Well, that didn’t take long. Only a month after it first popped up for sale, the stunningly preserved San Marino home of the late Stephen Hillenburg has sold for about $5.1 million in an all-cash deal — an almost unbelievable $1.1 million more than the $4 million asking price and more than double what the “Spongebob SquarePants” creator paid for the place in 2006.
Records reveal the ferocious bidding war’s winner is Hong Kong-born billionaire Gerald Chan, a naturalized U.S. citizen who made his fortune in shopping malls and other real estate holdings in Hong Kong and Mainland China, and in private equity and venture capital investment stateside. In 2014, Chan and his brother Ronnie — who are together worth $2 billion, per Forbes — donated $350 million to Harvard University, the largest single donation in the school’s history up to that point.
Chan purchased the swanky San Marino property for his elder son Ashley “Ash” Chan, a longtime Tinseltown resident and the proprietor of Downtown L.A.’s The Container Yard, a favorite venue for local street artists. Ash, a UCLA grad who was born and raised in Boston, previously owned a contemporary home in the Echo Park neighborhood.
The Hillenburgs painstakingly maintained the gated San Marino property’s exterior architecture, and the modernist mecca appears mostly unchanged from its 1959 beginnings at the hands of architects Buff, Straub, & Hensman. Inside, the decor has been given a sympathetic refresh courtesy of Space International, and the sunkissed spaces include walls of glass, clerestory windows, white oak built-ins and reclaimed oak flooring.
Spanning more than a half-acre, the knoll-top lot includes an elegantly rectangular swimming pool, extensive decking, and two ancillary structures — a freestanding studio and separate art studio. Also there are tropical-inspired gardens designed by Kathleen Ferguson, with tall bamboo hedges and other leafy plantings.
Back inside, there’s a living room with a slick tongue-and-groove ceiling and brick inlay fireplace. The modernized kitchen includes an big island and top-of-the-line appliances, while the master suite has a skylit bath slathered in colorful mosaic tile. In nearly every room, floor-to-ceiling glass sliders seamlessly spill out to al fresco patios.