Back in October, “Saturday Night Live” alum-turned-multimedia host and conservative political commentator Dennis Miller and wife Slim Paley rocked Montecito by inking a clandestine, off-market deal to sell their vast estate for a whopping $49 million in cash.
At that time, the new owners’ names were not publicly known, but now it turns out the mystery buyers were Ellen DeGeneres and her longtime wife Portia de Rossi, as was first revealed by the Wall Street Journal. The property-mad pair have an extensive and highly publicized affinity for buying and selling some of Santa Barbara’s most valuable homes.
Way back in 2006, the couple dropped $15.8 million on a Montecito estate that they sold the following year for $20 million to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Several years later, in 2013, they paid another $28.8 million for another Montecito compound that was offloaded five years later for $34 million to Netflix COO Ted Sarandos and his wife Nicole Avant. In fall 2017, they shelled out $7.2 million for a late 1800s Montecito ranch that sold just eight months later for $11 million to Tinder founder Sean Rad. Also in fall 2017, the couple paid $18.6 million for a waterfront Carpinteria mansion that they lucratively flipped to cosmetics mogul Jamie Kern Lima in summer 2019 for $23 million. That same year, they tossed out $29 million for a Bali-style compound that was flipped last month for $33.3 million to an as-yet-unidentified billionaire. And just this August, they paid nearly $27 million for a Tuscan-style Montecito mansion that has already been resold — for a hefty $29 million — to venture capitalist Marc Stad.
However, this particular splurge is the couple’s biggest yet, and one of the priciest deals ever inked in Santa Barbara County, behind only the $63.3 million paid by Riley Bechtel for his far larger, 237-acre Montecito ranch and the widely reported $50 million Oprah Winfrey paid for the bulk of her 66-acre “Promised Land” fiefdom, way back in 2001.
Of course, DeGeneres’ new 4.3-acre compound isn’t just any old 4.3-acre Montecito compound, it’s a fairytale-like confection of an estate that more closely resembles a small village than an ordinary home. The sprawling property sits behind walls and tall gates and comprises five separate structures — there’s a guesthouse, a detached garage building, a poolhouse, a barn designed by venerated architect Tom Kundig, and a 9,000-square-foot main mansion designed in the authentic South African Cape Dutch architectural style.
Per property records, Miller and Paley paid $11 million in 2006 for the three-parcel property, and spent nearly a decade cobbling together the premises. All five of the buildings surround a central lily pond that’s the size of a small lake, stocked with fish and equipped with a rowboat to boot. Set on a knoll just above the pond is an infinity-edged swimming pool with bird’s eye views over the entire property; for exercise aficionados, an array of pathways criss-cross the entire compound, perfect for a scenic jog or walk.
Since the property was never on the market, photos are few, but tax records and aerial views show there are 16,000 square feet of total living space, organic vegetable gardens, mature specimen trees, vast motorcourts with parking for 30+ cars, lush green hillsides, and hidden outdoor seating areas for moments of reflective solitude.
Besides their new Montecito mega-estate, DeGeneres and de Rossi still maintain a small condo elsewhere in Montecito, plus a $42.5 million Beverly Hills mansion they bought from Adam Levine last year. Though it’s not currently for sale on the open market, that Beverly Hills property is believed to be quietly available for showings to qualified buyers, if you know the right L.A. real estate broker to call.