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Cold War CIA director’s longtime mansion sells for $30 million, smashing San Marino record

A home surrounded by grass and trees
Spanning more than five acres, the property includes three structures that combine for nine bedrooms and 15 bathrooms.
(Marc Angeles)
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San Marino just saw its priciest home sale ever. A palatial estate built for former CIA Director John McCone has traded hands for $30 million — or $7.5 million more than the asking price.

It eclipses the previous record held by the USC presidential mansion, which sold for $25 million in 2021.

An industrialist and California native, McCone built the estate in 1957, a year before serving as chair of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was CIA director under President John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965, helming the organization during the Cuban missile crisis and the early part of the Vietnam War. He also headed the controversial commission that investigated the roots and causes of the Watts riots in 1965.

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McCone owned the home for more than 20 years, selling it for $1.45 million in 1979.

Sprawled across more than five acres and hidden behind 20-foot privacy hedges, the property holds three homes that combine for nine bedrooms and 15 bathrooms. Pathways meander through the grounds, which include waterfalls, streams, a greenhouse, workshop, rose garden and 50-foot-long swimming pool.

Inside the neoclassical-style mansion, vast living spaces feature 15-foot ceilings, carved wood doorways and ornate mantels. Marble patios overlook rolling lawns outside.

“Showings lasted up to four hours,” said Compass agent Brent Chang, who handled the sale. He listed the property in May for $22.5 million and said buyer interest was extremely high.

Chang, who also handled the $25-million sale of the USC presidential mansion, said the home became a hot spot for U.S. politicians and international dignitaries during McCone’s ownership, including President Eisenhower and members of the Kennedy family.

At $30 million, it’s the priciest sale not only in the history of San Marino but in the entire San Gabriel Valley, which has seen only five home sales north of $15 million.

Nicholas Borrelli of Coldwell Banker George Realty represented the buyer, whose identity remains unclear.

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