We’ve visited and revisited the De Guigne estate over the years, watching its drama unfold.
Now, finally, the 16,000-square-foot mansion in Hillsborough has sold for $29.85 million, and at such a dramatic discount from its original list price of $100 million that this story’s end makes for good real-estate gossip.
Aside from newsworthy features this estate offers, which we’ll detail shortly, its listing history too made the news: In February of 2013, the de Guigne estate hit the Hillsborough market at $100 million, debuting then as one of the five most expensive properties for sale in the entire country.
But there was a quirk in the listing that made it even more newsworthy: A life estate its then owner, 75 years old Christian de Guigne IV who hoped by these terms to remain in the home rent free until his death. New owners would wait in the wings until then, not able to live in the home; but expected to maintain maintenance on a property with “household expenses average[ing] $450,000 a year” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
No buyers emerged to snap up this dubious deal.
In May of 2015, the listing was withdrawn. In June of 2016, it came back — priced $60 million less than its original list — at $34.9 million. The life estate for Christian de Guigne had disappeared from the equation.
Still, no buyers.
After all that drama, 891 Crystal Springs Road has finally sold for $29.85 million, a fraction of its original list.
What does that money buy?
The de Guigne family began building the 16,000-square-foot mansion in 1914, and held title on the 47.4-acre estate for over 150 years. That land, with its lush lawns, gardens and private hiking trails, was designed by Thomas Church.
In the mansion, which was designed by Bliss Faville, are 10 bedrooms and nine a half bathrooms, a ballroom, a grand formal banquet room, a flower-arranging room, a library, and a plethora of additional rooms for all the activities the very rich need separate rooms to accomplish. Many of the interiors remain intact and original from the 1960s, when the owners at that time — Christian de Guigne III and his wife, Eleanor — hired decorator Anthony Hail.
Christian de Guigne I was a prominent Bay Area businessman who “at one point in the 19th century owned a chunk of downtown San Mateo,” writes the Mercury. This home that he commissioned was the scene of many lavish parties and opulent occasions.
But decades later, all this luxury wasn’t enough for Christian IV and his wife, Vaughn Hills, of the Hills Bros. coffee family. Theirs was a reportedly bitter divorce made more acrimonious by a failed attempt to sell or subdivide the estate.
De Guigne’s proposal “to subdivide the property into 25 single-family homes” collapsed under pressure of the poor 2009 economy and vociferous opposition from neighbors and environmental groups. So, though the MLS write up for this now sold property boasts “potential to subdivide,” it’s hard to know if new owners can actually do so.
But then again, maybe new owners plan to keep all 47-plus acres and 16,000-square-feet of luxe to themselves.
Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert