After several years on and off the market, a custom-built Los Angeles spread once owned by the late Lakers basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain has finally traded hands for a bounce under $9.7 million. And though that’s far less than the nearly $19 million current owner Dmitri Novikov originally wanted, it’s still around $3 million more than the Russian-born investor paid TV writers George Meyer and Maria Semple for the place back in early 2008.
Records indicate the discount-minded buyer who acquired the brutalist-style spread in an off-market deal is well-known crypto entrepreneur Erik Voorhees. The bitcoin pioneer founded BitInstant in 2011, and then went on to launch and serve as CEO of ShapeShift, a cryptocurrency exchange that allows its 1 million-plus users to swap between different cryptocurrencies without having to create an account. Per BitKan, his net worth as of August 2023 was estimated at $30 million.
The gated property is perched atop a sprawling promontory laced with picturesque gardens.
As for Voorhees’s new digs, they were built over five decades ago by Chamberlain—affectionately known to his fans as the “Big Dipper”—who purchased a $150,000 plot of land in the rugged mountains above Bel Air and then enlisted noted architect David Tenneson Rich to design an extravagant $1.5 million bachelor pad known as “Ursa Major.” The 1970s premises subsequently underwent an extensive remodel in 2008 at the hands of Novikov, which included sprucing up the kitchen, as well as modifying the lower level with a screening room and guest bedrooms.
Resting amid a secluded cul-de-sac—on a gated, 2.5-acre hilltop parcel that served as a Nike anti-aircraft missile site during the Cold War—the redwood, glass and stone structure contains five bedrooms and eight bathrooms in almost 9,400 square feet of living space. In addition to the aforementioned screening room, other glitzy amenities include a billiard room, sauna-equipped gym, and walls of glass providing sweeping mountain, ocean and reservoir views.
A five-story great room boasts a cathedral ceiling, walls of windows, tree-like columns and Bouquet Canyon flagstone.
Guests are greeted by a stone walkway that passes over a water feature before emptying out at the massive 2,000-pound front door. From there, a soaring great room holds court beneath a 40-foot-tall cathedral ceiling, and displays a sunken conversation pit warmed by a wood-burning fireplace sporting a stone chimney. There’s also a sleekly designed gourmet kitchen outfitted with high-end stainless appliances and an accompanying breakfast nook.
A “floating” staircase heads upstairs, where the master retreat spans the entire second floor; and outdoors, the lushly landscaped grounds hold a large pool that “wraps the house creating an impression that it is floating in a lake,” per the listing. Rounding it all out: numerous spots ideal for al fresco lounging and entertaining, plus garages and a motorcourt that can accommodate more than 10 vehicles, and a detached, climate-controlled storage building.
There is plenty of outdoor space for entertaining amid the scenic vistas.
Chamberlain played for the L.A. Lakers for five seasons during the ’60s and ’70s, and was an essential part of their ’71-’72 team, which is considered one of the best in NBA history. He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, and was later named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. Chamberlain died of heart failure at his Bel Air home in 1999 at age 63. As for Voorhees, he also owns a 1-acre plot of land in the Colorado town of Dillon that he paid $260,000 for way back in late 1985.
The listing was held by Bobby Syed of Coldwell Banker Realty; Thomas Freedman of Sunset Lending and Realty repped the buyer.
Click here for more photos of Wilt Chamberlain’s house.
Ryan Lahiff More