BUYER: Oprah Winfrey
LOCATION: Montecito, CA
PRICE: $28.85 million
SIZE: 23.26 acres
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Though the deal officially went down in December, word is only just now beginning to make its way down the celebrity property gossip grapevine that it was chat show queen-turned-media tycoon Oprah Winfrey who shelled out $28.85 million to acquire Seamair Farm, a fully equipped equestrian estate in the low-key but high-toned seaside community of Montecito, California. The 23.26-acre horse ranch, which borders the almost entirely landscaped 42-acre spread Miz Winfrey acquired in 2001 for around $50 million and calls the Promised Land, was sold by the heirs and executors of the estate of Mary Dell Pritzlaff, daughter of Wisconsin industrialist Spencer Olin and the late widow of Arizona politician John Pritzlaff Jr. who served as the ambassador to Malta from 1969 to 1972.
Unassuming red brick pillars along a narrow, hedge-lined lane mark the main entrance to the property and an unpretentious, blacktopped drive leads to the main residence, a low-slung and multi-winged ranch house originally designed by celebrated California architect Cliff May. The mostly single-story residence, which has a small subterranean lower level, spans 5,016 square feet with four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, and each of the three guest/family bedrooms has a private bathroom and direct access to the outdoors through sliding glass doors. The master suite is super-sized and comprises a spacious private sitting room with built-ins and wet bar, an even more ample bedroom, two pretty average-sized bathrooms, three walk-in closets plus a closet-lined dressing hall, and two small offices with exterior access. There are four fireplaces inside the house — living room, family room, master sitting room and master bedroom — plus a fifth on the patio off the master suite. The main living spaces, which include a large living room, adjacent dining space, compact kitchen and a cozy family room, and one of the guest bedrooms open to a deep covered patio that overlooks a swimming pool and surrounding gardens.
Miz Winfrey resides in the decidedly grandiose 23,000-square-foot Neo-Georgian mansion that anchors the Promised Land, so we’d drop dead of shock if she actually planned to inhabit the Seamair Farm residence even after it gets what will most assuredly be a thorough and costly overhaul. We assume, without any direct knowledge or inside intel, that the residence will be converted to office space, a guesthouse, an entertainment pavilion, staff accommodations, or some other such utility as required by the billionaire’s whims and needs. In addition to the main residence, as per an online site plan included with marketing materials, Seamair Farm also has three small residences for caretakers, guests and/or staff, a large barn and a multi-stall stable, numerous paddocks and riding rings, and an approximately two-acre avocado orchard. It was not just the convenient, next door location of Seamair Farm that was likely of considerable appeal but also, we speculate, the property’s two private water wells, no doubt a big bonus for Miz Winfrey, who was reported in 2014 to have tanker trucks haul in water from out-of-state so the vast, park-like lawns and extensive manicured gardens of the Promised Land don’t go thirsty during California’s epic and ongoing years long drought.
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The 60-year-old multi-billionaire, who recently dropped $43.2 million for a 10% stake in Weight Watchers, has been much in the mood of late to shake up her elephantine property portfolio. Last November she sold for $4.625 million her longtime residence in Chicago — a 9,625-square-foot duplex condo atop the Water Tower Place complex — and a month or so later dropped $14 million on an 8,706-square-foot ski chalet on 3.23 thickly wooded acres in the Mountain Village area of Telluride, Colorado. The story goes she bought the Rocky Mountain getaway so she has someplace to shack up while she custom builds another huge house on a nearby 66-acre tract of undeveloped land that she picked up in March 2014 for $10.85 million. She continues to own a couple of smaller properties in the Chicago and Nashville areas, presumably for family members and/or other beneficiaries of her real estate largesse, and beginning in 2003, she started to hoover up rural farm property near Kula on the Hawaiian Island of Maui where, as of our last assessment of her holdings, she’s shelled out more than $44 million in at least a dozen transactions for the scenic working farm that encompasses close to 1,000 acres.
Listing photo: Sage Auctions