The New Beverly Hills: Riyadh Overruns Rodeo Drive

One Saudi bought a $27 million estate by helicopter without walking inside, while the Peninsula hotel offers Muslim prayer rugs; those are just two examples of how the super-rich Saudis and Chinese are changing the culture and consumer habits of the Golden Triangle, with 63 percent of spending now coming from international travelers

“I’ll take that one,” said a Saudi Arabian royal, pointing down from a helicopter while with his realtor on an aerial tour over Beverly Hills’ tony Trousdale Estates. He was picking out a massive 11,000-square-foot estate (complete with pool, picturesque views and two acres of property) — before stepping one foot inside the off-market listing, which was then home to Mary Hart and Burt Sugarman. Instead, according to property records, he paid north of $27 million from the sky to get the couple, who had lived there 25 years, to move out in three weeks so he and his family could celebrate Ramadan in their new digs (once owned by Elizabeth Taylor), says a source close to the owners.

Across town, a woman mulled over a coveted Celine trapeze bag that had just been placed on a Barneys shelf. “You’d better make up your mind fast,” a clerk warned. “If you don’t, within 15 minutes 15 Chinese ladies will snap up all 15 of these bags” at $2,500 a pop. Continue reading