Oil billionaire William B. Harrison shatters the South Bay record with his $23 million splurge

The headline-grabbing LA real estate news as of late is that $110 million Malibu home sale, naturally. Not only is it the largest transaction ever in the beachside city, it is the biggest ever in the entirety of SoCal.

A little further south, however, is the scene of another record-breaking transaction that closed in late February (2018). Although mostly overlooked and rightfully overshadowed by the big Malibu deal, this is no less of a big deal to the real estate community in the South Bay region of Los Angeles.

But get this: this massive sale went down in an unlikely location. Though the blufftop property was marketed as being in Redondo Beach (and has a Redondo Beach mailing address) it is geographically situated in the decidedly middle-class community of Torrance, which is definitely not the most desirable place in South Bay.

Property records reveal that the two-parcel spread sold for $22,750,000. Not only is that the most expensive sale ever recorded in the Torrance/Redondo Beach area — by far — Yolanda believes this is also the biggest ever recorded in all of the South Bay, which includes far swankier communities like Manhattan Beach — the scene of that big $21 million deal last year — and Palos Verdes Estates.

Cripes! So who is the cash-heavy buyer?

Well, the compound was acquired by a mysterious corporate entity that links back to a nondescript P.O. box in Houston (Texas). Though it took Yolanda a couple months of investigatin’, we finally discovered that our secretive new owner is a 30-year-old Texas oil billionaire named William Bruce Harrison. And yes kiddies, that is not a typo. The billionaire Mr. Harrison really is only 30 years of age.

Our Mr. Harrison also seems to be a shy fella — Yolanda cannot locate a single photo of this guy on the interwebs, and not for lack of lookin’. But anyway, young Mr. Harrison became very, very rich back in 2004, when he was just 17 years old. It was then that his 54-year-old daddy — Texas rancher/billionaire Bruce Harrison — unexpectedly died on his ranch, allegedly killed by bee stings. Bee stings!

The Harrison family is very old Texas oil money. Their original fortune was created in the early 1900s by Mr. Harrison’s great-grandfather — legendary Texas oilman and land baron Dan Harrison. As a side note, young Mr. Harrison’s uncle — Dan Harrison III — recently joined the billionaire ranks. Legal records show that William sued Uncle Dan over control of his late father’s trusts a couple years back.

Anyway, before we begin to dissect the Torrance/Redondo Beach property photos, a wee caveat: Yolanda is not a fan of this compound. We just wanted to get that outta the way. While the setting and views are gorgeous, the house itself leaves us feelin’ blue. If we did not know this place was built in 2005, we would have guessed it dates to the late 80s or early 90s. Homegurl looks dated, and not in a good way.

This is also most definitely not a place where we would picture a 30-year-old billionaire dude. If it were up to Yolanda, we would pluck Mr. Harrison from this pad and drop him into a sexed-up contemporary crib in a more fashionable area of town. But alas! Well, there is always hope for a teardown. May our dear Rabbi Hedda will it to be so.

The walled and gated 1.44-acre compound contains a main house of 10,200-square-feet and a “second house” of 5,528-square-feet (is it a guest house? It kinda seems too big for a guest house). The Porsche-driving Mr. Harrison will appreciate the estate’s seven-car garage.

We would call the architectural style here a weird sort of Spanish Revival meets Mediterranean mishmash. The houses appear strangely squat from the street out front, but they both drop down mullet-style to two full floors out back.

As we say, the spread was built in 2005 by Dotcom-era network entrepreneur Jeff Prince.

Spectacular outside views take in the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Catalina Island, and the Santa Monica bay. Too bad the interior views fail to match up — the kitchen is a sea of boring brown hardwood (the floors, the cabinets, the window trim, the faux ceiling beams, the chairs). And the home theater has a downright ugly leopard-print carpet. Did Charo do the decorating up in here?

