Perennially on-the-move talk show cynosure Ellen DeGeneres sold her latest Montecito project in November for $33.3 million, a nice chunk above the $28.9 million she and longtime wife Portia de Rossi paid for the two-parcel property in two separate transactions. Now records indicate the mystery buyer was multibillionaire Eric Lefkofsky, the Chicago-based tech tycoon best known for co-founding Groupon.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Lefkofsky would take a shine to the Montecito property; the 51-year-old has a well-documented passion for architecture and extravagant real estate splurges. The former DeGeneres/de Rossi estate certainly has all the requisite ingredients: the palatial mansion is dressed in a unique, Bali-style design, and the acres of rolling grounds would not look out of place in the glossiest shelter magazines.
The 9.3-acre spread is perched on a foothill promontory at the very eastern end of Montecito, directly overlooking the quaint seaside village of Carpinteria. Panoramic views span from the shores of Santa Barbara to the ruggedly beautiful San Ysidro mountains, though the estate itself remains wondrously secluded, hidden from the public road and neighbors behind big gates and a flowering jungle of subtropical plantings.
There are at least five separate structures scattered around the grounds: an 8,200-square-foot main house with three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, a neighboring house of about 2,100 square feet, a separate 1,400-square-foot guesthouse, a 720-square-foot, partially subterranean gym that’s nestled into the hillside backyard, and a 400-square-foot security shack for a full-time bodyguard.
The Indonesian-inspired main house offers walls of glass with spectacular ocean views, and the front door opens into a vast great room accented by a ceiling hewn from truckloads of rare wood. The kitchen is similarly moody, with lustrous black marble, and there’s a world-class library, a lounge, and an owner’s retreat with picturesque sightlines over the gardens and rolling hills.
Arguably the property’s most showstopping feature is the swimming pool, which is an engineering marvel unto itself — jutting up out of the ground, seemingly cantilevered over the sloped gardens below, and infinity-edged on three sides. Naturally, as one would expect at this price point, the property’s acres of rolling grounds include resort-quality amenities — carefully curated gardens, a canopy of ancient oaks, hidden patios and secluded dining areas, a tennis court, and a koi pond.
Besides their now Montecito digs, Lefkosky and his longtime wife Liz maintain a packed real estate portfolio that includes a $30.7 million penthouse at Miami’s Four Seasons at the Surf Club, designed by venerated architect Richard Meier, and a ski estate in Aspen. But their main home remains a $19.5 million, 100-year-old lakefront mansion in the village of Glencoe, Illinois.
As for DeGeneres and de Rossi, the couple are staying in Montecito, where they recently shelled out a near-record $49 million for the Cape Dutch-style compound of Dennis Miller and his wife. They also still own a $42.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills, purchased from Adam Levine in 2019, and a modest Montecito condo that’s likely a residence for staff or family members.