After more than eight years in planning and construction, the Los Angeles area’s most colossal home is finally ready for its official public debut. Famously known only as “The One,” the mini shopping mall-sized estate straddles one of the highest promontories in Bel Air, spanning about 100,000 square feet of total living space. By comparison, the White House weighs in at just under 55,000 square feet; the 115-room Hearst Castle makes do with a modest 68,500.
It’s difficult to grasp the sheer size of “The One” by just looking at the pictures or numbers, although it’s clearly massive. To appreciate the project’s full scale, go for a walk. The mansion stretches for a full quarter-mile along Stradella Road in Bel Air, looming over the street like a big white alien spacecraft. As for the property’s main driveway, set on a quiet cul-de-sac known as Airole Way, it’s long and wide enough to put most public roads to shame.
The palatially palatial extravaganza is the personal chef-d’œuvre of Nile Niami, arguably L.A.’s most famous — and famously bombastic—developer of ultra-high-end mansions, the snazzy contemporary kind seen in magazines and bought by billionaires. The San Fernando Valley native first came to prominence about a decade ago designing Hollywood Hills homes in the $20 million range; he’s since graduated to bigger and brasher projects, selling them to the likes of Diddy, Floyd Mayweather, Calvin Klein, and the Winklevoss Twins.
All of that has culminated in “The One.” Niami bought the eight-acre promontory in late 2012 for $28 million from Rita Kogan, the late video game heiress and daughter of “Space Invaders” creator Michael Kogan. He quickly razed the existing estate, a large midcentury modern mansion in woefully neglected condition, and has since spent many tens of millions more bringing his spec-house to life.
In 2015, Niami gave GQ his very first public interview about the property, revealing he planned to ask $500 million for the Paul McClean-designed compound once completed. The 52-year-old developer promised the house would have a room exclusively dedicated to tanks of live jellyfish, a room for storing fresh flowers, a perma-frozen room with an ice bar, and a room for candy. Naturally, there would also be an in-house nightclub.
Some of those expectations have been tempered. The jellyfish room proved too costly and impractical; it was ultimately scrapped. Ditto for the fresh flowers, the ice bar, and the planned catering kitchen. The nightclub and the room with candy walls remain, however, as does a 50-car garage—sans the planned car turntables—a four-lane bowling alley, and an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool with lounge decks. There are outdoor swimming pools, too, no fewer than five of them, all infinity-edged. The mansion’s interiors, like all of Niami’s prior projects, were designed by Kathryn Rotondi of KFR Design.
In keeping with the interior revisions, the asking price has received a big haircut. Although the exact number hasn’t been officially released, and the agents involved remain cagey, rumors say the modified ask is “only” now about $340 million, a nod to budget reductions and reality. That more sober number is a boon for Niami, who has faced recent financial woes, including foreclosure proceedings on other projects, per previous reports.
Still, the rumored price tag is still double the most expensive home transaction in California history, the $165 million paid by Jeff Bezos last April for David Geffen’s 8-acre Beverly Hills estate. It’s also $100 million more than the country’s most expensive home deal of all time, the $238 million Ken Griffin paid for his New York penthouse in 2019.