More than six months after disastrous fires and mudslides killed 21 people and wreaked havoc on Montecito‘s economy, rebuilding efforts continue. And the roughly 9,000 residents of the elite seaside community have banded together to support local vendors and better prepare neighbors for future catastrophic events. As they say, sometimes it takes a disaster to remind us all of the powerful nature of human compassion. ‘Tis true.
Like nearly all local industries, the local real estate market initially suffered, though it is quickly zooming back with a vengeance that Yolanda did not anticipate. Particularly in the ultra-high-end sector, where the past few months have borne witness to not one but two eye-popping real estate deals, the likes of which Santa Barbara County has not seen in more than a decade.
The first is the $35 million that Jamie Kern Lima paid for a Mediterranean-style Montecito mansion back in March (2018). And now, property records show that real estate-lovin’ talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sold her sprawling Montecito estate in June (2018) for $34 million. That’s a far cry from the $45 million she originally asked for the property last year, but still a healthy chunk more than the $28,800,000 she and her wife Portia DeRossi paid for the estate five years ago, way back in 2013.
Records also clearly reveal that the buyers are a married couple named Theodore “Ted” Sarandos and Nicole Avant. Our Mr. Sarandos is Netflix’s Chief Content Officer (CCO) and compensation information shows he was paid more than $22 million last year alone. As for Ms. Avant, she is the former United States Ambassador to the Bahamas and the daughter of mega-wealthy music producer Clarence Avant.
The Avant-Sarandos couple have a clearly defined taste for luxury living and their new Montecito acquisition is just one of multiple homes they own across Southern California. In fact, according to Yolanda’s calculations, the pair currently own more than $60 million worth of lavish real estate across our fair state. More on their holdings a bit later, of course.
The $34 million, nearly 17-acre spread is accessed via a gated, quarter-mile-long driveway that winds past groves of mature olive and eucalyptus trees. A cobblestone motorcourt graces the front of the low-slung main house, which was originally built in the 1930s and designed by celebrated architect Wallace Frost.
Clearly made to evoke a 17th century Italian farmhouse, the 10,500-square-foot main residence features a sprawling living room equipped with a fireplace and natural stone.
Other spaces include an epically-proportioned dining room with seating space for a dozen or more, a commercial-grade kitchen with high-end everything, and cozy family and wine-tasting rooms.
The main house additionally includes a master suite with vaulted ceilings, skylights, and convenient access to outdoor seating areas overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The estate’s numerous outdoor amentieis include a full-size tennis/sports court, a simple rectangular-shaped swimming pool, and multiple seating/lounging areas with scenic views.
The property also includes a glassy guest residence with a spacious sunroom, an expansive kitchen, and a sculptural wet bar plus an al fresco outdoor dining terrace with a BBQ, pizza oven, and covered dining.
In addition to the $34 million they got from the Avant-Sarandoses, Ms. DeGeneres and Ms. DeRossi recently sold another Montecito residence for $11 million to Tinder founder Sean Rad. However, the couple still own an $18.6 million oceanfront spread in Carpinteria — a small town just south of Montecito — and their $16 million main residence in Beverly Hills.
As for Mr. Sarandos and Ms. Avant, they mainly reside in the so-called Isidor Eisner estate in LA’s tony Hancock Park neighborhood. More than three years after they purchased the property for nearly $16 million (from actors Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas), the sale remains the most ever paid for a house in the area.
Less than a year ago, the LA power couple paid just over $20 million for another oceanfront Malibu house — this one located in the more remote Encinal Bluffs neighborhood. After just eight months of ownership, Mr. Sarandos and Ms. Avant flipped the property for $21,250,000 to British pop singer Robbie Williams and his American actress wife Ayda Field.
Listing agent: Suzanne Perkins, Sotheby’s International Realty