On California’s Newport Coast, on a hillside dotted with upscale Mediterranean-style mansions, sits a veritable monument to opulence: a medley of onyx, gold and colored glass that wouldn’t look out of place in a palace in Dubai or Saudi Arabia.
Designed by a furniture executive known as the “King of Bling,” the home, named Palais de Cristal, is coming on the market for $69.8 million.
From the outside, the seven-bedroom mansion looks like a grand Palladian European château with columns, ornamental detailing, decorative balconies and tall arches. On the inside, the sprawling property includes a string of unusual amenities including a garage with its own smoke machine and sound system so that it can be used as a nightclub. (A car turntable does double-duty as a rotating dance floor.)
In the entry foyer, there is an ornate floor mosaic made from white Jordanian marble with pink onyx inlay. Look up, and light shines through a colorful glass dome as might be found in a cathedral. The owner named the dome “Eye of the Phoenix” for the Swarovski crystal-encrusted eye at its center. A pair of sweeping staircases, made from handcrafted iron with 24-karat gold detailing, were inspired by the interior of the Peninsula hotel in Paris.
Palais de Cristal is the brainchild of
founder and chief executive of AICO, a home-furnishings company. He is dubbed the “King of Bling” due in part to his penchant in covering furniture in Swarovski crystals.
Born in Iran, the silver-haired, 64-year-old entrepreneur said he sees home design as a fashion statement. His own sense of style is bold and vivid; in marketing materials for his company, he dons red-and-gold shirts, silky pocket squares and shiny silver jackets. He has collaborated frequently with actress Jane Seymour and model Kathy Ireland on furniture designs.
As a little boy growing up in Europe, Mr. Amini always found himself inspired by grand spaces. “I always thought I should have been born in the 15th century and lived in the Palace of Versailles because I loved it….Although the bedrooms are a little smaller than what I would have built,” he said.
Mr. Amini personally designed many of his home’s more unusual touches. The formal dining room, which can accommodate up to 18, has a custom chandelier made out of 36 colorful crystal vases. All the door handles throughout the house are coated in 24-karat gold and were imported from Italy, he said. For the subterranean entertainment level, Mr. Amini built a theater with an LED constellation on its ceiling, a green-glass tile bar and a pool table made of glass from Italy as well as a gym.
The roughly 15,500-square-foot property, which overlooks the ocean all the way to Catalina Island, also includes an office with maple-and-brass cabinetry, a large family room, a spa with a massage room, a wet and dry sauna and an elevator.
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“Let me tell you something about me. I never have a budget,” Mr. Amini said of his spending on the house. “I hate budgets. Even when I design my furniture, I never think about the selling price because if you do that, you limit yourself. When you’re designing something or building something, you should let your mind and your inspiration fly.”
Case in point: Mr. Amini said he brought in a team of specialists from the U.K. who had worked with Middle Eastern royalty to create a custom tile mural on the bottom of the outdoor pool. Divided in two parts, it depicts an underwater scene at both sunset and sunrise.
He declined to comment on what he had spent on the construction and design of the house, but noted that he encountered additional expenses as a result of changes he made to the design along the way.
“I’ve made a lot of changes because sometimes what looks very nice on paper doesn’t really look like that in reality,” he said. Those changes included completely rebuilding some of the walkways, which he said were a little too narrow, and rebuilding the bathroom for the primary bedroom suite three times because the slabs of white onyx didn’t match.
Mr. Amini bought the site of the home for $5.1 million in 2007, property records show. He said he originally envisioned a home for himself, but the project was temporarily derailed by the 2008 recession and didn’t restart in earnest until around 2013. Now that it is finally finished, Mr. Amini said his children have grown up and the house is simply too large for him and his wife, especially since he travels so frequently for his work.
Mr. Amini said it was his own experience in the design business that made him decide to sell the house fully furnished. Listing images show pops of color interspersed with more neutral-colored pieces in satiny and velvety finishes.
“A house of this caliber is really not easy to furnish,” he said. “If you want to make it perfect, you need somebody that is in the business.”
of Compass, who shares the listing with her brother and colleague Rex McKown, said the market in the area has been especially strong over the past year amid the pandemic. Last spring, author Dean Koontz sold his Orange County, Calif., home to entrepreneur Glenn Stearns for $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. A house on the same street sold for $41 million earlier this year, records show.
Write to Katherine Clarke at [email protected]
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