Robert and Krystal Rivani posed side by side in medieval garb, she in a gold-trimmed cape and tiara-style headband, he in black fur, armored gauntlets and a gold crown. They carried long, decorated swords and looked stern.
The resulting oil painting would hang in the Great Hall of their elaborate California home, Castle Rivani.
The couple, both 32, have spent several years and about $4 million turning their castle-style Beverly Hills home into a new paradise that reflects their love of fantasy and magic. The living room contains a replica of the spiked Iron Throne from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. The bar has a ‘Harry Potter’ themed apothecary cabinet and the backyard is modeled after ‘Alice in Wonderland’. There is also a Jungle Room with walls covered in fake greenery.
Being “extra” is everything to us,” said Ms. Rivani. “It makes life fun, interesting and memorable.”
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Mr. Rivani, a real estate and hospitality investor, grew up in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. As a child, he was a “Harry Potter” fanatic, he said, and loved escaping into the fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry, queuing for hours to get tickets to the movies when they premiered. He met his future wife at a Hollywood nightclub when they were both in their early twenties, and Ms. Rivani also quickly got into Harry Potter, saying she felt the images gave her inspiration for parties and events. The pair developed a similar crush on ‘Game of Thrones’.
The two married in 2018 and bought their Beverly Hills home in December 2019 for $13.77 million. The approximately 15,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom house, which sits on 1.7 acres, was formerly owned by entrepreneur David Gebbia and his ex-wife, Carlton Gebbia of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Built by the construction company of Mr. Gebbia and completed circa 2014, the house was originally designed to combine Ms. Gebbia’s Gothic tastes with her husband’s penchant for Italian romance, said Mr. Gebbia. It has a decorative stone facade with intricate carvings and church-style arched windows.
Mrs. Gebbia, a devout Wiccan, filled the house with cross carvings, wooden gargoyles, an altar and a confessional. After Gebbias’ split, the house went on the market and the interior was stripped of some of its more unusual decorations to attract a larger group of buyers, Mr. Gebbia. Nevertheless, the property, initially listed for $22 million in 2018, remained on the market for nearly two years and went through several price cuts before being sold to the Rivanis.
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“It was definitely a unique sale,” said Josh Altman of Douglas Elliman, one of the brokers. “But, as we always say in real estate, you only need one buyer.”
The Rivanis liked the Gothic aesthetic of the house. “I always joke that if you like living in a glass box, you’re boring,” said Mr. Rivani. “It was so unique to see this style of house in LA. It’s more like a castle in Scotland or London.”
mr. A college dropout, Rivani started wearing high-end sneakers in his teens. In his early 20s, he invested in small real estate deals in markets like Dallas and Atlanta, starting with neighborhood malls and eventually rolling the proceeds into larger supermarket-anchored “centers of power,” he said. In recent years he has started investing in hospitality, buying up unused restaurant spaces, coming up with a dining concept and chasing restaurateurs. His company, Black Lion Investment Group, recently acquired a prime restaurant space in Miami’s One Thousand Museum apartment building and has plans to establish a Michelin-starred restaurant there, he said. His company also owns the space that houses Miami’s famed Gekko steakhouse. Ms. Rivani, who attended California State Polytechnic University, is a registered dietitian but doesn’t exercise, though she said she loves nutrition and trying new health trends on Mr. Rivani, calling him “patient zero.” The Rivanis have no children, but said they plan to start a family soon.
When the Covid-19 crisis broke out, the couple had more time to decorate the house. They sat at home and spent endless hours scouring Etsy and auction websites for design ideas. It was a challenge to find furniture in Los Angeles that matched their style, they said, so most of it came from abroad.
The main entertaining area of the house – which the Rivanis call the Great Hall – has about 10 feet high, triple vaulted ceilings and Juliet balconies. It would have looked odd to have a traditional couch in such a sizable room, Mr. Rivani said. “Putting a four-foot-tall sofa in that room just didn’t make sense,” he said.
