The Strange Tale of the $13 Million Malibu Tear Down

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$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

I have such mixed emotions about this once fabulous house! But only on Malibu’s Billionaire’s Beach is a midcentury house with an illustrious history virtually worthless, while the sand it sits on is worth millions.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

Casa Larronde is one of the original homes there – dating to long before the strip earned the nickname of Billionaire’s Beach for residents like David Geffen and Larry Ellison – and is thought to be one of just three or so still standing. When a for-sale sign went up recently for the first time ever, asking $13.25 million, the only legitimate lookers were developers, who intend to cheerfully level the 1950s time capsule to build a lavish seaside villa twice its size.

Step into this midcentury modern classic and you step back in time. You can almost hear consummate hostess Charlou Larronde hurrying down the hall, welcoming you with a frothy, umbrella-topped cocktail in hand.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

Back in the day, Charlou, as everyone called her, was the founding member of the “Malibu Martini and Surfing Society.” It held frequent meetings on the roof or the beach deck of her home, bordered by the Pacific Coast Highway in front and the Pacific Ocean in the back. In between is roughly 4,000 square feet of intact period architecture and design.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

Charlou and her husband, Jimmy, bought a lonely lot with 60 feet of beach frontage back in 1952. Then they hired architect Alfred Gilman, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, to create the home where they would raise three daughters and entertain their myriad friends and family members in the style only Charlou could pull off.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

“They used to sit on the roof and call out to people on PCH, inviting them up for a drink,” says Sotheby’s listing agent Cathie Messina, who is a good friend of the family and grew up attending their famous bashes. Messina showed Yahoo Real Estate around the place.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

Today, residents of what has become one of the most coveted strips of land in Southern California would most definitely not be pleased by that “Come one, come all!” attitude. The efforts of the local rich and cranky to keep the public off “their” sand have been well documented.

Uber-rich celebrities and tycoons who have lived within cup-of-sugar-borrowing distance of Charlou include Geffen, Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paul Allen of Microsoft, and Oracle founder Ellison, who reportedly owns several homes on this shimmering strand. Needless to say, these neighbors jealously guard their privacy.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

But privacy was not an issue back in the days when Charlou and her family were among the few residents on what is officially known as Carbon Beach,  just south of the Malibu Pier. In fact, can you believe that Charlou used her house as a bed-and-breakfast for a time – her most famous guest being John Travolta, who stayed there for three months in 1977, the year Saturday Night Fever was released.

Unfotunately, time moves on and houses, especially when they’re on the beach, wither and grow old. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that this 63-year-old house is living on borrowed time. But honestly, without the magnificent Charlou presiding over it, it probably wouldn’t be the same anyway.

See more photos and info on the $13 Million Malibu tear down in my feature on Yahoo Real Estate.

$13 Million Malibu Tear Down

The Strange Tale of the $13 Million Malibu Tear Down

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

1 Comment

  1. […] the house came up for sale a year ago (for the first time ever!) with a $13 million pricetag, everyone assumed it would be quickly demolished by the new owner. Along came Mr. Nixon, however, who was perhaps the only person not seriously […]

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