Our story on Bren Simon last week was so successful (by hits) that we’re considering adding the “Real Estate Baller profile” as a weekly or bi-weekly feature. We’re not sure yet. Was that story popular because of the profile thingy or just because there’s a lot of “fans” who want to read about Mrs. Simon, for whatever reason? (Well, it ain’t every day you come across a gal with a $150 million luxury residential real estate portfolio, we suppose.)
Hmmm. Guess we’ll find out.
Our next subjects, billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and his longtime former actress wifey Michele Chan, like Mrs. Simon, are huge real estate ballers. But they’re quieter about it. You won’t find their names in any public records databases. The couple have been very careful to cover their tracks with dozens of LLCs and blind trusts. But, as you know, big money always makes noise, and people talk. And an ol’ blabbermouth like Yolanda is absolutely, positively, 100% certain that Mr. Soon-Shiong & Ms. Chan currently own in excess of $150 million in luxury residential real estate. Let’s discuss, shall we?
Born in the turmoil of 1950s South Africa to Mainland Chinese parents who fled their native country during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Mr. Soon-Shiong almost immediately began his lifelong career as a perennial mega-overachiever. He completed high school at age 16, graduated at the top of his class with his medical degree at 23, performed the West Coast’s first full-pancreas transplant in his 30s, developed a treatment for Type 1 Diabetes, served on the faculty at UCLA, then founded not one but two biotech firms (APP Pharmaceuticals and Abraxis BioScience) which he sold to two larger firms in two separate transactions for a total value of $6.7 billion. He currently owns a firm called NantKwest, whose lofty goal is, according to the man himself, to “manage cancer and achieve a sustained disease-free state.” NantKwest’s 2015 IPO, with a value of $2.6 billion, represented the biggest ever in the biotech history.
Now in his 60s, Mr. Soon-Shiong is a major philanthropist and a billionaire many times over. Not only is he the world’s richest doctor, according to Forbes, he’s also allegedly the richest resident of Los Angeles with a net worth of somewhere around $12 billion.
Really? Huh. We’d guess when they say richest resident they must mean richest full-time resident of LA. There’s lots of richer folks who spend several months of the year here (Larry Ellison, Sheldon Adelson, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, etc)
By the way, the unstoppable Mr. Soon-Shiong has, in recent years, expanded his business holdings far beyond the medical/healthcare industry. Way far beyond. He’s a minority owner of the Lakers (he purchased his shares from Magic Johnson in 2010 for an undisclosed amount). And he’s also the second-largest shareholder of “Tronc” (formerly Tribune Publishing). Tronc is the parent company of, as you may or may not know, the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Baltimore Sun (among others).
What that means is that you may not be seeing any further stories about Mr. Soon-Shiong’s many homes in those publications. Tee-hee.
But we digress. Along the way to accumulating all those accolades, all that wealth, all that success, Mr. Soon-Shiong has also earned his commensurate share of enemies/detractors. He has repeatedly been labeled “ruthless” and a shameless “headline grabber”. Early in his career, his own brother sued him on two separate occasions, alleging fraud. Today, the two reportedly no longer speak. Mr. Soon-Shiong has also been heavily criticized by competitors in his companies’ respective spaces, criticism that he has usually dismissed as professional jealousy.
Our homeboy has additionally earned the ire of many of his neighbors in the unassuming, middle-class Brentwood area in which he has long resided. Some years ago, after his first multi-billion-dollar business sale, Mr. Soon-Shiong apparently decided to majorly upgrade and upsize his residential circumstances. However, he had no desire to leave his neighborhood (an area of small lots and modest ranch-style homes) for someplace more compound-friendly like Mandeville Canyon or Brentwood Park.
So our boy decided to buy up all his neighbor’s houses. Just every single one! The LA Times first reported on the acquisition frenzy way back in 2010, when Mr. Soon-Shiong was only mid-way into the construction. Read all about it here. A few neighbors, the paper reported, had refused to sell to Mr. Soon-Shiong (at least for the time being).
One of the neighbors who did sell their house to him and decamped to a different part of Brentwood — Laurie Lehman, widow of North by Northwest screenwriter Ernest Lehman — lamented to the LA Times, “…why does he have to take over a nice little neighborhood and ruin it?”
With all due respect, come on now, Mrs. Lehman. Mr. Soon-Shiong does not have to ruin the area. You did not have to sell your house to him, now didja? And anyway, it’s not like you live there anymore so how do you know he’s ruining it? You out snoopin’, Mrs. Lehman? Take a seat, girlfriend.
The LA Times estimated at the time that Mr. Soon-Shiong had paid $29 million for his Brentwood compound. But that was 2010. Mr. Soon-Shiong kept right on buying, and the compound keeps growing. His most recent purchase happened as recently as last year. Today, according to Yolanda’s careful count, Mr. Soon-Shiong owns no fewer than 13 parcels of land that combined span nearly 5 acres.
We spent a solid hour perusing sale records and the variety of mysterious LLCs and trusts that the Soon-Shiong couple used to assemble their compound and Yolanda is 100% positive that they have spent at least $50,295,000 to buy up all that land. And that’s just the acquisition costs for 10 of those 13 parcels. For the other three, Yolanda was not able to locate purchase prices.
But let’s be (very) conservative and say spent $2 million on each of the remaining three parcels. That would mean Mr. Soon-Shiong has spent over $56 million for just the land alone in what most folks believe is a nice but non-prime area of Brentwood. For several of the parcels, Yolanda notes, it appears Mr. Soon-Shiong may have paid as much as double their “true” (according to comps) market value.
