SELLER: Steve Martin
LOCATION: Montecito, Calif.
SIZE: 7,377 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Kudos to the property gossip gal at Zillow who was the first to let the cat out of the bag about multitalented comedy genius Steve Martin putting his striking glass and concrete contemporary in the mountains above Montecito on the open market with an asking price of $10,999,500, a figure otherwise and more simply known as 11 million clams.
As best as this veteran property gossip can surmise from a thorough peek and poke around the property records, Mister Martin, a skilled banjo player and pianist, a semi-retired actor with four dozen films under his belt, a screenwriter, occasional playwright and the author of a slew of books, purchased the two parcels that comprise the estate’s 5.86 rolling acres and the arrestingly unconventional Roland Coate Jr.-designed residence that crowns its most prominent hilltop in early 1995 for an unknown amount.
A gated drive makes a sweeping, serpentine path under dense canopies of mature specimen trees up to a pancake flat blacktopped motor court that isn’t quite but might as well be the roof of the muscular and decidedly bunker-like residence. Current listing details and other online resources show the partially subterranean dwelling was built entirely — we’re talking floors, walls and ceilings — of poured concrete in 1974, with four generously proportioned bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms in the 7,377-square-foot main house plus two more bedrooms and a bathroom in an also bunker-like detached guesthouse.
Exposed and unadorned poured concrete walls, ceilings, pillars and pony walls in the ample living and dining rooms are slightly if monochromatically softened with concrete-colored wall-to-wall carpeting, while both public and private spaces are enlivened with puffy, multicolored sofas, chairs and poufs, elevated by a collection of impressive artworks, provided a soupçon of earthiness with natural wood furnishings and, ultimately, relieved of some of the industrial intensity by cinematic expanses of glass panels and steel-framed French doors that provide both intimate views of the property and magnanimous sunset vistas that sweep over the Pacific all the way to the all-but-unspoiled Channel Islands.
Red brick terraces add a shock of color under foot, and step down the hillside to a partially shaded lounging terrace that forms a peninsula in the bullet-shaped swimming pool that’s wonderfully flush with the simple, grassy landscape that rings it but does not, this property gossip is pleased to report, flood the car with the unnecessary melodramatics of an infinity edge. Much of the property remains ruggedly wooded and there’s a detached three-car garage attached to the backside of the guesthouse.
Like many wealthy and successful entertainment industry mandarins, the Emmy-, Grammy- and (honorary) Oscar-winning Mister Martin, the 69-year-old father of a toddler and one of Tinseltown’s top collectors of contemporary artworks, maintains an impressive portfolio of private residences. In addition to a humbly scaled if not exactly cheap one bedroom and one bathroom pied-à-terre in a distinguished building just off New York City’s Central Park West that he picked up in April 2008 for $885,000, Mister Martin also and owns Villa Au Soleil, a hilltop compound with panoramic sea views on the global glitterati-approved French West Indies island of St. Barts. Mister Martin has had his island getaway on and off the sales and rental markets for years and — as it turns out — is currently listed for sale at about $8.9 million and is also available to rent by the week at rates between $16,000 and $28,000. Back on the West Coast, Mister Martin owns a two-residence compound on a barely there cul-de-sac deep in the mountains above Beverly Hills. He acquired the first of the two properties, a 0.68 spread with a 7,000-square-foot-plus house, in early 1995 for $3,175,000 from Corbin Bernsen and Amanda Pays, and he picked up the neighboring 1.02-acre property in the fall of 1997 for an undisclosed amount.
Listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty