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A Tale of Two Vacations

By |April 7th, 2021|From The Newsletter|

You know the saying: When the cat’s away, the mice will play? Well we are experiencing a bit of that in our house this week but by ‘cat,’ I mean Ben and ‘play’ really translates to me handling the April newsletter while he’s in Hawaii with our eldest son, Mason. So, I hope you enjoy this month’s batch of articles… just think of it as those Vogues that get guest edited by someone cool and famous. But instead of Kate Hudson or Michelle Obama, you are stuck with me: Lilli Lee- wife of Westside real estate superstar Ben Lee. I’m reporting for duty from Cheviot Hills, selflessly caring for two of our three sons while Ben’s sipping mai-tais with Mason, having adventures tailor made for two crazy guys on the town. I hope this isn’t already coming off as bitter. Or at least not VERY bitter. To be perfectly honest, I’m actually happy holding down the fort. Happy may be too strong a word- it’s more that I’m OK sitting this trip out and truth be told, it’s Ben’s turn and here’s why. We have a tradition in our family that started when Mason was about to turn 10 and I was antsy to go to New York City. Spencer was 7 and Vinnie not quite 5 and I needed a break from the rigors of being a stay-at-home mom of three young sons. So, I had the idea to take Mason to New York for the weekend, just the two of us. He has always been super easy and a go-with-the-flow kind of fellow and I was excited to spend some alone time with him after being so distracted by the wants and needs of the other boys. We jetted away, leaving Ben to care for the younger brothers for a few days. We enjoyed all the best tourist attractions New York had to offer: Broadway shows, views from the tops of tall buildings, steak dinners, rock climbing in Central Park, the giant Lego store and so much more. The highlight of the weekend was being able to give the gift of autonomy to a sweet 10 year old boy who had spent the last decade having to compromise and share his mom with the siblings who followed him. In New York he was afforded the rare gift of getting to do what he wanted, not what was an agreed upon activity between brothers. This was a novel concept for him and he was thrilled!

You might wonder how I was able to squire Mason away without suffering the guilt and protests of the three men we left behind. That part was surprisingly easy! I told the other two brothers they’d get their turn with me when they each turned 10. And to a despondent Ben who was not only jealous that Mason and I were off on an adventure, but slightly terrified at having to take over duties for the other two, I promised: “If I can do this with them when they’re 10—you can have ‘em at 15! Take them wherever you want!” and WHOOSH! With that we were out the door and on our way to a fun filled weekend away.

Fast forward five years and the other boys indeed got their NYC weekend with me and each trip could not have been better or more meaningful. But somewhere in there Mason turned 15 and that promised solo trip with dad didn’t materialize. It wasn’t for lack of trying but between camp commitments and family trips taken all together, the summer of 2019 came and went without time for them to do anything alone. Then 2020 hit and the pandemic/lockdown/quarantine that came with it made travel an impossibility. Mason’s 16th birthday coincided with a summer in which everything became too stressful and tense and scary to break away for a guys’ adventure trip. But as we were rounding the bend of January 2021, Ben was more than ready to get out of dodge (Cheviot Hills) for a bit. He had been surfing every couple of days here in town and was anxious to hit the shores of Hawaii for a challenge and much needed change of scenery. With airline miles about to expire and the assurance that Covid precautions were plentiful, he booked all five of us on a trip to coincide with Mason’s spring break from school, thinking we would all be excited to get away. I am not ashamed to admit that I panicked. Thanks to the threat of Covid, this past year has thoroughly terrified me. The thought of being on an airplane, in an airport, having to constantly worry that one of the boys would touch something or forget their masks or someone might cough in our vicinity sent me into a tailspin of dread. This trip looming on the calendar not only filled me with anxiety but it also magnified how differently our ideas of relaxation have changed since the onset of the pandemic. In order for Ben to fully decompress, he needs to be out of town (although something tells me he’s already ran into somebody he knows on some remote Hawaiian beach!). When he’s in his office, which for all intents and purposes has become home, or out walking around the neighborhood, he is unable to fully escape the world of residential real estate. I, on the other hand, am able to take a break from the toils of my day-to-day life by ordering take out and ignoring school surveys and zoom sessions for a while. Under normal circumstances I love getting out of town as much as anyone—I truly do! But for me, the thought of staying home- safely ensconced in our boring, Covid-free bubble was infinitely more relaxing than traveling. Beyond that, the other boys who were not on Spring Break would’ve had to log-on to school at 5am Hawaiian time every morning. That small detail sounded pretty miserable for everyone.

