Elon Musk Has Sold Seven Homes For Nearly $175 Million
Following the billionaires vow to ‘own no home’.
Following the billionaires vow to ‘own no home’.
It’s been almost two years since Elon Musk announced a plan to sell nearly all of his physical possessions, including his real estate, by tweeting “Will own no house” on May 1, 2020. The billionaire Tesla Inc. and SpaceX CEO has finally unloaded all seven of the houses he once owned in California.
When The Wall Street Journal first reported on his portfolio back in 2019, Mr. Musk, and limited-liability companies tied to him, had amassed a cluster of six houses on two streets in the “lower” and “mid” areas of the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Bel-Air, a celebrity-filled, leafy enclave near the Hotel Bel-Air. He also owned a grand, 100-year-old estate in Northern California in Hillsborough. He purchased the homes between December 2012 and January 2019 for a total of $138 million.
Between June 2020 and November 2021, Mr. Musk sold all seven houses for a total of roughly $173.5 millon, making a profit of around $33.9 million, although he had mortgages on several of the houses at the time, according to PropertyShark and public records.
The buyers include Kirill Evstratov, the 37-year-old founder and CEO of financial tech company Unlimint, splashy L.A. developer Ardie Tavangarian, and William Ding, the Chinese billionaire and founder of mobile gaming company NetEase. Mr. Musk sold another one of his properties, the former home of the late actor and director Gene Wilder, to Mr. Wilder’s 53-year-old nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman. To date, none of the new owners have significantly altered the properties they bought from Mr. Musk. At least two say they don’t expect to make any significant changes in the future.
“I plan to keep the house as it is,” says Mr. Evstratov, who paid $30 million this past December for Mr. Musk’s Hillsborough estate. Unlimint, a London-based company formerly known as Cardpay.com, is planning to open a San Francisco office later this year, but Mr. Evstratov says the house is for his own private use.
Neighbours say that since Mr. Evstratov bought the Hillsborough property, it has been almost eerily quiet, with little traffic going to the house. That is a big shift from the almost-monthly loud parties and the parade of construction vehicles and Teslas that occurred when Mr. Musk owned the house, the neighbours say. Mr. Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Of all the buyers, Mr. Walker-Pearlman is the least likely to change anything, even the décor. He has added only a few furnishings since October 2020, when he paid $7 million for the Bel-Air house where he spent time with his uncle growing up.
Mr. Walker-Pearlman discovered the home was on the market when a friend sent him a screenshot of Mr. Musk’s tweet, which said he would sell the Wilder house only on the condition that it wouldn’t be “torn down or lose any of its soul.”
“I decided to write to Elon to see if he’d consider selling it to me,“ says Mr. Walker-Pearlman, who negotiated for four months to buy it.
Four of Mr. Musk’s houses in Bel-Air went to Mr. Tavangarian, 63, who is known for his massive spec houses in Los Angeles. Mr. Tavangarian says he’s considering combining the four properties, but whether he follows through depends on permitting and entitlements. “We are looking at all the options,” he says. “We are going through the process of what it takes to build in L.A.”
Mr. Tavangarian paid around $62 million in December 2020 for the houses, which are on two different streets and range from a two-story white brick Colonial to a glassy contemporary. An area of steeply sloped, empty land lies between the two streets.
For the moment, Mr. Tavangarian says, “I have my people staying there.” The only visible difference from Mr. Musk’s ownership is that the houses now have big signs out front reading “Arya,” the name of Mr. Tavangarian’s development company.
Meanwhile, Mr. Musk says he has downsized his life. “My primary home is literally a ~50k house in Boca Chica/Starbase that I rent from SpaceX,” he tweeted in June 2021, referring to a Texas town near the Mexican border near SpaceX’s rocket-launch facility. “It’s kinda awesome though.”
He has been reported as denying reports from real-estate agents who say he has been looking to buy property in Austin, Texas, and Tahoe, Calif. The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2021 that he had been living in a waterfront estate in Austin owned by a rich friend. After that article was published, the friend said Mr. Musk was only a guest and Mr. Musk told the Insider website he did not currentlylive there. According to records, Mr. Musk is registered to vote in Cameron County, Texas, where the small house he’s renting is located.
Here’s a rundown of what has happened to each property.
Musk Purchase Price: $31.75 million
Musk Sale Price: $40 million
Buyer: Kirill Evstratov
Mr. Evstratov bought the house, known as de Guigne Court, in November 2021. Located on a leafy hilltop roughly 20 minutes south of San Francisco and north of Silicon Valley, the property had been in the same family for about 150 years. The approximately 16,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style house sits on 47.4 acres and has five bedrooms, a ballroom and a flower-arranging room. Before Mr. Musk bought it in 2017, it was owned by Christian de Guigne IV, whose grandparents built the home; the family said it was designed by San Francisco architects Bliss & Faville around 1912. The main house has a staff wing with six bedrooms. A pavilion with 18th-century Chinese wallpaper overlooks the pool.
