Oprah Winfrey Sells Spare Montecito Ranch Weeks After Facing Backlash for Buying a Big Chunk of Land In Maui
Real EstateWealth & Investing
Posted byBy Ann Brown | Published on:
Billionaire Oprah Winfrey has been busy on the real estate front. Hot on the heels of buying more than 800 acres of land in Maui, she has sold one of her California properties for $14.3 million.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 26: Oprah Winfrey attends the Los Angeles Red Carpet Premiere Event for Hulu’s “The 1619 Project” at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on January 26, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)/Photo: Google Maps
Bye, Bye Montecito Ranch
Among the many residences the media titan owned was a ranch in Montecito, California. She has just sold the property, which is not her main residence, to a film director.
According to Siteline Santa Barbara, the ranch sell was an off-market transaction for about $14.3 million. Film producer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Red Notice,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “We’re the Millers”) reportedly purchased the property.
Because the transfer was conducted off-market, there are few public details about or photos of the property. What is known is that Winfrey acquired the property in 2005 for $7 million, according to tax records, Dirt reported. It does not seem she has ever lived on the 5.6-acre ranch.
The land features a small ranch house, which is just over 3,000 square feet. The house has four bedrooms and four baths. On the land, there is also a swimming pool and even a full-size tennis court, and, of course, a vast ranch area.
The neighborhood includes other Hollywood notables like TV host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Ariana Grande and TV star Larry David.
As Finurah previously reported, in 2022, Winfrey flipped a 4,320-square-foot property in Montecito for an impressive profit.
She acquired the property for $10.5 million in 2021. She then divided the property up and sold the halves to two different buyers, fitness guru Bob Greene and actress Jennifer Aniston.
Greene acquired his piece of the property for $2.3 million in August. A week later, Winfrey sold the main house to the “Friends” actress for a whopping $14.8 million.
Her primary residence is a 70-acre ranch on Montecity nicknamed “Promised Land” ranch. Winfrey still owns several homes, including several others in the Montecito area. She also has property in Colorado, Tennessee, Washington state and Hawaii.
Earlier this month, Winfrey reportedly bought 870 acres in Maui for $6.6 million. It was for four large parcels of Hawaiian land. Winfrey has lived part-time in Maui for 15 years.
The four parcels total 870 acres in Kula, Maui, reported Maui Now. Two were sold by Ulupalakua Ranch; one 520-acre plot for $3.89 million and another 330 acres for $2.47 million, Architectural Digest reported. Last year, Winfrey purchased an additional two 10-acre swaths of land, each for $100,000.
Winfrey, whose net worth reportedly is $2.6 billion, already owned over 100 acres of Maui land and her latest purchase bring her Maui land holdings to roughly 1,000 acres.
This massive land buy sparked mixed reaction from local Hawaiians. Some were concerned that the purchase would contribute to the displacement of native Hawaiians. Native Hawaiians now make up just 10 percent of the state’s population, according to the U.S Census Bureau.
Oprah irks Montecito neighbors with new creek wall to stop flooding
As with communities up and down the California coast, Oprah Winfrey’s hometown of Montecito faced the possibility of devastating floods during this past winter’s heavy rains.
But the media mogul’s apparent effort to prevent flooding from a creek that runs along her Montecito estate has irked neighbors and and raised concerns among Santa Barbara County officials over whether the construction of a boulder wall was properly permitted, according to Santa Barbara County news site Noozhawk.
They don’t know if the wall, built to prevent erosion along San Ysidro Creek, could stand up to a deluge from a next major storm or could reroute water in ways that could damage other properties, Noozhawk said.
Earlier this year, Montecito was evacuated when a storm swept through the community. The town also was the scene of tragedy in 2018, when a mudslide killed 23 people, a number of whom were swept into San Ysidro Creek, the Los Angeles Times said. Winfrey herself posted video of the mudslide.
“Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara.” Oprah Winfrey shared videos of knee-deep mud in her backyard and helicopters making rescues amid the California mudslides https://t. co/1P9lhGWSs7 pic.twitter.com/JKDz0IwTvz
— CNN (@CNN) January 10, 2018
A Carpinteria-based company applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Feb. 1 to reconstruct the creek bank along Winfrey’s estate, Noozhawk reported.
Noozhawk said it’s unclear whether Winfrey has any knowledge of the details of the wall or whether she personally authorized the work. Perhaps it was initiated by any of the number of people who probably work for the billionaire, or who are responsible for managing her estate.
Noozhawk shot video of boulders being lowered by crane into the creek from Winfrey’s property. Officials, including game wardens and Santa Barbara County inspectors, and others also converged on the creek to inspect the construction and figure out how the wall came to be built.
A representative with the Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to Noozhawk’s request for comment. Steve Gibson, a senior environmental scientist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, South Coast Region, told Noozhawk: “We are seeking information of how it was constructed. We don’t know if it was dug and trenched in with larger rocks that we would like to see with certain banks.”
Noozhawk said the Corps of Engineers will grant emergency permits during floods to protect property, but homeowners are supposed to rebuild with only the same materials as are already present, and the work cannot extend beyond the original conditions.
