We aren’t even halfway through 2022, but Ron Burkle has already had a whirlwind year of real estate dealings. The historic architecture aficionado bought himself an oceanfront home in the Malibu Colony just before putting Bob Hope’s longtime Toluca Lake estate up for grabs, seeking $29 million. Now he’s done it yet again, shoveling out $5.7 million to acquire a 112-year-old mansion in the leafy town of Pasadena.
Burkle, 69, isn’t quite a household name, but his well-documented affinity for architecturally significant homes has made him something of a legend in real estate circles. The SoCal native is also a major Democratic political donor and a billionaire, worth $2.2 billion per Forbes, who made his fortune through leveraged buyouts of supermarket chains like Stater Bros., Fresh & Easy and Ralphs.
Built in 1910, the Arts and Crafts-style Pasadena house is christened “El Arco” and was the handiwork of prolific turn-of-the-century architect Sumner Hunt, who also designed Downtown L.A.’s beautiful Bradbury Building. Situated behind big gates and hedges on a 1.16-acre lot, the 7,300-square-foot mansion underwent a thorough renovation about a decade ago, courtesy of its previous owners — a local couple who bought the place back in 2006 for $2.6 million. Initially put up for sale in early 2020 with a $7.5 million price tag, the home’s ask cratered to $5.9 million after nearly two years on the market, just before Burkle came calling.
While architecture purists may be disappointed with the updates, the thoroughly modernized structure is undeniably luxe and family-friendly, with a trove of contemporary conveniences that include an all-new kitchen with premium stainless appliances, a lower level with a second kitchen, billiard room and climate-controlled wine storage room, and an upstairs master retreat with a “spa-like bath, sitting area, and fireplace,” per the listing.
Within interiors wrapped in an elegantly subdued color scheme are five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Out back, doors from the house open to a sprawling rear terrace with an outdoor fireplace, pizza oven and full kitchen. Beyond that, the terraced yard sports rolling lawns, mature eucalyptus trees, organic vegetable gardens, a bocce ball court and even a vineyard.
Perhaps surprisingly, the property is not equipped with a conventional swimming pool. But there are several elegant fountains and other assorted water features, including a pond-like confection that the listing describes as a “children’s pool.”
Burkle’s property portfolio is practically too extensive to cover in full, but we’ll do our absolute best. In addition to his Pasadena, Malibu and Toluca Lake homes, he owns the fabled Greenacres estate in Beverly Hills, today valued at well north of $100 million. Back in 2020, he paid $22 million for Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and he also still owns Bob Hope’s spaceship-like mansion in Palm Springs, originally designed by John Lautner. His palatial blufftop mansion in the La Jolla Farms neighborhood is one of San Diego’s largest homes. But Burkle’s main residence, for now, remains a private island on Montana’s Flathead Lake with its own 22,000-square-foot “castle” built by real estate titan Donald Abbey.