Billionaire Developer Weds


Real estate billionaire Donald Bren, owner of the Irvine Co., Orange County’s largest and richest landholder, was married over the weekend, his third trip down the aisle.

Bren, 66, exchanged vows Saturday with Brigitte Muller, 32, his companion of 2 1/2 years.

The “intimate church ceremony” took place at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills and was attended only by close family members, said Larry Thomas, a spokesman for Bren’s Irvine Co. It was followed by a luncheon at Bren’s Holmby Hills home.


Muller, who was born in La Jolla and lives in Los Angeles, is an entertainment lawyer who is also working on an MBA degree at UCLA, Thomas said. This is her first marriage.

The couple are honeymooning this week in the Caribbean, Thomas said, and will live at Bren’s Newport Beach home on exclusive Linda Isle.

Reached at a Manhattan hotel where she is staying during a visit to New York, Bren’s stepmother, actress Claire Trevor, said she is “thrilled. I couldn’t be happier, because my son is so happy.” The new Mrs. Bren “is very bright,” Trevor added. “She’s everything he wants.”

In recent months, Bren and Muller had been seen at political fund-raisers for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren and at a benefit for UC Irvine. Bren is a longtime financial supporter of the university, which sits on land donated to the university system by the Irvine Co.

An enigmatic former Marine and close friend of Gov. Pete Wilson, Bren is the oldest son of the late Milton Bren, a Hollywood movie producer and real estate mogul. Bren’s mother, Marion, married steel distribution magnate Earle M. Jorgensen. The two families shared in the young Bren’s upbringing and he has recalled his childhood as “demanding.”

Bren, who borrowed $10,000 to start a home-building business in 1958, was a successful builder all through the 1960s and ‘70s. He was one of the original partners in the development of Mission Viejo.

In 1977, Bren joined a group of prominent investors that included shopping center mogul Al Traubman, industrialists Max Fisher and Henry Ford II and New York financier Herbert Allen Sr. to acquire the Irvine Co. for $337.4 million.

In 1983, Bren bought out his partners for $518 million in what then was one of the largest private real estate deals in U.S. history.

Since then, he has transformed the Irvine Co. into the world’s biggest developer of master-planned communities. The sprawling ranch covers about one-sixth of Orange County and is four times larger than Manhattan.

Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $2.5 billion, making him the richest person in Orange County.

The twice-divorced Bren has three grown children from his first marriage and a child with a former companion.

Times staff writers John O’Dell and Ann Conway contributed to this report.