Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is one of Southern California’s biggest tourist draws outside of Disneyland, its glitzy collection of designer boutiques — Chanel, Hermès, Bottega Veneta and more — forming their own sort of Magic Kingdom to lure gawkers, and sometimes serious shoppers, from around the world. The residential streets just north of the main shopping drag have their own peculiar theme park-like quality, too, with rows of ornate mansions and perfectly manicured yards.The city’s omnipresent tour buses have taken to meandering up and down these palm tree-lined streets, frequently stopping to allow occupants to photograph this or that celebrity’s house. But on a busy avenue just a few blocks from Rodeo, one house draws attention despite not having a Hollywood pedigree. Maison 613, as the property is known, was long owned by a non-famous businessman, yet lookie-loos flock to the property. On a recent Sunday, a slow-driving Nissan pulled over across the street from the house, the driver emerging with a tripod camera to snap pictures.
It’s not hard to see what fascinates the tourists. Watch a marketing video for the property, and the magnitude of Maison 613 comes into focus. Up for sale two years ago with a $40 million pricetag, the listing boldly proclaimed that the house “sets a new standard for elegance, beauty and sophistication in the residential landscape of Beverly Hills.” Perhaps that’s true, but the colossal structure also utterly obliterates its neighbors in sheer size alone. Within the mega-mansion’s nearly 21,000 square feet of gilt-trimmed living space are a beauty salon, elevator, indoor basketball court, 17 bathrooms and even a bowling alley. And from the street, the European-influenced architecture invokes Versailles, its towering limestone face festooned with a bonanza of Corinthian columns, intricate moldings and decorative quoins. The house looks like money — a remarkably showy sort of money.
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