Casa Encantada, one of the jewels in the crown of Bel-Air, hit the market this week as the priciest listing in the country currently: the estate is being marketed at $225 million.
Those who know their Melville may recognize the name; the writer used it as the title of a short piece on a mythical archipelago loosely based on the Galapagos Islands. ‘Encantada’ translates to ‘enchanted’, or ‘haunted’; for haunted Melville, the Galapagos and their inhabitants were indeed otherworldly, if not cursed. The widow who commissioned the building of Casa Encantada in the 1930s, of course, chose the name to suggest a spell benevolent, not malevolent. But she did cut her own throat some years later, so apparently she changed her mind. Happy Halloween.
Casa Encantada is not haunted, though, as far as anyone knows, at least not by apparitions. If it happened to be, however, one might never discover as much; it may be assumed that 40,000 square feet of interior living space would be enough to equitably accommodate both the corporeal and the ethereal members of the household in their respective roamings.
The current owner of the estate is Gary Winnick, an overnight billionaire who made his fortune in fiber optics in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Winnick turned a $15 million investment into $4.5 billion in 18 months back in the late ’90s—a record. He purchased the place from billionaire David Murdock, who made his own fortune in real estate, mining, and petroleum, before building Dole Food Products into a tropical fruit juggernaut in the 1980s. Winnick paid Murdock $94 million for Case Encantada around 2000.
One last billionaire association for the road: Rick Hilton, co-founder of Hilton & Hyland, son of late billionaire Barron Hilton, and father of a certain Paris Hilton, holds the listing. His grandfather, billionaire hotelier Conrad Hilton, once owned the property, picking it up in 1950. The purchase price? $225,000.
Photo credit: Google Maps