The Montecito/Santa Barbara area has recently seen a spate of mega-dollar real estate closings — property transfers for well into the eight figures, the latest of which went down last week. A gorgeous estate just north of the quaint downtown shops on Coast Village Road was quietly sold.
Christened El Cielito, the lavish compound was designed in 1920 by acclaimed architect George Washington Smith. The 3.28-acre property is quintessential Santa Barbara in style — Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, verdant lawns and lush foliage — and offers distant, super-narrow views of the deep blue Pacific. It’s barely even a peek-a-boo, but it’ll do. Hey, any ocean view is better than no ocean view.
Unfortunately, Yolanda spent lots of time researching this place but was unable to turn up any interesting owner names from back in the day. We’re sure a knowledgable Montecito local will happily tell us how obtuse we are and inform y’all about who built this place. It must’ve been somebody important! But for now, the name(s) shall remain a mystery.
Anywho. We do know that the estate was purchased in late 1995 by Saturday Night Fever producer John Badham, who flipped it just two years later to President Trump’s BFF Tom Barrack — a private equity bigwig and CEO of Colony Capital. In 2014, Mr. Barrack quit-claimed the property to architectural designer Laurel Beebe Barrack, one of his three (or four?) ex-wives and mama of his son Nicholas.
But Ms. Beebe Barrack didn’t hold onto the spread for very long — she has other interesting projects in the works, we imagine. By late 2016, she had slapped a $20 million pricetag on the beast. After a change of realtors and several big pricechops, the ask eventually tumbled to $15.5 million. Records show the estate was finally sold in late February (2019) for a discounted $14,500,000.
Per records, the proud new owner is Vivid Entertainment co-owner Bill Asher, an Alaska native and current Montecito resident — he and wife Julia Asher (née Mavris) currently reside on a multi-acre estate nearby. That place, sadly, was seriously impacted by the major Montecito mudslides of 2018.
But we digress — more on the Ashers’ current spread a wee bit later. For now, we know some of y’all might be wondering how this couple can afford a $8.1 million Montecito estate and a second, even larger $14.5 million compound down the street. Well, if you don’t already know what Vivid Entertainment is, allow Yolanda to explain.
Vivid is arguably the most successful adult entertainment production juggernaut in the whole wide world. And adult entertainment, of course, is better-known as porn to all you uncouth hooligans. Or filthy smut, as your grandmother would say. Vivid’s productions feature all sorts of interesting “performers“.
Perhaps Vivid’s best-known “hallmark,” if you will, is its ownership of the most (in)famous celebrity sex tapes in history. Paris Hilton, Tila Tequila and Farrah Abraham all proved to be mega-successful Vivid video stars. And Kim Kardashian’s career-kickstarting video — appropriately titled “Kim Kardashian, Superstar,” reaped untold millions for Vivid and launched her krazy klan on their path to billionairedom. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world! And we sure do love it.
Despite the raunchy products Mr. Asher peddles, he’s got admirably refined real estate taste — as you can tell from his swanky new Montecito pad. Yolanda would love to show y’all more of it, but unfortunately the property was yanked off the MLS just prior to closing. Still, you can find plenty of tantalizing photos here, here and here for your real estate porno enjoyment. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The irregularly-shaped flag lot is completely walled for security and features three gated access points, all of them camera-watched. The main entrance — located off the main boulevard out front — features an epic long driveway that passes between tall hedges before dead-ending at a party-sized motorcourt.
Just around the corner, on a narrower side street, are two additional gates — one providing direct access to the detached garage (for the homeowners) and a discreet service entrance meant for household staff, groundskeepers and other hired help/peasant folks.
As for the home’s renovated interiors, they are done up in a casually luxe, very contemporary sort of manner. Original details are virtually nonexistent, for better or worse. Ebonized hardwood floors flow throughout the main rooms, and the kitchen has beautiful tile of a dark henna color.
Six bedrooms and eight bathrooms are spread between the main house and one-bed guesthouse, which combined total nearly 9,800-square-feet of living space. The deluxe master suite includes his-and-hers bathrooms and dressing rooms/closets.
The entire 3+ acre lot is fully and breathtakingly landscaped with emerald-green lawns, at least four reflecting fountains/pools, a proper north/south tennis court and mature specimen trees.
Back in early 2017, as already mentioned, the Ashers forked out $8.1 million for an “European Country” manor in Montecito with a guesthouse, seven-car garage and nearly 12,000-square-feet of living space.
This property is located a wee bit north of their new estate — closer to the Santa Ynez mountains — and was unfortunately mud-flooded last year. We assume the Ashers will soon be lookin’ to unload the 3.5-acre spread, but it is not yet listed on the (open) market.
Back down in Los Angeles — where Vivid is headquartered — the Ashers long resided in a charming Colonial-style house in the hoity-toity Hancock Park neighborhood.
In October (2017), the Hancock Park residence was listed with a $5,750,000 asking price. Shortly thereafter — in December — the property was sold for $5.3 million to screenwriter Russell Gewirtz, best known for writing the screenplay for Spike Lee‘s Inside Man. The Ashers continue to maintain a more modest LA home in the Hollywood Hills.
And as for Mr. Barrack, he’s also been quite busy on the real estate front in recent years.
Back in 2014, Mr. Barrack paid $24,500,000 for a brand-new Santa Monica behemoth with an indoor basketball court and other fancy gizmos. In 2017, the contemporary Colonial mega-manse (built by “starchitect” Richard Landry) was sold to entrepreneur Kirk Lazarus for a record-bruising $31+ million.
Mr. Barrack now resides in a $13 million contemporary casa above Brentwood’s Mandeville Canyon. And let’s not forget that he’s still attempting to unload Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch — now owned by his Colony Capital firm — for a newly-reduced $31 million.
Listing agents: Riskin Partners, Village Properties