months later, in February, the plot’s price was cut to $650 million, according to the Los Angeles real-estate news site The Real Deal.

This too was not enough. In the end, the property was taken to auction and ended in the $100,000 payment to Secured Capital Partners LLC.

However, according to a lawyer for Secured Capital Partners, Ronald Richards, the low price was only possible as the house also came with a vast debt to the trust. Richards told The Journal that another buyer would have had to pay at least $200 million, including late fees and interest.

“The Mountain” is in a prime location in Beverly Hills.
Google Maps

The Mountain has a colorful history, having previously been owned by the former shah of Iran’s sister Shams Pahlavi and the American television host and media mogul Merv Griffin, The Journal said.