Americana: The Rich Are Different from You and Me

Beverly Hills has known more than a bit of architectural ghastliness in its day, but a new record may be in the process of being set. The imminent potential titleholder is Saudi Arabian Sheik Mohammad al-Fassi, 23, who spent $2.4 million to purchase a sprawling, 38-room quasi-Palladian palazzo, originally built in 1917 for a local dairy magnate. Some $1.5 million worth of extensive renovations later, his neighbors are agog at what the sheik hath overwrought on the city's Sunset Boulevard.

The mansion, formerly a discreet shade of white, is now a jolting mint...

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