Judge leaves Katy Perry’s bid to buy convent in limbo

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Judge leaves Katy Perry’s bid to buy convent in limbo.

A judge said Thursday he believes a group of elderly nuns improperly sold their hilltop convent to a businesswoman but delayed any efforts by church officials to finalize a competing sale to pop singer Katy Perry. Katy Perry must wait to buy a $15-million former convent from the Los Angeles archbishop as a judge refused — for now — to evict a local developer who bought it last month from disgruntled nuns. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant is set to preside over a hearing Thursday on the sale of one of the hottest properties in L.A. real estate: the nuns’ former home, a sprawling, villa-style compound in the city’s Los Feliz neighbourhood with views of the San Gabriel Mountains and downtown. While the judge preliminarily ruled that entrepreneur Dana Hollister’s purchase of the convent is invalid, he ordered her to pay $25,000 a month to support the nuns and denied representatives for Los Angeles’ Catholic archbishop or Perry access to the convent during the dispute.

The judge set another hearing for Sept. 15 and ordered the lawyers to provide him with proposals for an intermediate remedy that would be best for the five remaining Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The order of nuns that has owned the property for more than 40 years hastily sold it to Hollister in June, bypassing approval from Los Angeles’ archbishop. The case pits two of the five sisters against Archbishop Jose Gomez who agreed to sell the estate to Perry, the flamboyant pop singer who rose to fame with the hit “I Kissed A Girl” and has been known to shoot whipped cream out of her brassiere. In an interview Monday, Hollister rejected the idea that she had swindled the sisters and insisted that they had the right to choose the buyer for their beloved home.

They claim the head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles illegally amended the bylaws of the nonprofit that has title to the property in a “hostile takeover” so he could seal the deal with Perry against their wishes. For his part, Gomez cites both canon and California law as being on his side in the bid to annul the nuns’ transaction with local restaurateur Dana Hollister. Hollister said the nuns’ deal with her includes $10 million for the compound and another $5.5 million to buy out the archdiocese’s lease on a retreat house on the property. The archdiocese and nuns agree the property, which was bestowed to the sisters by a devout Catholic who wanted them to keep him in their prayers, should be sold. The archbishop accuses Hollister of taking advantage of Sisters Rita Callanan, 77, Catherine Rose Holzma, 86, and other nuns who once lived in the villa, by paying only $100,000 upfront and the balance with a $9.9 million promissory note His lawsuit, which claims only he and the Vatican can decide the fate of the property, asks that the sale to Hollister “be declared void as a product of elder abuse.” Hollister called the allegation “ridiculous” and defended the sisters’ mental fitness. “They’re not dumb at all,” she said Wednesday. “No one is saying Warren Buffett is 84 years old and can’t run his own company.” Sister Jean-Marie Dunne doesn’t like Gomez’s attitude either.

The 88-year-old has said she doesn’t want any part of the public confrontation, according to court documents, but an e-mail she sent him became part of the record. “OLD AGE does not necessarily = SENILITY,” she wrote. The archdiocese said in a statement Monday that the lawsuit was filed “to protect all the sisters” from Hollister’s purchase and ensure that money from an “authorized sale” would be available to finance their long-term care. Hollister, who lives in another former convent nearby, said she’s done some work, restoring the pool and removing an altar from the main room, which has a 30-foot ceiling and hand-carved fireplace. According to Sisters Rita and Catherine Rose, Gomez told them last year that he wanted to sell to “someone named Katherine Hudson,” who they later learned was Katy Perry.

The nuns opposed selling the property to Perry, whose fame was ignited by an ode to sexual experimentation, “I Kissed a Girl.” The nuns’ lawyers argued that Perry’s image did not match those of Catholic nuns. This month, attorneys representing the sisters argued that church leaders made a “hostile takeover” in June when they designated new officers to oversee the religious order’s nonprofit institute.

Hollister attended the hearing, sitting in the second row next to a pair of the nuns, one of whom listened to Chalfant describe his ruling with her hand over her mouth.

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