In the final days of December 2021, a particularly lavish Bel Air estate sold for $133 million in cash — the fourth-priciest residential real estate deal ever inked in California, behind only the $150 million Bel Air estate bought in 2019 by Lachlan Murdoch, the $165 million paid in 2020 by Jeff Bezos, and the $177 million Malibu property acquired just last October by tech billionaire/venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.
Now the Wall Street Journal has revealed the newest member of the nine-figure house ownership club is crypto kingpin Brian Armstrong, cofounder and CEO of exchange mega-juggernaut Coinbase. A public company since April 2021, Coinbase’s current market cap exceeds $50 billion, and Armstrong’s personal net worth has since soared to more than $10 billion. While Coinbase remains headquartered in San Francisco, Armstrong — a San Jose, Calif. native — has been based in sunny L.A. for some time.
We’ve written in detail about this particular Bel Air estate on several prior occasions. But for newbies, here’s a refresher course: the property consists of four contiguous land parcels totaling roughly 4.6 acres — vast by L.A. standards. There’s a contemporary main house spanning approximately 19,000 square feet, complete with five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and additional staff quarters. That structure is reportedly the only John Pawson-designed residential home in Los Angeles.
Also on the premises, but located on a separate parcel, is a second house originally designed in the 1930s by acclaimed architect Paul R. Williams. Though it’s now used as a guesthouse, that 6,600-square-foot structure is still larger than most American homes. It’s also got its own swimming pool, poolhouse and what appears to be a detached garage, so any Armstrong guests exiled there will have little to complain about.
But it’s the main home’s striking design that attracts most of the attention. Built to look like two stacked cubes — one cantilevered over the other — the place was built in 2009 for booze heiress Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, a daughter of billionaire Seagram heir Charles Bronfman, and her investor husband Andrew Hauptman. In 2017, the house was photographed for Architectural Digest. The following year, the Hauptmans sold the entire estate for $85 million to Japanese businessman Hideki Tomita, who majorly cashed in upon flipping the place to Armstrong.
Critics and peanut gallery experts are divided about the main mansion’s architectural merits. Some minimalist lovers appreciate the pureness and simplicity of the home’s embellishment-free interiors, others decry it as basic and soulless — complete with unflattering comparisons to an Apple Store. Acquired taste though it may be, the house is certainly distinctive and unlike any other mansion in the area, and the Pawson name gives it an enviable pedigree. It’s also positioned on acres of exquisitely private land in prime lower Bel Air, and has an infinity-edged pool with panoramic views over the L.A. city skyline. Take all that into consideration, and the astronomic price begins to make some sense.
For more pics and details of the property, hop over to our previous recap of the deal.