Billionaire shatters Rancho Santa Fe record with $23-million purchase

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If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, optometry billionaire Herbert Wertheim must’ve really liked what he saw in Rancho Santa Fe. He just dropped $23 million on a 33-acre estate, which is the community’s priciest home sale ever and ranks among the most expensive deals ever closed in San Diego County.

The posh community’s previous record had stood for two decades after a 25-acre estate just down the street traded hands for $22 million in 2000, records show.

For the record:

12:01 a.m. Jan. 28, 2021A previous version of this post spelled Herbert Wertheim’s first name as Herbet.

The wacky, one-of-a-kind mega-mansion — a 22,500-square-foot fortress full of jagged lines, custom furniture and palatial spaces — was built in 2008 by Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi.


He tried to sell the place for $60 million in 2015, but with no takers, ended up donating it to UC San Diego. The school’s governing board soon put it back on the market, most recently offering it for $30 million in September.

Colorful gallery gardens surround the contemporary compound, and exotic plants and flowers imported from South America, South Africa and Australia frame the swimming pool outside. Elsewhere there’s a putting green, sports court, tennis court, citrus trees and a series of curvy, modern sculptures.

The house itself is completely powered by solar panels and emphasizes views, with walls of glass in every single room taking in scenes of the surrounding mountains and valleys. At the heart of the home, a massive hotel lobby-like space features towering, sky-lit ceilings and a massive dual-sided fireplace.

A floating staircase ascends to the top level, where the primary wing features dual bathrooms, dual closets and panoramic views. It’s one of six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

Jason Barry and Ryan McGovern of Barry Estates held the listing.

San Diego County’s biggest home sale ever went down in Del Mar, where a 10,700-square-foot oceanfront mansion traded hands for $48.2 million in 2007, according to the Multiple Listing Service.