Home of the Week: Inside a $25 Million LA Mansion Designed by a Former Israeli Secret Service Agent
Viewed from the street, you might not give this somber, square-edged, 1950s-style two-story a second glance, thanks to its battleship-gray paint, black-framed windows and flat-topped roof littered with ugly A/C units. Even the driveway seems designed to avert attention, with its prison-like black metal security gates leading to a sea of concrete with not a flower bed in sight. As far as curb-appeal goes, the place is decidedly lacking.
Yet if this modernist home in Los Angeles’ tony Hancock Park neighborhood sells for anywhere close to its $24.99 million asking, it would hit the record books as the area’s priciest pad.
Why so expensive? Open that solid wood front door in the bunker-like entryway, step inside and your jaw will descend at the instant transformation from somber to stunning.
“This is nothing less than a triumph of architecture and design. It really is unlike anything Hancock Park has ever seen before; the beauty and caliber of the work is second to none,” says listing agent Aaron Kirman, of the Aaron Kirman Group at Compass, who shares the listing with Compass colleague Verna Helbling and Adam Rosenfeld with The Agency.
He’s not wrong. The first thing you see entering the foyer of this sprawling, 13,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom compound is a seemingly gravity-defying glass-and-white-marble floating staircase. Alongside it hangs a complex Italian Malerba pendant chandelier made up of a multitude of polished nickel tubes. On the floor, quirky, chevron-style marble inlays point your eye past the sexy, Miami South Beach-esque bar and the Italian kitchen with its acres of posh granite, all the way to the home’s backyard paradise.
It’s all the work of Meir Siboni and Jonathan Menlo, of celebrity property developers Elite IMG. They bought the near-dilapidated 1950s-built home on Hancock Park’s South Hudson Avenue back in 2016 for $5.3 million. While strict Hancock Park preservation regulations prevented the home from being leveled, Siboni and Menlo kept the basic footprint along with the outer walls, then took the structure down to the studs and rebuilt everything.
“It took two years to learn what we could and couldn’t do, then another two-and-a-half-years to re-imagine the home with a single-minded focus on quality and design,” Siboni tells Robb Report.
At an early stage, he and Menlo brought in Irene Acosta-Hershman of LA-based IA-Design Studio, together with Michael Palumbo of Palumbo Design, to move walls, add spaces, pick finishes and create a new flow to the six-bedroom main house.
And, in night-and-day contrast to the somber look of the front of the house, the rear is all inviting, soft-gray brick surfaces, with massive glass pocket doors that open the interior to the outside. It’s the same on the second floor, with a full-width terrace, huge windows and a glass balustrade.
Exquisite interior features include the oversize kitchen made-up of super-high-quality Italian Scavolini cabinets, glossy lacquered-wood walls and twin islands. And for those times the catering staff are called in, there’s a full, professional-grade kitchen tucked away.
Close by is the formal dining room, with its stunning, temperature-controlled “wall of wine” set behind glass doors and featuring racks for over 150 bottles. Also steps away is that sleek martini bar for those pre-dinner aperitifs. Post-dinner, guests can take-in the latest Hollywood blockbuster in the big-screen movie theater with its state-of-the-art projection and cushy gold-colored recliners.
Upstairs, the master bedroom opens out on to that expansive terrace and features a black marble encased shower and two huge walk-in closets with high-end Poliform glass-fronted wardrobes. Close by there’s a well-equipped gym and even a beauty salon.
Part of what goes a long way in justifying the home’s lofty sticker is its outdoor space. The oversized pool features a sunken, old-school “conversation pit” with a see-through glass wall framing views of the swimmers. There’s also a full outdoor kitchen, wood-decked sun lounger area and a gate leading to a Hancock Park rarity: a regulation-size tennis court.
But the true surprise and delight is the new, two-story guest house with lounge, kitchen and large upstairs bedroom with outdoor balcony, spacious bathroom and steam room. “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for us to make the guest suite so inviting. Once people see it, it’ll be hard to get them to leave,” says Siboni.
One feature Siboni was not going to scrimp on was security for the property. As an ex-Israeli secret service agent–in a former life he was part of the super-elite Sayeret Matkal counter-terrorism unit, commonly equated with US Navy SEALS—he equipped the property with the very latest in monitoring, alarms and camera systems with links to private security and local police.
“Everyone wants to feel safe and protected. For me, it wasn’t an option,” he explains.
Check out more photos of the home below: