Last year, amid a deluge of publicity, an ultra-contemporary mansion in the posh seaside town of La Jolla, Calif. was listed for sale at $30 million. After a significant pricechop and a change of realtors, the architecturally significant property sold last week for $20.8 million, an amount that appears to be the most paid for a La Jolla home within the last three years and could be the town’s second-biggest residential transaction ever — behind only a $23.5 million sale recorded way back in 2005.
The mystery buyers, as the Wall Street Journal first revealed, are Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys and her powerhouse music producer husband Kasseem Dean, better-known to the public as Swizz Beatz. It would seem Keys, who has sold over 65 million records worldwide and Dean, who has produced hit singles for the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyonce — among many other artists — can well afford to maintain a lavish vacation home, though the East Coast-based pair has no known personal connection to La Jolla, a sleepy enclave about 20 minutes by vehicle northwest of downtown San Diego.
Built in 2007 and designed by noted architect Wallace E. Cunningham for original owner Don Cooksey, the striking residence clings thrillingly to the edge of a nearly sheer cliff, seemingly cantilevered directly above the Pacific Ocean. In reality, the .77-acre hillside lot is actually quite modestly-sized and treacherously steep — according to a 2008 Architectural Digest article, the property had previously been written off as unbuildable by several developers.
In 2011, the dynamic estate transferred for $14.1 million in a bankruptcy sale to Florida-based telecom entrepreneur Donald Burns, who added finishing touches and meticulously maintained the “Iron Man” house-inspired property throughout the eight years he owned it.
The multilevel main structure, which spans a hefty 10,653 square feet, includes such luxuries as a home theater, gym, library, an all-glass elevator and a kitchen with custom designer appliances. Nearly every wall in the residence is glass, while the floors are mostly hewn from travertine stone. An extra-long infinity pool juts out over the cliff’s edge, providing a sublime swimming experience for a thrill-seeker. Endless concrete terraces provide mesmerizing views of the surrounding hills and the aquamarine ocean far below, while a wee guesthouse provides additional living space for a caretaker.
The notably private property is invisible from the street out front, sequestered down a long driveway shared with two other mansions, both of them owned by non-celebrities. Some of the nearest notable La Jolla neighbors include billionaire Ron Burkle, Walmart heiress Christy Walton, disbarred attorney Bill Lerach and Austin, Texas-based software entrepreneur Jeff Hawn.
And in addition to their striking new La Jolla vacation home, Keys and Beatz continue to maintain a 25,000 sq. ft. megamansion main residence in Englewood, New Jersey. The palatial red brick Georgian pad was acquired for $12.1 million in 2013 from actor/comedian Eddie Murphy.
Josh & Matt Altman of The Altman Brothers team Douglas Elliman held the La Jolla listing; the Altmans and Stephen Sweeney, also of Douglas Elliman, repped Keys and Dean in the purchase.