3800 Washington

Purchased for $20 million in 2007 and on the market since 2012 when listed for five million more, Halsey Minor’s 18,000-square-foot Presidio Heights mansion at 3800 Washington Street, which was modeled after Le Petit Trianon in Versailles France, has finally re-sold for $15.75 million.

The confirmed bankruptcy sale included the adjacent 2,600-square-foot guesthouse at 3810 Washington and the undeveloped garden lot behind the mansion fronting Maple Street, as it did when Minor, who co-founded CNET and is currently the CEO of a bitcoin venture, purchased the property in 2007.

Having topped the list of the Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers in California in 2013, Minor soon thereafter filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing liabilities of $50 million to $100 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million, including the home.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Stop Driving

    I hope the buyer does a thorough restoration on this amazing property. After another $20M in work/materials, this place will be phenominal.

  2. Posted by Mark F.

    Agreed, this place will be stunning after a good makeover.

  3. Posted by neighbor dee

    I live up the street and the disrepair this has fallen into is heartbreaking… truly look forward to it being restored to it’s former glory!

  4. Posted by Notcom

    Minor’s major money problems could be used as evidence that SF real estate prices are in a bubble b/c the people doing the buying don’t really have the money to actually pay. It would of course be a superficial argument that ignores the large number of people who DO pay, and would have to imply that others go Chapter Whatever in a less public way, but it still surprises me that more isn’t made of it. Or maybe more was made and I just missed it.

    As for the maison – palais ?? – itself: yes very nice, but it could use a more spacious setting…the gardens are an important component of the original.

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      Well, Minor’s money was made two bubbles ago in dot-com 1.0, and he bought this place 9 years ago during the last bubble, which was caused by lending to millions of people who could not possibly pay. I wouldn’t consider this to be evidence of anything going on in SF (or elsewhere) today, where lending standards are nothing like 2004-07.

      He lost his money the old-fashioned away – he simply blew it all on a spending binge that went way, way beyond this house.

      • Posted by Notcom

        As I said, I didn’t think it was a very good argument, I’m just surprised that it wasn’t being made (or if it was I missed it).

        As for lending standards for $XXM loans, I don’t really have much experience in them: if you’ve either taken out or made one – or more importantly, actually paid/been paid on one – then I’ll take your word for it that standards are now rigorous…and offer my congrats on your good fortune.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          I suspect this point is not being raised — that the people doing the buying don’t really have the money to actually pay — is because there is no evidence of it in recent years. There was overwhelming evidence of it in 2004-07. I don’t believe Minor borrowed anything for this purchase, but I’m not certain (didn’t see anything in a very quick lien check).

          I do have experience with $XXM loans professionally (but only $XM loans personally), and the lending standards tend to be extremely rigorous, requiring security and guarantees. There are exceptions, of course — see, e.g., every lender who has invested in a Trump project.

          I’ve been cautioning for about a year that SF home prices seem too high to last. But I don’t think buyers who are unable to pay is fueling this.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            Minor did in deed borrow to buy the home and was in default by 2010 with $9,178,178 then owed, as we first reported at the time.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Ahh, thanks – I stand corrected! F***ing Lexis. The pre-housing bust lending bubble rose higher than I thought (although no amount of lender due diligence would have revealed Minor in 2007 to be a risk for non-payment with apparently about 50% down).

          • Posted by anon

            The $XXM market is it’s own world, but as far as regular lending goes here’s something to chew on.

            Wells Fargo, based in SF, is the nation’s largest mortgage lender and they recently started their own 3% down mortgage product. And as far as evidence of being able to pay:

            “Use down payment and closing cost sources like gift funds and down payment assistance programs.”
            “Qualify with income from rentals or from someone who lives with you but isn’t a borrower.”

            3% is already a pretty scant down payment and considering selling costs essentially puts someone immediately underwater. But being unable to save up even the 3% DP and not even having enough income of ones own to qualify? Not much in the way of evidence of financial strength there. There were many issues with DAP’s shoe horning unqualified people into homes during the last bubble.

            And this sure doesn’t look like rigorous credit checking to me: “Show your credit history from sources like rent, tuition, and utility payments.”

          • Posted by fogmachine

            IIRC, Minor borrowed against his CNet stock which later crashed and didn’t have the cash flow to service the mortgage (or several other loans – he was/is a champion overextender).

          • Posted by anon

            Lucky for us in 2016 that absolutely no-one is making purchase and/or rental decisions based on inflated equity valuations.

  5. Posted by Patrick

    How many other replica Petit Trianons are there in San Francisco? Beside the Koshland mansion at 3800 Washington there is also Danielle Steel’s house at 2080 Washington Street. Any others?

    • Posted by Notcom

      It shouldn’t be hard to find out, I’m sure SF requires they be registered 🙂

      Seriously though, whereas this is a (more or less) verbatim copy of the original, the Steele (Spreckels) house doesn’t look very much like it; inspired by it perhaps – much like the Newport “cottages” – or maybe a copy of some house somewhere, but I wouldn’t say it’s a replica.

  6. Posted by Cody

    Darn! I was so close to buying it. My piggy bank was almost full!

  7. Posted by eddy

    Not surprised at all this finally sold. I suspect he might have obtained $25mm had he held on even longer. It’s always been a highly desirable location, lot and project.

  8. Posted by Skeeter

    OK, so how much did the City receive in the real estate transfer tax for this sale?

    And as part of the closing, what did the City get in previously unpaid property taxes?

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