May 25, 2012

Halsey Minor's "Abandoned" $20,000,000 Mansion Hits The Market

3800 Washington

The guest house on the left is 2,618 square feet, the backyard includes an undeveloped lot, and the main home at 3800 Washington measures roughly 18,000 square feet.

Le Petit Trianon (Image Source: lepetittrianon.com)

As we wrote about the Presidio Heights property last year:

While it’s looking a lot better today than it did in 1906, as a plugged-in reader notes...Halsey Minor’s Le Petit Trianon at 3800 Washington has been deemed "abandoned" by the city and an order of abatement has been issued for failing to comply with San Francisco’s Abandoned Building Ordinance.
As plugged-in people know, Minor paid $20,000,000 for the 17,895 square foot property in 2007 (a notice of default followed in 2009).
And yes, we should all be so lucky as to live near such "blight."

Having never gone to auction, the Le Petit Trianon property trio has returned to the market listed for $25,000,000 with "detailed architectural drawings for a full renovation."

3800 Washington Interior

∙ Listing: 3800-3810 Washington / 125 Maple - $25,000,000 [byzantiumbrokerage]
Minor’s "Abandoned" Mansion At 3800 Washington [SocketSite]
Beauty Blight Is In The Eye Of The City (And Perhaps Your Neighbors) [SocketSite]
Le Grand Notice De Default For Le Petit Trianon (3800 Washington) [SocketSite]

First Published: May 25, 2012 3:45 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Seems this would be better as an embassy or school. Maybe the private school across the steet could raise the capital to expand. Hard to imagine this as a SFH.

Posted by: Eddy at May 25, 2012 4:05 PM

Let's see how that condo bypass legislation plays out first.

Posted by: EH at May 25, 2012 4:30 PM

From The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2010, CNet Co-Founder Tops California’s List of Tax Infamy:

Technology entrepreneur Halsey Minor has earned the dubious distinction of being named by California’s tax authorities as the state’s biggest tax delinquent.

A list published by the California Franchise Tax Board on Friday says Minor–the co-founder of Internet media site CNet Inc. and several other companies–and his wife, Shannon Minor, owe $13.1 million in personal income taxes to the state. That’s nearly $5 million more than the next biggest tax delinquent in the state…The New York Post this month reported that Minor had been ordered by a judge to pay the auction house Sotheby’s $6.6 million after he reneged on bids for three paintings.

Some folks on socketsite think that it's somehow improper to speculate on whether or not a recent mansion buyer is "new money" or "old money", but I suspect that a "new money" buyer is a lot more likely to become overextended attempting to keep up with The Joneses, like Mr. Minor, and return the property to market under financial pressure.

There is no way this will go for $25,000,000. And he should have went with Malin.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 25, 2012 4:32 PM

Turn it into a Walgreen's.
I'm sure the neighborhood could use an Equinox.

Happy Friday!

Posted by: sf at May 25, 2012 5:36 PM

List of modern day new money:
Steve Jobs
Warren Buffet
Larry Ellison
Larry Page
Sergey Brin

Indeed, new money is as or more prolific than inherited money.

How does that Chinese proverb go? "Wealth does not pass three generations?"

Posted by: sf at May 25, 2012 5:47 PM

If this property is "abandoned" does that mean that the new buyer has to pay the deliquient taxes upon closing?

Posted by: HappyRenter at May 25, 2012 6:40 PM

Are you sleeping with Steven Mavromihalis? Two of his listings in one day? Yes, one is already closed, but.....

Posted by: Marten at May 25, 2012 8:04 PM

Pure class. Why aren't we building classical architecture any more?

Posted by: BillyBalls at May 25, 2012 10:50 PM

The last people who lived in the real Petit Trianon got their heads cut off. The IRS only wants to kick Minor's butt. Seems like he is getting off easy.

Posted by: jlasf at May 26, 2012 2:59 PM

When are the 99% ers moving in?

Posted by: Jack at May 26, 2012 4:49 PM

Have you any Grey Poupon?

