Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a handful of reader requests to discuss damages incurred by the devastating Woolsey Fire. Now that the blaze is fully contained and we’ve had an opportunity to assess the situation, the time is right for a quick chat.
Some folks might label us callous for choosing to discuss mansions owned by billionaires instead of focusing on the fate of poor Northern California evacuees, like those forced to live in tents during the rain and cold. We can’t imagine that and do have sympathy for everyone who lost homes and possessions. But this is a blog dealing with high-end real estate, so we’re gonna stay in our lane today. Capiche?
The fire impacted Thousand Oaks and Calabasas, among other neighboring cities. But it was particularly devastating to the seaside community of Malibu, where up to 450 homes were leveled and the landscape — particularly in the once-scenic mountains and canyons — has been radically altered. Y’all already know about the celebrity homes destroyed, including Liam Hemsworth’s Ramirez Canyon estate, Gerard Butler’s Point Dume compound, Neil Young’s ranch, and Camille Grammer’s Ramirez Mesa pad.
Mr. Bass bought the home for $15 million from actor Patrick Dempsey and proceeded to spend another $4 million on the more modest ranch next door, which was also lost to the flames.
Woolsey burned erratically and randomly. While the Bass estate is no more, other large properties in the line of fire somehow survived. The $16 million La Vie en Rose manor, recently purchased by auto dealership mogul Todd Blue, is intact. Yet the grounds are mostly gone.
The most valuable Malibu property affected by the fire, however, was unquestionably the under-construction compound of Laurene Powell, the philanthropic widow of Steve Jobs. Our Ms. Powell paid more than $60 million for the Paradise Cove property in two separate transactions — the first in 2014 — and has since spent millions more to upgrade and renovate every inch of the multi-acre estate.
Another wealthy person impacted by the blaze was video gamer Jon Burton, who lives two doors away from Ms. Powell. Our Mr. Burton originally hails from jolly ol’ England, but he’s lived in Malibu since 2012, ever since he and the missus paid a frightening $36.5 million — in cash — for a rather spectacular compound on Paradise Cove. (Y’all may balk at the price of Mr. Burton’s house, but Yolanda is of the opinion he got a great deal and the property has actually doubled in value since his purchase).
But anywho, Mr. Burton keeps a popular YouTube vlog that we follow. Last week, he posted a video account of his own experience with the fire, which is quite dramatic and shows y’all just how close it came to swallowing his home whole. To summarize: after evacuating with his wife and sons, Mr. Burton returned to Malibu (via boat), swam ashore, arrived to a blaze on his property, and proceeded to spend the entire day defending his home with a garden hose. All while barefoot. (Ouch. Sounds painful!)
Thanks to Mr. Burton and his neighbor’s valiant efforts, Mr. Burton’s mansion was saved. Ms. Powell, however, was not so fortunate. At timestamps 3:30 and 4:40 in Mr. Burton’s video, y’all can see her property (at one point, it appears Mr. Burton is actually standing on her land). And the place looks totally, completely, absolutely scorched.
We aren’t certain if Ms. Powell’s main mansion survived — based on vague intel, we think it may only have partially burnt — but much of the construction site was utterly destroyed. Whether she will begin anew or abandon the project entirely remains to be seen.
Obviously Ms. Powell, Mr. Burton, and Mr. Bass don’t have to worry about pesky little people problems like money or lodging. So we understand it might be difficult to have much sympathy for them.
But mull over this: back in 2014, when Ms. Powell purchased her Malibu compound, your gurl heard through the grapevine that she specifically wanted a home on Paradise Cove — she didn’t even bother looking at any of the other wealthy neighborhoods around town, like Carbon Beach or The Colony. And like we say, she’s since spent the last 4+ years working to build a custom “dream” estate, much of which was decimated by the blaze. So while the money ain’t an issue, Woolsey did rob her of the dream — at least temporarily — and time. Possibly years of time.
And really, isn’t that the most valuable commodity of all?