When a quiet man with a 10-digit net worth speaks, I like to listen.
Norm Waitt Jr., co-founder of Gateway computers, is selling his Montecito mansion -- Belle Epoque -- in a sealed-bid auction.
The house, his ex-wife's pet project, had been listed for more than a year. He even dropped the price from $24.8 million to an eventual $19.7 million, based on his agent's advice that "below $20 million" would attract a buyer. It didn't.
"Selling it in an auction sounded interesting to me," Waitt said. "It's a different marketing approach." Sheldon Good & Co. is handling the sale, which, according to Senior Vice President David Latvaaho, will cast a wide net and likely attract foreign buyers as well as the usual suspects. Bids must be submitted by 3 p.m. on June 25, and Waitt can accept, reject or negotiate with any and all bidders.
Belle Epoque -- French for "beautiful era" -- is a French Country estate in a sea of Montecito Mediterraneans. It has 12,000 square feet overlooking the Pacific on almost 3 acres. There are five bedrooms, eight full and three half bathrooms, five fireplaces and reclaimed wide-plank oak floors. There are formal gardens, large lawns, a wildflower meadow, plus a pool and spa.
Waitt, divorced in 2006, says he is selling because it's more house than he needs. "I'm single," said the 54-year-old, "and this is more of a family house." Plus he already owns another house in Montecito.
Waitt left Gateway in 1991 and was an executive producer of the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2002).