I'm not suggesting you dump your Amazon.com stock just yet, but a Sunday report in the L.A. Times raises interesting questions about the company's billionaire founder. Presently an eastsider who commutes across the lake to his Beacon Hill HQ, Jeff Bezos just plunked down about $30 million for a two-acre spread in Beverly Hills, California. That's a big number even by SoCal standards, and it would probably be a record residential sale up here--more particularly since the huge, hideous Lytle estate on Mercer Island will never sell for its $40 million asking price. For his 30 mil--does that include free shipping?--Bezos gets something relatively tasteful: a 15-year-old Spanish revival totaling about 12,000 square feet, with seven bedrooms, seven-car garage, pool, and sunken tennis court among its amenities.
And did we mention one more luxury? TomKat's your neighbor!
That's right, the L.A. real estate gossip site Real Estalker says Tom Cruise and captive bride/L. Ron Hubbard DNA vehicle Katie Holmes are temporarily renting next door. Actually, we're guessing Bezos, a shrewd negotiator, probably knocked a few bucks off the price for that particular feature; it's kind of like living next to a meth lab only where the neighbors don't know how to help with car repairs. Seriously, we've met both the dot-com tycoon and his lovely novelist wife, and we don't want them involved with the paparazzi or any of that e-meter stuff. So, Jeff, if Cruise comes knocking at the door to borrow a cup of sugar, don't answer! Protect your family! Lock up the kids! And having interviewed Cruise, we know the power of his intense stare. Which. Is. Impossible. To. Resist. (And his glinting white teeth are pretty persuasive, too, which is probably how he convinced poor Cameron Crowe to make Vanilla Sky.)
But back to business: Would Bezos actually relocate to Tinseltown, where fellow billionaire Paul Allen also has a humble shack? The fact is that he's become a bit of an entertainment mogul himself, what with DVD sales and the new Unbox downloading service. Would he take Amazon with him, uprooting thousands of local workers from one of the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S. to an even pricier burg? It seems unlikely, and he has a conservative past record of investing in Manhattan real estate and, um, spaceships. (Okay, maybe he's not so shrewd.) So don't short your Amazon stock just yet--unless the home page adds a new tab for the Church of Scientology.