SELLER: Jeff and Susan Bridges
LOCATION: Montecito, Calif.
PRICE: $29.5 million
SIZE: 9,535 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: It might be a real estate industry cliché to describe a multi-acre estate in one of the country’s most affluent communities as “park-like,” but it’s perfectly apropos when it comes to the 19.22-acre — ahem — park-like compound in low-key but mega-rich Montecito, Calif., that Jeff Bridges recently put up for sale with an asking price of $29.5 million. The much-lauded actor, occasional producer and accomplished avocational musician and his missus of nearly 30 years, Susan Bridges, purchased the property, at least according to property records we perused, in July of 1993 for an undisclosed amount from “Footloose” singer Kenny Loggins and his former wife Eva.
In a career that has spanned a remarkable seven decades, the still working 65-year-old actor — he’s currently filming the upcoming action-thriller “Comancheria” and is set to star in the Lake Bell-directed comedy “The Emperor’s Children” — has received an astonishing six Oscar nominations for films that include “The Last Picture Show,” “Starman” and “True Grit.” In 2010, the year of his fifth Oscar nom, he took home the coveted golden statuette for his deft performance as a down and out alcoholic country western singer-songwriter who slowly turns his sad ship around with the encouragement of a much younger lady friend — portrayed by the also Oscar-nominated Maggie Gyllenhaal — whose love, alas, he loses in the end. Good cinematic stuff. Anyways…
Listing details show the main mansion, a sprawling, rustic-meets-refined Tuscan-style affair designed by architect Berry Berkus, built in 1988 and dubbed “Villa Santa Lucia,” measures in at approximately 9,535 square feet and contains, by this property gossips count, four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms while three additional residences sprinkled around the property add another four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Remote-controlled wrought iron gates swing open to an impressively long drive that crosses over a creek before it makes a tree-lined sweep up to a stone-paved motor court that wraps itself around a craggy oak tree wrapped in white fairy lights. A carved wood front door opens to a small vestibule that leads to a double-height gallery with groin vaulted ceiling, antique terra-cotta pavers and a stoic row of muscular stone columns. The gallery steps down to an ample living room with oak floors, antique stone fireplace, wood beams on the ceiling from a century-old bridge, and towering, arched French doors that open to a loggia and stone terrace with a properly panoramic ocean view. The terra-cotta pavers in the gallery continue into an unconventionally shaped dining room that offers terrace access and includes a lounge area with built-in banquette seating next to another fireplace, this one set at a cattywampus angle.
The center island kitchen has an informal dining area with French doors that open to both the main terrace off the living room and an oak-shaded dining terrace while the adjacent but separate family room has a vaulted exposed wood ceiling, fireplace set into a herringbone-patterned brick wall and additional French doors that lead out to the dining terrace. The service wing includes a large laundry, sunny mud porch that opens to a courtyard parking area, a three-quarter bathroom, and direct access to an attached, 1,000-plus-square-foot four-car garage. In addition to mechanical equipment and storage, the small basement offers a wine cellar with wet bar and, at the opposite end of the house from the family room, there’s an office lined with French doors that open to a wrap-around loggia. We noted a small, windowless room off the office is marked on the floor plan included with digital marketing materials as an “Assistants Office” but, call us crazy, children —and we’ve been called so much worse — it just seems like an unnecessary punishment to make an assistant sit in a windowless room, doesn’t it?
At the top of the main staircase, trompe l’oeil double doors lead into the master suite that features a sitting area with fireplace and expansive ocean views; a walk-in closet larger than most Manhattan studio apartments; and a good-sized although hardly gargantuan bathroom with double sinks, separate tub and shower, and a private, windowed cubby for the toilet and bidet. Three guest/family bedrooms are situated to provide optimal privacy for homeowners and guests and include a roomy, two-room suite with two walk-in closets and one bathroom. Two more bedrooms each have a private en suite and one of them, done up by the Bridges as a den/office, has an angled fireplace, built-in desk, and French doors to a private, mountain view terrace. A discreet stairway just outside the master suite ascends to a third-floor tower lounge/meditation room with yet another fireplace — we counted half a dozen in the main house — and direct access to a nearly 650-square-foot stone balustraded roof terrace with spine tingling views that sweep over the mansion-dotted hills and dales of Montecito and out over the ocean to the Channel Islands.
