“Car City” is one of the nicknames visitors often bestow upon Los Angeles. That moniker partly stems from the region’s sprawling landscape, of course — Angelenos are (in)famously dependent on the personal auto for transportation. But the real essence of the name derives from the proliferation of luxury vehicles here. Expensive foreign makes and models by the thousand crowd our streets. BMWs seem more common than Camrys. And folks have become so jaded that sighting a Ferrari or Lamborghini on the road rarely warrants more than a quick glance and occasionally a head nod.
Perhaps nobody in LA has capitalized on our luxury auto reliance better — or longer — than Paul Rusnak.
In case y’all are not aware, Mr. Rusnak has for decades been among the most prominent luxury car dealers in Southern California. He founded the Rusnak Auto Group way back in 1959 — back when Yolanda was still in her child-bearing stage of life — and the company has grown from a single dealership into a giant network of massive, glassy facilities across the Southland. We are quite certain that everyone in LA regularly sees Mr. Rusnak’s famous black-and-white license tags on the backside of luxury vehicles. They are everywhere, quite literally.
Mr. Rusnak sells Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati, Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, and even Hyundai cars at his locations — he’s got dealerships down in Orange County, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and in Arcadia. His main facility, however, is a giant dealership in Pasadena.
In addition to all his SoCal dealerships, Mr. Rusnak is also a 10% stakeholder in Sonic Automotive, a Fortune 500 nationwide auto dealership chain that is one of the largest in the USA. Sonic’s current market cap makes Mr. Rusnak’s holdings worth nearly $100 million. And while we have no idea what his total net worth is, we have to imagine it is well into the nine figures. Probably hundreds of millions. At least. We are talking decades of dominance in the LA market, y’all.
On the personal front, Mr. Rusnak was born in 1934 and is a native of Slovakia and a USC graduate. With his first wife Susanne, he has three adult daughters (Kathryn, Liz, Victoria). Long ago divorced (or perhaps only separated?) from his second wife Giselle, Mr. Rusnak lives nowadays with his longtime companion, a nice lady named Donna Pierson.
After more than 50 years at the helm of his dealerships, Mr. Rusnak recently handed over the reins to his youngest daughter Victoria, who now serves as President and CEO of the chain. But even as an 84-year-old retiree, we hear he is just as spry and healthy as ever. And maybe he’s planning on doing some traveling this summer, because his longtime main residence in the exclusive Bradbury Estates guard-gated community recently became available for lease, asking a hefty $30,000/month.
Records show that Mr. Rusnak has lived in Bradbury for a very long time — nearly 20 years, in fact. His opulent residence was originally built on speculation in 1998 by luxury homebuilder Mur-Sol Construction. Records show that our boy forked over $3,480,000 for the 9,502-square-foot house way back in January 2000.
Not too shabby, eh? This is what sellin’ all those luxury rides to overextended Angelenos hath wrought.
Just for giggles, we asked our pal Lolita — who happens to be peripherally acquainted with the family — what kind of car Mr. Rusnak himself drives. With nearly every fancy brand at his disposal, what actually sparks his internal motor? Lolita laughed and said that (as y’all might expect) Mr. Rusnak changes rides all the time. But for now, his daily driver is a blacked-out Bentley Mulsanne — base price more than $300,000 — and he always has a Rolls-Royce in the garage, too. At the moment it’s a Wraith, or maybe it’s a Dawn. Could be that new Phantom. Sorry kiddies, Lolita isn’t too good with the model names. She just knows that it’s a Rolls and therefore costs more than the trailer in which she lives.
Just kidding. Lolita’s trailer is a vintage Airstream, so it’s probably worth more than Mr. Rusnak’s car.
The 6.3-acre, carefully landscaped property flaunts a grand sweeping driveway that culminates in a large motorcourt outside the front door. Around the side of the house is a three-car garage and additional parking for several more vehicles. In the middle of the estate’s lawn is a very large topiary circle custom-designed for Mr. Rusnak by Tiffany’s.
Wow! How does one get Tiffany’s to design a topiary for them? We assume it requires a substantial amount of money (duh), but does one just call up their local store? “Hello, sir, may I speak with the topiary specialist“?
Anywho, the interior of the residence clearly displays Mr. Rusnak’s fondness for champagne-colored luxury livin’: the floors are beige, most of the furniture is beige, the carpets are beige, the tapestries and curtains are beige. It’s not really Yolanda’s style but we know a lot of rich folks like to live this way. And we are quite certain that every piece of furniture in this place is enormously expensive. Quality stuff.
The front door opens to an enormous two-story entrance foyer with a big ol’ chandelier and a double staircase. The formal dining room has a coved ceiling, a glass table that seats 10, and the formal living room has a fireplace and lots of seating options.
