The story of Jed Clampett is, by now, a legend. A poor mountaineer, he could barely feed his family of four, but one day, while he was out hunting for food, he fired his rifle into the swamp behind his shack – and struck oil.
The sale of the resource-rich land, in 1962, would eventually net him between US$25 million and US$100 million, and he did what anyone with sudden riches would do: he packed up his truck and moved his clan to Beverly Hills, where their adventures would be the subject of nine seasons of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Now the Bel Air estate featured in the (fictional) show’s opening credits is up for sale – and as befits a wealthy, cultured oilman like Clampett, it’s the most expensive listing in the country at US$350 million.
Chartwell – 10.3 acres of land centering on a 25,000-square-foot mansion inspired by French Neoclassical design – went on the market this week, besting its closest competitor, a Beverly Hills spec house, by US$100 million.
For that awesome sum – approximately the 2016 GDP of an African nation, São Tomé & Principe – you get more than just a house and lawn. According to Hilton & Hyland, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, which are jointly listing the property, Chartwell has a ballroom, a formal salon, and a big and temperature-controlled “world-class” wine cellar. You may want to consider stocking it with bottles from Rupert Murdoch’s winery, a nearby neighbour.
On the grounds, you’ve got gardens (currently “expertly manicured” – you’ll want to keep them that way), a tennis court, a 23-metre pool (with pool house), and covered parking for 40 cars, presumably including a Clampett-style jalopy heaped with junk.
Are there views? There are. You can indeed see the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles.
Sadly, if you’re planning to drop US$350 million just so you can recreate iconic Beverly Hillbillies moments in the Clampetts’ own home, you’re out of luck: the mansion appeared only in the opening credits, and the show was shot elsewhere.
The estate, originally built in 1933, was previously owned by A. Jerrold Perenchio, who bought it in 1986. Over the next three decades, he expanded it by purchasing adjacent properties, including a Wallace Neff guest house and a home owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Perenchio, a billionaire who helped produce such sitcoms as Sanford and Son and The Facts of Life and who was at one time the chairman and chief executive officer of Univision, died in May 2017.
Could a modern-day Clampett afford Chartwell now? That depends.
Clampett’s US$25 million to US$100 million haul in 1962 is equivalent to US$200 million to US$800 million in 2017, so if the oil company that purchased his swamp was generous, then yes, Chartwell could be his. (Although spending nearly half of one’s net worth on a giant estate that will require constant upkeep and staffing seems unwise, even for a hillbilly.) But given the current low price of WTI Crude, down nearly 50 per cent from 2013-14, it seems that Chartwell would be out of his budget.
Perhaps Clampett could take a look at Calabasas (home of Drake and the Kardashians), or even Silver Lake?