The notorious “Bradbury Estate” finally sells… for just $24 million

It took nearly six years, but at long last one of LA’s largest and most unabashedly hedonistic estates has sold. The transfer price, records show, was $24,380,000. That’s a huge number, to be certain, but it’s also a sanity defying $54,420,000 less than the $78.8 million ask that original owner/seller Donald Abbey slapped on his modern-day tribute to Hearst Castle.

The property is question is the unimaginatively-named “Bradbury Estate” that is located within the guarded gates of the Bradbury Estates community out in teeny-tiny Bradbury, CA — about 20 miles northwest of Downtown LA in the San Gabriel Valley. Completed in 2011 by Mr. Abbey — a guy who made his money in commercial real estate — the Palladian-style monster has lingered on and off the market at a wide variety of listing prices and (for the past year or so) has been vacant.

If y’all have been following Yolanda’s silly blog for some time, you should already know that Mr. Abbey flew a bit too close to the sun and — a couple years back — nearly lost his crown real estate jewel to foreclosure. Rather than go through the nasty publicity and stress that a foreclosure of this magnitude would bring, Mr. Abbey chose to simply (and quietly) surrender the 8-acre property to the foreclosing lender, Bank of America. Yolanda has twice written about that here on this very blog, so we won’t rehash that ugliness up in here yet again.

Anyway, the bank swiftly hired a top LA real estate broker — Million Dollar Listing‘s Josh Altman — to market the estate, which he did for several months on his show and elsewhere before roping in an interested and qualified party. The buyer either got an amazing deal on the place or overpaid for what is an unsalable white elephant, an epic mausoleum to one man’s wealth. That’s all based on your point of view, naturally.

For the record, documents do not reveal the true identity of the buyer. He/she/they are shrouded behind a mysterious corporate entity with a Chinese-sounding name. It’s worth noting, however, that Yolanda was able to connect said entity to an address in the guard-gated “Country Estates” enclave out in Diamond Bar (CA). The Country Estates, for those who do not know, is a large but geographically-remote community littered with architecturally-questionable yet multi-million-dollar mansions, nearly all of which are owned by folks who originally hail from Mainland China.

Make of all that what you will. Yolanda is sure that additional information about the buyer will be forthcoming, either on this here blog or elsewhere. It takes a special sort of individual to want to own a house like this, y’all.

Some of the estate’s more extravagant features include a mega-mansion-sized 30,000-square-foot main house, a 10,000-gallon trout pond, a cross-shaped swimming pool that is so large it can probably be seen from space, an underground firing range, and enough marble and other exotic materials to bankrupt any run-of-the-mill multi-millionaire.

Now then, kiddies. $24 million may seem like an insane price to pay for a property way out in the San Gabriel Valley. It is not, however, the biggest sale ever in the area. That honor goes to a historic Pasadena estate that sold for a pearl-clutching $28,000,000 back in May 2013 to a fellow from Shanghai who — so Yolanda has heard — never actually moved into the premises. The house is back up for sale at $28 million, the same price that the owner paid four years ago. It seems that Mr. Shanghai fellow is able and willing to take a loss on the gorgeous estate, for whatever reason. But we digress…

The $28 million Arden Villa: ready to sell at a loss…

More shocking, however, is that the $24 million paid does not even come close to covering the construction costs of this colossal calamity. Records show that Mr. Abbey paid just $2 million for the land way back in 1991 but then — in 2002 — took out an unbelievable $31,000,000 construction loan from Bank of America to finance the building costs, an amount that means someone at B of A made the company lose millions and probably got fired as a result. Yikes!

Bradbury Estates

Yolanda thinks of Bradbury Estates as the San Gabriel Valley’s answer to the San Fernando Valley’s Hidden Hills neighborhood. Like Hidden Hills, Bradbury Estates also is a city without any commercial developments and an equestrian-based history, though many of the old horse ranches are disappearing to make way for outsized mega-homes, the kind that folks would normally find out in Beverly Park or someplace like that.

Bradbury doesn’t sport any Kardashians or rapper residents, of course, but despite being less flashy, the residents are no less wealthy. Some of the more notable Bradbury Estates homeowners include In-N-Out Burger’s billionaire heiress Lynsi Snyder, billionaire Hong Kong tycoon/car collector Benjamin Yeung, pro baseball player Adrián Beltré, civil rights activist Danny Bakewell, luxury auto dealership mogul Paul Rusnak, and not one but two televangelists: Pastor Melissa Scott and Pastor Peter Popoff, both of whom appear to own extravagant estates that are each likely worth in excess of $6 million.


Listing agents: Matt & Josh Altman, Douglas Elliman
Selling agent: Michelle Runjing Chen, Coldwell Banker
Photographs: The Altman Brothers

CategoriesReal Estate
  1. Yolanda,
    I had the pleasure of co-appraising this house twice during its construction, the last time being about 4+ years ago. I say pleasure because I will no doubt ever be able to own a house like this, but because I specialize in the valuation of architectural/historic homes, I am able to see a lot of major homes.
    In appraisal terminology, this home is an absurd “over-improvement” . My colleague & I considered major homes in all luxury home areas as comparables. The time period in which we were appraising this house was before major homes began their inexorable increase in prices. We could not find supporting data for a lot of the amenities in this house.
    For instance, It was impossible for us to assign a “Contributory Value” for the “pond”; a 1-million gallon refrigerated expanse of water built for satisfy Mr. Abby’s trout fishing hobby.
    There is no question that Abby put his heart & soul into this house & used the finest materials. For instance, we were told that because he couldn’t get a quarry in France to give him enough limestone to clad the house, he bought the quarry, mined the requisite amount of limestone to clad his house. & then sold the quarry. We could never verify this story, but it is an example of the excess to which Abby went to build this house. I understand that his house in Montana was a similar “white-elephant”.
    I want to thank you for publishing all these great articles about major homes in Southern California. I read every one & then put the article in my EverNote folder so I can use it when I appraise the house you’re writing about.
    John C. Carlson

  2. Monte Young says:

    Abbey obviously has some significant mental issues. I see many forms of these white elephants from extravagant people all the time in my real estate world. thanks for the blog. Very interesting.

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