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Seller's Critics See a $75-Million Ego With an Ocean View

A Corona del Mar home, 30,000 square feet on three lots, is called massively overpriced.

May 19, 2006|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

For $75 million, you could buy the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team, a Boeing 737 or 20 million large cafe mochas at Starbucks.

Or you could snap up the country's most expensive home for sale outside of the East Coast -- a 30,000-square-foot mansion perched on a cliff in Corona del Mar.

"This is a destination resort hotel on a small scale," said Newport Beach architect Brion Jeannette, who designed the two-story home that spreads across three lots.

The property's eye-popping price had some local real estate experts shaking their heads. They called it "very overpriced" and "a joke" designed to generate publicity.

The story of the $75-million house has been picked up in the local and national media, including a segment Thursday on "Good Morning America" and an upcoming feature on "Entertainment Tonight."

"Every agent in town is talking about it," said real estate broker Mark Whitehead, who sells homes in Corona del Mar. "It's a joke. It's an image thing. It's an ego trip to sell the most expensive home on the market, but at the end of the day, you've got to sell the ... thing."

Whitehead said the home next door to the mansion -- referred to in the listing as Portabello by the Sea -- is priced at $70 million less.

"Anyone with any brains will do homework and will find out it's so far off the planet," Whitehead said. "With that kind of money, people would rather buy Johnny Carson's home for a lot less."

The onetime Carson Malibu home, being sold by the comedian's heirs, is on the market at nearly $42 million. The 4-acre property includes a 7,100-square-foot main house on a bluff overlooking Paradise Cove, and a 2,700-square-foot guesthouse.

Bill Cote, owner of Cote Realty Group in Newport Beach, noted that Portabello's asking price was 300% more than the highest amount ever paid for an Orange County home.

"It's a highly customized house that fits the ego" of the owner but maybe nobody else, Cote said. "Someone who has $75 million can get something built to fit with their own ego and get exactly what they want. It's a very overpriced house."

Portabello's listing agent, John McMonigle of Coldwell Banker Previews International, declined to comment but released a statement saying that the house was reasonably priced, considering that the land was worth $45 million.

A listing agent for Donald Trump said people shouldn't be too quick to dismiss the asking price.

"The art is what do you have and how special is it?" said Howard Loberg, listing agent for Trump's $125-million mansion in Florida. "If it's oceanfront, these properties speak for itself."

The estate's price tag makes it one of the three most expensive homes on the U.S. market, according to real estate experts.

A 60-acre New York farmland mansion in the Hamptons also is listed at $75 million.

Often the high price tags on luxury homes in Southern California get slashed.

In December, an Emerald Bay home in Laguna Beach was sold to real estate investment group founder William Shopoff for $22.5 million, a 20% discount from the original asking price.

In August, McMonigle listed a Newport Coast home for $17.9 million. After nine months, it sold for $14.8 million.

The price of a Bel-Air home was recently lowered 20% to $43 million and was still on the market. The mansion includes a 34,000-square-foot house with a movie theater, a two-lane bowling alley and an indoor-outdoor pool.

The Portabello estate belongs to Frank Pritt, who in 1982 founded software maker Attachmate Corp., a privately held technology company in Bellevue, Wash.

In the late 1990s, Pritt bought three oceanfront homes on Brighton Road for a total of about $13 million. He tore down the houses and spent four years building Portabello.

The home, which has views of Catalina Island, Palos Verdes and Dana Point, has eight bedrooms -- including a master suite the size of an average California home -- 10 bathrooms, three pools with a swim-up bar and winding tunnel slide, a theater with rows of lounge seats, a two-story grotto and a gym. The 16-car subterranean parking garage houses Pritt's car collection.

Pritt, who sold his company last year, has retired to Washington.

Looky-loos will not be allowed inside the Corona del Mar home unless they can prove a net worth of $500 million or annual salary of $10 million.

As Susan Breitenbach, a New York real estate agent specializing in luxury homes, says, "It's a skinny market."

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