A mere three months have passed since the devastating Montecito mudslides, which killed more than 20 local residents, injured dozens, caused a mass evacuation, and devastated the local economy. Our scholarly Santa Barbara-based friend/tipster Barbara Bane — who we have previously mentioned on this blog — grimly prophesied that the mudslides will continue to haunt the wildfire-ravaged area for the foreseeable future.
Like nearly all local industries, the Montecito real estate market has suffered. Public records show that for the first quarter of 2018, only four Montecito homes transferred with sales prices of $4 million or more. By contrast, 12 homes transferred in the same price range back in Q1 2017. That’s a 67% decline! And it is a wee bit depressing.
One of those four Q1 2018 sales, however, was a huge anomaly. After years on the market, the major-league estate of the late billionaire Ed Snider — the Philadelphia-based business mogul who once owned the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, and the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL — finally sold for an eyeball-shredding $35,000,000. And rumor has it the transaction was all-cash.
Our friend Barbara was the first to notify Yolanda about the big sale, and even a serious fellow like himself could do little to contain his shock and amazement over the amount and the fact that the transaction went down so soon after the devastation. We don’t know if this property was impacted by the mudslides, y’all, but given the fact that Oprah’s house is right next door and she was wading around in knee-deep mud, we think it very likely that this place was also touched.
And $35 million, if y’all didn’t know, is an absolutely enormous sum for Santa Barbara County. Yolanda’s research confirms this is easily the biggest area sale within the past three years. And our local expert Barbara, for his part, cannot remember seeing a more expensive transaction within the last decade.
Anyway, speaking of Oprah, at first Yolanda suspected that maybe she bought this place to expand her existing property. But nope! The agents on both sides of the deal hail from LA, and the strangely-named LLC that purchased the compound links directly back to a Brentwood P.O. box.
Obviously the buyer hails from our City of Angels. But who could it be?!
Well, kiddies, Yolanda had to open an old-fashioned real estate investigation. And what we discovered surprised even a jaded ol’ gurl like ourselves. Although Our Mama at Variety told us she heard whispers that the buyer might be billionaire heiress Megan Ellison, that is actually not the case. The new owner is former journalist turned makeup mega-mogul Jamie Kern Lima.
Our gurl Mrs. Lima has one of the most interesting life stories of anyone we’ve ever written about on this blog, we think. We have previously discussed her background, but a quick recap: Mrs. Lima was given up for adoption shortly after birth and raised by her adoptive parents in a rural Washington State town.
The straight-A student attended Washington State University — she was the first person in her family to attend college — and she competed in beauty pageants on the side, becoming Miss Washington USA 2000. She was also selected via a nationwide search to appear on the Baywatch television program.
Also in 2000, Mrs. Lima joined the cast of Big Brother season one, where she finished in a respectable fourth place and was the last woman standing. After her stint on reality TV, she was accepted to the the ultra-prestigious Columbia University — an Ivy League school, mind you — and graduated with an MBA. She was also selected by her peers to be the class speaker for her graduating year.
Mrs. Lima don’t fool around, y’all.
It was at Columbia where Mrs. Lima met her future husband Paulo Lima, a very bright fellow who originally hails from Brazil. After their wedding at Seattle’s Space Needle — they were the very first couple ever to get hitched at the landmark, naturally (would you expect anything less from Mrs. Lima?) — Mrs. Lima’s hereditary rosacea led the young pair to concoct a plan for selling innovative makeup to cover her blemishes. Thus, IT Cosmetics (IT stands for Innovative Technologies) was born.
The Lima invested all of their life savings into the brand, so we gather. They built the company from their small apartment in Studio City (CA) and struggled to make ends meet until 2010, when Mrs. Lima was eventually granted a quick spot on the QVC home-shopping TV network. Her entire inventory sold out in minutes, and the rest — as they say — is history. From there, the brand quickly became a perennial bestseller on the channel, and Mrs. Lima became one of QVC’s most recognizable faces.
In 2016 — a mere eight years after IT Cosmetics was founded in a small apartment, mind you — Mr. and Mrs. Lima sold their company for an unbelievable $1.2 billion in cash to L’Oréal. And though the firm is no longer hers, Mrs. Lima remains CEO of the brand, so we can only assume she is still hauling in a hefty paycheck (in addition to the proceeds she received from the sale).
