LOS FELIZ—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick is leaning towards declining the motion to reconsider her decision in a property dispute entangling Katy Perry, the Vatican, and nuns from the order of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The eight-acre hilltop Los Feliz property is comprised of a 22,000-square-foot mansion with 60 bedrooms and 21 bathrooms. The home was once owned by wealthy philanthropist Earle Anthony, the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary order bought the property in the 1970s and turned it into a convent.
Five of the nuns that once lived in that convent, lead by Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, are alleging that the Los Angeles Archdiocese is seeking to make the sale so that they can control the proceeds.
In 2015, the sisters struck a deal to sell the convent to Los Angeles Restaurateur, Dana Hollister, who sought to turn the property into a boutique hotel, for $44,000 upfront and upon agreeing to a contingent promissory note. Hollister has since registered the deed and moved into the property.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese moved to nullify the sale, presenting the court with a letter from the Vatican, which stated clearly, in Latin, that you needed the permission of the Archbishop to sell church property. The transaction was invalidated by the court on the grounds that the Vatican had already addressed the matter.
Archbishop Jose Gomez sold the convent to pop-star Katy Perry for $14.5 million, which included $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for the house of prayer worth $4.5 million.
On Monday, May 23, lawyers for Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman asked the state Superior Court judge to consider a bulk of new evidence. Lawyers presented a translation showing the Vatican decree from earlier in the case was misrepresented.
Lawyer Randy Snyder, on behalf of restaurant owner Dana Hollister, stated in court papers filed Tuesday, May 24 that the two letters support claims by Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, that the entire dispute is still unresolved in Rome, asking that Judge Stephanie Bowick reconsider her decision to nullify Hollister’s acquisition of the property.
Attached to Snyder’s court papers was a March 22 letter sent to the archdiocese and a March 30 correspondence addressed to the two nuns.
The March 30 letter, signed by Father Sebastiano, a Vatican undersecretary, stated, “Once all the information from both parties has been adequately studied, we will inform you of our judgment regarding the matter at hand.”
A statement from the Los Angeles Archdiocese persisted, “This was always our concern with the Hollister transaction that basically took possession of the sisters’ property for just $44,000 and a contingent promissory note, without any guarantee that the sisters would ever receive any additional payment of the offer they received. We stand with the court’s ruling that protects all the sisters from an invalid transaction.”
A hearing is scheduled to take place June 20.