A quick peek at billionaire Riley Bechtel’s Montecito mansions

Some time ago our scholarly friend Barbara Bane from Santa Barbara wrote in and asked if Yolanda would look into a mysterious entity — something called “E V Marvista LLC” that was going around Montecito and dropping enormous sums of money on some very substantial homes.

Way back in 2007, EV Marvista LLC paid $6,300,000 for an East Coast-style rambler in one of Montecito’s best pockets. In 2011, the same entity paid $16,000,000 for another Montecito mansion, and then in 2015 it bought a third for $6,845,000. That’s nearly $30 million in cash for three non-contiguous properties.

The real owner’s identity is locked up real tight behind the LLC, which links back to a prestigious San Francisco law firm known for representing high net worth individuals and families, naturally. But after weeks of research and numerous rabbit trails, Yolanda is about 99.9% positive that E V Marvista is a front for one of the Bay Area’s wealthiest humans: a manufacturing heir named Riley Bechtel. According to Forbes, Mr. Bechtel currently makes do with a net worth of $3.4 billion.

Our Mr. Bechtel is the now-retired Chariman of the Bechtel Corporation, the largest construction company in the United States and the 8th-largest privately-owned American corporation. To give you an idea of the size: the firm generates more than $32 billion in revenue each and ever year and employs 53,000 people.

Riley & Susie Bechtel (couple on the left)

Despite (or maybe because of) their vast net worth — they are one of America’s wealthiest families, after all — the Bechtels remain steadfastly discreet and shun publicity like the average person shuns public speaking. Anyway, we thought it might be a fun treat to take a real quick look at a portion of Mr. Bechtel’s substantial real estate holdings and see what we can see.

As we’ve mentioned, Mr. Bechtel paid $6,300,000 for his first Montecito house way back in 2007. The ultra-private wee estate is set far back down a private driveway and located just a few doors away from the Oprah Winfrey’s 60+ acre Promised Land estate.

In 2016, the house was put up for sale with a $7,950,000 asking price.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bechtel, it took more than 1.5 years and several price reductions before the property was sold this September (2017) for just $6,100,000 to a non-famous person. That’s a $200k loss for our boy, not counting taxes and fees and all that.

The Hamptons-inspired estate sits on 1.08 acres of land with lovely ocean views, lush lawns, and even a petite guest house/detached garage. There are 5 beds and 7 baths in about 5,700-square-feet of living space.

In 2011, Mr. Bechtel substantially upgraded his Montecito residential circumstances with the $16,000,000 purchase of a 12,000-square-foot mansion further up in the hills. The totally off-market transaction means that Yolanda does not have professional pics of the estate, but we do know that the bi-winged mansion sits on a fully landscaped 4.54-acre lot that lies on a private drive immediately adjacent to the ultra-swanky San Ysidro hotel & resort.

In 2015, Mr. Bechtel apparently decided 4.54 acres was not nearly enough space. He paid $6,845,000 for a smaller compound (photos above) that is located just north of his main residence. The properties are not contiguous, but they are located up the very same private driveway.

The 1.7-acre lot includes at least two traditional-ish structures, both of which have views of the Pacific.

Mr. Bechtel’s $23 million Montecito compound

Nice as Mr. Bechtel’s compound may be, it rather pales in comparison to his main residence up north.

Mr. Bechtel’s $20+ million Woodside compound

We had a real devil of a time tracking down Mr. Bechtel’s main Bay Area residence, y’all. That’s mostly because Forbes lists his home as being in the city of San Francisco. After a lot of sleepless nights, however, Yolanda realized that Mr. Bechtel’s main abode is not located in SF — rather, he lives in the tony (and tiny) town of Woodside, CA.

Yolanda believes that Mr. Bechtel has owned his Woodside property for a very long time — since at least 1996 and probably a lot longer. Mr. Bechtel’s compound sits on nearly 13 acres of land and encompasses at least eight separate structures. There is a horse-riding rink, a tennis court, enormous lawns, a pool, formal gardens, plus off-street parking for dozens and dozens of vehicles. We’d estimate that the property is worth at least $20 million today.

Riley Bechtel’s agent: Susan Burns, Coldwell Banker

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