Instead, they commissioned a $50,000 replica of the Iron Throne from “Game of Thrones.” Unable to find what they wanted locally, they worked with a craftsman in Siberia, then paid about $15,000 to have the 500-pound throne shipped to the US by air. The throne was too deep and took up half the living room. They had it cut in half and mounted it on one side on the wall under a dragon gargoyle. It took about 30 people to attach themselves to the wall with cherry pickers, the Rivanis said. Most contractors declined the contract.
For the sitting room, which they call the Jungle Room, the couple purchased an approximately 7.5-foot-long $150,000 chandelier from Dubai made up of 300 pieces of glass that resemble butterflies, Mr. Rivani said. Inspired by the butterflies, they plastered the walls with fake greenery and flowers, which were painstakingly installed one by one over the course of several weeks. For the center of the room, they ordered a custom U-shaped couch in brown velvet, at a cost of nearly $20,000.
In the common room, which already had elaborate coffered ceilings, the Rivanis installed burgundy and black textured wallpaper called Dragon Skin. They added a couple of chairs made from animal bones bought at an antique store in Santa Monica and heavy red velvet curtains with a lion crest. Ms. Rivani found a 17th century French cabinet online, which she filled with new potions based on the “Harry Potter” movies. She spent days during the lockdown mixing the colorful concoctions herself, labeling them with names like “Polyjuice” and popping fake eyeballs into jars.
In the dining room, the Rivanis installed chandeliers. The 4.5 meter long dining table has chairs with high, thin backs. For the primary bedroom, they paid about $45,000 for a roughly 250-year-old Austrian church altar to serve as the headboard.
In keeping with their mantra of going over the top, the pair tried to give their guests an experience they’d remember in the bathroom: They hung a dragon-shaped gargoyle on the wall opposite the toilet, which often comes as a surprise to the unsuspecting. guests .
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“I call it the ‘Scare-everyone-and-your-mother’ bathroom,” said Mr. Rivani. Some particularly tipsy guests have screamed when they looked up at it.
The couple largely agreed on the aesthetic of the home, though Ms. Rivani said her husband’s style tends to be a bit darker and more gothic than hers. They bumped into a pair of chairs in the Great Hall with a variety of skulls, with horns on the armrests and headrests. Ms. Rivani was not a fan, although she said she was gaining weight. They also fought over a pair of approximately 15-foot-tall warrior statues made from recycled motorcycle parts for the front of the house. Mr. Rivani had seen a similar pair at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and decided he had to have them. Mrs. Rivani thinks they are a bit much.
“The sculptures almost ended our marriage,” Mr. Rivani said with a laugh.
As a concession, Mr. Rivani said he gave Ms. Rivani full control of the outdoor garden, which she revamped in an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. The grounds were re-landscaped in a harlequin pattern, with colorful flowers interspersed with paving stones. She also added a vegetable garden and a life-size chess set, though none of the Rivanis can play chess.
It should come as no surprise that the Rivanis love dressing up. Last year, they dressed up as a witch and wizard to throw a Harry Potter-themed Thanksgiving party, transforming the Great Hall to look like the dining room of Hogwarts, the fictional wizarding school in the series. Guests sipped jars of butterbeer and had their picture taken with actors posing as Voldemort and Dumbledore.
Mr Rivani said Mr Altman has warned him many times that the specificity of the couple’s design choices could affect the resale value of the home, especially as the previous owners had to neutralize the decor and make several price cuts. But Mr. Rivani said he just doesn’t care and his house reflects his taste. He also said he is confident they will find a buyer when the time comes.
“Isn’t there always that crazy, dysfunctional person like me who would overpay for something? Yes,’ he said. “I just need to find that person.”
In the short term, the Rivanis plan to rent out the mansion while they move to Miami, which now houses many of Mr. Rivani’s business interests. They have offered their home in Beverly Hills for $150,000 a month.
Still, the Rivanis said they don’t plan to sell anytime soon. If anything, Mr. Rivani said he wishes he could physically move the house to Miami.
“I always tell Krystal I want her to bury me in this house,” he said.
Ms. Rivani said she would agree to that plan.
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