Apr 8, 2013

Scientology-linked nonprofit buys Larry Hagman's Ojai estate : Ventura County Star

By Stephanie Hoops

Originally published 02:30 p.m., April 5, 2013
Updated 04:41 p.m., April 5, 2013
The Ojai estate actor Larry Hagman dubbed “Heaven” has been sold to a nonprofit Scientology group.
The 32-acre property atop Sulphur Mountain sold for $5 million cash to Social Betterment Properties International, a nonprofit that states its mission is to “develop and maintain buildings and other real estate utilized by social betterment organizations carrying out programs that utilize technology and methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard and that are associated with and supported by the Scientology religion.”
A phone call left at the nonprofit’s Los Angeles offices was not returned. It isn’t known what’s planned for the estate, which the Hagmans opened to the community, hosting politicians from either side of the aisle, charities, fundraisers, weekend getaways and Ojai Music Festival events.
The Hagmans moved to the home in 1991 and while the sanctuary is isolated behind two electronically-monitored gates, they became an integral part of the local neighborhood.
Larry Hagman died in November and his wife, Maj Hagman, has Alzheimer’s disease.
Their Realtor, Andrea Cope of Prudential California Realty’s Brentwood office, said the couple were discerning about selling the property.
“It took awhile emotionally to release the property,” she said. What they wanted was to sell to a buyer who was “going to love and make use of the place in the way that they could hope someone would because they called it Heaven.”
Maj Hagman built the stunning 23,000-square foot Tuscany-style house with its nine bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five fireplaces, three pools, a 28-foot ceiling with retractable roof, gym, creek and other amenities.
After Maj Hagman was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the couple spent more time in Santa Monica and Hagman realized he had to sell Heaven. It took more than three years for him to separate himself from the estate, Cope said.
“That’s what had to happen before he could commit to selling the house,” she said.
It was originally listed for $6,495,000 and they did a price reduction, selling for $5 million cash in a quick escrow, Cope said. The sale closed March 5. In 1999 the property was valued at just under $3 million.
Social Betterment Properties International has received grants and renovated properties in use for combating literacy, improving morality and exposing “abusive and dangerous psychiatric practices,” according to a 2007 tax filing.
The nonprofit has also owned property in Oklahoma that’s been used for a controversial drug rehabilitation facility. According to The Tulsa World, the facility, Narconon International, uses non-drug paths to rehabilitation that focus on three activities: exercise, vitamins and sauna sessions. Several deaths have been related to the facility, which has been sued and investigated by Oklahoma state officials, according to The World.