She certainly isn’t as well known as Cher, Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts and some of the other mega-famous Malibu mainstays, but when she passed away earlier this year, at 84, Janet MacPherson was lionized with a long, gorgeous obit in no less than The New York Times.
Described in the article’s headline as “a Kind of First Wave Feminist in Surfing,” MacPherson was a rare woman to take up surfing as a teenager in the 1950s. She continued to surf her entire life. She surfed in New Zealand in the 1960s, while pregnant with her son, well-known hotelier and restaurateur Sean MacPherson, and she hung ten off the coast of Malibu well into her 80s. Mr. MacPherson describes his mother as “a category of one.”
Along with her surfing excursions along the California coast and around the globe, MacPherson quietly amassed a multimillion-dollar portfolio of rental properties up and down the Malibu coastline. One of her homes, in Malibu Canyon, was sold earlier this year for $4 million and another, an unassuming 1960s home on Pacific Coast Highway, across from La Costa Beach, was put on the market shortly after her death with an asking price pressing up on $3 million. The price dropped to just under $2.6 million, and online records indicate the property is currently under contract with a contingent offer
Though records suggest she owned the home since the late 1970s, it seems unlikely MacPherson occupied the house in recent years; digital records show it it was available as a rental in 2019 and again in 2021 with asking prices between $8,950 and $9,975 per month.
Listings held by Jeffrey Chertow at Pinnacle Estate Properties show the extensively updated four-bedroom and three-bath beach house measures about 2,100 square feet with exposed wood vaulted ceilings, wheat-colored wood floors, and soft white walls. An additional studio apartment with separate entrance and private bath is tucked under the house next to the two-car garage. The property’s minimalist yet cozy, California coastal-chic furnishings are available at an additional cost.
The best feature of this property, arguably, might not be its airy living room with super-cool Malm fireplace, its spacious and updated open-plan kitchen, the bathrooms animated with the palest of turquoise tiles or the covered terrace with peek-a-boo ocean views, but rather its proximity and membership to La Costa Beach & Tennis Club. With little public access, La Costa is one of Malibu’s least-visited beaches, which makes it particularly appealing to those who prefer not to share their stretch of sand with too many folks from other zip codes.
Records indicate several other rental properties owned by the iconoclast surfer/investor, now held in various LLCs, include a three-unit building across from Carbon Beach on Pacific Coast Highway, a duplex on a high bluff above Broad Beach, and a three-unit building above Point Dume’s Westward Beach.