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LA's priciest real estate? Not where you'd think

The most expensive real estate in Los Angeles may be 6 feet under.

"It's a deal at $699,000," said Tom Gregory, standing over the cemetery plot he owns. "It's about $10,300 per square foot."

Like any real estate, Gregory believes what makes this plot of land so valuable is location. It's only a few yards from Marilyn Monroe's crypt. "I already know what my epitaph is," he said, pointing behind him: "'She's over there.'"

The plot—which holds up to four—is inside the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, the final resting place for many Hollywood elite. Those buried here include Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Farrah Fawcett, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Jack Lemmon, and the list goes on and on, all tucked into a tiny, quiet cemetery hidden behind skyscrapers off Wilshire Boulevard. No grave gets as much attention as Marilyn Monroe's, as evidenced by the discoloration of her crypt from being touched and kissed by legions of fans.

Marilyn Monroe's gravesite in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
Jane Wells | CNBC
Marilyn Monroe's gravesite in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Gregory, a producer and longtime collector of Hollywood memorabilia, bought the cemetery site a decade ago for $350,000.

"I had a friend who passed away, and no one told me, so I said, 'Where is Juan?'" After being told his friend's ashes had been scattered, Gregory decided he wanted his remains to be in a place where friends could visit.

"At the time, I was with someone who is still a very big community leader, and I thought this was a significant cemetery for he and I to be interred in," Gregory said. At first, his partner suggested a place closer to the cemetery's chapel, but Gregory didn't like the neighborhood. "I didn't recognize any names. Some of them, they just looked distracting to me."

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Then he discovered that a so-called "bench estate" was available at the highest point of the cemetery near Marilyn Monroe. It was more expensive, but Gregory figured it was worth it. "I can't imagine being lonely for all eternity," he said. "I like people around, and this (area) gets a constant flow of people."

Here the ... plot ... thickens. Gregory and his partner eventually broke up. He moved on, and moved in, to a new home. He has decided to sell the cemetery plot for twice what he paid. "I don't need to sell it, but I've been renovating a house, and it sure would be nice to sell it." The site is listed on eBay. Gregory is also accepting offers via email at BigStarPlot@aol.com

"It's real estate, it's not a condo," he said. "I mean, even Marilyn's in a condo. A bad seismic day and she's going to come rolling down the hill, and I'll still be safe underground."

(Read more: Was Marilyn Monroe really a savvy businesswoman?)

Even at $699,000, the asking price is actually a bargain compared with the reported $4.6 million paid when the crypt above Monroe's was sold to an unnamed bidder on eBay in 2009.

Eventually, though, if the plot sells, where will Tom Gregory's own plotline end? He's considering the possibility of being buried in New York, maybe near Joan Crawford. He will miss visiting Westwood.

"I found a lot of peace here. On days that are really busy, I love coming over here and just looking at my headstone," he said wistfully. "People don't think this far ahead. They think about Calabasas and Beverly Hills these days with reality TV, but they don't think about, you know, after Cedars Sinai, where are they going to go? And if you average the cost of this plot over eternity, it's virtually free."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter @janewells

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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