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Continuing Convent Drama: Jury Selection Begins In Case Of Katy Perry/Archdiocese Vs. Silver Lake Restaurateur

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Donohue Manor, one of the former convent's main buildings (Photo by Michael Locke via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Katy Perry has spent the last two years engaged in a very public real estate battle with a pair of elderly nuns over the sale of their Los Feliz convent. It seemed like the long-standing feud—rivaled only by Perry’s ongoing beef with Taylor Swift—was coming to end in March, when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled the pop star could finally buy the 8-acre convent on Waverly Drive.

And yet, the legal battle rages on: A new lawsuit that goes to trial this week has Perry teaming up with the Roman Archdiocese of Los Angeles—an unlikely collaboration—to take aim at Silver Lake restaurateur Dana Hollister. Perry and the archdiocese allege that Hollister, who initially bought the convent from the two nuns, knew she didn’t have the written authority of the archbishop to do so. Perry and the archdiocese are now holding Hollister, who also owns Cliff’s Edge, Villains Tavern, and Brite Spot, accountable for the two years they spent in court battling to undo her transaction and transfer it to Perry.

Jury selection for the trial began on Monday morning at the L.A. County Courthouse. Unfortunately, even those selected for the jury, which will run daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., won’t catch a glimpse of Perry taking the stand (Would she testify in a nun costume? Guess we’ll never know). Her attorney, Eric Rowen, confirmed to City News Service that the singer won’t be attending the court dates, despite that she’ll be in downtown L.A. anyway next week for part of her national tour. In anticipation of what we hope will be the final show-down in Los Feliz’s most convoluted real estate battle, here’s a run-down of all the twists and turns it’s taken, from the first deal to the last court case.

The drama all started in June 2015, when Perry and Hollister discovered they’d both filled out paperwork to buy the former convent, which housed the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for nearly four decades until they moved out in 2011. The problem was this: At least two of the last five sisters sold the property to Hollister for $15.5 million, believing they still owned it, while the archdiocese had already struck a deal to sell it to Perry for $15.5 million in cash, unbeknownst to them. Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman both believed they owned the property, but the Diocese claimed it belonged to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, and thus, only he had the authority to sell it, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

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The Diocese then sued Hollister to void her deal—Hollister had planned to turn the property into a boutique hotel—but things got weird even before the case went to trial. According to the Times, Perry reportedly serenaded the nuns with “Oh Happy Day” and showed them her Jesus tattoo in an attempt to woo them. Her efforts apparently didn’t work. “Katy Perry represents everything we don’t believe in,” Holzman told Billboard in October 2015. “It would be a sin to sell to her.” In April 2016, though, L.A. Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick sided with Perry, voiding Hollister’s sale and ruling that Perry can move forward with her own.

But the legal battle, as you well know, did not end there. Fast forward to October 2016: a panel of State appellate judges reversed Bowick’s ruling, arguing that she failed to give the nuns’ lawyers a fair chance to gather information in advance of their hearing. Whew! Five months later, in March of this year, Perry emerged victorious—yet again! “The Pope did not consent to the sale of the property to Hollister and there was no written approval from the Holy See or the archbishop,” Bowick wrote in her more recent ruling.

And that bring us up to speed for the latest trial, in which the archidocese is seeking roughly $3.5 million and Perry is seeking about $2 million in damages from Hollister, whom they’ve accused of knowing infringing on their contracts and wasting their time in court. Through her attorneys, Hollister has denied any wrongdoing. Let the games begin…. Again.