A titanic estate on a prime Malibu blufftop recently transferred for about $23.4 million, significantly less than the original $32.5 million asking price but also nearly $10 million more than the sellers — airplane rivet tycoon-turned-philanthropist James Randall and his longtime wife Eleanor — paid for the property, way back in late 2008.
The new owners are a low-profile couple from Chagrin Falls, Ohio named Elizabeth and Patrick James, he a businessman in the automotive manufacturing industry. Various legal documents state that James owns a web of large companies that include Hawthorn Manufacturing Corp, Columbus Components Corp and Viking Industries, through which entities he’s snapped up at least 16 other auto parts manufacturing plants nationwide, often quickly shuttering them and selling off remnants of the business. In all, James eliminated more than 1,500 jobs in total — but not before collecting millions of dollars in management fees for his companies, according to one report. At least one contentious lawsuit accuses the couple’s business enterprises of having fraudulently defaulted on millions of dollars in loans, something they adamantly denied in court.
Despite his companies’ loan defaults, James himself is clearly quite wealthy — in addition to his new $23.4 million Malibu vacation home, records reveal he also owns a second Malibu estate that was acquired in 2017 for $6.3 million. That property sits on a two-acre knoll overlooking the ocean and features a contemporary mansion with nearly 7,700 square feet of living space.
As for the substantially pricier new compound, the heavyset, nearly 9,000 sq. ft. main mansion was built in 1989 and is styled in the neoclassical French Regency vein with a mansard roof and extensive stone cladding. From Pacific Coast Highway, towering gates swing open to reveal a long driveway that meanders past the guesthouses and a full-size sports court to a formal motorcourt.
Inside, a double-height foyer is sure to mesmerize the pizza delivery person with its stunning ocean views. There are formal living and dining rooms, the former with a fireplace, and an eat-in kitchen with SubZero and Wolf appliances connected to a sunny breakfast room. Other luxury spaces include a media room and a wood-paneled library that is — somewhat unusually — actually filled with books. The Randalls enjoy old-fashioned activities like reading, it would seem.
There are five bedroom suites in the main house, the master featuring head-on ocean views, a spa-like bathroom and private terrace. As for the two guesthouses, they each include a bedroom, full bath and kitchen — perfect for live-in staff and/or longterm guests — and one sports a sizable gym.
The 1.7-acre blufftop lot has painstakingly maintained grounds that include vast lawns, formal gardens, an oversized swimming pool and stairs leading down to coveted Malibu Road, home to some of the city’s best surf spots. And this being Malibu, it’s a given that many of the nearby neighbors are exceptionally famous. Folks within sugar-borrowing distance include Cher, Jane Seymour — who happens to live right next door — and Simon Cowell.
Randall, who sold his rivet manufacturing company for $360 million several years ago, is perhaps best-known for his turbulent, short-lived second marriage to model and international jetsetter Marissa Berenson. The couple, whose opulent Beverly Hills home served as the setting for their extraordinarily lavish, 800-guest wedding — the 1976 high-society fête was personally photographed by Andy Warhol, and Valentino himself custom-designed Berenson’s gown — were acrimoniously divorced just 18 months after their nuptials, as salaciously recapped by People magazine.
Today, Randall and wife Eleanor — an artist and former model who was once married to rocker Gerry Beckley, with whom she has an adult son — live a quieter life of philanthropy. The Mt. SAC-Randall Planetarium in Walnut, Calif. is named for them, as is the Jim & Eleanor Randall Breast Center in Pasadena.
Of course, the couple are also widely known in real estate gossip circles as major league real estate ballers. Back in 2014, they shocked everyone by forking out more than $46 million in cash for a Bel Air megamansion known as Liongate. The couple also maintain a $14 million vacation home in the exceptionally pricey Yellowstone Club community in Big Sky, Montana, where some of their neighbors include Bill Gates and Justin Timberlake.
And before moving to Bel Air, their current primary residence, the Randall clan spent several decades living in the discreetly wealthy San Gabriel Valley neighborhood of Bradbury Estates. Their two-house compound, which sits on 5+ acres of parklike grounds, was sold in 2015 for $9.8 million to its current owners, a family from Mainland China.