Mr. Evstratov describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. His first company was a small software company in Hong Kong that specialized in billing software for various industries. He started Cardpay in 2009 and changed the name to Unlimint in 2020, part of what he calls a massive rebranding. He says he also has “a number of startups that focus on various cutting-edge technologies.”
Mr. Evstratov knows the Bay Area from the time he lived in Palo Alto while attending Stanford University’s business school. He says that experience played a big role in his decision to buy Mr. Musk’s house. “I had an amazing time there,” he says. “I got to meet great people that I am still in contact with, and learn from fantastic professors. I can definitely say that that period of my life played a huge part in my decision to return to the Bay Area.”
Musk Purchase Price: $9.17 million
Musk Sale Price: $9.51 million, with a $9.11 million loan to the buyers
Buyers: Jordan Walker-Pearlman and Elizabeth Hunter
This Bel-Air property, spanning roughly 2,756 square feet between the ranch house and a guest cottage, was once owned by Mr. Wilder, who bought it in 1976 for $314,000. The Elon Musk Revocable Trust bought the property in 2013. Located above the Bel-Air Country Club, the house was across the street from Mr. Musk’s main residence at the time, and real-estate agents say he wanted to protect his view. Mr. Musk used the house for parties; Ad Astra, the school Mr. Musk started for his five sons (a pair of twins and a set of triplets), was registered at this address at one point.
Growing up, Mr. Walker-Pearlman lived with his uncle at the house during summers and several other months during the year. He says he has vivid memories of Mr. Wilder’s morning swims in the kidney-shaped pool, the Sunday after-tennis hangouts with the likes of Mel Brooks and Sidney Poitier, raucous dinner parties, and listening to Mr. Wilder read scripts and play piano.
When a friend sent him a screenshot of Mr. Musk’s tweet about wanting to preserve it, Mr. Walker-Pearlman reached out to Mr. Musk’s team immediately. Mr. Musk agreed to sell the house to Mr. Walker-Pearlman and his wife, Elizabeth Hunter, for $7 million along with what’s called a “long form deed of trust and assignment of rents,” agreeing to loan the couple $6.7 million, according to public documents accessed through PropertyShark.
Musk Purchase Price: A total of $74.68 million for four houses
Musk Sale Price: A total of $84.09 million
Buyer: Ardie Tavangarian
In 2015, Mr. Musk paid $27 million for a six-bedroom, roughly 7,026-square-foot house on a 3.41-acre lot in Bel-Air through Camellia Ranch LLC. Originally built in 1954, this house had last sold for $6.91 million in 2004 before Mr. Musk bought it.
That same year, Duck Duck Goose, an LLC that shares addresses with the Musk Foundation and the headquarters of SpaceX, bought a modest ranch house on an adjacent street up a steep canyon for $5.84 million. A year later, another LLC tied to Mr. Musk bought a large, unfinished, white contemporary three doors down, and then, a little more than two years later, a different LLC also registered to the SpaceX headquarters address snagged a white brick Colonial next to that.
All three houses sit on a cul-de-sac of five homes, making neighbors wonder whether Mr. Musk—or SpaceX—was trying to take over the whole end of the street.
Mr. Tavangarian, originally from Iran, came to the United States as an exchange student when he was 15 years old. He says he came to L.A. to attend the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He is known for selling over-the-top homes. In 2019, a house he built in the Bel-Air area sold to a Chinese buyer for $101 million. In July 2021, he sold a spec house for $112 million. “My focus is on creating dreams,” he says.
Musk Purchase Price: $23cmillion
Musk Sale Price: $39 million
Buyer: William Ding
In 2012, after three years of renting it, the Elon Musk Revocable Trust bought a 20,248-square-foot, white stucco Colonial mansion with seven bedrooms and 13 bathrooms in Bel-Air from Mitchell Julis, co-founder of hedge fund Canyon Capital Advisors, according to public records. The 1.7-acre property, which Mr. Musk used as his main home, overlooks Bel-Air Country Club, according to the listing at the time, and includes a lighted tennis court, five garages, a pool and spa, gym and guest quarters. The house, resembling a French country estate, has a two-story library and a wine cellar that holds 1,000 bottles.
In June 2020, Mr. Musk sold it via a “for sale by owner” listing to an LLC tied to Mr. Ding, public records show. Mr. Ding, whose net worth is around $35 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, wasn’t available for comment. The grounds include a fruit orchard, a motor court and a five-car garage, according to the listing.
