In a sign that his business woes may be taking a toll of his personal fortunes, multimillionaire developer James Baldwin has put his Emerald Bay mansion on the market for $10 million.
Situated in an exclusive enclave of about 500 homes in a gated beachside community near Laguna Beach, the palatial home is a four-story granite and glass estate with an elevator.
Baldwin, 56, whose Newport Beach home-building company, Baldwin Builders, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, said through a spokeswoman that the sale was prompted in part because the last of his four children recently left for college.
Still, the sale could be a signal that the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by Baldwin and his younger brother Alfred may be coming to an end, as the bills for the costly legal wranglings in the Baldwin Builders bankruptcy case continue to pile up.
"They are very closely tied into the companies--they own the Baldwin companies 100%," said one real estate specialist close to the Baldwins. "So maybe they are having to help with personal assets."
Jim Baldwin and his wife, Nancy, live just 10 doors from Alfred Baldwin and his wife, Deanne, who are known for hosting charity fund-raisers at their home. Alfred's home is reportedly not for sale, but Baldwin spokeswoman Annette McCluskey could not confirm that.
Although the brothers appear to have insulated themselves from personal liability for their bankruptcy through a thick layer of corporations, attorneys have said that if there is fraud or if they have personally guaranteed some outstanding loans, the Baldwin brothers could be liable.
The two men own several other properties, including a 100-acre ranch in Wyoming, a ski lodge in Sun Valley, a yacht, and vacation haciendas in Cabo San Lucas. It was unclear whether any of those properties were up for sale.
Not known for frugality, the Baldwins gave themselves an annual pay raise totaling $1.7 million right before the bankruptcy filing, boosting each brother's salary to $970,000 a year from $130,000. Before the salary boost, the Baldwins had been drawing weekly advances against company profits. Creditors objected to the pay increase in Bankruptcy Court.
"It's hard to speculate, but honestly, I can't imagine Jim would be in such a condition that he would have to sell his house. You'd think the boat could go first," said Ken Agid, a consultant in Irvine.
James Baldwin, the older brother who overcame polio to become a collegiate skin-diving champion, has lived in Emerald Bay along with other notable residents such as Omaha investor Warren E. Buffett and businessman Peter V. Ueberroth, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and head of the 1984 Olympic Games.
During the 1993 Laguna fires, Al Baldwin left his Newport Beach office and raced to Emerald Bay in his 36-foot speedboat, Salt Shaker. He jumped from his boat and swam to shore to check on his family and home.