Real Estate newsletter: A fraud for the ages

Welcome back to the real estate newsletter that finds celebrities and overseas investors to be thankful for during Thanksgiving week.

Matt Damon is grateful for his real estate agent who helped sell his Pacific Palisades mansion to Warner Bros. Chief Executive Ann Sarnoff for $ 18 million. It’s a nice vacation bonus for the Oscar-winning actor; In 2013, he paid $ 15 million for the house.

Black Flag’s Henry Rollins is grateful for the hot LA housing market. He is hunting a sizeable profit in the Hollywood Hills asking for $ 3.9 million for a custom-built facility in Nichols Canyon, which he bought in 2009 for $ 2.2 million. Clad in concrete and steel, the hyper-masculine house has a rooftop terrace and recording booth.

Chinese investors are grateful to the judicial system that Serena Shi recently found guilty of using $ 23 million of her down payments on a phantom resort project to fuel her bougie lifestyle of designer clothes and luxury cars. The three-year hoax began with Shi promising to build a trendy resort in the Coachella Desert and ended with shuffling around an LA courtroom in beige prison jumpsuit with chains on her wrists and ankles.

Our report on the investigation, currently only available to LA Times subscribers, is a must-read.

If you’re stuffed with leftovers and tired of reading, you’ve come to the right place. In the latest podcast, “Gimme Shelter”, Liam Dillon delves into his investigation into how highway construction half a century ago is still harming residents of the black and Latino neighborhoods today.

While you catch up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find property stories and updates all week.

Mansion switches from movie star to CEO

In the heart of the house is a voluminous atrium under 10 meter high mahogany vaulted ceilings.

In the heart of the house is a voluminous atrium under 10 meter high mahogany vaulted ceilings.

(Alexis Adams)

In one of the most expensive deals of the year, Matt Damon sold his Zen-inspired getaway in the Riviera neighborhood for $ 18 million.

The buyer, according to records, is TV executive Ann Sarnoff, who became Warner Bros.’s first female CEO in 2019 and now heads WarnerMedia Studios and Networks.

Damon, the Oscar-winning actor who starred in the 2021 films “Stillwater” and “The Last Duel,” was shopped at the architectural residence year-round, originally selling it in January for $ 21 million – or $ 6 Million dollars more than he paid for it in 2012. He moved to the East Coast in 2018 and paid $ 16.7 million for a penthouse in Brooklyn.

With 13,500 square meters on two thirds of a hectare, his space in the palisades has a little more space. It was designed by Grant Kirkpatrick, founding partner of the LA-based architecture firm KAA Design, which conveyed a tropical feeling with warm wood, natural stone and Asahi glass on three floors.

Punk symbol lists hyper masculine home

The concrete-clad three-story house is protected by steel gates and a steel front door.

The concrete-clad three-story house is protected by steel gates and a steel front door.


Henry Rollins, the punk icon best known as the singer for Black Flag in the 1980s, is offering his unique home in the Hollywood Hills for $ 3.9 million.

Rollins bought the custom-built Nichols Canyon site for $ 2.2 million in 2009 and quickly went to work adding bold touches and a host of amenities. He spent 12 years in LA, hosting a weekly radio show on KCRW-FM and writing columns for LA Weekly.

Steel gates and steel front doors set a masculine tone to the front of the property, and the living spaces carry the same energy with concrete walls and steel girders across three floors. A 60 foot living room serves as the centerpiece and opens to a balcony with views of the surrounding canyon.

The thief’s plan is coming to an end

Serena Shi will hold a sales presentation for condominiums in her planned Coachella resort in Beijing in November 2015.

Serena Shi will hold a sales presentation for condominiums in her planned Coachella resort in Beijing in November 2015.

(James D. Clark)

Serena Shi’s taste for luxury seemed insatiable, writes Michael Finnegan.

Her bills at a Beverly Hills lifestyle design company advising cloakroom, cosmetics, and high-end shopping customers came to nearly $ 800,000. A travel concierge service that takes care of the jet set charged her $ 2.2 million for trips around the world.

Those insignia of high life were gone when Shi, 37, was shown into a federal courtroom in Los Angeles one recent afternoon.

Through a Mandarin interpreter, Shi admitted that she got numerous investors in China to pay $ 23 million in down payments for condominiums in California. They thought they were buying units at a trendy resort that Shi reportedly built on 47 acres of desert in Coachella.

The project never made a breakthrough.

Podcast examines housing investigation

Alex Contreras, left, and his daughter Alex Contreras hold photos of him in his parents' house.

Alex Contreras (left) and his daughter Alexandria hold photos of him in his childhood home in Boyle Heights. Contreras showed his daughter, an activist against the highway expansion in Los Angeles, where his home used to be.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Over 200,000 people across the country have lost their homes to highways in the past three decades. And in some of the largest modern projects, black and Latino residents are disproportionately affected by the evictions, writes Liam Dillon.

A new study by the Los Angeles Times examines how the decisions made by highway planners to run the US interstate highway system through black neighborhoods half a century ago still resonate today. The Times noted that the expansion of existing highways through cities over the past few decades has resulted in a second round of displacement and disruption among largely black and now Latino communities.

In Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, Dillon discusses the Times’ findings at length and examines the impact of modern highway expansions in Los Angeles, Houston and Tampa. Guest on the podcast is Alexandria Contreras, whose great-grandparents saw the 101 Freeway built one block from their Boyle Heights home in the 1950s. Today Contreras is fighting a planned expansion of Interstate 5 near the home of Contreras’ parents in Downey.

What we read

President Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act includes approximately $ 170 billion in provisions for affordable housing. CNBC has taken a look at where that money will go, including $ 65 billion to maintain and rebuild public housing and $ 25 billion in rental support.

Even in LA’s overpriced housing market, $ 2.4 million is still a long way to go. In Decentraland’s online world, it has just bought a piece of virtual real estate. The mammoth deal is the world’s most expensive purchase to date and, according to Reuters, comprises 6,090 virtual square feet in the “Fashion Street” area.