Good gracious, there is that carpet again. And in the gym! Just say no. Yolanda is all for people taking decorative risks, but not at the cost of our stomach. The main home’s master suite has a private balcony (but no view?) and a bathroom with a glass-walled shower, rainfall showerhead, and a built-in soaking tub w/ fireplace.

The second house has a vault leading to a “secret” wine cellar.

Out back Mr. Harrison can splish-splash in a lagoon-style swimming pool. Too bad about the hokey slide/waterfall thing.

Listen kiddies, Yolanda hates to be so critical here. So check out that awesome view! And the sloped backyard has a long, twisting set of steps that lead down to a gazebo and your own private sand volleyball court. The court is gated off from the public beach surrounding it, so the downtrodden public can enviously stare at Mr. Harrison and his guy and/or lady friends playing in his $23 million backyard.

Speaking of the public, the compound sits right next to the public parking lot for the unfortunately-named RAT Beach. Odd location for a $23 million compound, but different strokes and all that.

Now then: Yolanda does not profess to know young Mr. Harrison’s net worth, but based on his real estate spending habits we can only assume he is well into the billionaire ranks. This Torrance/Redondo Beach pad is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg in his property portfolio.

Less than one year ago — September (2017) — Mr. Harrison purchased an 83,368-acre Colorado ranch that had been listed at $105 million. He simultaneously became one of the state’s largest landowners.

Mr. Harrison’s 83,000-acre Colorado ranch, purchased in the $100 million range

Cielo Vista Ranch, as it is known, contains dozens of mountains, creeks, dense forests, and even several lakes. The property has a fairly colorful history — it was owned by a lumberman named Jack Taylor for more than 30 years, until late 1990s. Records show that Mr. Taylor sold the ranch — then known as the Taylor Ranch or La Sierra —  in two separate transactions for a total of about $23 million. The buyer, y’all might be interested to know, was the notorious Lou Pai, he of Enron fame and shame.

Our Mr. Pai became Colorado’s second-largest landowner with this purchase, but he only held onto the property for a few years. In 2004, he sold the whole caboodle for $60 million to a group of Texas investors. It was these investors who changed the name to Cielo Vista and put the giant spread up for sale at $105 million. Along came young Mr. Harrison, who scooped it up in 2017 for an undisclosed (but no doubt enormous) price.

For loads more breathtaking photos, visit the listing website.

Culebra Peak on Mr. Harrison’s Cielo Vista Ranch

Also worth noting is that the ranch is home to Culebra Peak, a 14,053-foot peak that is apparently the tallest privately-owned mountain in the whole wide world. If any of y’all feel like indulging your inner cowboy/mountaineer, Mr. Harrison will allow you to traipse over his land and scale Culebra for the low price of $150 per head.

So if you have the cash, pay up, hike, and then brag to friends that y’all climbed the tallest private mountain on the globe. Click here for the ranch website.

Listing agent: Chris Adlam, Vista Sotheby’s International Realty
William Harrison’s agents: The Altman Brothers, Douglas Elliman

4 Replies to “Oil billionaire William B. Harrison shatters the South Bay record with his $23 million splurge”

  1. Worth noting is that although the parking lot is right next to the house like you say, the house is on a knoll and far above and looks down on the lot, plus there are tall trees that screen it completely.

    1. too bad they don’t screen out the ugly house from the beach!

  2. You left out a vital piece of information about infamous “little cloud on the title” of the 80,000-acre La Sierra property in south-central Colorado. This is an 1844 Mexican Land Grant patented by the US Congress in 1860 and subject to the historic use rights of the original Mexican American people who have inhabited the watershed of the Culebra Mountains since 1851. These rights have been confirmed by the courts including a 2002 Colorado Supreme Court ruling that restored these use rights. We are heading back to court on Sept 5, 2018 because Mr. Harrison unwisely and erroneously wishes to circumvent established precedents and standing federal laws in an effort to expel the descendants of the original lands grant heirs and successors.

Leave a Reply