Billionaire Torstein Hagen shells out $11 million in Malibu’s Sea Level enclave

Malibu’s ironically-named Broad Beach is swarmed with celeb residents and tourists alike, but there’s still a couple spots where one can avoid pesky paparazzos and other hoi polloi. Just off the main drag are two lowkey gated communities (more like two gated roads, really) that feature multimillion-dollar homes set at sea level, down below the blufftop houses on Broad Beach Road. The larger of these two enclaves is the Sea Level Drive community, which sports a decidedly unironic moniker. Perhaps whoever manages Broad Beach should take a cue from the neighbors and consider a namechange. But we digress.

The Sea Level Drive community, western Malibu

Sometime in the mid-1970s, that big gate was built to make Sea Level Drive a private street. Allegedly — so the stories go — residents installed the thing without proper permits. And since all California beaches are public property, those imposing iron bars provoked years of lawsuits and anger from ocean-lovin’ outsiders. But eventually the legal hanky-panky was settled, and the gate remains. Keep in mind, however, that the beach in front of these homes is still open to the public — gated community or not. Accessing that sand is just a more roundabout affair these days.

Anyway, Sea Level Drive contains about three dozen homes, most of them located directly across the street from the sea and all blessed with postcard-perfect views. Despite the added seclusion that the big gate provides, it does not appear that any current homeowners are Hollywood celebrities — arguably the most famous resident is bazillionaire businessman Sam Zell, who owns the largest house up in there.

Recently a fancy residence in the enclave sold for $11,400,000 to a mysterious offshore corporation. The deal was totally off-market, so we sadly don’t have pics to share, but here’s what the place looked like when it last transferred back in 2012 for $6.5 million. The buyers then were Tony & Josephine Antoci, the married owners of the Erewhon supermarket chain.

An Erewhon location in Calabasas

If y’all have never heard of Erewhon, it’s a small (but expanding) LA chain that deals in organic and specialty food items. Think Whole Foods, but even more expensive. Naturally the natural-food-based business is booming here in health-crazed SoCal.

As for those 2012 house pics, eye them with a proverbial grain of salt — we happen to know that Mr. & Mrs. Antoci spent big bucks to completely remodel every inch of the house. What was formerly a sad quasi-Mediterranean mess is now a wood-and-glass contemporary showplace.

As for the $11.4 million buyer, we happen to know that he’s a billionaire businessman named Torstein Hagen, the founder and CEO of Viking Cruises.

Mr. Hagen

75-year-old Mr. Hagen has quite the interesting life story. Born and raised in Norway, he’s got a degree in physics and an MBA from Harvard. He began his career at McKinsey — one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms — and eventually rose to the rank of Partner in their European arm.

It was during his years at McKinsey that Mr. Hagen first became involved with the cruise industry. In the 1970s, his consulting work reportedly helped the Holland America Line survive the 1973 oil crisis. By 1980, Mr. Hagen was CEO of Royal Viking Line, and he soon amassed a fortune by investing in the Russian private equity market.

But Mr. Hagen nearly went bankrupt in the mid-90s when his substantial investment in a Dutch shipping company went bad. To rebuild his fortune, he leveraged his connections to several billionaire Russian oligarchs, dudes he’d gotten to know through private equity. He helped some of his old oligarch buddies buy another shipping firm, and as a thank-you those Russians sold him four river cruise ships on the cheap. With only those four ships, Mr. Hagen founded Viking Cruises in 1997.

In the last 20 years, Viking has grown to become the world’s largest river cruise operation, controlling a full 50% of the market and primarily operating in Europe, Asia, and on the Nile River. The company owns and operates dozens of cruise vessels — including their massive flagship Viking Star — and employs more than 5,000 people. And though the firm’s international headquarters are located in Switzerland, their American base (established in 2000) is right here in LA. In the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills, to be precise.

The Viking Star, Mr. Hagen’s flagship

On the personal front, Mr. Hagen has two adult children — Karine and Torstein Jr. — and was recently divorced from his longtime wife Ellen-Karine. The couple made all the gossip rags last year (2017) for their vicious squabblin’ over the vast family fortune. (Forbes says Mr. Hagen is worth $2.2 billion).

Regretfully, as we’ve already mentioned, we don’t have any current photos of Mr. Hagen’s new Malibu digs. But we do know that the home spans approximately 4,600-square-feet of living space over two levels. There are four bedrooms and four bathrooms. And it’s got a nice view, as y’all can see.

The globetrotting Mr. Hagen additionally owns two side-by-side units in Oslo, Norway, in one of trendy Tjuvholmen‘s most prestigious condo buildings. According to reports, he purchased the pair for about $8 million USD, and he’s also got expensive mansions in England and Switzerland, where Viking Cruises has business locations.

The luxe Oslo building where Mr. Hagen owns an $8 million residence (Photo: Invisio)

According to Mr. Hagen himself, he spends approximately four months per year in Los Angeles, always staying at the same (unnamed) beachfront hotel. During a September 2017 interview, our boy was asked the obvious question: why doesn’t he just buy a house in LA? Mr. Hagen’s response: “I don’t like things. I like to keep things simple.”

We suppose that makes sense, but obviously somethin’ changed his mind within the last few months! Maybe the sexy Sea Level pad was just too sly a temptress to resist. But whatever the reason, we doubt he’ll be visiting that hotel any longer.

Tony & Josephine Antoci’s $14 million Brentwood Park teardown

And as for Mr. & Mrs. Antoci, they’ve already spent millions on a new Malibu house (forgive us, but we seem to have misplaced the address) and earlier this year they also dumped nearly $14 million on a Brentwood Park teardown where they are fixin’ to build their dream home. And they still own their $8 million Brentwood Park “starter” house.

See? All that hype and hullabaloo about organic crap ain’t hogwash after all. Just look what health food has done for the Antocis’ bank account — it’s a damn miracle.

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