The $15 million house in Montecito – owned by the founder of 1-800-Flowers in the California slice of heaven that’s home to Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt — seemed perfect for Katy Perry.
(Bloomberg) — The $15 million house in Montecito – owned by the founder of 1-800-Flowers in the California slice of heaven that’s home to Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt — seemed perfect for Katy Perry.
But the eight-bedroom, 11-bathroom estate that sprawls over nearly nine verdant acres in the sun-kissed Santa Ynez foothills have landed Perry and her partner, Orlando Bloom, in a real estate dispute.
The case goes to trial starting Wednesday at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles. At stake is who will get the estate, Perry or the seller, Carl Westcott, the former private equity manager and serial entrepreneur who founded 1-800-Flowers. Westcott says he did not want to sell his home and was not of sound mind when he inked the deal. Perry would not walk away from the purchase and is expected to take the stand as soon as Friday.
The dispute is a window into a real-estate deal gone wrong in Montecito, a chic enclave of roughly 10 square miles on the edge of Santa Barbara. The case is also the latest legal squabble the singer has been pulled into as she looks to expand her real estate holdings in Southern California.
Initially, both Perry and Westcott seemed aligned. The businessman, who purchased the place in May 2020 for $11.25 million, was looking to sell the property two months later at a quick profit. In July, he signed contract with Perry’s business manager, Bernie Gudvi, to sell the place to the pop star for $15 million.
No sooner was the deal done when Westcott – now 83 and, according to his son, in declining health — changed his mind. He claimed he’d been taking painkillers after major surgery and was in no condition to enter a contract. All he wanted, he said, was to live out the remainder of his life on the estate.
“He wanted to die in the house,” Westcott’s son, Chart Westcott, said in an interview.
Perry’s camp wouldn’t budge. And so Westcott sued Gudvi, the business manager, seeking to void the sale agreement. Perry, for her part, wants to proceed with the sale. She is seeking $1.4 million from Westcott to cover lost income she could have earned from renting out the property, had the sale proceeded as planned. Judge Curtis Kin of the Superior Court of Los Angeles will decide who gets the estate.
Perry and Gudvi didn’t return requests for comment.
This isn’t the first time Perry has run into real-estate trouble. In 2015, she bought a former Catholic convent in Los Angeles for $15 million, over the objections of nuns who once lived there. The nuns attempted to sell the property to a different buyer. A judge ruled in Perry’s favor and the nun’s buyer was forced to pay Perry millions in damages and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. During a court hearing in the bankruptcy proceedings, one of the nun’s involved in the case collapsed and died.
In the current dispute, Perry’s camp says Carl Westcott knew perfectly well what he was doing – and stood to make millions on the sale. In court filings, lawyers for Gudvi claim Westcott expressed interest in selling the estate and arranged a tour for another potential buyer early as July 8, 2020 – two days before he had spine surgery.
“He was competent when he hired an experienced real estate broker, vetted the brokerage commission rate, arranged showings of the Property, entertained multiple offers, sought alternative houses, and ultimately negotiated a highly lucrative sale,” Gudvi’s lawyers said in a May 2022 court filing seeking to dismiss the case.
Gudvi offered to purchase the property for $13.5 million on July 14, on behalf of Perry – four days after Westcott’s scheduled surgery. Gudvi’s lawyers say Westcott arranged for Perry to tour the property and then he submitted a counteroffer for $15 million. Perry accepted.
It wasn’t until two days after a Residential Sales Agreement was signed that Westcott told his real-estate broker that he’d changed his mind. Nothing has changed Perry’s, however.
Chart Westcott said his father’s health is failing. In mid-2021, he was admitted to a full-time medical facility and was struggling with his mental health and exhibiting signs of early dementia, according to medical records submitted in court filings. He was also experiencing tremors associated with Huntington’s, a rare, inherited neurological disease that impairs a person’s functional abilities.
“It’s not a fight that I picked, but one I sadly inherited,” said Chart Westcott, who has assumed power of attorney for his father and taken over the case. Fighting an international pop sensation in court is “certainly not something I had on my lifetime bingo card.”
Attempts at mediation have been unsuccessful. Chart Westcott said he offered to pay Gudvi and Perry to walk away when his father was first admitted into full-time care. He said they declined.
Westcott said he’s appalled by how the Perry camp has handled the affair. At this point, he said he’d be hard-pressed to accept any price that Perry might be willing to pay.
“Now, does everything in the world have a price? Yeah,” Westcott said. “But is ours ridiculously high because of how upset we are at how we’ve been treated? Yes.”
–With assistance from Natalie Wong.
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