Ambry Genetics founder Charles Dunlop dumps $20 million cash on a Malibu cottage

Duty Free heiress Alexandra von Furstenberg has been bitten by the flip bug, that same pesky virus that is afflicting so many other rich folks here in LA. Last year, as Yolanda told y’all, she paid exactly $16 million for a rather humble shack (just 2,273-square-feet) on a blufftop in Malibu’s exclusive Point Dume neighborhood. At the time, Yolanda speculated that she would raze the small house to make way for a grand mansion. Not so, however. Our gurl gave the little place a quick polish and flipped it this month for a very healthy profit in an all-cash deal. But before we dive into the property discussion, a quick background refresh on Ms. von Furstenberg.

The well-connected international socialite — her sisters are Pia Getty and Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece — had a decidedly cosmopolitan upbringing. Born Alexandra Miller in New York City to an American-born British father and an Ecuadorian mother, she was raised primarily in Hong Kong (where her multi-billionaire daddy still resides, incidentally).

Ms. von Furstenberg attended boarding school at the world-famous Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, before studying fashion at Parsons (in New York) and art history at Brown, an Ivy League college in Rhode Island. She married Prince Alexander von Furstenberg of Germany — the son of Belgian fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and stepson of American billionaire Barry Diller — though they eventually divorced after having two children. (Her ex-hubby is a Beverly Park resident, didn’tchaknow?) Nowadays, Ms. von Furstenberg lives in Los Angeles, owns her own WeHo-based acrylic furniture design business, and is married to an LA native and former model named Dax Miller who now toils as an architectural designer. Had Ms. von Furstenberg taken her second hubby’s name, she would be Alexandra Miller (coincidentally, also her birth name). But she still uses her first husband’s surname, so there ya go.

Confused yet?

Alexander von Furstenberg and her (second) husband Dax Miller

Back to the house. Ms. von Fursenberg hired her hubby (hope she got a good rate!) to refresh the Malibu shack. Our Mr. Miller did just that, replacing the somewhat disjointed interiors with an unfussy neutral theme. White oak flooring, white walls and such. Over the past year, he has posted several pics of his handiwork up on the Instagram contraption, if anyone is curious.

Mr. Miller also replaced the front yard’s thirsty green lawn with native, drought-resistant grasses, plenty of space for off-street parking, and a bocce ball court. Plenty of room for that on the spacious 1-acre lot.

All those tweaks and upgrades were sufficient to lure a mysterious buyer who paid $20 million in cash — a $4 million profit for Ms. von Furstenberg before taxes, real estate fees, and whatever compensation she provided to Mr. Miller for his efforts. Not bad work if you can get it, right?

Though the grant deed shows the house was acquired an entity called Bear Button One LLC (with an address in Orange County, CA) Yolanda happens to know that the big-bucks new owners are a married couple from Laguna Beach named Leddy Renwick and Charles “Charlie” Dunlop.

Charlie Dunlop & Leddy Renwick

Ms. Renwick is a local Laguna Beach real estate agent, and Mr. Dunlop is a businessman who singlehandedly founded the OC-based biotech company Ambry Genetics way back in 1999, in a tiny office with money borrowed from family members. Ambry now has approximately 700 employees and is a leading provider and pioneer of clinical diagnostics testing services for genetic diseases, including cancer and such.

Ambry’s mission is near and dear to Mr. Dunlop’s heart — after all, he is himself a cancer survivor. His stage 4 prostate cancer is currently in remission, thankfully. “Cancer sucks,” says Mr. Dunlop. True that.

Last year, after nearly two decades of growth, Mr. Dunlop sold Ambry to Japanese tech conglomerate Konica Minolta in a deal valued up to $1 billion. So rest assured that he and Ms. Renwick can afford just about any house they want. And apparently what they wanted was a very modest (yet still inordinately expensive) blufftop pad in Malibu.

Originally built in 1966, the traditional ranch-ish style structure sits far back behind a gated entryway and the aforementioned front yard with its native fauna and such. Also out front is perhaps the property’s most unusual feature: the detached “air conditioned casita”. It looks just big enough to accommodate a couple chairs, and Yolanda can’t fathom why someone would sit here with a view of the driveway rather than out back with the ocean vistas. Maybe to survey a quick game of bocce?

The interiors are light and bright and low-maintenance. A small kitchen contains an uber-expensive SubZero fridge, wine cooler, Caesarstone countertops, stainless appliances, and opens to the fireplace-equipped living room. There are just two bedrooms and three bathrooms in the petite house, though the separate great room/lounge could potentially be a third bedroom, we suppose.

All rooms on the property sport divine ocean views.

Back in the living room, the sliding glass doors open to a polycarbonate awning-shaded (that awning blocks 90% of UV rays, per the listing!) outdoor deck with comfy-lookin’ couches. The backyard is a mix of drought-friendly grasses and two expansive strips of lawn.

Though the yard is pool-less, there is a wooden jacuzzi. But if that is not sufficient for swimmin’ purposes, we suppose very adventurous (or very drunk) folks could always try diving off the cliffside into the Pacific Ocean below.

Just kidding. Don’t do it, y’all — no need. Included with the house purchase are coveted keys to nearly-private Little Dume Beach.

Mr. Dunlop and Ms. Renwick’s nearest new Point Dume neighbors include Malibu mega-realtor Chris Cortazzo, tech entrepreneur Erik Swan, hedge funder David Visher, and Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler.

The Renwick-Dunlops’ main residence, Laguna Beach

Although Yolanda would be surprised if they do not own any other real estate, the only other house that we can link the Renwick-Dunlops to is their current residence in Laguna Beach, also a surprisingly modest (if fairly expensive) affair. The remodeled 1974-built structure is located way high up in the hills above the city — near the stunningly scenic Top of the World hiking trail — and has a pool and three bedroom suites in 2,725-square-feet of living space.

Records show the couple picked up the property in 2014 for $2,175,000.

As for Alexandra von Furstenberg, she resides in a grand Holmby Hills mansion located on what is perhaps LA’s most prestigious street: South Mapleton Drive.

Alexandra von Furstenberg’s custom-built Holmby Hills estate

The completely symmetrical H-shaped mega-mansion known as Sunridge was custom-built for Ms. von Furstenberg and was mostly designed by her hubby. In April 2015, the couple had a portion of the 18,000-square-feet of art-filled contemporary living space photographed for Architectural Digest. And Mr. Miller has a whole slew of house pics on his website.

Alexandra von Furstenberg’s agent: Chris Cortazzo, Coldwell Banker
Charles Dunlop’s agent: Kevin Augunas, Coldwell Banker

3 Replies to “Ambry Genetics founder Charles Dunlop dumps $20 million cash on a Malibu cottage”

  1. Nothing like real estate in Malibu & Holmby Hills, especially when you’re on the BEST streets. They know “value”

  2. Wow, prices are really out of control. Just incredible to think that this house probably would have sold for $1 million, if that, in the 1980s.

  3. Mark Marquette says: Reply

    Right next to another recently sold property, previously owned by Bill Lawrence & Christa Miller. Malibu is a seller’s market right now

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