Back in 2010, while holidaying in Santa Barbara, producer/screenwriter Rob Allyn and his wife Monica impulsively fulfilled their longtime dream of owning a Montecito home, doling out $13.7 million for an extravagant Italianate mansion known as Villa Bencista. But now, after funneling an additional $2.5 million worth of improvements into the place, they’ve chosen to depart California in favor of returning to their home state of Texas.
The couple is handing over the real estate reins to prominent financier Scott Casto, a cofounder of the Chicago-based investment firm Pondera Holdings, who paid $16.3 million for the over-the-top, amenity-laden estate, which is paired with jaw-dropping ocean and mountain vistas.
Casto — who with his wife Janell has long owned an elegant mansion in the bucolic Chicago suburb of Wheaton — was represented in the Montecito purchase by Marsha Kotlyar of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties; Dusty Baker of Sotheby’s International Realty served as the listing agent.
Nestled securely behind a pair of stately iron-clad gates, the sprawling four-acre estate wows from first glance with an impressive vine-covered façade accented by ornamental balustrades, columns and arches, along with a cobblestone motor court, all flanked by soaring cypress trees and colorful bougainvillea bushes. Built in 2002, the spread has a trio of structures totaling a whopping 12,200-plus square feet, including the main house and a couple of matching, recently renovated poolside guesthouses.
Glass and wrought-iron entry doors open into the main residence, which offers 10,300 square feet of Old World-style living space on two levels rife with towering wood-beamed ceilings, French doors, archways, marble and polished wide-plank hardwood flooring, hued wood paneling, antique crystal chandeliers and hand-carved stone fireplaces throughout.