The increasingly posh L.A. neighborhood of Encino has seen record real estate deals in recent months — most notably, Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s $20 million splurge on a brand-new compound — but not every area homeowner has been so financially fortunate.
Back in 2017, veteran NFL star Antonio Gates paid $7 million for a brand-new Encino mansion. Within a year, however, it appears he ran into cash flow difficulties: at least two notices of default were filed against the property and a foreclosure auction was eventually scheduled, though Gates managed to stave off his creditors until last month, when he unloaded the house for $6.5 million — a heart-stopping $500,000 loss before taxes, maintenance and hefty realtor fees.
According to property records, the discount buyer is Verónica Gallardo, the Mexican immigrant who founded Veronica’s Insurance Services, a low-priced auto insurance broker that has grown to encompass nearly three dozen offices scattered around the L.A. area.
Gallardo is also the younger sister of Adriana Gallardo, the CEO and founder of Adriana’s Insurance Services, a giant firm that has nearly 50 offices statewide and now ranks as one of the largest independent auto insurance providers in all of California.
The new Gallardo estate is invisible from the street, sequestered behind tall gates and an exceptionally long driveway, while the mansion-sized main house encompasses 8,500 square feet of living space. The Miami-style interiors are light and bright with wide-plank oak floors, a living room and formal dining area, plus there’s a glass-enclosed wine room with space for 300+ bottles and a private tasting space.
One particular showstopper is the all-white kitchen, which sports porcelain floors and the full range of high-end appliances. A dual-sided fireplace separated the kitchen from the family room, while a separate soundproof movie theater contains a top-of-the-line projector and surround sound. Naturally, the upstairs master suite has a private deck flaunting long and wide views over the San Fernando Valley basin, while the entire house — and the detached office/guesthouse — is outfitted with Crestron smart home technology.
Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass doors automatically slide away at the touch of a button, blurring the indoor/outdoor line and providing direct access to the backyard, where there’s a sports court, grassy lawn, swimming pool with inset spa, outdoor kitchen and stone patio space for alfresco dining or entertaining.
Nice as the Encino property is, it’s little more than a shack in comparison to Gallardo’s main residence, a massive historic estate in Redlands, Calif., about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. That property, completed in 1910, was built by a Mr. Higgins — son of a former governor of New York — as his West Coast winter retreat, and was modeled after his wife’s childhood home in France. The Mediterranean-style compound includes a 13,000 sq. ft. main house with acres of marble, plus a two-story guesthouse, two swimming pools, formal gardens, a ballroom and even an at-home beauty salon.