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Take an exclusive look inside the most expensive home for sale in America

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Exclusive: Inside $195 million "Chartwell Estate"
Key Points
  • The $195 million Chartwell Estate is the most expensive U.S. residential listing that's on a multiple listing service.
  • The property in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles was home to billionaire media mogul Jerry Perenchio, one-time Univision chairman and CEO, who died in 2017.
  • The 25,000-square-foot mega residence has 11 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, a 12,000-bottle wine cellar, a 75-foot swimming pool, acres of private gardens and secret underground tunnels.
  • CNBC got an exclusive look inside.
The Chartwell Estate
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

This elegant French chateau-style estate in Los Angeles' Bel Air neighborhood recently got a $50 million price chop but is still the most expensive residence for sale in America.

CNBC got an exclusive look inside the $195 million mega home.

The Chartwell Estate, as it is known today, was the home of billionaire businessman Jerry Perenchio, who died in 2017. According to Forbes, the one-time chairman and CEO of Spanish-language broadcast network Univision had an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion.

The 25,000-square-foot main residence
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The property's 25,000-square-foot main residence has 11 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms and a limestone facade. If the exterior looks familiar, that's because it was used in "The Beverly Hillbillies," a TV series that aired from 1962 to 1971, as the Clampetts' mansion. The original home was designed by Los Angeles architect Sumner Spaulding and completed in 1935.

Shortly after acquiring Chartwell in 1986, Perenchio did a complete gut renovation of the interiors that took five years to complete. During that time, he also extended the property's footprint to more than 10 acres by purchasing and combining three neighboring lots. One of those lots included a home that Perenchio converted into Chartwell's 5,700-square-foot guest house, a second was demolished to make room for a driveway, and a third was bulldozed to become a grassy helipad.

Chartwell Estate's 5,700-square-foot guest house
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The media mogul adorned his main residence with rare European furniture and antiques he collected over the years, including his private art collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The collection was bequeathed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art upon his death.

He also constructed some significant modern additions to the property.

The main residence

Front gate
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

Past the iron gates of 875 Nimes Road is a winding driveway bordered by lush greenery that leads visitors to the iconic entrance of the main residence.

Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

Through the front doors and past the main entry is an expansive living room, designed by late French interior designer Henri Samuel. Samuel renovated all rooms in the home in the late 1980s.

Main entry
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio
Living room
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The main living area has spectacular views of the backyard, including sights of estate's grand fountain bordered by an allee of trees.

Backyard view
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio
Grand fountain
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The estate's master bedroom and dressing area also have the same breathtaking views of the landscape below.

Master bedroom
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio
Master bedroom dressing area
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio
View from master bedroom dressing area
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The estate's formal dining room — with seating for 18 — has paneled walls imported from Europe and date to the mid-1700s.

Dining room
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The "morning room" has a mint-green vaulted lattice ceiling that was constructed in Paris, shipped in sections, and reassembled inside the room. The curtains identically match the floral wallpaper.

Morning room
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

On the opposite end of the main level is the "garden room." On the walls are five black-and-gold Japanese lacquer panels inlaid with mother of pearl.

Garden room
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

Hilton & Hyland listing agent Gary Gold said Perenchio loved to entertain. One level below the main living room is a ballroom where he hosted big events.

"The owner knew how to throw a party. And in [here], he loved a surprise," Gold said.

Ballroom
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

With the press of a remote control button, a pair of motorized Asian screens split open to reveal a grand piano on a stage.

Motorized screens open to reveal piano
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

"Now, I'm not going to drop names, but on this very stage, Mr. Perenchio would have A-list performers who were used to playing in arenas, playing here for an intimate gathering of a hundred guests," said Gold.

Steps away from the performance area is the billiard room.

Billiard room
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

An avid wine collector, Perenchio built a climate-controlled wine cellar that holds as many as 12,000 bottles. (His wine collection later sold in two separate Sotheby's auctions — one in March 2018 and the other in May 2018 — for just under $12 million.)

Wine cellar
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The secret tunnels

Buried underneath the main residence is a subterranean level that dates to 1935. This lower level is accessible by elevator. It opens into two tunnels that lead to different areas of the estate.

The late Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, who was a friend and a frequent guest, would often come down to these tunnels to practice because the acoustics were so great, Gold said.

One of the tunnels leads to the estate's 75-foot swimming pool and pool house.

Pool house
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The other tunnel delivers visitors out of a colossal stone head and into acres of private gardens, grottos and ponds filled with koi fish.

The gardens

Perenchio poured millions of dollars into the 10-acre compound's gardens and landscaping, and his passion for horticulture is still apparent.

Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

When visitors drive up the perimeter of the property on Bel Air Road, they are greeted by perfectly sculpted gumdrop trees in front of a stone wall.

Above: Travel along the perimeter of the estate on Bel Air Road, courtesy of Google Maps.

Hidden underneath the estate's rose garden is a motor court Perenchio built for when he had visitors.

Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

The parking structure can hold up to 40 cars.

Motor court
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio
Motor court interior
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

There's also a vegetable garden.

Vegetable garden
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

But perhaps the most unique landscaping feature the billionaire created was his private redwood grove.

Perenchio admired the redwoods found mostly in Northern California so much that he shipped in dozens of trees to Chartwell. The trees now lend shade to the estate's meandering bridle paths.

Redwood grove
Photograph by Jim Bartsch, courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Perenchio

"Not only is there nothing like this in Los Angeles, I don't think there's anything like this in the country," said Gold.

According to data provided by Realtor.com, Chartwell Estate is currently the most expensive home for sale in the U.S. that's on a multiple listing service.

The estate originally hit the market for $350 million in 2017. One year later, the price was reduced to $245 million. The latest price cut in June brings its asking price to $195 million, furniture not included.

Gold is one of eight platinum triangle real estate agents representing the mega-listing, along with Jeff Hyland and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland; Jade Mills, Joyce Rey, and Alexandra Allen of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury; and Drew Gitlin and Susan Gitlin of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

CNBC's Ray Parisi contributed to this report.

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