Twenty-Two Year Old Formula 1 Heiress Singlehandedly Saving California Housing Market

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As I'm sure many of you know, after 90210 creator Aaron Spelling died, his wife Candy decided to downsize. She put her house on the market and moved into a $35 million 15,555 square foot condo, figuring it wouldn't be too long before the place sold. Unfortunately, at the end of 2008, not too many people were looking for homes that had names ("The Manor"), 57,000 square feet, rooms solely devoted to gift-wrapping and asking prices of $150 million. Though she was probably advised to knock a few zeros off, Candy, the little known inspiration for Heather Locklear's Melrose Place character, held her ground and refuse to budge on the price. Recently it started looking like the house that shows about teenagers getting high and humping built would never get sold, until a little lady named Petra Ecclestone swooped in and saved the day.

Petra, whose father is Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, needed a place to crash when she's in from London and deemed The Manor to her liking (she'll be "splitting her time between a six-story house in London's Chelsea neighborhood purchased for £56 million and Los Angeles after her planned August wedding to entrepreneur James Stunt").

If completed, the sale would underscore the importance of foreign buyers in the U.S. real-estate market. Earlier this year, Russian investor Yuri Milner bought a Silicon Valley home for $100 million, the highest-known price paid for a single-family home in the U.S. Russian composer Igor Krutoy and his wife, Olga, recently bought a condominium at New York's Plaza for $48 million. Overall, though, the real-estate market in the U.S. is struggling, with prices sinking to 2002 levels in the first quarter, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Index released earlier this month.

It wouldn't have to be this way, of course, if others thought to step up to the plate, like Petra did. For those of you skeptical about her contribution, she's got an income of her own (she launched a fashion line) and probably covered the broker fees. Not only that, but Petra gets to feel really good about her buy, since according to the National Association of Realtors, for every two homes sold (and The Manor counts for a few), a job is created, which was presumably her motivation all along. Who will follow her example?

Spelling Mansion Sells To Racing Heiress [WSJ]

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Last year, Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, gave the California housing market a boost when she bought 90210 widow Candy Spelling's 57,000 square foot mansion for $85 million, as a crash pad for when she's in Los Angeles (she also owns a six-story house in London’s Chelsea neighborhood purchased for £56 million). Around the same time, Petra's sister, Tamara, paid $70 million for "a 16,000-square-foot historic brick home across the road from Kensington Palace." And while some would simply write the Sisters Ecclestone off as spoiled rich girls whose parents have footed the bill for these places (mom is Slavica Radic, a former Croatian model who lent Petra $82.4 million for the LA house), the Wall Street Journal sees what the haters will not: a couple of savvy investors who you might consider asking to manage your money. In an interview with the paper, which dubbed the Sisters Ecclestone "The First New Family of Real Estate," Tamara explained her investment thesis: Wearing Lululemon yoga pants and a fitted hoodie, Ms. Ecclestone sat in her living room, overlooking an outdoor lap pool, and explained that she sees their real estate holdings as smart purchases. "I think London [property] is a really good investment," she said. "There's no bank in the world that can give you that return." Ecclestone also shared some pearls of wisdom re: dealing with critics looking to bring you down, of which her fellow billionaires, newly minted or old, should take note. Last year Ms. Ecclestone starred in a reality program about her life called "Billion $$ Girl." One episode depicted her taking her dogs to Harrod's for facials and pedicures. Another shows her debating cancelling a meeting because she woke up with a pimple on her face. Her participation in the show, in the midst of a recession, drew criticism from many, including her father. Mr. Ecclestone said he could barely make it through one episode. "I spoke to her before and said… 'They're never going to show you in a good light,' " he said. "She was stupid to do it." Ms. Ecclestone took the criticisms in stride. "It's like water off a duck's back," she said. The First New Family Of Real Estate [WSJ]