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: March 10, 2022
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Gail and Ron Fink’s property in Jupiter Inlet Colony sustained major damage during an unusually windy day. ‘The whole backyard is shot. All the landscaping is gone.’
Gail and Ron Fink weren’t home the day the ocean swallowed their backyard.
The Florida couple, who are in their 70s, were a few miles away on Feb. 6—an unusually blustery day in the Sunshine State—as waves pounded their beachfront property in Jupiter Inlet Colony, sweeping sand, dirt and trees out to sea. When it was all over, the Finks’ newly-built, roughly 10,000-square-foot home was intact; so too was their free-form swimming pool, improbably balanced on exposed concrete-and-steel pilings.
“That’s what saved the whole thing,” said Ron, founder of an air- and-water purification company. “The pilings are holding up the house and pool.”
Drone footage and pictures from local photographers and the Finks’ builder show the severity of the destruction, which left their pool suspended in the air, with pipes protruding from the earth. Town officials said erosion claimed 7 to 10 feet of sand and created steep drop-offs in front of about half-dozen homes, including one belonging to Kid Rock , the rapper-turned-country rocker, who paid $3.2 million for the property in 2012. Conair heiress Babe Rizzuto also sustained damage to her property down the street, which she bought for $6.3 million in 2015 and currently has listed for $22.5 million, according to Zillow. Neither responded to requests for comment.
But the Finks house, located just past the end of a granite revetment wall—a kind of sea wall—bore the brunt of the heavy wind and waves.
“The whole backyard is shot. All the landscaping is gone,” said Ron. Also gone are fully matured Palm trees and an ipe-wood deck. “It’s out floating in the ocean someplace.” Ron is self-insured and the repair work will be quite expensive. undefined
A New Jersey native, Ron is an engineer by training who worked at nuclear-testing sites in California and Nevada before moving to Florida in the 1980s. He is the founder of RGF Environmental Group, which makes air- water-and food-purification systems.
For almost 40 years, the Finks—who have three adult children and eight grandchildren—have lived in Admirals Cove, a gated community in Jupiter about 5 miles from their new house. They paid $180,000 for the Admirals Cove lot in 1987 and built a roughly 6,000-square-foot house, Ron said. The Finks also own homes in the Cayman Islands and Bahamas.
Ron said they began looking for property in Jupiter Inlet Cove years ago. “It’s a neat place, just a closed little colony right on the ocean, low key and quiet,” he said.
About 20 miles north of Palm Beach, Jupiter Inlet Colony is at the southern tip of Jupiter Island. The town, founded around 1959, has approximately 240 homes and is surrounded on three sides by water—the Atlantic Ocean, Jupiter Inlet and the Intracoastal Waterway. Long a destination for wealthy homeowners, homes in Jupiter Inlet Colony tend to trade for between $2 million and $5 million, although one sold for $18.6 million in January, according to real-estate brokerage Redfin. Last year, a home on the Intracoastal sold for $21.4 million, a record for the town.
In 2020, the Finks paid $4.9 million for a vacant beachfront lot and subsequently built a coastal-style house with a copper-and shake-style roof, covered loggia, pool and outdoor fire pit. “You know, it’s kind of a dream home,” Ron said. “We have built quite a few homes, but this is the end of the line for us, hopefully the last one.”
He said the property originally belonged to the singer Perry Como, one of the town’s first residents. A prior owner demolished Como’s house, and when the Finks bought it, there were concrete-and-steel pilings sticking out of the ground.
Ron Fink said he never removed about 60 pilings, he simply added roughly 30 more. “Now I’m glad I did,” he said. (Pilings are based on the design of a house, so Ron retained some pilings that he didn’t necessarily need.)
John Melhorn of design-build firm Thomas Melhorn, which built the house, said the Finks were a final review away from obtaining a certificate of occupancy when the backyard was destroyed. “They were right there at the goal line,” he said.
Melhorn said the erosion began in late October amid unusually high winds and ocean swell. During the first week of February, sand beneath a row of sea grapes that stabilized the dunes between the house and ocean began to wash away. By the evening of Feb. 6, the plantings disappeared. The yard was gone by the next morning.
Melhorn said a pre-existing, low wall between the ocean and house—described as a cinder-block retaining wall on land surveys—also washed away, as did a walkway and steps to the beach. But he said the 2-foot-high wall was less of a retaining wall and more like a curb between the street and sidewalk. In this case, a prior owner used it to hold sea grapes back from encroaching on the property. The Finks replaced the wall with decorative stone, now lost to the ocean. An outdoor fire pit is still there, cantilevered over the ocean. “We tried to pull as many things out as we saw the erosion coming, but we lost a lot,” Melhorn said.
