Two years ago, Veronica Gallardo plunked down $6.5 million to buy a contemporary mansion in Encino. So it’s not entirely surprising that the Rolls Royce-driving queen bee of L.A.’s auto insurance scene — any Angeleno will surely recognize her smiling face, which graces bus ads and billboards across Southern California — has now elected to sell her other mansion, a wildly extravagant compound on more than 3.6 acres in Redlands, about 90 minutes (by car) east of Encino and 45 miles west of Palm Springs.
Born and raised in Mexico, Gallardo emigrated to the U.S. as a teen. In her 20s, she became a licensed insurance broker and set up Veronica’s Insurance, a small brokerage in California’s Inland Empire. Today, Veronica’s Insurance has more than 500 employees and nearly 100 locations spread across California, Colorado, Texas and Florida. (For anyone curious, Veronica is indeed the younger sister of fellow insurance tycoon Adriana Gallardo, founder and CEO of the equally successful Adriana’s Insurance chain.)
As for the Redlands estate, the sprawling property was constructed over several years beginning in 1907, and ultimately completed in 1910. It was built as the winter vacation home of O.T. Higgins, a son of wealthy politician Frank W. Higgins, who was Governor of New York from 1905-1906. The younger Higgins hired bigshot Robert D. Farquhar — the architect who also designed Beverly Hills High School and the $88 million Owlwood Estate in Holmby Hills — to design the compound, which was modeled after villas Higgins had seen while traveling in France and Italy.
Following Higgins’ 1912 death, the property changed hands several times, and was eventually used as a private maternity hospital and later as a boutique hotel.
Records reveal Gallardo bought Farquhar’s creation way back in 2007, paying $2.2 million. At the time, the once-grand house had fallen into disrepair and required substantial updates. Gallardo subsequently spent years — and likely millions more — on a comprehensive restoration of the vast estate. Per the listing, she replaced all the electrical systems, all the piping/plumbing, all the floors, re-landscaped the entire shebang, and even installed a second swimming pool on the premises.
The massive main house also got a top-to-bottom facelift, with no expense spared. But good help was hard to find — Gallardo fired her original interior designer because they were giving the century-old property “too much of a Newport Coast look,” per the homeowner herself.
Gallardo wanted more European panache and less bland Newport luxury in her project, so she subsequently hired Palm Beach-based designer Tonie VanderHulst to assist with the estate’s overhaul. The decidedly bespoke result is below, in all its gilt-trimmed and baroque glory. Today, there are staff quarters, two outdoor swimming pools and two motorcourts with parking for dozens of cars. And even at an asking price of nearly $6 million, it seems unlikely Gallardo will walk with any sort of profit, especially considering the scope of her renovations and 15 years of upkeep costs on an estate of this stature.
While Gallardo’s personal style and choice of decor may not be to everyone’s taste, the lavish home remains an interesting take on a very custom, decidedly non-generic creation. It’s also a fun look at what a near-limitless restoration budget can buy.