To the right of the entryway is the double-height formal living room, which features a pool table (upholstered in beige felt, of course) a wet bar, and an assortment of casually luxurious furniture. Just off the dining room is the kitchen, which has beige tiles, beige granite countertops, and high-end stainless appliances. The kitchen also features bar-style seating, convenient for today’s on-the-go lifestyle.
Elsewhere on the main floor is Yolanda’s favorite room: the wood-paneled library, which has loads of bookshelves filled with real books.
The listing says there are 7 beds and 7.5 baths in the house, although public records put those figures at 6 and 5, respectively. We’re not sure why the discrepancy, but we’ll trust the agent on this one.
Upstairs, the master suite features a gilded four-poster bed — beige, of course — and several seating areas. The enormous master bath has dual vanities and a chaise lounge, in case y’all fancy taking a quick siesta near the toilet. Hey, different strokes and all that.
The acres of land afford the Rusnak estate numerous outdoor options — there is an zero-edge pool/spa with city lights views, expansive lawns and formal gardens, mature oak and sycamore trees, a full outdoor kitchen/BBQ station with bar-style seating, and a full-size north/south tennis court with lights for after-dark games and even amphitheater seating.
Bradbury Estates is a tiny community — just a few dozen homes inside, all of them multi-acre estates — but it still ranks as of the wealthiest neighborhoods in LA County. Right next door to Mr. Rusnak is an equally large mansion owned by the identical twin daughters of Chinese media mogul Changle Liu, a guy whose net worth is estimated at $700 million or so. Also nearby are the homes of billionaire In-N-Out heiress Lynsi Snyder, baseball superstar Adrian Beltre (his new mega-mansion is under construction), and prominent tax attorney Edwin Schuck, father of real estate baller Alexandra Schuck.
Just above Mr. Rusnak’s hillside estate is the Angeles National Forest, and Lolita tells us this neighborhood is frequented by local wildlife — bears, coyotes, foxes, oh my! So for any of y’all prospective renters, don’t say Yolanda didn’t warn you.
And as with many wealthy folks, Mr. Rusnak has a vacation home. Two of them, actually. His main getaway pad is located in a swanky private golf club called The Reserve, out in Indian Wells (CA). The Coachella Valley resort community is very near to Palm Springs.
Mr. Rusnak’s nearly 11,000-square-foot mansion was custom-built for him in 2012, but Yolanda thinks it has sort of a semi-retro 80s modern thing going on. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the estate is the giant circular great room, with its glass walls, full-size wet bar, and the striking Lobmeyr chandelier (imported from Vienna, Austria) overhead.
The house was recently listed for sale with an $11,900,000 pricetag, but did not sell and was removed from the market only a few days ago. We are sure that Mr. Rusnak would be open to offers, should anyone like what they see here.
The .94-acre property also features golf course and craggy mountain views, a courtyard w/ pool and spa, a movie theater with seating for 16, a master suite with gym and sauna facilities, a detached 3 bed/3 bath “guest casita”, a 6-car garage, and a snazzy basement wine cellar with tasting area.
Some of Mr. Rusnak’s neighbors in Indian Wells include big billionaires like Bill Gates, bond king Bill Gross, and Mercedes-Benz heiress Ingrid Flick.
Records show that our Rusnak homeboy clearly has a fondness for contemporary desert mansions on golf courses. In addition to his Indian Wells home, he has another large spread out in Las Vegas, in the exclusive (and guard-gated) Southern Highlands Golf Club community.
Mr. Rusnak paid $2,040,000 for the 6,887-square-foot pad in 2013, and the lavish spread includes a movie theater, an luridly red office, a gaming room, a large wet bar, and a pool with cascading water features.
In 2005, Mr. Rusnak purchased (for an undisclosed price) a 120-foot yacht called SunArk, which he reportedly used to cruise the Mediterranean Sea and such. Although Yolanda has no idea if he still owns it, the vessel was recently offered for sale with a $3.75 million asking price.
Once upon a time, Mr. Rusnak owned a rather legendary property on Lake Arrowhead in the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains, a place long famous as a celebrity vacation destination. According to the LA Times, his so-called Chateau des Quatre Saisons estate had four bedroom suites — each one decorated and named (in French) after one of the four seasons.
After nearly 15 years of ownership, our boy sold the Lake Arrowhead house in 2007 to a Beverly Hills couple named Bill & Dinah Ruch. The $6,275,000 sale price was — at that time — the second-biggest transaction ever recorded in the area.
Listing agent (Bradbury Estates): Peggy Fong Chen, Re/Max Omega
Listing agents (Indian Wells): Walton & Cullinan, Reserve Realty