Friday, January 8, 2010

Oranges and pomegranates in Beverly Hills

Stewart and Lynda Resnick are improving their splendid and historic estate at 9481 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

9481 Sunset Boulevard from the air.

Among other details, the project involved buying the two lots adjacent to their 1929 Beaux Arts mansion (already a done deal) and installing an extensive grove of mature orange trees as well as moving the entry gates. Landscape architect Mark Rios, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios and A. C. Martin Visiting Professor in Architectural Design at USC, is in charge of the landscaping.

The 16,000-plus-square-foot mansion, which looks a full generation older than its official 1928 date and could be by McKim, Mead and White, was designed by architect Francis Xavier Lourdou* for Dionicio Botiller and his wife, Francisca Bernard Botiller. Francisca was the daughter of Swiss immigrant businessman Jean Bernard and Susana Machado de Bernard (as a widow, Susana built the mansion at 845 South Lake Street in the West Adams district); Dionicio was a land-owner and (later) tax collector for Beverly Hills, according to his great-great-granddaughter. (I'm still piecing together the history of this estate, so any further info would be appreciated.)

The Resnick mansion with two adjacent properties, now part of the estate.

The Resnicks recently petitioned the Beverly Hills Planning Commission for a variance that would allow them to fence the entire property with new above-code (i.e. over six-foot) fencing replicating the existing historic fence, and to bring the new fence up to the property line instead of conforming to the mandated 36-inch setback.

The original fence will be replicated and extended across the entire streetfront.

The existing 17-foot gate posts will be removed to either end of the new, expanded estate, which measures a whopping 535 feet of prime Sunset Boulevard streetfront, and will be offset into the property to allow for "stacking" of automobiles entering and leaving the property so as not to block traffic. Happily, the house will remain open to view from the street, unlike so many foliage-shrouded Beverly Hills mansions.

New west-side driveway already poured.

The variance was granted by a thrilling 3-to-1 vote (some watch college football; I watch Planning Commission hearings). The complete blow-by-blow of the November 19 session includes an appearance by the formidable and forthright Lynda Resnick (allow time to load; it's item no. 3 on the agenda).

East-side driveway under construction.

So, you're may be asking, where did the money come from?

West façade.

The Resnicks, through their holding company, Roll International, are owners of Telefora florist delivery service, the Franklin Mint, Neptune Pacific shipping line,
Fiji Water, and POM pomegranate juice, among other business interests. (See this interesting story on POM from The Guardian.)

Stewart Resnick, who worked his way through UCLA by washing windows, also owns major tracts of corporate farmland in California's Central Valley, including pistachios, almonds, lemons, oranges, and—of course—pomegranates.

The couple, near billionaires who have a liberal bent in both politics and charity, have donated tens of millions to philanthropic causes, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the Renzo Piano–designed Resnick Pavilion) and funds for a psychiatric hospital at UCLA and an energy institute at Cal Tech. Lynda is an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.

A glimpse of elegance in the orange grove.

I have been in love with this house since I first saw it, 15 years ago. I would be quite content living in the stylish penthouse with its chic black awnings.

Best little penthouse in Beverly Hills.

*Not François Debeur-Voideau as originally reported.


  1. Lynda deserves. She is a hard work woman, clearly very smart and has such a good taste( orange tress, how elegand is that?).
    God bless her !

    1. The Resnicks are greedy, awful people. The right to clean drinking water that they are robbing so many people of is evil. And you. A racial slant? How pathetic. Did you drink a clean glass of water today? Does your tap work? I can only forgive you if you are ill informed. As you obviously are.

  2. I would like to contact you. Can you email me at mgross at mgross dot come so I can explain?

  3. My grandmother, Mary, was the youngest daughter of Jean Bernard & Sra. Machado. "Cousin Cecilia", as we called her had a home in Montecito where I used to visit her with my daughter in the 1970's. (Freddie's my husband)

  4. One of my first jobs as a young architect was to work for a great decorator R. Paul Berry in mid eighties. At first I hated the possibility of ending up as someone who would design and only work on these type of projects (it didn't happen, but it was a great training while it lasted for few years.)
    Paul was Resnick's designer responsible for remodeling most of the interiors. We have worked on the bedroom wing, designed custom furniture and many other alterations thorough out the building. I remember it very well that only the most talented and capable craftsmen were used in the project and no corner was overlooked. I have learned a great deal working on this project, in terms of classical architecture since I was the "talented kid" who did the most intricate and beautifully sensitive designs and details including full size drawings for creative moulding compositions, furniture profiles, wall elevations, ceiling details, fireplace designs, master bedroom adjacent library, etc., etc..
    One of the commenter above is correct. Lynda Resnick has an extremely elegant taste and was the driving force directing Paul Berry's talent.
    A lot of designers fall into "vulgar" category trying to do this kind of work but at the end, Paul did manage to pull it together well.