And, as much as it kills me to miss an adventure, a deal is a deal and it was Ben’s turn. I wanted him to experience with Mason at 16 what I was lucky enough to enjoy with each of our boys at 10. Spending one on one time together is a gift that is only ours for such a short amount of time. They missed the chance at 15 and he won’t be 16 for much longer. Then it’s really just a blink-of-an-eye before he’s off to college and wanting to spend vacations with friends over his parents (I hope not but who are we kidding?!). There’s also the other important lesson this past year has taught us: don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. You just never know when a whole year will be gone without the chance to do what you once took for granted.

So while those two are off snorkeling, sipping smoothies and sunning themselves silly- I’m fairly happy to be home. The other brothers are zooming into school at a decent hour and we are trying to make our staycation fun in its own way. And if they get too jealous of what they’re missing, I can promise them that they’ll each get their turn with dad when they’re around 15 or 16, too.

And here’s a little surprise they don’t know yet— primarily because I just thought of it: when they each turn 21, no more solo trips. It’ll be Vegas, we’re all going and you are invited. It will be the biggest, craziest adventure of all. Because what would a kid on his 21st birthday want more than to party in Las Vegas with his parents, brothers and all of you? See you there and gear up because the first few rounds are on Ben Lee! (See what I did there? This is what happens when he goes to Hawaii and leaves me behind with two kids and free reign over the newsletter. It’s really the least he can do!)

Anthony Russo Relists His Historic Pasadena Mansion for $6M

By |March 26th, 2021|Celebrity Real Estate|

Avengers: Endgame director Anthony Russo has listed his Pasadena home for $6 million. His beautiful home was built in 1911 and is the last Greene and Greene residential commission that Charles and Henry Greene worked on together.

The home has a blend of Asian and Italian architectural inspiration.  It’s made up of six bedrooms and seven bathrooms and is 8,559 square feet.

The home has been featured in many books, articles, videos and more.

Take a look at the beautiful pics of Anthony Russo’s home!

Image Credits: Realtor.com

 

 

A Year Like None Other

By |March 15th, 2021|From The Newsletter|

 

Dinner at Madeo – March 2020

Welcome to March, 2021. I hope you’ll take a moment to pause and give yourself a pat on the back for making it through a whole year during what may have been twelve of the hardest months in our lives. We all had a different burden to bear and our limits were tested in ways we never imagined or predicted a year ago. If you live alone, you might have suffered extreme loneliness and isolation. If you live with your family, you might have gone crazy from the lack of space and privacy. Or maybe you live in a multi-generational home which provided its own level of anxiety since those households often brought about a heightened increase of Covid transmissions. Maybe you lost someone you loved this year. If so, my heart goes out to you.

There are moments in history that change the world forever. The early days of March 2020, (the time before Covid came on with a vengeance), are forever ingrained in my mind. March 1 is my mother-in-law’s birthday and last year we had a bunch of family members over for dinner. Thinking about that night now, remembering how we were sitting inside with the doors closed, blowing out candles on cake, posing closely for photographs suddenly feels so reckless and dangerous. Obviously, this was before masks or any mention of Covid so we didn’t realize what we were doing was risky. We had heard rumblings about a virus in China and Europe and saw on the news what was happening in other parts of the world but it all felt so remote. A friend with a business in Italy told us we should start stocking up on food just in case something were to happen in Los Angeles. We bought a few cans of chili and extra boxes of pasta but didn’t really dwell on it too much, just stuck some nonperishables on the pantry shelf.

