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Gamer Jeff Strain Faces Major Loss on Hollywood Hills ‘Castle’

James McClain

While most sellers in the luxury L.A. real estate arena are basking in the glow of today’s red-hot market, a few unlucky folks have been badly burned. One of those is Jeff Strain, the high-profile video game programmer turned CEO, and his wife Annie. In fall 2018, shortly after Strain sold his successful zombie game development company Undead Labs to Microsoft for an undisclosed amount, the couple paid just a hair under $12 million — in cash — for a castle-like Hollywood Hills home sold by reality TV’s Robert and Courtney Novogratz.

After barely a year of L.A. living, the New Orleans-based Strains have apparently had enough. The couple have slapped a motivated $9.4 million pricetag on their erstwhile home, which appears to have been impeccably maintained since their purchase. Even in the unlikely event of a full-price offer, Strain stands to lose $2.55 million before carrying costs, taxes and hefty realtor fees are included.

The current and very entertainingly-written listing makes no secret of the fact that the property is a “fabulous value” and also draws a clear distinction between the unique house and cookie-cutter glass modern homes that have become all but ubiquitous in the surrounding hills. “If you’re looking for a modern box house with a shark tank and a gazillion car garage with viewing windows… well, we don’t know what to tell you,” it says.

Originally built in 1926, the multi-level house sports a strikingly contemporary, Restoration Hardware-like interior motif that belies its old-world architecture. There are garage facilities for four automobiles and additional off-street parking in a separate gated motorcourt — a rare amount of space in these tightly-packed hills — and the structure’s crisp white exterior walls starkly contrast with its dark grey slate roof.

Expansive, open-concept living spaces “are all designed for entertaining,” per the home’s listing. Blonde hardwood floors, shimmery ceiling treatments and walls of giant windows lend the place a light, almost ethereal vibe. High-end amenities include a fully custom Boffi kitchen with a Carrara marble island, a glass-fronted SubZero refrigerator and an attached breakfast room that spills out via French doors to an outdoor dining terrace with fireplace and banquette seating.

The home’s uppermost level features two ensuite guest/family bedrooms and a master suite equipped with a private deck overlooking the city and spa-style bathroom. On the home’s recreation-themed lower levels, Strain has put his custom stamp on things with a large wine closet, a giant library and arcade area, a gym and — naturally — a high-tech gaming area with sport seats and muscular computer hardware.

In the spacious backyard, a classic Old Hollywood-style oval pool is surrounded by a grassy lawn. There’s also a sports court, terraced gardens, and multiple fruit-bearing trees. There’s also a patio with plenty of space for alfresco entertaining, an outdoor kitchen and spa. Picturesque views take in the Downtown L.A. skyline and a wide swath of the adjoining city basin.

Mauricio Umansky and Farrah Brittany of The Agency hold the listing.

Launch Gallery: Jeff Strain's Castle-Style Hollywood Hills Mansion

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