Incredible history of Beverly Hills real estate trophy that has been owned by some of the world's wealthiest people - but remains undeveloped
Perched on a grassy peak with a panoramic view of Los Angeles, it has been owned by some of the world's wealthiest people - including royalty.
It has also attracted the attention of many others, including actor Brad Pitt, who was told he would need to make 'another movie or two' to afford it.
These photos show The Vineyard, an extremely coveted piece of real estate in Beverly Hills that is now being marketed for a staggering $1billion.
Incredibly, the 157-acre plot has been undeveloped for decades - despite garnering an enormous amount of interest from the rich and famous.
While some offers (such as one from Hollywood star Tom Cruise) have fallen through, other buyers' extravagant plans for the property have faded.
This means that the verdant plateau sits impressively empty - with unparalleled views of the city, including the star-studded community of Beverly Park.
Unsurprisingly then, The Vineyard has come to be dubbed one of the most valuable undeveloped residential plots in the the world.
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Valuable: The Vineyard (pictured), an extremely coveted piece of real estate in Beverly Hills, California, is being marketed for $1billion
Secluded: Incredibly, the 157-acre plot has been undeveloped for decades - despite garnering an enormous amount of interest from the rich and famous. Above, this photo shows the windy road leading up to The Vineyard, which offers unparalleled views of Los Angeles
Interest: Hollywood actor Brad Pitt (left) checked out the estate in 2002 - but was told he would need to make 'another movie or two' to afford it. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise (right) placed 3 per cent of the then-$25million sale price for one lot in escrow - but the deal fell through
Location: The Vineyard, which is perched on a grassy peak in Los Angeles, has been owned by some of the world's wealthiest people
And the trophy property's back story and current ownership are just as impressive.
Indeed, the land has now come to be in the hands of a real estate operator who paid nothing for it, a Middle Eastern royal - and a convicted felon.
It has been under development for 12 years - and is being used as a part-time event venue until a buyer eventually forks out $1billion for it.
'This is one of the most exceptional properties I've ever seen in my 30-year career,' Jeff Hyland, of Hilton & Hyland, told The Hollywood Reporter.
'This is as good as it gets.'
Hilton & Hyland has exclusive rights to the estate.
The Vineyard, which boasts a helicopter pad, was created after a single buyer apparently bought several small lots and combined them.
A piece of it was owned by Hollywood producer Jack Bean and his wife, actress and singer Mitzi Gaynor, before they sold up in the late 1970s.
The sister of the Shah of Iran, Shams Pahlavi, snapped up the property in 1977, although title deeds in her name are yet to be uncovered.
She reportedly had plans to build an enormous, unrivaled palace on the plateau - which the shah himself would, in fact, live in, it is reported.
However, during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iranian students apparently 'marched up' to the princess's then-home in Beverly Hills.
They hurled Molotov cocktails at the property - which prompted Shams to move out of the neighborhood to Rancho Mirage, and, later, Santa Barbara.
The plans for a grand palace were put on hold until 1987, when Merv Griffin purchased it - with the aim of building the biggest house in Los Angeles.
The Vineyard Beverly Hills: A stunning 157-acre plot
Owner: The property has now come to be in the hands of real estate operator Charles 'Chip' Dickens - who paid nothing for it - as well as a Middle Eastern royal and a convicted felon. Above, Dickens is pictured standing on the estate in a photo by The Hollywood Reporter
Hilltop: The verdant plateau (pictured without grass) offers stunning views of the city, including the star-studded Beverly Park community
Sprawling: 'This is one of the most exceptional properties I've ever seen in my 30-year career,' said Jeff Hyland, of Hilton & Hyland, which has exclusive rights to the property . 'This is as good as it gets.' Above, part of The Vineyard in Beverly Hills, which covers 157 acres
A princess and an attorney: The sister of the Shah of Iran, Shams Pahlavi (Ieft) snapped up the property in 1977, although she never fulfilled her plans to build an enormous, unrivaled palace. Meanwhile, attorney Conrad Klein (right) took charge of The Vinyard following Herbalife founder Mark Hughes's death from an overdose of doxepin and alcohol. Hughes had bought the estate from Merv Griffin
The Hollywood legend, then aged 61, reportedly wanted to construct a 58,000-square-foot mansion - to triumph over producer Aaron Spelling's home.
