Welcome back to Property Lines, a column by veteran real estate reporter Alexei Barrionuevo. Each week, Barrionuevo will report on housing trends, real estate deals, and major business moves right here on Curbed.
The stunning growth of Pasquale Rotella's electronic dance music empirefrom 300-person warehouse raves around Los Angeles in the early 1990s to three-day bacchanal festivals with more than 400,000 attendees in Las Vegashave made him a rich man. They also whet his appetite for buying Spanish haciendas and faux castles.
Rotella, who founded Electric Daisy Carnival, is among a growing but exclusive group of former ravers and bedroom DJs that have become flush with cash to spend on high-end homes in places like Los Angelesthe de facto capital of EDM, as electronic dance music came to be known in the United States in the past decadeand Las Vegas, where Rotella, the head of Insomniac Events, has made a home with former Playboy bunny and reality TV star Holly Madison.
The world of glow sticks and umph-umph-umph music, estimated to have grown to a $6.9 billion industry in 2015, generates fees of more than $200,000 a night for Producer-DJs like Avicii and David Guetta, and tens of millions in tickets sales for Rotella's EDC and other festivals, like Ultra, that organizers are now spreading around the world.
Rotella's home-buying spree began in 2012, coinciding with the success of Electric Daisy Carnival and his relationship with Madison. In 2010, the festival reached historic proportions in the Los Angeles Coliseum, selling 185,000 tickets. But it also spurred controversy. A 15-year-old girl died from an overdose of the drug ecstasy, and more than 100 people were hospitalized as the festival turned chaotic. In the face of bad publicity and charges of alleged bribery of Coliseum officials by Rotella and others, he decided to move the festival to Las Vegas.
In 2011, Rotella sold 230,000 tickets for the festival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as the EDM movement continued to gather steam. Later that year, he and Madison started shopping for a home in Vegas. "When he met Holly and business was changing, his price point was changing, and it was much higher," said Zar Zanganeh, owner of Luxe Estates & Lifestyles, a Las Vegas brokerage.
The couple was looking for something in the historic district of Vegas, a clutch of communities dating from the 40s and 50s just west of downtown. After a "few frustrating trips," Zanganeh said, he showed them a four-bedroom, seven-bath Spanish hacienda on three acres of land in Rancho Circle, a gated community with 80-year-old trees where casino headliners and mob bosses had once lived. (Oscar Goodman, longtime former Las Vegas mayor who was once a mob boss attorney, currently lives there.) The house was in "the worst showing condition," Zanganeh said, since the owner at the time had been renting it out to the reality TV show, "The Ultimate Fighter."
Madison and Rotella wanted it anyway. In early 2013, after the reality show finally wrapped, they closed on the hacienda at 725 Rancho Circle, which has a movie theater and indoor and outdoor pools, for $3.475 million. Key to the final negotiations were assurances that the home was not part of Rancho Circle's homeowners association. Madison had squabbled with an association at her previous Vegas residence, in part because of her many animals, including chickens and rabbits. "If tomorrow they decide they want to put up another house or paint the house purple, then nobody can tell them what to do," Zanganeh said.
But the couple wasn't done yet. Last year, they bought a quirky faux castle at 500 Rancho Circle, a few doors down from the hacienda, for $690,000. The original owner had built a 1,600-square-foot structure on one acre in 1945 before it was expanded in the 1970s to its current five bedrooms spread over 6,501 square feet.
The Rotellas have spent more than $1 million renovating the hacienda (it has 11,234 square feet, including a guest house), and more than $100,000 fixing up the castle, which is meant to house family and friends and visiting business associates, Zanganeh said (though the broker listed it for rent for $6,500 a month last week). They have definitely upheld the castle theme. Touring it last week, I was greeted by hallways of black-painted floors, black and silver carpet in a game room, medieval-looking archways, and a goth bedroom with a funky fireplace that sees through to the open shower in the master bath.
Las Vegas-based Zanganeh, 32, who has also worked as an agent for the likes of Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, and his most famous client, Michael Jackson, said he still considers the Spanish hacienda the Rotellas bought to be the "all-time favorite house" that he has sold. And, apparently, he's not through selling castles: His firm recently listed, for $4.6 million, a 14,000-square-foot lakeside home modeled after an English castle, with a replica of a dungeon underneath.
The Rotellas didn't confine their purchases to Las Vegas. With Insomniac based in Los Angeles and their baby Rainbow to consider, in late 2014 they also closed on the $7.1 million purchase of a 8,516-square-foot Spanish colonial mansion with six bedrooms in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Variety reported.
Meanwhile, another powerful figure in the DJ-nightclubbing world in Vegas has also made real estate waves. Neil Moffitt, the British-born festival and club promoter who runs the Hakkasan nightclubs for the Abu Dhabi investors who own the company, has been trying to sell his 10,781-square-foot home in the exclusive Seven Hills gated community in Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, for about $5 million. Moffitt bought the five-bedroom, eight-bath home in 2006 for $1.05 million, according to property records.
Moffitt drew attention in New York circles earlier this year when he re-listed a 6,000-square-foot Walker Tower penthouse for $70 million after paying $51 million for it in early 2014.
Then there are the DJs themselves. Once obscure record-spinners, today some are spitting out money like a malfunctioning Vegas slot machine. Swedish phenom Avicii (real name Tim Bergling), who for a while was earning at least $200,000 for most gigs, raised eyebrows two years ago when he paid $15.55 million for a five-bedroom, seven-bath home in the Hollywood Hills, with panoramic views and an infinity pool that hangs over the end of a sloping hillside.
Over in Miami, David Guetta, the French superstar whose productions with pop stars like Kelly Rowland and The Black Eyed Peas super-fueled the EDM movement, posed for pictures last year to celebrate the contract he signed on a duplex penthouse at Paraiso Bay, a Miami luxury condo complex being built by Related Group. The 2,972-square-foot unit, with 2,560 square feet of outdoor space, will feature a private elevator and a custom-designed double-volume foyer and sculptural staircase. While Guetta's purchase price has yet to be disclosed, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez agreed to pay more than $4 million for a 3,200-square-foot penthouse in the adjoining Gran Paraiso tower, a Related Group spokeswoman said. For Guetta, the penthouse is just the latest in a string of homes, including one in Los Angeles and a stunning villa in Ibiza that overlooks the Med.
· Here's Swedish DJ Aviici's Insane Bird Streets Mansion [Curbed LA]
· Property Lines [Curbed]