Lawyer Robert Liff Offers Santa Barbara Home for $33 Million – Rob Report
Jim Partch; Robert Leaf
In 2004, Robert Lev and his then-wife, Susan, paid $4.5 million for a historic home in coastal Montecito, then spent another $2 million on renovations. A year later, the couple divorced and the house passed to Susan, and Leif moved to Napa and San Francisco to be closer to Leif Capraser Hyman & Bernstein, the plaintiffs’ law firm he founded in 1972 that was widely known for representing high-profile civil cases such as the Exxon Valdez oil disaster.
A few years later, Lev eventually ended up buying the house back from his ex-wife for nearly $12 million in the summer of 2012. “I knew I was going to get this house back sooner or later,” he said. The Wall Street Journal on time. “I’ve always wanted this house.”
But that was then; Now, more than a decade later, Lev and his current wife, Gretchen, have decided to put the Spanish Renaissance mansion called “Los Sueños” (translated to “Dreams”) up for sale, asking a whopping $33 million. The listing is maintained by Cristal Clarke of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.
Built and designed by noted Santa Barbara architects George Washington Smith and Lotta Riggs in the late 1920s for Rachel Ogilvie Douglas, the daughter of a linen manufacturer, the residence later became owned in the 1980s by Joan Cohn Harvey, the widow of Columbia Pictures. President Harry Cohen. During their tenure, the Lieffs restored the building and updated the garden originally designed by landscape architect A.E. Hanson.
Tucked away behind a long, tree-lined driveway, on a plot of land spanning just over 3 acres, the white stucco-and-terracotta-roofed structure houses seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms in nearly 11,000 square feet of living space decorated in a mix of colors. From marble and hardwood floors, custom chandeliers and vaulted ceilings. There’s also a four-story tower guest house, which has a spiral staircase that goes from the lower living area to the upstairs kitchen, bathroom and bedroom that offers ocean views.
A fountain-covered courtyard welcomes you, with the front door opening into an entry foyer that flows into an impressive central entryway showcasing black-and-white marble floors, a soaring ribbed-vaulted ceiling, and fanlight-covered French doors that extend into red. A brick gazebo sits next to a square pool surrounded by sculptures. Back inside, there’s a formal living room accented by a fireplace and three green-accented French doors that lead to a balcony, while the gourmet kitchen is outfitted with an eat-in island, top-notch stainless appliances, a butler’s pantry, and a walk-in closet. Adjacent breakfast nook.
In addition to a formal fireside dining room featuring checkered marble floors and a beautiful wood-paneled library/office, there is a hotel-like master retreat with a fireplace, seating area, walk-in closets and dual bathrooms; Outdoors, the manicured gardens are dotted with rose gardens, olive trees and an orchard, and host the aforementioned courtyard and pool, as well as a tennis court and a four-car garage.
Leif, 87, and his wife Gretchen, a former television journalist, own and operate wineries in the California cities of Napa and San Luis Obispo.
Click here for more photos of Robert Leff’s historic Montecito estate.