Though 2019 has mostly been a quiet year for high-end real estate in Orange County, Calif., three eye-catchingly big residential transactions recently closed — or are scheduled to soon close. Billionaire Qualtrics co-founder Jared Smith recently paid $35 million for a brand-new Newport Harbor mansion, and it’s rumored that an even larger Newport Harbor deal is currently in the works with a Chinese tech billionaire buyer.
And then there’s this megamansion in the Newport Coast hills. According to the Wall Street Journal, the nearly 19,000 sq. ft. Italianate behemoth has just sold for a whopping $38 million, the biggest sale ever in the guard-gated Crystal Cove community and second-biggest in all of Newport Coast, just behind the $40 million that Hong Kong auto tycoon Feng Changge paid in late 2017 — a deal capped off by his realtors suing each other over the enormous commission involved.
In any case, property records reveal the $38 million estate buyer is a corporate entity easily linked to real estate mega-mogul Carl Panattoni, the founder and chairman of Panattoni Development Company, and his son Adon Panattoni, the company’s CEO.
Newport Beach-based Panattoni Development is one of the largest private real estate development firms in the entire United States; since its 1986 founding, the industrial giant has expanded to 24 offices across the U.S., Canada and Europe, where they’ve developed hundreds of millions of square feet of office buildings, distribution centers and warehouses. The still family-owned company’s success has also reaped untold riches for the Panattoni clan, who have a well-documented affinity for extraordinarily lavish personal real estate.
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Built by local couple Scott and Paula Bower, the Panattoni Newport Coast mega-estate was completed in 2016. The portly structure’s old-world, Mediterranean-influenced façade belies its contemporary interiors, which encompass walls of glass, checkerboard-style black-and-white tile flooring, and a sleek, nearly all-white kitchen with custom designer appliances.
Other lavish amenities within the H-shaped abode include a subterranean basement level with a 16-seat home theater, a temperature-controlled wine closet that opens to a wet bar and lounge area, a mirror-walled gym, marble-slathered laundry room, 8-car underground garage, and a gigantic upstairs master suite that looks more akin to a five-star resort hotel penthouse. There’s an sprawling private balcony with sunset views of the Pacific, dual marble bathrooms — both of them with fireplaces — and his/hers dressing rooms and walk-in closets.
The giant house sits on a double lot of more than three-quarters of an acre; the outdoor areas contain a 65-foot Grecian-inspired infinity pool, an outdoor kitchen and two large firepits, sprawling lawns with fountains, and rigidly manicured hedgerows interspersed with regal Italian cypresses.
A peek through records reveals Carl Panattoni has long maintained a heavy-duty residential real estate portfolio; way back in 1993, he purchased the actor Gene Hackman’s epic compound in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. After initially asking a brain-freezing $79 million for that three-parcel property in 2012, Panattoni subsequently sold the property in two separate transactions to two different buyers: the largest parcel went for $27 million to venture capitalist Andrew Paul, the smaller two fetched $24 million from Houston-based real estate mogul Jeff Hines.
And Panattoni also owned a large estate up north, just off Pebble Beach, Calif.’s outrageously scenic 17 Mile Drive, that was sold last year for just over $25 million to an unnamed Silicon Valley tech tycoon. Shortly after that, Panattoni and his longtime wife Mary Jane paid $18 million for a 1922 Italianate mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, the same architect responsible for nearby Mar-a-Lago. The Panattonis also continue to maintain a aircraft carrier-sized mansion compound on the spectacular bluffs of Kailua-Kona, on Hawaii’s Big Island.