The longtime former Malibu compound of late night talk show icon Johnny Carson has come up for sale with a blockbuster asking price of $81.5 million. Carson purchased the architecturally audacious residence on two cliff-top parcels in late 1984 for around $9.5 million and within a couple of years bought two additional parcels directly across the street for an unrecorded amount.
The unusually and sub-optimally bifurcated compound spans a total of 4.17 acres and for the last decade has been owned by octogenarian billionaire businessman, film producer and philanthropist Sydney Kimmel and his wife Caroline who bought the opulent if idiosyncratically configured estate in early 2007 from the “Tonight Show” host’s widow Alexis Carson. Ms. Kimmel told the property gossips at The Wall Street Journal they paid “just under $46 million” for the compound although tax records show the four parcels were acquired in two contiguous transactions recorded in early 2007 for a total of $36.5 million.
Two of the estate’s four parcels, which together measure 2.05 acres, are located along a high and precipitous cliff with, at the end of a flower-lined and tree-shaded drive, a two-story triangular-shaped residence designed by acclaimed Malibu architect Ed Niles with two bedrooms and four bathrooms in 7,083-square-feet. An immense, atrium-style gallery planted with indoor trees under a 30-foot ceiling with an open-tread curved staircase leads to a triangular-shaped living room with towering walls of glass and a wood-slatted glass ceiling. A semi-circular sunken seating area is arranged around a copper and glass fireplace and what listing descriptions call an “Asian lounge” has a walk-in wet bar. There’s also a media room, a bar/wine room, both formal and informal dining rooms and a “chef’s kitchen” that was enlarged by the Kimmels, one of the few alterations they made to the house. The master suite, all by itself larger than many homes, privately sprawls across the entire second floor and provides a bedroom with Chinoiserie fireplace and head-on ocean view through floor-to-ceiling windows, his and her onyx bathrooms — hers with an ocean-side terrace, dual dressing rooms and two private offices.
The house spills out through vast walls of glass to tropical and flowering gardens that meander among a resort-like combination of sun splashed and tree-shaded dining and lounging terraces. A waterfall cascades into a koi pond where some of the fish were alive during the Carson’s ownership of the property and a second waterfall runs over a tumble of boulders into a swimming pool and spa spectacularly sited just feet from the cliff’s vertical edge where it has postcard-ready ocean and coastline views.
Just over half of the compound, two parcels that together span 2.11 acres, are located across the street from the main residence and sit like an island completely ringed by the street. Walled, gated and ringed by mature trees, the park-like parcels include a 2,751-square-foot, wedge-shaped pavilion that runs the full length of the tennis court — a gift from NBC according to a report in the L.A. Times — and includes a plushly furnished lounge with TV-surmounted fireplace and a complete kitchen plus a gym, a locker room and two en suite bedrooms for guests. The estate also offers a separate one-bedroom/one-bathroom guest cottage of 843-square-feet, staff quarters, an estate manager’s office, an office for on-site security detail and gated, off-street parking for, literally, dozens of cars.
The Kimmels plan to relocate to Beverly Hills where, we first heard a few months ago from Yolanda Yakketyyak, they shelled out $24.9 million for a low-slung, spec-built contemporary mansion with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms in about 12,000-square-feet wedged on to a .68-acre parcel conveniently located just a half of a dozen or so mansions up the street and around the corner from the illustrious and always fabulous Beverly Hills Hotel. The seller was fellow billionaire Alec Gores.
Interestingly, the $81.5 million price tag hung on the Kimmel’s compound in Malibu is exactly the same as the asking price on a massive mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., they sold nearly a decade ago for $77.5 million to former Goldman Sachs president John L. Thornton. The 18,437-square-foot, über-luxe contemporary villa was custom designed for the Kimmels by sublimely talented and famously imperious French architect Thierry Despont on 4.27-oceanfront-acres with more than 300 feet of beach frontage.
Kimmel, worth an estimated $1.36 billion according to the bean counters at Forbes and a dedicated philanthropist who plans to give away $1 billion during his lifetime, founded the Jones Apparel Group in 1970, sold off much of his stock in the company before it was sold in 2014 for $2.2 billion. In 2004 dove head first into the movie business and formed the production, finance and distribution operation Sidney Kimmel Entertainment that’s brought to the silver screen dozens of films including “The Kite Runner” (2007), “Lars and the Real Girl,” (2007), “Moneyball” (2011), “United 93” (2012) and “Hell or High Water” (2016).
Listing photos: Coldwell Banker / Hilton & Hyland