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Paul Allen's estate selling Beverly Hills site for US$110m

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Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, died a year ago at 65. He amassed a US$26 billion fortune with investments in sports teams, art and startups, in addition to real estate.

[NEW YORK] A Beverly Hills property bigger than Disneyland that was owned by the late Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen is back on the market, at a discount.

The 120-acre site, called "The Enchanted Hill," is listed at US$110 million, down from US$150 million a year ago. The property is one of the largest undeveloped sites in the 90210 ZIP code, offers city and mountain views, and is minutes from Rodeo Drive.

The price cut is part of a "rebranding effort," said Jesse Lally of Beverly Hills-based brokerage Hilton & Hyland, one of the four listing agents for the property. The site has five flat lots that could be used for a single-family home - albeit one with guest houses, tennis and basketball courts, and a wellness centre, he said. The other option is to subdivide the land for as many as 15 homes.

The new owner could "create the newest, hippest gated community, like a Beverly Park or Mulholland Estates," Mr Lally said, referring to other upscale residential developments in the area. Four individuals have already expressed interest in developing their own gated community, he added.

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The site was named "The Enchanted Hill" by Hollywood legend Greta Garbo for her silent-film industry friends and neighbours, Frances Marion and Fred Thomson, who first discovered the hilltop property in the early 1920s, according to the listing.

The Beverly Hills property had changed hands twice before it was sold to Allen, who paid US$20 million in 1997. After the purchase, he tore down structures that included a Spanish colonial-style house that was built by Marion and Thomson, Variety reported, and installed two gated entrances and built a one-mile private street.

"When you go through the Angelo gate, you arrive right at the main site," Mr Lally said. "If you go through the other gate, it's a very romantic pretty drive through Los Angeles nature."

Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, died a year ago at 65. He amassed a US$26 billion fortune with investments in sports teams, art and startups, in addition to real estate, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The holdings were managed through his family office, Vulcan Inc, which today is run by his sister, Jody Allen.

"The Enchanted Hill" isn't the only asset owned by the late billionaire that's up for sale. His estate is also trying to sell his 414-foot super yacht, "Octopus." It's available for US$324 million through yacht brokers Fraser & Burgess. Capable of scientific research voyages, Octopus was designed to venture into remote places. It's also hosted rockers U2 and Mick Jagger.

Allen's estate owns the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks and the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers, which are worth a combined US$3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Allen had no spouse or children to inherit his empire, but at least half his assets were probably earmarked for charitable purposes after he joined the Giving Pledge.

BLOOMBERG