At the time, Spelling's 56,000-square-foot property was the largest in the city.
However, after encountering difficulties with fire department officials (over the property's number of exits) and money, Griffin's plans fizzled out.
Shortly after, the actor, who died in 2007, snapped up The Beverly Hilton, and The Vineyard was sold to Herbalife founder, Mark Hughes.
Hughes, then in his early 40s and worth nearly $1billion, reportedly aimed to build a sprawling Mediterranean villa on the luscious plot of land.
He was happy to spend up to a whopping $100million on his creation, which would boast tennis courts and a nature sanctuary, it is reported.
However, following his divorce from his third wife in 1998, Hughes apparently 'lost interest' in The Vineyard - and two years later, passed away.
Following the businessman's death from an overdose of doxepin and alcohol, the management of the estate - which was, then, not considered to be as valuable as it is today - was given to the Mark Hughes Family Trust. It would be inherited by Hughes's then-eight-year-old son, Alex, at the age of 35.
Attorney Conrad Klein, the principal trustee of the Hughes's estate and his former friend, started trying to sell The Vineyard, Curbed reports.
Famous owners: A piece of The Vinyard (pictured) was owned by producer Jack Bean and his wife before they sold up in the late 1970s
Event space: The vast piece of land (above), which boasts a helicopter pad, was created after a single buyer apparently bought several small lots and combined them. It has now been transformed into an event space to raise publicity and hopefully attract a willing buyer
This photo shows another section of The Vineyard, now owned by Dickens, convicted felon Victorino Noval and a Middle Eastern royal
In 2002, Pitt traveled to Beverly Hills to check out the property, which is situated just minutes from the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel and Rodeo Drive.
He asked real estate developer Gary Morris, also a friend, whether he should purchase the property - and received a startling response.
Morris apparently told the Fight Club actor that if he 'made another movie or two', he could probably afford to purchase the plot.
Several years later, Cruise also expressed interest in The Vineyard - and even placed three per cent of the $25million sale price for one lot in escrow.
He reportedly planned to build a mansion on that lot - and create a soccer field for his children on another lot - but the deal ended up falling through.
Meanwhile, Klein had become close to real estate operator Charles 'Chip' Dickens, who had traveled to the city after hearing about The Vineyard.
Dickens, now 54, a former high school football star who dropped out of college, was initially representing a group of investors in Chicago,
However, after the investors failed to fork out a $2million down payment on the property, Dickens told Klein something that shocked him.
'I want you to give it to me,' Dickens told the attorney, then in his 70s, adding that he would help him settle up some entitlement mapping.
Star-studded ball: A description of The Vineyard on the site reads: 'The Vineyard offers a level of security and privacy only heightened by astonishing views that cannot be matched by any other development in the country'. Above, Noval poses with NFL star Tim Tebow
Dickens called this option, 'The Chip Deal', according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Although Klein was initially outraged by the proposition, he later concluded that Dickens was the best man to develop The Vineyard.
'You get the tentative tract map work complete, on time, and I'll do the deal with you,' Klein eventually told him.
Dickens was told he could buy the land for $23.75 million cash if he completed the mapping before deadline, court records show.
However, the terms of the deal were later changed from an all-cash purchase to a seller-financed purchase.
This enabled Dickens - who met the tract map deadline - to receive a loan for the full cash amount from the Mark Hughes Family Trust.
Shortly after, offers for The Vineyard started 'flooding in' - starting at $34million and rising to more than $100million.
This is one of the most exceptional properties I've ever seen in my 30-year career. This is as good as it gets
Jeff Hyland, Hilton & Hyland
'A lot of people in town were utterly bewildered by what had happened,' an anonymous attorney told the Hollywood Reporter.
'[Dickens] pays no money and nothing to develop the property. It was unheard of. [The Vineyard] was the best deal in town by a country mile.'
Alex Hughes's legal guardian - his mother and his late father's third wife, Suzan Hughes - was apparently not happy with the deal.
She constantly pressured Klein to find a 'more suitable buyer' who could bring in money - not one who had little money to his name.
