Newport Beach, Calif., Property Sells for Record $55 Million

Categories: Monday, July 31, 2017
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The 3.5-acre property with two homes on it was for decades owned by the prominent Irvine family.

By: Candace Taylor, Wall Street Journal

Photo: Toby Ponnay


A Newport Beach, Calif., property that was owned by a prominent California family for decades has sold for $55 million, setting a new record for Orange County.

The purchase includes roughly 3.5 acres of land overlooking Newport Harbor with two homes on it, according to Rob Giem of Compass, who represented the sellers. One, known as “the Big Blue House,” is a circa 1936 structure painted bright Bermuda blue with a white roof and is considered a local landmark; the other is a white, six-bedroom house built in the 1980s.

According to public records, the two properties were owned for years by the family of the late Kathryn Wheeler. Mrs. Wheeler was the great-granddaughter of James Irvine, who with partners pieced together the roughly 100,000-acre Irvine Ranch, a swath of land that represents roughly 1/5th of present-day Orange County, explained Ellen Bell, author of the book “Irvine (Images of America).”

The property has been purchased by a private partnership, and there are no immediate plans for the property, said Mr. Giem. The buyers were represented by Kim Walker of Surterre Properties.

The “Big Blue House,” which had not been listed in the local multiple-listing service, measures about 3,500 square feet with four bedrooms, Mr. Giem said. The white house, which spans about 7,000 square feet and has an outdoor swimming pool, had been listed on and off for years, most recently at $24.7 million, Mr. Giem said. Both houses have a pool and the Blue House has a tennis court. Located in the Corona Del Mar area of Newport Beach, the houses are situated on a bluff above the water and have panoramic water views, he said, but are “modest houses for that kind of setting.”

The coastal Orange County market was “really slow” in 2016, but so far this year has been “really busy,” with prices “going up rapidly,” Mr. Giem said.

The previous sales record in Orange County was set last year by the $45 million sale of “Twin Points,” a home in Laguna Beach, said Mr. Giem, the listing agent on that deal.

Posted By: Jessica Peterson