Outside the Manor, a 56,500-square-foot castle in Los Angeles’s Holmby Hills built in 1991 by Aaron and Candy Spelling and bought last summer by Petra Ecclestone—the 23-year-old daughter of Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone—for a reported $85 million, a man inspected the wheels of a white Range Rover with a thick black stripe down the hood and petra written on the grille. His colleague polished a matching black one, marked stunt, for James Stunt, Petra’s husband of six months. Also arrayed, in fan formation in a motor court that is said to have space for a hundred cars, were a white Ferrari and a white Rolls-Royce Ghost (Petra’s) and a black Lamborghini and a black Rolls (James’s).
The interior of the Manor, once the domain of acres of chintz and known for housing Candy’s doll collection and the infamous gift-wrapping room—and, according to her memoir, for being the locus of her greatest social anxieties—has been Petra-fied. Designed in three weeks and installed in nine, a feat that required 500 workers and the tireless attention of the celebrity designer-builder Gavin Brodin, the house has been transformed from an old Dynasty-like set to a massive VIP lounge. Five thousand square feet of white marble lashed with thick black stripes pave the foyer; black carpet streaks up the sweeping double staircase to the second floor. Dark velvets line the walls, and little crystals sparkle everywhere.
I found Petra in the living room, a vast white-on-white-on-white space, perched on the edge of a couch, pulling at the tips of her wavy bright-blonde hair with slender fingers and wearing a loose cream-colored sweater and short frayed jean shorts, with leopard flats at the end of slim tanned legs. She is pretty, wide-eyed, and speckled with beauty marks. As she played with her hair, a gigantic gem flashed: a 10.5-carat Asscher-cut diamond, given to her by James, 30, for their engagement. “He owns gold mines,” she told me. “It’s very random.” Her bodyguard handed her a Starbucks cup.
“I’ve got quite masculine taste,” Petra said. “I don’t like a lot of pattern. This room is the only light room; everything else is very dark and kind of sexy, with, like, a boudoir feel to it. You’re not scared if you stain something.” She paused and then said apologetically, “I know that the house is huge, and yes, it really is quite overwhelming, but with the other houses we looked at that were a similar size to this, you felt like you were in a museum. They didn’t feel homey. I think because there was a family here previously, it was warmer and cozier.” (Candy and Tori’s acrimonious relationship notwithstanding.)