Katy Perry defeats nuns in battle to buy convent

Pop star Katy Perry has won a legal battle with a group of nuns for the right to buy their old convent, after a judge invalidated the property's sale to a restauranteur.

Katy PerryReuters

Located in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, the former convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, worth millions of dollars, has been the subject of a legal dispute between Perry, daughter of Protestant pastors, the archdiocese, and the Sisters.

The nuns, in their late 70s and late 80s, once lived in the convent. Two of them had decided to sell their former home to restaurateur Dana Hollister for $15.5 million. Hollister has already moved in, and is said to have been considering turning the property into a boutique hotel.

The archdiocese filed a lawsuit last June, arguing that the two nuns did not have the authority to sell the property.

On Wednesday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick approved the archdiocese's motion to block the sale to Hollister, voiding the purchase documents and deed. She said the nuns did not have the authority to sell the property and that even if they had, they did not properly validate the transaction.

Representatives for Hollister did not reply to requests for comment.

The archdiocese said it was "gratified" by Bowick's ruling in a statement, and added that it was still under contract to sell the convent to Perry.

"The Archdiocese was forced to take legal action to protect all the five sisters from being taken advantage of by the Dana Hollister transaction," it said, adding that it will continue to provide care for the nuns.

Perry offered to buy the 8-acre (3-hectare) Roman Villa-style property for $14.5 million.

She reportedly met two of the sisters, Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose, in early 2015. 

The nuns told the LA Times that the singer dressed conservatively, showed them a 'Jesus' tattoo on her wrist and sang 'Happy Day', but they insist they'd rather she didn't buy their former home, accepting a competing $15.5 million bid from Hollister.

Attorney John Scholnick, who represents two of the five nuns, told Reuters he was "disappointed," but emphasized that the ruling only invalidated the sale to Hollister and did not authorize the sale to Perry.

He said there could be an option for an appeal.

Perry was once a Gospel singer, but has since distanced herself from her Christian background, telling Marie Claire magazine in 2013: "I'm not Buddhist, I'm not Hindu, I'm not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God."

Additional reporting by Reuters.