Malibu Castle Rises From the Ashes as a Phenomenal Phoenix

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Designer/Developer Scott Gillen has built the area’s priciest property where the Malibu Castle once stood

Malibu Castle

Malibu CastleThose of you who have spent much time in Malibu over the past, oh, I’d say 20 years or so, remember looking up to the hills from the Country Mart and seeing an odd, turreted castle, that seemed like it would be more at home in Disneyland than on California’s cushy coast. Some of you may have even been invited to the swank soirees at what was known as The Malibu Castle.

Malibu CastleThat posh palace burned down in 2007  and all that remained on the 3.5-acre site was little more than charred gargoyles among the ashes for several years. Then, several years ago, along came developer/designer/architect Scott Gillen and he changed everything.


He built a new, ground breaking estate on the ashes of the iconic Malibu Castle, and priced it at a hefty $80 million. It is “the highest price ever for an estate in the coveted beach community,”  according to listing brokerage Coldwell Banker Previews International.

Previous owner, philanthropist and “princess” Lilly Lawrence had listed the land for $17 million, but after more than a year of skillful negotiations, Gillen told me he got the place for $9.7 million. Sandro Dazzan of Coldwell Banker represented Gillen in the purchase of the property, and is handling the sale of the finished product.

Acquiring the site and maximizing its potential was a dream come true for Gillen. “It’s like no other property in Malibu,” he said. It’s situated on a promontory with sweeping views of Santa Monica Bay, Catalina Island, Malibu Colony, and Surfrider Beach.

A one-of-a-kind site deserves a one-of-a-kind home, says Gillen. “I tripled my original building budget and went all in. The house has been complicated to build.” He adds, “It’s the nicest house I’ve built to date.” His company, Unvarnished, has developed and built 22 premium properties generating over $130 million in sales.

This new, modern Malibu Castle contains two large structures.

Malibu Castle

The 10,500-square-foot main residence has five bedrooms and six bathrooms. It features a 120-foot-long great room with ocean views. A custom teak dining table parallels the 75-foot-long infinity pool.

Malibu Castle

There’s also a custom black walnut soaker tub in the master suite,

Malibu Castle

a game room, a humidor, and a media room which opens to the pool where a waterfall cascades down a full story to the home’s lower level.

Malibu Castle

Finishes include custom teak doors and cabinetry, as well as 80-year-old, dry-aged oak floors.

Luxe amenities include custom furnishings by Minotti and Bottega Veneta, handmade rugs from New Zealand, and rare art by Ellsworth Kelly and Jonathan Burofsky.

A fully stocked wine room comes with a special tasting by a vintner.

Malibu Castle

And as the ultimate luxury amenity, one year of concierge service is included in the purchase price. The service will ensure the residence is fully stocked to your culinary tastes and even make reservations at nearby Nobu. You’re on your own, however, when it comes to getting into the exclusive Malibu Soho House,

There’s also a detached 4,000-square-foot guesthouse, which features a great room, kitchen, gym, spa, two bedrooms, and four bathrooms. Both structures have floor-to-ceiling walls of glass to take in the spectacular views.

Malibu Castle

And of course, the property is tech optimized: the entire house can be operated remotely from a mobile device. When you decide to go out, everything, from the windows to the lights to the music system, can be locked up and shut down with the touch of a button. But who are am I kidding? With a place like this, you may never want to leave. Simply have the concierge service deliver whatever your heart desires, and you never have to leave your own private Malibu wonder world.

Get more details and see more photos in my article on



Designer/Developer Scott Gillen has built the area’s priciest property where the Malibu Castle once stood

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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.

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