In Florida, erosion is increasing because of more frequent, more severe storms and sea-level rise, said Cheryl Hapke, a research professor at the University of South Florida and the chair of the Florida Coastal Mapping Program. But she said it isn’t just hurricane-level storms that cause major damage. “One thing I have found about barrier islands [like Jupiter Inlet Colony] is that sometimes a series of smaller events can have as big an impact as a major hurricane,” she said. “But people get caught off guard. It’s something they don’t think of.”
In Jupiter Inlet Colony, longtime residents said this month’s erosion is the worst the area has seen in years, possibly ever.
Mayor Ed Hocevar, who has lived there for 17 years, said it has been a particularly cool and challenging winter with an abnormal number of Nor’easters. On Feb. 6, local news channels warned of high winds, with gusts between 40 and 50 miles an hour. (There were also reports of an earthquake off the coast that week, causing high waves.)
Since the 1980s, Jupiter Inlet Colony has had a granite rock revetment wall that extends from the northern end of the community past 11 oceanfront homes. “But we’ve got 28 homes along the beachfront, so it isn’t complete,” Hocevar said. “Where the wall ended is where the significant damage occurred.” Hocevar said he doesn’t know why the wall wasn’t completed, although local lore is that homeowners building the wall ran out of money.
Last week, the town hired a local mining company to bring in 7,000 tons of sand to replace what washed away. Hocevar said it would cost about $500,000, which will come out of the town’s reserve fund. Long term, he said, extending the revetment wall isn’t a strong possibility.
Hapke, the coastal geology expert, said that in recent decades, sea walls and hardened structures have fallen out of favor as scientists discovered they are detrimental to the environment around them. “Storm water wants to flow, so it will redirect water to the area without a sea wall,” she said, adding that the most ideal long-term solution is to move homes away from the coastline.
Hocevar, 67, who has been mayor of Jupiter Inlet Colony for about a month, said the town is working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection on its response. He said the DEP’s recommendation, should erosion like this occur again, is to bring in more sand. Hocevar emphasised that the community is rallying together. “Think about it as a fortress and your wall has been breached,” he said. “You want to protect your neighbourhood and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
Holly Meyer Lucas of Compass, who represented the seller when the Finks purchased their property, said Jupiter Inlet Colony is a “special little enclave” where sales exploded during Covid. “Listings sell after a day or sell off-market,” she said.
Lucas said the consensus among local real-estate agents is that property values will hold, despite the erosion. “I think this is a really rare, weird, fluky event,” she said. “I’ve sold everywhere up and down the coast and I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
Babe Rizzuto, whose house is two doors down from the Finks, listed her house for $24.5 million in December 2023 and cut the price to $22.5 million on Feb. 6, according to Zillow.
“She’s going to continue to sell,” said Milla Russo of Illustrated Properties, who is marketing the property with her husband, Andrew Russo. “Even though the timing isn’t great, it is what it is.”
Russo said there has been erosion in the past, and during hurricanes residents of Jupiter Inlet Colony are the first in the area to evacuate. But in general, people are not preoccupied with the weather. “Maybe because we live here, when the hurricanes come, we all have hurricane parties. We go to people’s homes and we barbecue and grill. Of course we’re careful and we lock up and all that, but weather is weather,” she said. “We’ve never been terribly scared.”
(The Russos were also involved in selling the Fink property. However, in 2020 the closing agent on the deal, Florida-based Eavenson, Fraser & Lunsford, PLLC, sued Milla Russo and Illustrated Properties as part of a commission dispute. The seller, Michael Cantor’s Range Road Developers, was named as a defendant and cross-plaintiff in the suit, in which a judge ruled in favor of Eavenson, court records show. Milla Russo declined to comment on the suit. Eavenson declined to comment beyond the judge’s findings and Cantor did not respond to requests for comment.)
Ron was also matter-of-fact about the state of beachfront living. Bring a life jacket, he jokingly told a photographer who inquired last week about taking his picture.
However, the Finks are facing weeks of costly repairs. Although the town is bringing in sand to replace the decimated beachfront, the couple is self-insured and will be on the hook for the cost of rebuilding. Several major home insurers have pulled out of Florida, and Ron said insurance on the house would have cost $100,000 a year. Now, he estimated they could face about $1 million worth of repair work. “We gotta eat it,” he said.
The couple, who was supposed to move into the house this month, has put those plans on hold—for now. An engineer recently inspected the property and deemed the house safe, Ron said. “We’re doing wallpaper today,” he said. “We can put it back together again.” The patio and pool area, meanwhile, are roped off while the area underneath is backfilled with sand.
Ron said being near the ocean makes it worthwhile. “I just love the ocean, we both do. It’s important to us,” he said. “It isn’t easy to look at, but I’ve been through a lot worse.”
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’