Katy Perry and the archdiocese of Los Angeles get into a dispute with a group of nuns and a restaurateur. It may sound like the opening line of a bad joke, but it’s true.
The dispute is over one of the hottest pieces of real estate in LA, an 8 acre property with hilltop villa in the Los Feliz neighborhood. It overlooks downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel mountains. It also happens to be a former convent.
The archdiocese and two nuns who used to live at the property are fighting over who owns it, which would determine who has the ability to make the sale.
The former convent was once home to 52 sisters of the Immaculate Heart, who were moved to other locations by the diocese in 2011. Time has also taken it’s toll with only five sisters still living, two of whom are claiming ownership of the villa.
The nuns, unsurprisingly, are not impressed that Perry may be the new owner of their former home. Sister Sister Catherine Rose Holzman made her objection clear to the archdiocese in a letter on May 22, "In selling to Katy Perry, we feel we are being forced to violate our canonical vows to the Catholic Church."
Sister Rita Callanan from the Los Feliz Convet reportedly told the LA Times , "Well, I found Katy Perry and I found her videos … if it's alright to say, I wasn't happy with any of it.”
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez is said to have accepted Perry’s offer on the property, stressing that the land belongs to the archdiocese rather than the nuns. Furthermore, the archdiocese has taken issue with the buyer the nuns found, restaurateur Dana Hollister.
The archdiocese is claiming that Hollister took advantage of the sisters, saying that the deal they made may be unenforceable. In a lawsuit filed by the archdiocese, it claims that Hollister made a down payment of $44,000 to the nuns and left a note agreeing to pay the rest of the $15.5 million sale price.
The lawyer for the archdiocese, J. Michael Hennigan, says, "What Dana Hollister did in this transaction was take their principal asset, give them next to no money, with a flaky promise to pay in three years,"
Hollister has plans to turn the villa into a 60 bedroom boutique hotel, including a restaurant and bar. Hollister is confident in the nuns’ ability to negotiate a deal, saying "Those ladies know what they're doing, they are by no means fragile."
The Archbishop has given his assent to a $14.5 million cash deal, reached with Perry which was arranged before the sale to Hollister by the nuns.
Perry, the daughter of a pastor who released a Christian album before achieving her current fame, wants to buy the property as a retreat to take care of her mother and grandmother. She tried to win over the nuns in a meeting, singing “Oh Happy Day” and showing them her “Jesus” tattoo on her wrist. The nuns were not impressed.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant is set to hear the case to stop the sale on June 30, 2015. A second hearing in October will determine who has the legal authority to sell the property.