Real Estate newsletter: A movie star’s mountaintop mansion

A house in snow with bare trees
Tom Cruise’s 320-acre retreat centers on a 10,000-square-foot lodge made of bleached timbers and native stone.
(Joshua Johnson)

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter, your weekly rundown of big deals, fancy houses and housing updates across Southern California.

Actors and athletes alike decided it was time for spring cleaning. Tom Cruise is eyeing a fortune for his action-packed retreat in the mountains of Colorado, and Warriors star Stephen Curry decided to shed the smaller of his two Bay Area homes. Over in Marina del Rey, retired wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin deemed it time to knock out a sale of his own.

Southern California’s buyers and sellers are always busy, but this week brought some news for renters. Using federal funds from the December stimulus law, the state set up a rental relief program to wipe away accumulated debt and received 20,000 applications in the first 24 hours.


The South L.A. neighborhood of Watts is the planned home of a handful of buildings inspired by Black aesthetics thanks to Demar Mathews, a Woodbury University grad aiming to bring a new kind of design to the community.

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An estate designed for action

House in snow
Tom Cruise’s home contains seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a great room with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace. There’s also a library, billiards room, gym and media room.
(Joshua Johnson)

Among the tree-laden hills and snow-capped peaks of Colorado, Tom Cruise has listed his scenic mountain retreat for $39.5 million.

The estate spans 320 acres in the mountain town of Telluride, a popular skiing and hiking destination that has become a hot spot for second homes during the pandemic. Cruise, star of “Top Gun” and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, has owned the property since the early 1990s.

A mile-long driveway leads to the home, a 10,000-square-foot stunner made of bleached cedar timbers and native stone.


The place has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. A great room has a dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace; there’s also a library, billiards room, gym and media room. Hiking trails snake through the forested grounds; other high-octane highlights include a sports court, snowmobile track and dirt bike course.

He shoots, he scores

Aerial view of house
Stephen Curry’s single-story home includes 1,240 square feet of space and expands to turf yards in front and back.

Warriors star Stephen Curry has pulled off a mid-season pass, selling his Bay Area home in Menlo Park for $1.4 million.

The deal couldn’t have gone much better for the three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP. He hauled in $51,000 more than he was asking and $200,000 more than he paid for it two years ago, finding a buyer in less than two weeks.

Likely used as a guesthouse or investment property, the single-story turnkey abode spans a humble 1,240 square feet — a far cry from his three-story mansion a few miles away in Atherton, on which he spent $31 million in 2019.

Wrestling legend enters the ring

Room with table, chairs and television.
Remodeled by wrestler Steve Austin in 2017, the single-story home features a landscaped yard in front and a swimming pool out back.
(RE/MAX Estate Properties)

In the coastal community of Marina del Rey, wrestling legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is offering up one of his two neighboring homes for sale at $3.595 million.

At roughly 2,700 square feet, the single-story spot is the larger of the pair. Records show he bought it for nearly $2 million in 2007 and picked up the house next door, a cozy three-bedroom with just over 1,000 square feet, for $1.49 million a decade later.

The 19-time champion, who rose to stardom in the Attitude Era of WWF (now WWE) for his beer-drinking and signature “stunner” wrestling move, remodeled the place entirely in 2017. Walled and gated, the property features a landscaped yard in front and a swimming pool and spa in back.

Four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms complete the home, which sits just off Abbot Kinney Boulevard about a mile from the beach.

Relief for renters

Tenants asking for rent relief and their supporters gather at City Hall in Los Angeles on April 20.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown millions of people out of work, with many falling behind on rent, writes housing reporter Andrew Khouri. A hodgepodge of temporary eviction restrictions has kept many delinquent renters housed, but missed payments have to be paid back eventually.

To help, California set up a program that uses federal funds from the December stimulus law. The state program is designed to wipe away back rent accumulated by low-income tenants, while providing property owners most of the money those tenants owe.

The application system, for tenants and landlords, went live Monday. Within the first 24 hours, more than 20,000 applications were started.

Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, said the program “will help keep thousands of people in their homes and eliminate a substantial amount of household debt that has been accruing during this pandemic.”

A new look for Watts

A rendering shows a house with dramatic spiked roofline behind a fence containing books and other items.
A rendering of the “R Cloud House,” by Demar Matthews, shows his vision of an architecture shaped by Black aesthetics — including hair design, language and art. The architectural designer, who founded the L.A.-based studio, offTOP Design, is currently fundraising to make this vision a reality at property in Watts. In the foreground is an interactive fence that will be used to display art and feature free books.
(offTOP design)

When Demar Matthews sat down to work on his architectural thesis at Woodbury University early last year, he said the last thing on his mind was architecture. Instead, he was thinking about art and dance and language and the ways in which those cultural forms have expressed and recorded Black life in the United States, writes columnist Carolina A. Miranda.

So, for the purpose of his master’s thesis, he turned to art and dance instead. He took those ideas and gave them architectural form in the R Cloud House, a black, crown-shaped structure with a pointed roof and a textured façade redolent of Black pattern-making.

Matthews established his own architectural studio, OffTop Design, to realize this and other ideas — ideas that have been garnering the attention of the architectural and general-interest press, including Archinect, Forbes and KCET. His goal is to design nine buildings — including public buildings such as a community center — inspired by his initial study, an umbrella concept he has dubbed “Unearthing a Black Aesthetic.” A GoFundMe campaign is underway to help finance the effort.

What we’re reading

By at least one metric, California isn’t the country’s least affordable housing market, MarketWatch reports. That title belongs to Vermont, where only 16% of households can afford a mortgage payment on a median-priced new home, compared to about 33% in the Golden State.

The housing market has gone digital — kind of. CNBC reports that contemporary artist Krista Kim sold an NFT-minted digital house for 288 of the cryptocurrency ether, a value of over $500,000. NFT stands for non-fungible tokens, the hot new crypto trend that turns digital items into one-of-a-kind assets that can be traded on the blockchain.