And that $56 million does not include the many, many, many millions required to construct a compound of this magnitude. The main mega-mansion house, according to public records, weighs in at more than 25,000 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. There are also numerous outbuildings that may be housing for staff, guests, relatives, office space, etc.
And as you can see above, there are several “holes” left in Mr. Soon-Shiong’s grand estate — at least five neighboring, hold-out properties that must be acquired before the great estate can be truly great.
We shall see what happens. But wait, kids. That’s not all. Although the Brentwood compound is his main (and most (in)famous) residence, Mr. Soon-Shiong has other homes. Lots of other homes, it turns out. And he apparently has a major thing for the ocean because he owns at least five extravagant spreads in Malibu and Laguna Beach that have cost him — wait for it — well over $100 million.
In summer 2005, Mr. Soon-Shiong laid out a fat $17,500,000 (through his “Themba II LLC”) for a 4,283 square foot oceanfront house along Malibu’s ironically-named “Broad Beach”. He also pledged an unknown amount of money to the restoration project dedicated to the prized but disappearing beachfront.
From what we can tell, the property currently appears to be under some sort of renovation.
And for what it’s worth Mr. Soon-Shiong’s next door neighbor to the south has long been actor Ray Romano. His next-door neighbor to the north is KTLA TV general manager Greg Nathanson, who happens to be the brother of billionaire Marc Nathanson.
But, as always, just one house in the neighborhood would never do for the large-living Mr. Soon-Shiong.
In June 2009, our boy paid $8,750,000 through his “Malibu PCH West LLC” for a vacant 1.64-acre parcel of land on Malibu’s coveted Encinal Bluffs, just a few minutes’ drive north of Broad Beach. It appears to Yolanda that Mr. Soon-Shiong is midway to completing his new dream Malibu mansion, which has been designed by LA-based AE Architecture. Rendering above.
But let’s back up right quick. Just a year after acquiring this vacant parcel. our fella did something truly remarkable. In June 2010, near the height of the recession, he slammed down an audacious $18,500,000 on a significant estate that just happens to be immediately next door to his under-construction residence.
The massive 5-acre parcel was technically acquired by Mr. Soon-Shiong’s shell company (“Big Bluff LLC”) and was sold by prolific film and television composer Graeme Revell. The house, a 3,477 square foot L-shaped single-story sprawler, was designed by William Wesley Peters, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and his son-in-law.
Despite the pedigree, Yolanda personally finds the structure (inside and out) to be perfectly hideous. Sorry! We just had to say it.
A peek at some recent aerial imagery suggests little has been done to the 5-acre spread, while the 1.64-acre parcel’s new modern pad is quickly moving toward completion.
But wait, there’s more…
You’d think three uber-expensive oceanfront spreads in Malibu would be enough beach frontage for Mr. Soon-Shiong, right? But you would be wrong. Recently he decided he wanted more. This time, though, he decided to change it up and head way south. Way, way south to that fearsome no-man’s-land.
We’re talking behind the scary Orange Curtain. Laguna Beach, beotches! Orange is the new black, or at least the new Malibu. Something like that.
In June 2015, Mr. Soon-Shiong and Ms. Chan stealthily paid $14,200,000 (through “19 Ocean Way LLC”) for a .28 acre property that occupies a prominent promontory known as “Arch Point”. The Mediterranean “villa” has 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in a comfortable-but-not-large 3,267 square feet of living space.
So, yeah, the mock-med structure ain’t the greatest. But that jutting promontory sure is badass, huh?
Apparently the Soon-Shiongs liked their clifftop palace so much they decided “What the hell? This place is awesome, so let’s buy another one even more awesome!”
That’s kinda how these folks roll. In February 2016, the couple dislocated hundreds of jaws when they reared back and airdropped $45,000,000 smackers on what is perhaps the coolest and most unique property in all of Orange County.
Known as “Twin Points”, the flat-out amazing 1.7-acre spread divides Laguna’s Shaw’s Cove and Crescent Bay with its two giant “toes” sticking out into the water. There’s a private beach and perfect vistas, and the lot had been owned by a single family since 1930. Though the house on the land is almost laughably modest — a mere 1,800 square feet or something like that — let’s be real here, the buyer wasn’t paying for the house. We think that little secret inlet/cove between the twin points is just about the neatest thing Yolanda has ever seen on a residential property.
Mr. Soon-Shiong & Ms. Chan used an entity called “Laguna Cove LLC” to acquire the dream clifftop. And really, kids, Yolanda thinks the $45 million purchase may have been well worth it for this thing. Although we profess ignorance of the Orange County real estate market, this really was — to use some overused real estate hyperbole — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The $45 million Mr. Soon-Shiong slammed down was, according to Yolanda’s research and previous reports, the most paid for a single residence in Orange County. Ever.
Yolanda’s calculations tell us that Mr. Soon-Shiong has spent a heart-stopping $154,245,000 on his Brentwood compound and the Malibu/Laguna Beach getaways. And that’s just the land, y’all. Mr. Soon-Shiong has almost certainly spent tens of millions more on new construction costs, demolition fees, and all the other associated expenses that come with a billionaire baller real estate portfolio.
As for what’s next? With a guy like Mr. Soon-Shiong, Yolanda is quite confident he will never slow down — whether we’re talking business or real estate. And all we can say is that we’ll definitely be watching.