Nicolas Cage now leaving Newport Beach

Charlie Maas never met Nicolas Cage up close, but the tour guide still thought of him as a fixture in Newport Harbor.

“He was never shy,” said Maas, a captain for the Fun Zone Boat Co. who often guided visitors past the actor’s beachfront home. “He was one of those guys who, if he was out on his boat or his patio, he’d wave and be friendly. That’s how the old celebrities were. John Wayne was really popular on the harbor because he was like that.”

Cage, the 1995 Best Actor Oscar winner for “Leaving Las Vegas,” bought a mansion in Newport Harbor in 2005 and added another name to the city’s list of Hollywood royalty — which, over the years, has included Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Joey Bishop and others. Last week, though, Cage sold his home for $35 million, a sum his broker believes is a record for Orange County.

The purchaser of the property, Jerry Herbst, is the chairman and president of the Las Vegas-based retail and gas company Terrible Herbst.

James Chalke, Cage’s broker in the sale, said he didn’t know why his client sold the house, but suspected a recent incident in which a naked man broke into his home and was found wearing one of the actor’s jackets.

“That was probably what prompted him,” Chalke said. “I don’t know the exact reason.”

A number of Newport residents said they spotted Cage on occasion during the last three years, but reckoned that the star mostly kept a low profile.

Gay Wassall-Kelly, editor of the Balboa Beacon newsletter, said she saw Cage only once entering the Balboa Bay Club, but often fielded questions from readers wanting to know where he lived.

“Dennis Rodman, I can tell you every bar where he ever hung out,” Wassall-Kelly said. “But Nicolas Cage, he kind of just fit in.”

Even though she hadn’t had any personal encounters with him, Wassall-Kelly added, she was sorry to lose a famous name in town.

“I thought he kind of liked it here,” she said. “But maybe it was too public for him.”

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at