'Paparazzi-Proof' Condo: Pure Privacy or Marketing Ploy?

They have telephoto lenses. They have the stamina for hours-long stakeouts. They have feet that move fast, and they aren't afraid to have them run over by Britney Spears.

They're Los Angeles paparazzi, and the "paparazzi-proof" condo going up in L.A.'s Westwood neighborhood, aimed at flash-bulb weary, wallet-heavy celebrities, hardly stands a chance against them.

The Carlyle Residences, a 24-story tower under construction on Wilshire Boulevard, boasts all the usual bells and whistles: 24-hour white glove concierge service, a fitness center powered by The Sports Club LA, a wine cellar worthy of a world-class vineyard, a private pool and a yoga lawn.

But forget that. Elad Properties is hoping to lure A-listers to the Carlyle by marketing its so-called anti-paparazzi features: 24/7 patrols by "Israeli-trained VIP" security guards and cameras; private elevators that zoom directly from the two-story lobby into sprawling apartments (God forbid a starlet run into her ex-beau's new flame in a common hallway); high hedges that shield the pool and lawn from shutterbugs on the street.

And: "The building is crescent-shaped intentionally [so that] the neighboring buildings don't really get a view into the units," said Erik Schneider, director of sales for the Carlyle. "We don't have any buildings behind us either. There are only low-rise residential communities, so really there's no access to look into a unit from another building.

The Carlyle's two-story lobby features furnishings by designer Fendi Casa.

"We've tried to do everything possible to make the building as secure as possible," he added. "There's really no place for them to hide."

But they -- L.A. paparazzi -- beg to differ. In a day and age when pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's twins command a reported $14 million, celebrity photographers will go to any means necessary to get their shot. While it's against California law to trespass onto private property or shoot into a private residence without consent, it's not illegal to wait -- and wait, and wait, and wait -- until the star du jour leaves his or her apartment.

The Carlyle pool is shielded from the street, but not from helicopters.

"We may not get a picture of someone in a swimming pool or in their apartment, but we're going to get them leaving. People still have to leave. All you have to do is wait outside for them. We'll keep photographers there for as long as they need to be out there to get the shot," said Gary Morgan, CEO of the paparazzi agency Splash.

Schneider said parking will be prohibited on the street in front of the Carlyle.

Henry Flores, co-owner of the paparazzi agency Buzz Foto, said that's fine.

"We'll wait on the opposite street," he said. "We'll follow them after they leave."

The Carlyle isn't the only L.A. luxury condominium trying to suck in celebrities with the promise of paparazzi protection. The Sierra Towers and The Century, where Candy Spelling reportedly bought a $47 million penthouse, both boast souped-up security in addition to five-star amenities. Morgan called the "anti-paparazzi" spin a clever marketing campaign, at best.

The Carlyle features 78 private residences with floor plans ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 square feet.

"It just smacks of an advertising ploy in a depressed property market. They're trying to find an edge that might attract people," he said. "There are plenty of buildings in L.A. that are just as paparazzi-proof as this."

At worst, it could backfire. It's a perverse circle of life: In L.A., paparazzi, celebrities and businesses need each other to survive. Say a star strolls into a store. The store then tips off a paparazzo to snap photos of the star. The paparazzo then sells the photos for a paycheck, the store and the star get free press, and the star probably gets free stuff. Everyone wins! Except, perhaps, the Carlyle.

"They're just violating their own marketing principles because they won't get free advertisement," said Flores. "It's a lose-lose situation for them. It's a big marketing campaign that's going to fall on its face."

Plus, will celebrities really flock to the Carlyle considering all the attention focused on it? Schneider would not reveal which, if any, stars are thinking of buying in the building -- whoever they are, their pockets have to run deep: Units start at $2.9 million and go up to $14 million for the penthouses -- but if the elite jet to private South Pacific islands for vacation, it stands to reason they won't want to come home to one of L.A.'s most buzzed-about properties.

Prices for units in the Carlyle start at $2.9 million.

"The hardest part will be if they can fill the building with A-list celebrities," Morgan said. "Then we'll see if it's worth our time to sit out there and wait."

Chad Rogers, a high-end real estate broker featured on Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing," said he has a celebrity client interested in buying in the Carlyle. But he conceded that neither he, nor any broker, nor any building in L.A. can provide the privacy the crème de la crème of celebrities crave. Want real "paparazzi-proof"? Get out of town.

"There's no such thing as paparazzi-proof here," he said. "The only thing that's paparazzi-proof is a steel box without any windows."

Briana Weatherspoon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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