Near the estate’s gated entrance there’s a 500-plus-square foot one-bedroom and one-bathroom caretaker’s apartment attached to a 1,823-square-foot guesthouse where a curved living/dining/kitchen area is flanked by two en suite bedrooms. Another guesthouse, this one linked to the main house by a rose-covered arbor, comes in at 710 square feet with fireplaced and sky-lit living room, full kitchen, one bedroom and one bathroom. An additional, 700-plus-square-foot structure, accessible from the main house via a charming footbridge across a babbling brook, houses a state-of-the-art screening room and recording studio.
Postcard ready and clearly well-watered gardens and broad expanses of rolling, emerald-green lawns surround the house and spill gently down toward a pond-style swimming pool edged with boulders and fed by a recirculating waterfall. An elevated and stone-tiled sunbathing terrace with over-the treetops ocean view gives way to a pergola-shaded dining terrace with fireplace and adjacent poolhouse equipped with a full indoor/outdoor kitchen, changing room and bathroom. The property also includes a small pond, a terraced hillside vineyard, and extensive, pathway-laced gardens planted with specimen and fruit trees and lit by antique light posts. Steps climb up to a loggia with long views over the estate and link to private hiking trails that wind up into the rugged, undeveloped mountains behind the property.
For a century or more, the uncommonly comely and optimally temperate coastal community of Montecito has attracted rich and/or famous folk as full and part-time residents. A short list of the many high-profile and high-powered peeps who currently maintain homes in the area include Google’s Eric Schmidt — who bought his historic estate from Ellen DeGeneres, Beanie Babies tycoon Ty Warner, veteran showbiz executive Tom Freston and “Star Wars” mogul George Lucas. The community’s slew of television and movie stars include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Costner and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who bought their current Montecito getaway, conceived and previously owned by highbrow decorator John Saladino, just about two years ago for $26.5 million. Rich, famous and powerful as many — or, let’s be honest, nearly all — of Montecito homeowners may be, like the rest of California’s drought-stricken hoi polloi, Montecitans currently live with strictly enforced water restrictions that include substantial fines for consuming more water than is allotted to their property. But, of course, vast wealth has its perks — or excesses, some might argue — and some of the financially well-endowed residents of Montecito can and do go to great and heinously expensive lengths to keep their carefully and exuberantly landscaped estates from looking the least bit thirsty. Oprah Winfrey, arguably the reigning queen of the California Riviera, calls her palatial and almost entirely landscaped 42-acre estate “The Promised Land” and — despite the estate’s private water wells — was reported to have paid the local water district almost $125,000 in 2013 to keep her lawns and gardens gorgeously green. The billionaire, like most residents, is reported to have cut her usage of district water significantly in the last year or so but, so the stories go, she and some of her like-minded neighbors have water trucked in by tanker from out of the area — at a cost one local resident estimated to a reporter from Politico could be as high as $15,000 or more per month — so as not to have to suffer the indignity of living in a mansion surrounded by dusty terraces, waterless fountains, droopy gardens and acre after acre of depressing dead lawn.
In addition to their sprawling and — here we go again — park-like compound in Montecito, plus a smaller property in the area they’ve already reportedly purchased but about which we admittedly know nada, our research shows Mister and Missus Bridges also own a semi-remote country spread of at least 900 acres about 35 miles outside of Bozeman, Montana, as well a four-plus-acre hilltop property in Malibu on which, as far as we know, there is not currently a residence.
Listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby’s International Realty