Property owners also are supposed to notify Fish and Wildlife in writing within 14 days after beginning the emergency work, which did not happen in this case, according to the agency, Noozhawk reported.
“The property manager is working with us to comply with our Fish and Game Code requirements for this new wall,” Gibson told Noozhawk. “We are going to review what he has given us” and see if any remedial action needs to be taken.
Sharon Byrne, executive director of the Montecito Association, told Noozhawk that a number of residents had contacted her organization about the wall’s construction. Storms earlier this year damaged several Montecito parcels, and owners took emergency action to restore their properties. But the boulder wall along Winfrey’s property is a different situation, with people concerned that it goes too far in altering the course of the creek.
“You can’t alter creek canals and not expect there to be results,” Byrne said. “Don’t change the creeks. They are going to shift and move on their own.”
“The main concern is, are you creating a higher velocity situation to someone else’s property?” Byrne also said.
Martha Ross is a Bay Area News Group features writer for The Mercury News and East Bay Times who covers everything and anything related to popular culture, society, health, women’s issues and families. She has previously reported or edited for Bay Area news and lifestyle publications, including Walnut Creek Patch, and Diablo, Oakland and Alameda magazines, as well as The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand and The Economist. She graduated from Northwestern University with a BA degree in German studies and from Mills College with a MFA degree in creative writing and English.
Oprah Winfrey gave Meghan Markle and Harry advice on whether they should go to the coronation
Charles III will be crowned on May 6th. Oprah Winfrey spoke about whether Meghan Markle and Prince Harry should take part in the ceremony.
The Royal Family
America’s premier television personality became close to the Dukes of Sussex before they stepped down as royals and moved to the US. Oprah attended the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in 2018.
After Megzit, the couple settled in the exclusive area of Montecito, next door to Winfrey. In 2021, they gave the TV presenter a scandalous interview – they talked about the difficulties they encountered during their life at the palace. So, the couple admitted that they were shocked by the manifestation of racism when one of Harry’s relatives expressed concern about the skin color of their first child.
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The screen star spoke about whether the couple should attend the coronation of Charles III in May in London. “I think they should do what they think is best for them and their families. This is what I think,” said Oprah.
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Meghan Markle and other stars who hide their real names
In Suits, Megan Markle’s character is called Rachel Zane. Interestingly, the future wife of Prince Harry did not have to get used to the new name, because her first name sounds exactly the same. Yes, yes, at birth, the girl was named Rachel Meghan Markle, and with age, she preferred the second name.
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The CBS morning show host asked what would be the right decision for the Dukes of Sussex. “They didn’t ask my opinion,” Winfrey answered modestly.
The former American actress and disgraced prince, despite her attacks on the royal family, still received an invitation to Harry’s father’s coronation. The spouses have not yet declassified their plans. However, experts are confident that the Dukes of Sussex will go to the UK. They are actively developing their personal brand in Hollywood and will not miss the opportunity to attend an important event that will be covered around the world.
Meanwhile, palace insiders have reported that family members are privately telling friends they will give Meghan and Harry a “cold welcome”. Moreover, the couple’s children, 3-year-old Archie and one-year-old Lilibet, were not invited to the ceremony. Palace officials believe they are too small to attend a crowded event at Westminster Abbey, according to the Daily Mail.
However, the dukes will certainly take Archie and Lily with them to London. On May 6, on the day of the coronation, the son of the spouses will turn four years old, and they will probably celebrate this event privately after the ceremony.
Recently, Charles III nevertheless gave the titles of prince and princess to his grandchildren from the youngest son, but this happened only after the dukes explicitly stated that Archie and Lilibet had a birthright to them.
The conflict between Oprah Winfrey and the Sussexes is gaining momentum
The famous neighbors of the American TV presenter are under threat due to dubious construction on the Winfrey site.
The Royal Family
At the end of April, the American media became aware that a huge boulder wall was being built on Oprah Winfrey’s estate in Montecito, which is supposed to protect its site from flooding and bank erosion along the San Isidro Creek. The decision to isolate the TV presenter’s property was made after a rainstorm on January 9, which flooded part of Santa Barbara, leading to landslides and the complete evacuation of the Montecito community. After the rampage of the elements, the ground around Oprah’s house was covered with a thick layer of liquid mud. The TV presenter shared a video on social networks, which shows how she walks through the yard in rubber boots, almost knee-deep in mud.
Montecito is famous for being right on the line of floods and wildfires. It is one of the most difficult places to get property insurance in the United States. In 2018, the region was hit by heavy rains and landslides that destroyed millions of dollars of property and resulted in the death of 23 residents.
Everything seems to be official – permission to install a boulder fence was issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers on February 1. However, according to the Atlanta Black Star, there is no confirmation that Oprah Winfrey knows and has given her consent to the estate’s lockdown. In addition, according to California news outlet SFGATE, the TV presenter’s neighbors are concerned that the wall could redirect flood waters to their property. There is a possibility that they can gain strength when the trajectory of movement changes, and then the consequences of the flood will be even more devastating.
A Montecito resident (name withheld) is known to have already filed a complaint with the Santa Barbara County Department of Planning and Development regarding construction on the Oprah site, prompting the department to open an official investigation.