Posted by: elbee at May 28, 2012 5:00 AM


sf wrote:

> List of modern day new money:
> Steve Jobs
> Warren Buffet
> Larry Ellison
> Larry Page
> Sergey Brin

I would not call Buffett "new" money even though he did not inherit a penny from his family (he wrote his Dad thanking him for his guidance over the years and telling him that he did not want to inherit any of his money).

Buffett's Dad was a successful businessman and young Warren was (literally) exposed to the halls of power as a young boy when his Dad became a Congressman and he would hang out at the capitol with the sons of other Congressmen (many from very old money families).

Posted by: FormerAptBroker at May 28, 2012 8:34 AM

So let's see if I understand this. Here we are roughly three years later and the property never went to auction and is being brought back to market, with (if PropertyShark is correct), the seller and current owner still being Halsey Minor's revocable trust.

Why didn't the lender complete foreclosure? Is three years not enough time? Could it be that the bank didn't want to recognize the loss on that loan? Did the bank not want to be on the hook for paying for maintenance on this white elephant during a lengthy hold before a resale?

Did they not want to bring the property to auction because they feared the true market price would be well under inflation-adjusted $20M 2007 price due to the openly-known condition it's in? Only a few people at the lender know, and we have no way of forcing that information out into the open. And yet, some folks on socketsite like [anon.ed] insist that banks are somehow not equipped to manipulate real estate inventory.

This brings to mind the famous attributed to J. Paul Getty that “If you owe the bank $100 that's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that's the bank's problem.”

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 28, 2012 10:19 AM

Brahma -- what IS the condition?

Posted by: Joshua at May 28, 2012 12:43 PM

I should have read the previous thread a bit more closely before posting. EBGuy already mentioned that Halsey Minor was named by the Franchise Tax Board as the state’s biggest tax delinquent for tax year 2010 and if his summary of what was available at the time from the SF Recorder's website was correct, the NODs were previously canceled, so I retract what I wrote above at 10:19 AM.

Nevertheless, let's see…how's the seller doing now? From the Franchise Tax Board's website Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers, first line of the list:

Halsey M. & Shannon Minor. Amount Due: $10,455,580.69

So I still see this as a distressed sale, so I don't think the trust is going to get $25M.

Joshua: the listing broker says (link above) the sale

…comes with detailed architectural drawings for a full renovation that will make this estate property among the most coveted in the world.

So I was referring to whatever condition that calls for making the implied (multi-million dollar?) investment in renovation.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 28, 2012 4:31 PM

I'd expect a fully fixed up home for $25M, not a "fixer upper." It certainly has great potential though.

Posted by: Mark F. at May 29, 2012 10:00 AM

Brahma, if you can't see that this is a unique property, and not a "house as ATM" property leveraged to death by 8 re-fis, then thats on you. But going online and getting expansive all the time isn't very interesting IMO.

Posted by: anon1 at May 29, 2012 10:33 AM

Lots of great comments today, even a few that made me chuckle out loud (especially the Malin comment).

I'm wondering/assuming that this house would be untouchable to be transformed into anything other than its original intent of a SFH since it is in fact SF landmark #95.

I was in this house years ago for a charity event and I did not find it to be a home that I would want to live in, even if I won the lottery. It's cold, vast, and not very welcoming. It doesn't scream "family home" in any way at all.

Posted by: Lori at May 29, 2012 12:24 PM

I can see that this is a unique property and I can agree that it isn't the stereotypical "house as ATM". However — at the risk of "getting expansive" — as previous commenters have noted, it's going to require a substantial amount of work and money to get this place in appropriate livable condition.

What I meant by saying that I still see this as a "distressed sale" is that most potential buyers with a modicum of financial savvy are going to find out that the seller is experiencing financial duress and modify their bid accordingly, because they'll assume the seller can't just let this property sit there for years waiting for just the right well-heeled buyer who doesn't care about the needed renovations to come along and make an offer.

