A few days ago, rampant speculation arose about the longtime Malibu estate of NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer. Listed at $125 million and in the final stages of escrow, the house was reportedly set to be acquired by tech billionaire Jan Koum, the co-founder of international messaging service WhatsApp.
The property has since sold, and transfer documents have officially recorded. They confirm the nearly 14,000 sq. ft. house was indeed snapped up by Koum — via his generically-named LLC — earlier this week. According to the MLS, the closing price was an even $100 million, marking only the seventh time a California home sale has ever broken the nine-figure barrier.
Previously discussed in detail, the extravagant house was custom-built in the late 1990s by revered and now-deceased architect Gwathmey Siegel for Meyer and sits on a spectacular 3-acre blufftop lot directly overlooking Malibu’s postcard-perfect Paradise Cove, which in recent years has eclipsed even legendarily wealthy Carbon Beach in terms of sheer desirability. Meyer originally acquired the then-vacant property in 1997 from his former nemesis, CAA co-founder Mike Ovitz, at a cost of $5 million. Today, the giant estate sits between two equally massive compounds, one owned by Public Storage heiress Tamara Gustavson and the other by Bosnia-born socialite Diana Jenkins.
Besides Gustavson and Jenkins, some of Koum’s new Paradise Cove neighbors include a bevy of deep-pocketed celebrities and assorted billionaires: Leo DiCaprio, Courteney Cox, John McEnroe, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jimmy Iovine and Mark Burnett are all within sugar-borrowing distance.
As for Koum himself, he and business partner Brian Acton co-founded WhatsApp in 2009. Five years later, they sold the wildly popular messaging app to Facebook for approximately $19 billion, instantly making both men members of the three-comma club. According to Forbes, Koum — one of the world’s foremost collectors of rare Porsche and Ferrari models — is worth $10 billion.
In addition to his new $100 million vacation home, Koum maintains a heavy-duty Silicon Valley real estate portfolio that includes a high-tech converted warehouse in Burlingame, Calif. where he keeps a portion of his car collection, an $8.5 million estate in Atherton, Calif., and a $5.5 million mansion in Hillsborough, Calif. that was purchased for a family member. His main residence, however, is a nearly $100 million custom-built Atherton mega-compound. Still partially under construction, the enormous estate spans 5.6 acre on five parcels of land and includes multiple mansions and swimming pools — plus a 10,000+ sq. ft., mansion-sized garage.
As aforementioned, Koum’s Malibu splurge is only the seventh time a California home has sold for $100 million or more. In 2011, Russian oligarch Yuri Milner paid $100 million for a Silicon Valley mega-mansion in the Los Altos Hills community. Two years later, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son forked over $117.5 million for another Silicon Valley estate, this one in the Woodside neighborhood. That place — currently undergoing a major remodel of some sort — was reportedly purchased as a gift for Son’s wife.
Back in 2016, leveraged buyout billionaire Tom Gores paid $100 million for a brand-new Holmby Hills mansion, and the nearby Playboy Mansion was sold for $100 million to its next door neighbor, billionaire heir Daren Metropoulos. Last year, natural gas tycoon Michael S. Smith and his longtime wife Iris shelled out $110 million for Carbon Beach mansion. And just last month, the famous Aaron Spelling-built Manor in Holmby Hills was resold for $119.7 million to an unidentified foreign buyer.
And in this era of increasing focus on wealth disparity, it’s certainly worth highlighting that all but two of those seven $100+ million transactions occurred within the last three years. It would seem, in fact, that the mega-rich really are getting richer.