Laguna Beach mansion breaks Orange County record sale price at $70 million
An oceanfront estate in Laguna Beach’s guard-gated Abalone Point has quietly changed hands for $70 million, shattering Orange County’s all-time price record.
The 18,000-square-foot, Italian palazzo-style residence with a five-bedroom main house, all-glass guest house and an ocean-facing pool sold Nov. 18 in an off-market deal, besting the Crystal Cove mansion that sold for $61 million in 2020. Hedge fund billionaire Joseph E. Edelman, founder and CEO of the New York-based Perceptive Advisors, is the new owner as first reported by the Wall Street Journal and independently confirmed by the Southern California News Group through a records search.
Edelman and his wife, Susan Lebovitz-Edelman, sought out the property while leasing another home in the neighborhood.
“They specifically wanted something on a large lot that was newer and preferably in a gated community,” confirmed Jon Curci of Compass, whose colleague Rex McKown helped represent the buyer, whom he refused to name.
Curci, who was referred to the buyer by Michelle Luhan of Compass in New York, knew just the place on a flat, one-acre oceanfront parcel above the sand.
“That’s like finding a unicorn,” he said by phone from Newport Beach. “It’s rare to find acre parcels on the ocean in Southern California, and to find one in Orange County with a newer home really was the perfect home for my client.”
Completed in 2010, it is one of 12 oceanfront homes in Abalone Point within the Irvine Cove community. The house last sold to Abalone Point LLC in 2018 for $32.7 million, property records show, after five years on and off the market. It initially hit in 2013 for $65 million and dropped several times.
Evan Corkett of Villa Real Estate represented the buyer at the time. On Monday, Corkett declined to identify the seller behind the LLC.
The client that she and colleague Steve High represented “put his own touches on the house” and made improvements without any intention to sell.
That is until Curci called.
“Evan got back to me later that day and said the seller would consider selling for $70 million,” he said. “From our perspective, we really think that my clients got a good deal.”
The Edelmans take ownership of the property amid an active breach of contract lawsuit that a neighbor filed in O.C. Superior Court against the seller, Abalone Point LLC. The civil complaint also names Joseph Edelman as a defendant.
According to an amended complaint filed on Aug. 3 by attorneys representing the neighbor whose identity is concealed by the Colorado-based Cliffhanger LLC, Abalone Point LLC allegedly sent out a notice that there was an initial $45 million offer on the house and another $25 million offer for personal property.
Cliffhanger LLC, in the complaint, claims it exercised its right of first refusal by matching the $45 million offer for the house. But the lawsuit said Abalone Point LLC “blatantly breached its contractual obligations” by refusing the $45 million offer, saying it wasn’t valid since it didn’t include the $25 million for personal property.
Instead, the lawsuit alleges Abalone Point LLC sent out a revised sales notice citing a $70 million purchase price.
The lawsuit alleges the $45 million residential sale with a $25 million personal property sale was an attempt to evade taxes that would have resulted in Abalone Point LLC paying less in capital gains tax and Edelman paying less in property taxes. Beyond less public tax revenue, the lawsuit says such a “scheme” would have artificially lowered the market value of other nearby properties.
The lawsuit seeks to force a sale to Cliffhanger LLC for $45 million, along with unspecified monetary damages.
In their response to the amended complaint, attorneys for Abalone Point LLC essentially denied line by line the allegations of wrongdoing.
As for Edelman, a Sept. 7 filing by his attorneys said the HOA informed all property owners of the sale price that Cliffhanger LLC rejected and instead made a counteroffer that the seller didn’t accept.
A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for May 2022.