It’s always fun to daydream about what you’d put in your home studio if money was no object, whether it’s audio gear, priceless instruments, a well-stocked, adjacent watering hole or something else. As the ludicrous accoutrements pile up, the old Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had A Million Dollars,” might come to mind, but add a couple of zeros to that and you tip-toe into the lifestyle of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, whose hilltop Beverly Hills mansion is now on the market for $55.5 million, complete with Neptune Valley—his private, 9,163-square-foot home studio.
Worth an estimated $15 billion when he died in 2018 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Allen owned many homes around the world, and in turn, many home studios. Perhaps the coolest was the one that contained the world’s largest Solid State Logic Axiom MT console—96 channels with a 16-channel SSL 9k sidecar. That particular studio was on his boat—the 414-foot yacht, Octopus (currently for sale at $326 million if you’re interested)—and over the years, the likes of Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, Dave Stewart, Bono and The Edge, and Mick Jagger came aboard to record.
Given that Allen rubbed elbows with musical all-stars, one can only presume that a few names of note recorded at the Beverly Hills mansion, too, but unfortunately, not a whole lot is known—or at least revealed—about Neptune Valley. Obviously that’s not because Allen hid the facility from the world, but rather because of that age-old nemesis of fun gossip, the Non-Disclosure Agreement.
That said, as one sifts through the current real estate listing for the property, it’s easy to discern which room used to be Neptune Valley. Located literally beneath the tennis court, the steel-and-glass studio sports floor-to-ceiling windows and some massive patch panels, as well as more floor-to-ceiling glass for what must have been the control room (which does not get a photo in the listing). Unconfirmed urban legend has it that the control room had an SSL in it—unsurprising given the Axiom MT on the Octopus—and that the live room also had its own SSL, on wheels no less, so that Allen could just grab a fader when jamming with friends.
When finally worn out from rocking out, Allen and cohorts could go back up the hill to the mansion via his funicular (His what? Picture the result if an elevator and a cog railway had a baby). Built roughly 100 years ago, the main house, a 9,500-square-foot hacienda, sports five bedrooms (out of 10 on the property), so everyone would have a nice place to crash after the festivities. There’s also a library, chef’s kitchen and the all-important massage room.
Decades ago, the hacienda was owned by film legend Rock Hudson, who lived in it from 1962 until his death in 1985; Allen purchased it in 1992 and then added a number of surrounding properties for a total of 3.24 acres of land. As a result, there’s now five buildings on the estate, for a total of 24,370 square feet of indoor space.
As for Neptune Valley, when it was built in the early 2000s, the facility/garage/tennis court purportedly cost $23 million (again, unconfirmed), so if you think about it, $55 million for the whole place is a steal. Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency has the listing.