Klein and Dickens's relationship subsequently soured, leading to a lengthy legal battle which saw Dickens file for bankruptcy - but keep The Vineyard.
Dickens later found a partner with the money he required - Cuba-born convicted felon Victorino Noval, general manager of Secured Capital Partners.
Noval, 53, who had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in 1997, reportedly paid back some of the debt to Mark Hughes Family Trust.
This debt was limited to $57.5million in a court settlement, which also outlined a payment schedule.
Eager to be involved in a promising real estate deal, Noval also reached out to his friend - an unnamed royal from the Middle East.
This royal now owns Dickens's share of the equity in the property - meaning Dickens will not make much money when it is eventually sold.
Massive: Lawsuits over The Vineyard are ongoing. Above, the property is pictured without grass - it covers a whopping 157 acres
Klein was later legally removed as a trustee of the estate. He recently appealed to have his status as a trustee reinstated, but was rejected.
Other trustees are also involved in the complex legal battle.
In a bid to draw attention to the hilltop estate, Dickens and Noval went on to transformThe Vineyard into an impressive event space.
Last March, actress Charlize Theron used the land to throw a party in aid of her Africa Outreach Project.
And last December, singer Rihanna performed as the headline act at a 'diamond ball' charity event there.
A description of The Vineyard on the site reads: 'The Vineyard offers a level of security and privacy only heightened by astonishing views that cannot be matched by any other development in the country.
'Simply describing the views as “unparalleled panoramic views of Los Angeles all the way to the ocean” falls short of the almost “god-like” experience had by each of the privileged few who have accessed the site. It’s designated as the most exclusive land in America.
It adds: 'The Vineyard has been called one of the most beautiful properties in the world and is estimated to have a value of as much as $1billion'.
Lawsuits over The Vineyard are ongoing.
How much will $100 buy in your state? A Benjamin is worth $116 in Mississippi, but only $85 in Hawaii
When is a $100 bill not worth $100? When it's in Mississippi, where it's worth $116. Or in Hawaii, where the value shrinks to just $85.
A new map by the non-partisan Tax Foundation reveals that the cost of living difference between states means the value of the cash in your pocket varies wildly.
The Tax Foundation used federal data on regional price variations to calculate just how far a Ben Franklin goes in all 50 states.
And the differences are striking. A dollar is worth 30percent more in Mississippi than it is in Washington, D.C - which has the highest prices in the country.
The Tax Foundation used new federal data to show that $100 goes a lot farther in some states than others - and it varies by up to 30percent, based on prices differences between regions
The Tax Foundation showed how residents of Kansas are actually richer than New York residents after factoring in the price of goods
The states $100 goes the farthest are: Mississippi ($115.74), Arkansas ($114.16), Missouri ($113.51), Alabama (113.51), and South Dakota ($113.38). The states where $100 is worth the least are: District of Columbia ($84.60), Hawaii ($85.32), New York ($86.66), New Jersey ($87.64), and California ($88.57).
In some states, $100 is still just $100. In Illinois a C-note is worth $99.40. In Florida and Oregon, it's worth $101.21.
Tax Foundation says the regional cost differences, which were recently released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the first time ever, could help Americans rethink the places that they live. For instance, Oklahoma has a significantly lower average income compared to New York ($37,000 vs $45,000). Adjusted for cost of living differences, however, Oklahoma jumps several places in the rankings and New York falls several places - making the real average income in Oklahoma $41,000 and just $39,000 in New York.
All this means that $50,000 after taxes in a high cost of living state like New York is really worth just $43,000. That same $50,00 in Oklahoma actually feels more like $56,000.
The public policy implications are also immense; $100 in food assistance to a poor family in Washington, D.C., would buy less than $85 worth of food, while it will buy nearly $116 in Mississippi.
REGIONAL PRICE DIFFERENCES BASED ON INFLATION DATA
The Bureau of Economic Analysis introduced the federal government's first-ever statistics on regional price differences in April.
The data to calculate the cost of living variation across the country is culled from Consumer Price Index information.
The CPI continually measures the cost of a 'basket of goods' in cities across the nation to keep track of inflation. The data, however, also provides insight into price differences in communities across the country.
The CPI testers keep track of prices of things like: