In the late summer of 1789, Spanish Conquistador Gaspar De Portola led an expedition of 64 men and 100 mules over what is now the Sepulveda Pass into a grassy valley bordered by gently rolling foothills and shaded by age-old oak trees.  As Portola stopped just west of the pass to water his mules and rest his armor clad men he surveyed the land before him, turned to the expedition’s spiritual advisor, Father Juan Crespi and remarked: “You know…this’d be a great place for rappers and episodic TV stars…”

Well, maybe he said it, but over 200 years later his possible remarks have become more than prophetic.

A spate of mega-millions home sales, culminating in a $20 million sale – that’s right, TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS -not Pesos, not Lira, but good old American greenbacks, has just closed in Encino.  This is not Bel-Air, Malibu or Beverly Hills, but it seems as if the mega sales, and the stars and super rich who buy these homes have come through the same pass as De Portola and discovered, or rather, rediscovered the charms of our home town. 

Starting in 2017, major A-List celebrities and internet sensations such as Kelly Clarkson, Wiz Khalifa and Logan Paul have been buying mostly new or renovated homes for higher and higher prices.  In 2017, online prankster and bad boy Paul paid $6.6 million for a new “modern farmhouse” in the Rancho area south of Ventura.  Former Guns ‘n Roses guitarist Slash also chose an Encino modern farmhouse for  $6.25 million towards the end of that year. 

Following in 2018  “Real Housewife” star, former child actress and San Fernando Valley native Kyle Richards and her super-realtor husband Mauricio Umanski closed on the  classically traditional Smokey Robinson estate for $8.25 million.  After that, “Idol” winner turned chart-topping hit maker Kelly Clarkson paid $8.5 million for another barnwood-clad modern farmhouse.

Rolling into 2019,  “Rolling Papers” rapper  Wiz Khalifa made it rain for the sellers of a newly built modern home by shelling out $3.4 million for the pad. 

And its not just the fresh young faces who are currently landing in Encino.  “Jersey Boy” Frankie Valli  paid $4.3 million  in 2017 for…wait for it….a modern farmhouse.  I guess the 85-year-old  “Grease” crooner has chosen to pass his remaining “Four Seasons” amid the foothills and oaks.

Now, it has been confirmed, a pair of very famous child actor/singer/famously marrying brothers have become “Suckers” for Encino and blown the roof off of prices by paying $14.1 million and $20 million for their respective honeymoon cottages. 

Brother one, Nick Jonas, the younger of the two, closed last month on a spectacular modern, on estate-sized acreage in the Rancho area for somewhere around 20 large, as they say on Wall Street, to settle down in Encino with his new bride, “Quantico” and Bollywood star Prianka Chopra, followed closely by older brother Joe who paid $14.1 million for a newly built contemporary/farmhouse blend for himself and his new bride, Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame in which to place their own thrones.

Both Jonas boys are valley veterans, growing up partially in Toluca Lake and then purchasing together, you guessed it – a modern farmhouse in Sherman Oaks in 2016 for just under $4 million.  After co-habitating for a little over a year, Nick must have felt cramped as he purchased his own modern pad in Beverly Hills for around $15 million.  And as wedding bells sounded for he and Prianka he sold that home to tennis star Naomi Osaka and found the freshly- built Encino love nest for his and Prianka’s married life.  We reached out for more home details to super agent to the stars, Carl Gambino of powerhouse Westside Estate Agency, who repped both of the Jonas boys in their purchases.   As of publication there has been no reply.

These are just unreal numbers for Encino real estate, so why are stars suddenly willing to fork out seven and eight figures for non-Westside or ocean front estates? For several reasons, according to local real estate pros.

Firstly, even though these prices seem stratospheric, compared to similar homes on the Westside they are still relatively inexpensive.  Stars and those with mega bucks are realizing they can get so much more home for their money in the San Fernando Valley.

Furthermore, many of these stars are either newly married and/or have young children and, like the stars of Hollywood’s golden age who flocked to Encino such as John Wayne, Clark Gable and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, they decided that Encino is a better place to settle down into married bliss and raise their families than amid the go go razzmatazz of the Westside.

And since these performers mostly tour or go on long location shoots,  Van Nuys Airport with its private jet terminals is so much closer to their new homes than a place in Point Dume. 

Since its conversion from barley fields and sheep grazing land to gentleman’s ranches and country estates,  Encino has always drawn the movie set.  1920’s era  “Jazz Singer” star and former temple cantor Al Jolson and his wife, actress Ruby Keeler, built a Monterey Colonial estate on several acres way back in 1935 and since their passings the house has subsequently been owned by Don Ameche, Steven Segal, Kirstie Alley, Charlie Sheen and Leeza Gibbons.  Oh if those walls could talk.   

In 1939 Rhett Butler himself (Clark Gable) and his wife Carole Lombard bought an “un-modern” farmhouse on 20 acres near what is now Petit and Ventura from director Raoul Walsh for the then princely sum of $50,000.  Their romance was the equivalent of a Kardashian wedding in its day and Gable and Lombard wanted lots of protective acreage in a place far away from the prying eyes of Hollywood and the 1930’s equivalent of the tabloids.  Junk bond king Michael Milkin later bought the farmhouse during his heyday as a financial titan after the 20 acres was subdivided to create the luxury Clark Gable Estates with street names such as Tara Way and Ashley Oaks. Too bad they didn’t create a “Frankly, Don’t Give a Damn Drive.” I’d buy on that street for sure.

In 1950, America’s favorite cowboy John Wayne purchased a sprawling hacienda on 5 ½ acres just south of Ventura on Louise Avenue for his many-child family.  He lived there until one of his divorces forced the sale but apparently always regretted selling and missed that house.

And who could forget the still family-owned Jackson compound on Hayvenhurst just across from Gelson’s?  The multi-house compound where Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Janet and Latoya grew up is still utilized by the latest generation of Jacksons including Paris and her brothers, and their cousin, Jermajesty.  Yes that’s his name.  One guess as to  whose son he is? And a little down the street on Havenhurst is the more modest former home of Johnny Carson, who sold it to Johnny Cash, in a no-realtor, Johnny to Johnny sale, presumably….for cash. 

Then there is the decades-old debate over who had the first piano-shaped swimming pool in Encino.  We cover the hard news here at the Enterprise.  

Jazz pianist Bobby Troup of “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and the T.V. show “Emergency” fame always claimed to have thought of the idea for a grand piano-shaped pool with black and white tiles on the steps first for the home he and his wife, Julie London of “Cry Me a River” and also “Emergency” fame raised their yours-mine-and-ours brood in on Royal Oak Road.  However, just down the hill on Valley Vista, mink and crystal aficionado Liberace always claimed that “he had the idea first dahling…”  No comment on whether early “Tonight Show” host Steve Allen and his wife Jayne Meadows’ pool on Valley Meadow was anything other than kidney shaped.  Allen was also a classically trained and renowned jazz pianist. 

There have been so many movie, TV, music and sports stars who have chosen Encino for all its advantages that it would take this entire edition of the Enterprise to list them.  If you would like to read more about Encino history and its famous current and former residents let us know.  Perhaps we could start a regular column…