After a decade of work and mountains of debt, mega-mansion developer Nile Niami’s dream project—a 105,000-square-foot Bel-Air behemoth on a five-acre parcel dubbed “The One”—has been careening toward the auction block since the summer . Now, it’s all over but the bidding unless Niami can get some moneyed dreamers to invest in a cryptocurrency plan he’s hatched based on the potential value of what’s been billed as “the world’s most expensive home.”
“Hopefully, there’s someone out there that is going to want to walk hand in hand with me into the stratosphere,” Niami says in a video released last week, outlining his latest caper.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, The One will be on auction from February 7 through 10 to pay off roughly $180 million Niami owes to an array of creditors for the construction of the Paul McClean-designed spec mansion. That is, unless someone wants to get in on Niami’s scheme to create “The One Coin,” a cryptocurrency that would be backed by the home.
And what a home. The quarter-mile-long Stradella Road affair features 42 bathrooms, 21 bedrooms, a 5,500-square-foot master suite, a 30-car garage with two car-display turntables, seven swimming pools, a moat, a 400-foot jogging track, a four-lane bowling alley, 360-degree views of L.A., and much more.
In the video, Niami recounts his struggles building The One, as well as details about his life growing up in North Hollywood raised by a single mom, a special education teacher who was murdered in 2001.
“I started with nothing and I climbed and I climbed, and I fought and I fought every day getting to where I am now,” Niami says in the presentation.
If Niami finds any visionary investors, he says he will transfer the value of the home to the coin, tokenizing the house and selling it as a digital currency. After that, Niami would rent out the dream house for weddings and other events, giving the coin-holders a piece of the profits.
In the pitch, Niami says he’s already fielded “crazy, crazy offers for short-term rentals,” including $8 million to rent the place to “some Saudi royals” in August—a bounty which he had to decline because the house wasn’t ready yet—as well as an offer of $3 million for three days to hold a celebrity wedding.
Additionally, Niami says he received permission from the Los Angeles Fire Department at one point to host 1,600 people for a pay-per-view boxing event during the pandemic because The One is “four minutes down the street from 10,000 empty parking spaces.”
In fact, he claims that it was “estimated” that just three events hosted by The One’s own PPV platform would result in the company being worth $3 to $4 billion. Alas, the video doesn’t go into whatever became of the plan to host that fight.
As it stands, no one knows what the auction might bring in, but it’s not expected it to pull down the $500 million Niami was asking for in 2017, and bankruptcy papers filed in October put the value at $325 million. For comparison, California’s current record for most-expensive house was set earlier this year when billionaire software developer Marc Andreessen paid $177 million for a seven-acre spread in Malibu.
Big spenders who like big trophies should beware, however. Although it’s been called “the largest modern home in America,” and Niami claims it as “the largest house in the urban world” in his video, it is actually only the third biggest home in the U.S.—following the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina (178,926 square feet) and Oheka Castle in New York (109,000 square feet).
“No one has ever asked for help like this before,” Niami says. “I’m the underdog. I came from nothing. I have very few haters and the world is rooting for me.”
Which world Niami is referring to is unclear. Among those who are decidedly not rooting for Niami are some of his neighbors. Bel-Air resident and former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen has led the battle to keep such sprawling Xanadus out of the community’s hillsides, and he and other locals are especially displeased with Niami’s experiment—most notably his plan to host massive events at the gargantuan funhouse.
“I never called the house The One,” Rosen told the Times in September, when the mansion’s debts were still only around $165 million. “I called it The Eleven,” he said, referring to the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, though it doesn’t technically apply to The One. “It was only a matter of time before it was going there.”
Niami is also on the outs with his former partner, Don Hankey, the Hankey Capital financier who made his fortune selling cars to folks with bad credit and who leant Niami over $115 million. Hankey served Niami with a default notice in March. He followed up with a foreclosure suit in June against Crestlloyd, the limited liability company established by Niami and his former wife that owns The One. In July, Hankey struck again, choosing not to follow up on the foreclosure that could leave him paying for any liabilities and instead convinced a judge to put the house into receivership.
Niami also tried to sell Hankey on alternative money-making schemes for the home, but Hankey was not game.
“I didn’t like it,” Hankey told the Times. “We loaned the money to put the house on the market and sell it. We didn’t loan it to take a risk and make it work in some other way.”
At the time, Niami was tight-lipped, offering, “It was 1,000% not my fault. It was a matter of funding, and that’s all I am going to say.”
Others who’d like to know where their One investment money has gone include Yogi Securities Holdings, which is in for over $36 million, along with Inferno Realty and Maybach Corporation Holdings, which forked over $7 million each. The project is also reportedly about $1 million in debt to air conditioning, concrete, and tool companies.
Has Niami learned anything from this pricey misadventure?
As he notes in the video, “You couldn’t build The One today ever again in life.”
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