    1. Stewart and Lynda have very little taste, and any architectural/design taste they do possess was acquired from R Paul
      Berry. Furthermore, there's no need to lie Orhan. Mr. Berry did his own creating/drafting; any work you did was ancillary at best. Nice try though, charlatan.

      Also, the work pictured above is not R Paul Berry's. The Resnick's remodeled and apparently regressed in taste.

  5. How appropriate that the scam Franklin Mint and POM juice are owned by the sane people (I'm walking in front of the place right now, as I often do) and was curious who owned this hotel like property. At least they have a liberal bent and aren't total crooks. Nice to see they understand the importance of psychiatric intervention-I'm both walking to my doctors house for an appointment right now and wrote a film and book set at the beleaguered Las Encinas Psychiatric Hospital in Pasadena-Cutting Confessions WGA 1218345 and Rodney Peterson

  6. Exactly, whether it be the Franklin Mint or repros of Jackie Kennedy's faux pearls...there is always someone available to take your money and give you nothing of value in return. It previously referred to snake oil salesmen, now Fiji Water, also theirs, is another scam giving you water from a distance but also contributing to the ever increasing plastic floatation in the S. Pacific that endangers the ocean and all that reside in it all the while the Resnicks proclaiming to be environmentalists. POM is being challenged due to unfound claims of benefit. As for Ms.Resnick's taste is extremely oppulant, bordering on vulgar with a complete absence of subtlety. If it is expensive and showy....well let's buy it. The exterior of the house and museum belie the absence of authenticity and finesse within. Pushy, pushy, pushy seems to be the mantra. Proceed at your own risk.

  7. I used to work as courier in LA. I once delivered a package to this home. I rang the front buzzer and was told to go to the side and I deliver to the kitchen. The view from the front door is very impressive. This was before the property was redesigned. I delivered packages for Teleflora everyday from their offices on Olympic,(also POM in the same building)..So it kind of makes sense now. It was hard pulling off of Sunset the way the drive way was before, there was no room to park and use the intercom. Good idea with the redesign. Traffic is very fast right about there and it was dangerous at night trying to read address numbers. I really liked that house.

  8. I too did some work with R Paul Berry for a Resnick Residence. I worked on the design and built two wonderful pieces for Her Dressing which I consider to be some of the finest furniture I have built in my career. These pieces were inspired by the furniture designer from the 1880. I am just going through my old drawings and recalling the very challenging project.

  9. Oh, what a beautiful house! Is this the only true example of a Beaux-Arts residence in LA?

    You must re-visit! Your pictures are fabulous and by now, they must've finished the re-design of the grounds!

    1. Seriously? Get a life. See where their money comes from. Money taken from a resource that belongs to every single citizen of California. Even those who slave on their "farms".

  10. 9481 Sunset Boulevard (Sunset House)

    Francisca Bernard (Mrs. Dionicio) Botiller: Builder, wife of heir to a Spanish land grant fortune.

    Frank and Cecilia Botiller and Ida Botiller Lindley: Children of Francisca and Dionicio Botiller.

    Jack Royal Young Lindley: Brother of Loretta Young, informally adopted son of Ida Botiller Lindley.

    Dorothy Wellborn “Dolly” Green: Daughter of Burton Green, a co-founder of Beverly Hills.

    Neil Steere McCarthy: Lawyer for Howard Hughes, L. B. Mayer, and others; polo player; cofounder of the Beverly Hills Speedway. Lover of Dolly Green.

    Mary Beich McCarthy: Candy heiress, second wife of Neil, painter.

    Stewart and Lynda Resnick: Former owners of the Franklin Mint; owners of FIJI Water, Teleflora, fruit and nut farms, and other enterprises.

  11. Above list of owners is from "Unreal Estate: Cast of Characters
    Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles" by Michael Gross

  12. "Lynda Resnick, then Sinay, began doing occasional work for the antiwar movement during the Vietnam war era. Her friend, Daniel Ellsberg, asked to use her copy machine on nights and weekends in order to distribute top-secret military documents. Ellsberg gave these documents to The New York Times, which then published them. Dubbed the Pentagon Papers, they detailed aspects of the war hidden from the public and damaged the credibility of the Presidents involved.Resnick was designated an un-indicted co-conspirator for her role and pursued by prosecutors for two years. Legal actions were eventually dropped."

    -quoted from:

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