Fancy Rolling Hills has a one-story height limit on houses, so what's a shrimp-importing superrich guy to do? Excavate down to the bedrock ("uncovering fossil fragments of whales and dolphins along the way," according to the LA Times) and build five stories underground--it's accessible by stairs and two elevators. That's the tale of Hacienda de la Paz and its owner, John Z. Blazevich, who's the CEO of shrimp importer Viva Food Group. The house is nearly 50,000 square feet and sits on 7.27 acres; it was built over 17 years and overseen by Rafael Manzano Martos, a curator for King Juan Carlos of Spain (this is his only house in the Americas). Let's paint you a picture: "An elaborate trompe l'oeil fools the eye. There are secret passageways and a labyrinthine hammam, or Moroccan-style Turkish bath. Oh, and an underground tennis court." And so many insane features we're shifting into listicle mode:
-- A guesthouse where the owner lived for two years while getting permits for the main house: "The floors, as in the main house, are made mostly from pine trees felled 300 years ago along rivers in southern Georgia."
-- A reflecting pool, a bocce court, and a swimming pool with 180-degree views.
-- Interlocking wood ceilings built in Spain and hand-fitted together.
-- 25 bathrooms with Moroccan hand-cut tile floors.
-- A women's powder room with a confessional window between the two stalls (for gabbing the way ladies do, you know).
-- "An artist spent 10 years in residence doing gold-leaf work, painting the religious figures in the chapel and adorning the English library with realistic-looking shelves that conceal a powder room."
-- A five-story indoor tennis court designed to US Open specifications (Pete Sampras has visited). It has a balcony, floor-to-ceiling murals, and has doubled as a ballroom. There's also an outdoor court (to French Open specifications), but the city won't allow it to be lit at night.
-- A rose garden, "wide selection of herbs, wild flowers & orchards that produce 24 varieties of fruit & nut trees."
-- And a modest nine bathrooms.
-- Oh, plus a 10,000-square-foot hamman ("large enough to hold nearly five typical new U.S. homes"): "The bath, graced with custom marble floors and sandstone carvings, is laid out to acclimate the bather to the experience: One starts in the meeting and refreshment rooms, and moves on to tubs, a steam room, a massage shower in which water drops 14 feet from the ceiling above and an indoor swimming pool lined with tile matched to the blue of the Adriatic Sea."
Eat the rich. Asking price is $53 million.
· Hacienda de la Paz [Marcie Hartley]
· There's more to Rolling Hills residence than meets the eye [LAT]