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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

‘Billionaire Island’ Home on Sale for $74M

A 3,600-square-foot house in Harbor Island—the gated, 29-home Newport Beach neighborhood that’s home to longtime OC’s Wealthiest members Donald Bren, George and Julia Argyros, and Ron Simon as well as other mega-wealthy residents—hit the market this month for $74 million.

The six-bedroom, five-bathroom, bayfront home at 20 Harbor Island has been owned by the same family since the 1950s.

The sellers, Leslie Shattuck and her siblings, inherited the colonial-style home on the private island’s south side after their mother’s death in May. They put it up for sale because “it’s best that no one gets it,” Shattuck told the Wall Street Journal, speaking of her various family members.

If sold at the current asking price, the home would set a record for Orange County.

The highest-priced sale in the region, at 2585 Riviera Drive in Laguna Beach, traded hands in an off-market deal two years ago for $70 million to hedge fund billionaire Joseph Edelman, a “Weekend Wealthy” member of this week’s Business Journal OC’s Wealthiest list (see list, page 14).

The last transaction on Harbor Island’s south side took place in 2020, when owner Eric Tan, co-founder of mobile content aggregator Qutoutiao and a prior Weekend Wealthy inclusion on the OC’s Wealthiest list, sold his home to John Word, co-founder of Word & Brown General Agency, an Orange-based provider of insurance and health benefit brokers.

The home traded hands for a little more than half of OC’s current record—$38 million. The 14,200-square-foot neoclassical mansion, which has six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, was purchased by Tan for $37 million.

By contrast, 20 Harbor Island boasts “a charming 1937 home,” listing agent Rob Giem of Compass Inc. told the Business Journal. But its “value is primarily in the land.”

Other prior buyers on the island, most notably Bill and Sue Gross, now divorced, have torn down existing homes to make way for new construction.

Private Dock

20 Harbor Island offers a handful of features unique to its neighborhood, including a private dock.

Less than a dozen homes on the private island have a dock that can fit multiple 100-foot yachts—20 Harbor Island being one of them, according to Giem.

Bayfront homes with docks, like 20 Harbor Island, are a rare find, as the California Coastal Commission currently prohibits homeowners from adding features like docks and seawalls to their properties, Giem said.

Sizable Lots

Another bonus offered by the recently listed property is that it has two lots, both of which are larger than the neighborhood’s average size.

The half-acre parcel’s two lots are each 50 feet in width, while the standard single lot width in Harbor Island is 40 feet.

The house covers part of one lot, while the rest of the parcel comprises of a lawn and garden.

“It’s so rare in California to mix a waterfront property with grass and gardens,” Coldwell Banker’s Steve High, who is also representing the seller along with Evan Corkett, told the Business Journal. “That’s what makes it so special.”

The ongoing shortage of homes for sale also adds to 20 Harbor Island’s uniqueness.

“A piece of real estate like this generally doesn’t become available unless somebody passes away and the heirs don’t want to hang onto it,” High said. “When you look at the last two and a half years, the best properties that have come for sale primarily involved the death of an occupant. It’s a huge reality of our market.”

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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