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Pharrell’s dramatic LA home sold to Sonder founder

Pharrell is officially no longer a California owner. Eighteen months ago, the Grammy collector sold a rather bulbous glass mansion in the mountains above Sherman Oaks for $14 million to an unfamous married couple, and now he’s finally unloaded his other Tinseltown House – an equally idiosyncratic but much slimmer and more elegant residential affair set atop a narrow promontory deep in the Hollywood Hills. This place first went on sale nearly two years ago, asking for $12 million; while the $9.2 million sale price represents a steep discount, it’s also significantly higher than the $7.1 million Pharrell paid in 2015.

The home’s wealthy new owner is Francis Davidson, CEO and founder of Sonder, the short-term rental management company that is arguably Airbnb’s biggest tech rival. Davidson founded Sonder out of his Montreal college apartment in 2012 to manage the rental of empty apartments for his fellow students. The company grew steadily, and Davidson dropped out of college, following Sonder’s lead in Silicon Valley. Today, the company is worth $1.3 billion after raising $550 million from venture capital funds backed by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

As for Davidson’s new Los Angeles home, it’s unclear if he plans to list the location on Sonder, though it would certainly fetch a pretty penny. Towering high above Laurel Canyon and displaying incredible views of the city, the vaguely boomerang-shaped architectural tour de force was designed by famed Hagy Belzberg and completed in 2007. Belzberg and his wife sold the place two years later for $5.9 million to a semi-mysterious Russian businessman named Denis Mikhaylov. It was Mikhaylov who returned the place to Pharrell a few years later.

Pharrell and his family traded Los Angeles for Miami. In 2020, he invested $30 million in a lavish estate in the Coral Gables community; the Virginia native has also long owned a 9,000 square foot mansion in his hometown of Virginia Beach.

Branden and Rayni Williams of The Beverly Hills Estates held the list; Sally Forster Jones of Compass replaced the buyer.