Ukrainian-American billionaire businessman and computer engineer. He is the co-founder and former CEO of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for US$19.3 billion Jan Koum’s ultra-high-end property market clicked into warp speed back in 2017, a two-residence compound in a particularly finely feathered pocket of Beverly Hills was quietly shopped off market by one of L.A.’s most successful real estate agents as a tear-down opportunity with a hefty $85 million price tag.

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The owner of the sprawling hilltop estate was at the time identified in The Wall Street Journal only as “a second-generation member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.” Other publicly accessible websites peg the property owner as Muhammad bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, one of late King Fahd’s ten children. (So the scuttlebutt goes, Prince Muhammad also owns several other humongous homes in the vicinity, including a Bel Air mega-manse with more than 40 bathrooms.)

Though a couple of homes in the L.A. area did trade at $85 million or higher in 2017, including the $88 million Jay-Z and Beyoncé paid for an ultra-contemporary Bel Air mansion with a handful of swimming pools, the Saudi compound failed to attract a committed buyer. Back then, $85 million was still a lot of money for a tear-down mansion, even if it sits on 6.7 acres of prime real estate in one of the choicest areas of the most famous zip code on the planet.

According to Dirt, Not so much anymore, just ask the down-on-its-heels estate’s next-door neighbor, billionaire tech tycoon Jan Koum. With a net worth of $13.4 billion burning a hole in his pocket, the trophy property collecting WhatsApp co-founder has compiled a by-every-standard jaw-dropping west coast real estate portfolio for which he’s shelled out more than $400 million.

In addition to a $100 million compound in the stupendously expensive Bay Area community of Atherton, his holdings include a multi-acre estate above Malibu’s Paradise Cove, scooped up in 2019 for $100 million from Ron Meyer, and the three-acre estate next door that he acquired a couple years later for another $87 million from international socialite and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” diamond holder Diana Jenkins.

But that’s not all, folks. Last year Koum paid Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber $13.5 million for a fashionably updated midcentury-modern home in Beverly Hills that borders the 6.4-acre knoll-top estate he picked up the year before from Jeffrey Katzenberg for a head-swimming $125 million, in cash.

And now, though it may still only be rumor and innuendo at this point, a loose-lipped Platinum Triangle tattletale swears Koum is in the final stages of wrapping up a $77 million off-market deal for the Saudi royal’s compound next door. The transaction is not expected to be completed until after the first of the year, according to our source.

Tax records indicate there are three parcels that comprise the 6.7-acre compound, all set behind a somewhat unassuming gate at the end of a long cul-de-sac. The property looks out over the trendy and terrifically spendy Trousdale Estates neighborhood to the east and the Crest Streets nabe to the west. To the south are sweeping views from the downtown skyline to the Pacific Ocean.

The driveway makes a long swoop past the guesthouse up to the main house, a sprawling multi-winged California ranch built in 1961. Tax records show there are just three bedrooms and four bathrooms, which may or may not be accurate. Aerial images show the estate also has a detached garage, a tennis court, and gardens that roll down a grassy, tree-shaded glade to a lagoon-shaped swimming pool.

Set along the driveway’s outside curve, the guest house is less a house for guests and more a completely self-contained estate complete with a 2,500-square foot villa, swimming pool, spa, and tennis court.

What Koum plans to do with the Saudi royal’s long neglected property is unknown. But given his obvious penchant for buying up contiguous properties it seems likely he’ll fold it into his already roomy estate next door, making for an epic 13.1-acre mega-estate in the heart of Beverly Hills, just behind the historic Greystone Mansion and above the conspicuously palatial 10-plus-acre hilltop estate owned by discount tool and die tycoon Eric Smidt.

It might only be fair to note at this point that while Koum has hoovered up nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of private homes over the last few years, the messaging mogul has donated $1.15 billion in Facebook stock to a variety of charitable foundations that include his own Koum Family Foundation.

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Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Dirt

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