It’s common knowledge in real estate circles that LeBron James has been house-hunting in L.A.’s toniest zip codes for quite some time. Now, according to The Real Deal, the NBA superstar has honed in on one particularly lavish home court high in the mountains above Beverly Hills, in a neighborhood known as Beverly Hills Post Office (BHPO). The sprawling estate is a colorful Mediterranean-style compound with a notably colorful history to match.
Built in the early 1930s, the property was owned for some years by Academy Award-nominated actor Charles Boyer, a Hollywood leading man of that era. Boyer starred in a number of black-and-white film classics, including “Algiers,” “Conquest,” and “Gaslight.”
In the late ’40s, Boyer terminated his contract with RKO Pictures, one of the big five studios of Hollywood’s Golden Age. As part of settlement negotiations, the studio agreed to buy out Boyer’s interest in his 90210 home. At that time, RKO was owned by Howard Hughes, so Hughes technically owned the 2.5 acre compound, though he never occupied the property. Instead, he leased the fortified estate to former flame Katharine Hepburn, who lived in the home during the height of her career.
Hughes eventually sold the property, and it subsequently passed to a series of non-famous owners before soap opera pioneer William J. Bell and his business partner wife Lee Phillip Bell acquired it in 1986 for $2.9 million, according to tax records. The couple refurbished and upgraded the faded lady to her former Golden Age glory, while continuing to build their long-running television empire (“The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”) over the ensuing years.
Bill Bell died in 2005, but Lee continued living in the BHPO home under her own death earlier this year. Last month, her beloved estate hit the market for the first time in decades with a $39 million asking price, though it’s not yet clear how much James is paying.
There are at least four separate structures on the property, which is guarded by a sophisticated network of cameras and massive metal gates that swing inward, revealing a dramatically long brick driveway lined by sculpted cypresses. The driveway plateaus at a substantial motorcourt accented by a stone fountain and a dozen mature palm trees.
Inside, spacious nooks include a dining room set beneath a skylit ceiling, a living room with a vaulted ceiling and exposed wooden beams, and a carpeted library with built-in bookcases. A cozy screening room sports a large fireplace, one of seven in the main house.
The grounds also contain two detached guesthouses, a lighted tennis court with viewing pavilion, and numerous alfresco entertaining areas. Out back, a giant gold Buddha watches over the oval swimming pool, which includes an old-timey diving board and adjacent pool house. And from its mountaintop perch, the property boasts baller-style views of the entire L.A. basin, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
Bell’s name has been much in the real estate headlines as of late — earlier this month, her longtime Malibu vacation home was sold for $18.3 million to a not-yet-identified buyer.
As for James, he continues to own two separate estates in the posh Brentwood neighborhood, over on L.A.’s Westside. The first was purchased for $21 million in 2015 and has been vacant for a significant portion of the last five years. The second mansion, his current main residence, was acquired for $23 million in 2017.