Jay Leno apparently bought this mansion on impulse and says he doesn’t regret it in the slightest, in fact, he loves it. The mansion, known as Seafair, was built in the 1930s by William Mackenzie Jr for some old money royalty by the name of Verner Zevola Reed Jr. No wonder it has Gatsby vibes, it was built for a banker and heir to a mining fortune.
Jay Leno and his wife of 40 years, Mavis, bought Seafair back in 2017 for USD $13.5 million (AUD $17.4 million). Leno since has talked about Seafair in an interview with Forbes. He provided an interesting story detailing how he actually discovered the property.
Leno and his wife were visiting family in Newport, and during this visit they went for a drive around Ocean Avenue,
“We were driving along and Mavis said, ‘Look at that house. Look at that house. It is unbelievable.’… “So, I said to Mavis, ‘Do you want that house? Let’s see if it’s for sale.’ I turned the car around to go back to the house. Just as we drove by, the gate opened and the gardener came out. We all looked at each other and said, ‘The gate is opening. It’s a sign.’”
The house was up for sale, but it wasn’t publicly listed as of yet. Leno asked if he could call the owner,
“So, we get the owner on the phone, and I said, ‘Will you sell the house as-is, with everything, all the furniture, the ketchup in the refrigerator, the saltshakers and just walk away?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll walk away.’ We agreed on a price, and I bought it. We closed in 30 days.”
Seafair is set on 9 acres and the building features 14 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, sitting rooms, and everything else you’d expect from a mansion this size. There are chandeliers in a bunch of the rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and my personal favourite (also Leno’s) is the wood panelled library. “I like the library,” said Leno, “I always wanted to have a proper library. My wife and I have about 4,500 books, and the library can accommodate all of them, so that’s kind of fun.”
That isn’t all, Seafair also includes an ocean-facing pool, a private beach, private cove and mooring, a tennis court, a carriage house, a walled garden, and a 6-car garage with a massive motor court.
Not that the garage is being used according to Leno,
“I don’t keep any cars there because there’s nothing worse for an automobile than to sit in the salt air. It will just rust on its own unless you have humidifiers going all day long. When I am at Seafair, I rent a car.”
The location is one of the best parts of the property according to Leno,
“Like in California, I always thought it would be cool to have a house on the ocean, but with many of these houses, you’re right next to the Pacific Coast Highway. That always seemed crazy to me. This house is right on the ocean and has a couple of private beaches.”
It is a beautiful house, and it is nice to hear that Leno bought it because he and his wife loved it not because it was a good investment.
“I have no idea if this was a smart business move. I bought Seafair because I liked it. The thing about me is I don’t buy things for investment. I buy things because I like them, and if they go down in value, I still like them. If they go up in value, that’s fine, but I don’t want to sell them, so it makes absolutely no difference to me whether the price goes up or down.”
I don’t know Leno but, even so, he still got a great deal on a house he loves as the property was listed for $19 million not too long before Leno bought it. Well, I guess we can’t all be as lucky to own places like Seafair.