The weekend following that birthday dinner, March 8, we had another party. This time it was a big family tea at our house. More relatives, more food and indoor socializing, but in just one week, this novel corona virus was gaining speed and getting much closer. Two of our sons were in school at the Geffen Academy at UCLA and there started to be murmurings that patients at UCLA were infected, maybe one or two college students had it and would the entire campus have to close down as a precaution? Would that even be possible to do? So we squeezed in that tea at our house, but the disease was definitely part of the conversation and there was a sense of nervousness and dread that this virus was moving at a faster pace than we had originally thought. March 12, a Thursday, our Geffen boys were told to go home and expect to be away from campus for at least two weeks. Our third son, a student at Mirman, was told to do the same. Two weeks have turned into a year and the three boys haven’t been in school at either campus since that day last March. Our middle son graduated from Geffen and started Hamilton High in the midst of all this and has yet to meet new classmates in person or step foot onto his new campus.

March 13, 2020 (Friday the 13th, in fact) we snuck out to dinner with friends. Nothing had officially been shut down yet and the risks of dining indoors were not really known at that point. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, ate and drank with gusto, laughed and enjoyed what has now become known as our version of The Last Supper. Looking back it feels like the end of innocence. We had no idea that it would be the last time we would be in a restaurant with friends, unburdened by the heavy weight such an innocent activity now carries. We clinked glasses to each other to stay safe and well, figuring maybe it would be a few weeks before seeing each other in such a setting (or ANY setting) again.

Now that it’s been a whole year, I hope we’ll eventually get back to dining with friends or having relatives over for birthday dinners but instead of being nervous about what’s coming around the bend, we’ll look back on this past year with amazement that we got through it. We’ll go back to clinking glasses and remember with wistfulness the days before masks or when we could hug with great abandon, free from fear of spreading a mystery virus. We’ll talk about the miracle of vaccines, admit to enjoying not having to battle traffic or wearing uncomfortable clothes and agree that it’s great the kids are finally back in school. One day our dinner party conversations will possibly compartmentalize this entire year to amusing stories, shared experiences and anecdotes. We will likely acknowledge that we were scared at times, but be proud we got through it and now feel lucky to have lived to tell the tale. And that is definitely an accomplishment worth celebrating.

I wonder how our kids will convert this time into the war stories they tell their grandchildren. How will they remember these past twelve months and how will those memories create the history for generations? Personally, fear of the unknown was a large part of what we’ve endured, but bravery, optimism and looking out for each other’s safety should be part of the legacy, too. These twelve months have been a year like none other and thankfully, most of us managed to get through it. Maybe not totally unscathed, but perhaps stronger, healthier and tougher for it in the long run.

Ellen and Portia to Flip Their $53.5M Mansion in Beverly Hills

By |March 12th, 2021|Celebrity Real Estate|

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have just listed their Beverly Hills mansion for $53.5M. They bought the home from Adam Levine of Maroon 5 back in 2019 (which seems forever ago at this point).

Levine bought the property in 2018 for $33.9M and reportedly put $7M into it, then sold it to DeGeneres and de Rossi in 2019 for $42.5M. The home was originally built in 1933 and lots of its original Hollywood glamour has been left whole.

The 1.05 acre property features a main house and a guesthouse. There’s a beautiful pool, multiples patios and outdoor dining spaces, a sunken tennis court and much more!

Inside the home is a main kitchen and a catering kitchen – perfect for entertaining.

In October last year, I wrote about the couples’ Montecito compound.

Take a look at the pictures of this beautiful home!

Image Credits: Realtor.com

LeBron Lists His Brentwood Estate for $20.5M

By |March 8th, 2021|Celebrity Real Estate|

Lebron James is selling one of his Brentwood homes for $20.5 million. He’s the owner of multiple mansions in the LA area and he seems to unloading at least this one. He purchased this one in 2015 for just shy of $21M, so he’d be taking a small loss.

The home was built in 2011 and is jus under 9,500 square feet. It’s located in the gated Rockingham Rim area of Brentwood. It features 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms. The interior includes countless amenities.

The property is stunning and the views are unmatched – just take a look at the pictures we’ve attached.

Image credits: Realtor.com

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