There's always the possibility that someone will come along and decide that they absolutely have to have this and only this property and be willing to pay a non-discounted price for it; I'm just not assigning a very high probability to that happening.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 29, 2012 1:07 PM

Remember 2845 Broadway? Here's what socketsite posted when it was first listed during "the boom", asking $65 million:

…the original two structures at 2845 Broadway sold for $32 million in November 2002, cost of construction to date is estimated to be $18 million, and the "Buzz among brokers" is that it will cost another $8-16 million to finish the property. Just to clarify, for $65M you won’t be getting any "interior walls, ceilings and finishes".

Now, obviously, there are huge differences here in neighborhoods, cost of work needed to bring the property to appropriate livable condition, relative sizes of both the main and secondary houses, historic property status, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But it is also a "unique property", and in 2010 it sat for 1400 DOM and was withdrawn. In September 2011 they brought it back to market at $38.5M. It's still out there, waiting.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at May 29, 2012 1:44 PM

The 1906 photo doesn't work for me. :(

Posted by: MP at May 29, 2012 3:47 PM

Posted by: emanon at May 29, 2012 5:26 PM

"I was in this house years ago for a charity event and I did not find it to be a home that I would want to live in, even if I won the lottery. It's cold, vast, and not very welcoming. It doesn't scream "family home" in any way at all."

A good interior designer could take care of that, I should think. Create some nice family spaces upstairs to go along with the "charity ball" and "200 person party" spaces downstairs.

Posted by: Mark F. at May 30, 2012 5:23 PM

I've been in this house many times over the last 5 years, being friends with some of the people Mr. Minor let stay there, including Mr. Minor himself. It's in utter disrepair and borders on dangerous. There were plumbing issues on any floor greater than 1. There were holes in the wall. Like a home inspection gone awry and never repaired. There is a room in the basement with an unfinished floor full of dirt. Elevator was very very out of service. Stone is cracked in many places, broken glass, etc.

As to the person who was in a charity event there... I am pretty sure I know about every event that took place there, and there was never a charity event. And absolutely nobody would describe it as being in good shape.

It's truly a facade, and will probably need about $10mm or $20mm to repair and bring back into true elegance. It is a very neat house, however. Also, the views of the bay + GGB are pretty crummy, which is partially a result of the design of the house, and partially due to it's location.

The second lot is NOT the overgrown weeds, it's actually the guest house, which is being listed separately, but I assume is part of the overall $25mm price. The guesthouse is in much better shape and is livable. They share a gated driveway.

The photos in the listing are at least 5 years old, as it hasn't looked like that in a very very long time.

[Editor's Note: The second lot is behind the main house on Maple, not the guesthouse that's pictured beside the main house in the first picture above. And yes, it’s all three for $25,000,000.]

Posted by: BeenThere at May 30, 2012 6:34 PM

I have been there too, and it was an event....probably about five to six years ago. I can't recall the name or the charity. So Beenthere may have indeed beenthere, but he doesn't knowall. The event was only on the first floor, so no one saw the condition of upstairs.

Posted by: curmudgeon at May 31, 2012 9:42 AM

there was a charity event at this place.

junior league 2005 or could've been 2004, but definitely a junior league event

i hope minor gets all the 25 million he seeks and puts it to all the blow hards out there that just stand on sideline, spectate, pontificate, take 0 risk and lead very boring lives

Posted by: johnny at May 31, 2012 1:07 PM

I have never been inside of this house but I lived very closed to it. Prior to Minor's purchase, previous owner had a gardener that comes daily to do work. This house is truly unique in SF being that it has a pretty large garden and most of it very private. There are indeed three lots to this property. The one on Maple is just part of the garden. I believe the other lot is the "guest carriage house". I thought they were selling the guest carriage house separately back in 2007. I guess mr Minor decided to buy that too which made sense. I always wondered if the top floor has GG bridge/bay view and assumed it does. I doubt this place will ever turn into anything but stayed as a SFM. Presideo Heights association is too powerful to allow this to change into a B&B, Condo, etc. Although I can see it turn into part of the Presidio Hill School.

Posted by: jujubee at June 5, 2012 9:39 AM

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