Yolanda does not know what Mrs. Lima’s net worth is, but rest assured she now has the money to buy several $35 million estates, not just this one. And she can buy most of our lives, too.
For what it’s worth, Mrs. Lima personally reached out to Yolanda last year — after we wrote our 2016 story about her main Brentwood residence — and we can tell y’all she seems like a very nice lady who happens to be extraordinarily successful in business.
A cobblestone driveway lined with mature palms swoops elegantly around a grandiose reflecting pond — it’s more like a lake, really — and past formal lawns and gardens to end at the front of the mega-mansion-sized estate, which sprawls over 9.37 acres of exquisitely manicured grounds.
Interestingly, listing information indicates that the house has 22,019-square-feet of living space, but public records put it at just 7,605. We are clueless as to what accounts for this massive discrepancy, but we will trust the listing on this one. We doubt that the agents would put 22,000 unless there was damn good evidence to back up that claim. And the house definitely looks bigger than just 7k.
The Lamborghini-driving Mr. Lima will appreciate the home’s six-car garage, plus the additional off-street parking for dozens more vehicles.
Things indoors are kept elegantly restrained: there is a proper entrance foyer, a long hallway linking the public rooms, and a dining room with views out over the Pacific. Somewhere there’s a high-ceilinged gym, too.
The bedroom suites — we think there are six of them in the main house, plus another two in the detached guest house — sport trendy ebonized hardwood floors, and the master suite has a private balcony with clear views of the Pacific Ocean. Elsewhere there’s a humongous office with plenty of space for Mrs. Lima and her retinue of personal assistants.
Yolanda is not so fond of the colors in that movie theater, but at least the chairs look comfy. The booze house in us loves the wine cellar, but the adjacent bar/parlor area has entirely too much wood — ahem — for our personal taste. We think that design was all Mr. Snider’s. It just needs a gal like Mrs. Lima to feminize it up!
At the rear of the Mediterranean mansion — it was built in 2001 by Mr. Snider and is also where he passed away — are formal lawns and gardens that slope gently downward to groves of olive trees and yet another fountain.
Also on the property are a swimming pool, a tennis court, and an organic fruit and vegetable orchard. The grounds here are so sprawling and so obscenely high maintenance that it is virtually guaranteed that Mrs. Lima will need to employ at least one full-time groundskeeper — and probably more than one — to keep them in the same pristine condition.
Although Mrs. Lima’s 9-acre estate is pretty damn baller, it is absolutely dwarfed by Oprah Winfrey’s massive 66-acre The Promised Land spread next door. But we don’t think Mrs. Lima minds playing second fiddle to O — she has previously referred to Oprah as “my hero” and “my mentor”. And last year, Mrs. Lima posted a video on the Instagram contraption showing herself being toured by Ms. Winfrey through the latter’s Montecito estate.
Is it really just a coincidence that Mrs. Lima has now bought the house directly next door? Hmm.
Anywho, the Limas — both recently turned the big 4-0 — have no children of their own, but remain close with their family. We do know that Mrs. Lima’s little sister Karly lives with the couple in Brentwood.
Speaking of Brentwood, Mrs. Lima has kindly requested that Yolanda not post photos of her main residence up in this biznatch, for reasons we shall not get into here. But we can tell y’all that the three-story contemporary mansion was spec-built in 2015 and sits up on a hill with sexy views. The Limas paid more than $12 million cash for the property, and some of their closest neighbors are LeBron James, Brandon Beck, Jim Carrey, and Scooter Braun.
Finally, we confess we have no idea how much time Mrs. Lima plans to spend up north, and whether she plans to make the for Snider spread her main residence. Word on the street, however, is that several of Mrs. Lima’s personal assistants have already been hustlin’ and bustlin’ around the Montecito pad, so it looks as though her move-in is imminent (if it has not already happened, that is).
And yes, kiddies. When you’re as wealthy as Mrs. Lima, you don’t just have one personal assistant. You have a whole team of them, y’all.
Listing agents: Mauricio Umansky & Santiago Arana, The Agency
Jamie Kern Lima’s agent: Kurt Rappaport, Westside Estate Agency