891 Crystal Springs Drive

On the market for $100 million in 2013, the asking price for the 47.5-acre de Guigne estate at 891 Crystal Springs Road in Hillsborough, which includes a 16,000-square-foot mansion, has been dropped to $39.9 million.

And the condition that the buyer grant the seller, Christian de Guigne IV, a life estate in the property, maintaining his exclusive use of the property until he passes, has now been removed.

The mansion, which was designed by Bliss & Faville, the architects of the St. Francis Hotel and Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, has been in the de Guigné family since commissioned in 1912.

The mansion’s interior was redesigned by Anthony Hail in the 1960s, but a number of original fixtures remain.

891 Crystal Springs Drive Stove

The ten-bedroom home includes five bedrooms for staff, Downton style.  And in addition to a proper wine cellar, there’s a whiskey cellar as well.

A proposal by Mr. de Guigne to subdivide the estate and build 25 new homes upon the property, versus 10 new homes which the town’s general plan appears to principally allow, was floated in 2009 but never came to fruition.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by san FronziScheme

    Life estate for your own house are actually a thing in France. Pay a lump sum and also a participation to living expenses in exchange of the property at the seller’s passing.

    Another one I have done in the past is a life-estate with usufruct. I bought a very decent place in Paris and had to pay a “rente” BUT had full usufruct of the place, which allows you to rent out the place or live in it. Weirdest deal I have ever made. Best deal too, because it is not for everyone which means you can almost give your own terms.

    • Posted by Futurist

      This is not France.

      • Posted by san FronziScheme

        I am not denying that, just providing context. The seller is of French Nobility.

        You have to be delusional or too isolated from the real world to think that such a sale would fly in the world of “I want it now now now, then I’ll fully redo the place for years and years then get bored with the project as soon as it’s completed”. Many buyers in the tech upper spheres are just purchasing a hobby to keep them excited. And waiting 10 to 20 years just doesn’t fit into that logic.

      • Posted by Gil

        You mean This Ain’t France.

    • Posted by EBGuy

      When you say life estate in Ess Eff, I usually think rent controlled unit.

      • Posted by inmycountry

        lol…that’s funny

        • Posted by san FronziScheme

          Not for the landlord it’s not.

        • Posted by EBGuy

          Interesting question: Do you use the same actuarial tables for the rich?

    • Posted by Orland

      Here it’s called a “reverse mortgage.”

      • Posted by San FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        Yes, and they are handled by banks. This one would have been a person-to-person reverse mortgage.

        Banks are much less emotional. They will have a portfolio of these deals which will run their course with an averaging of the risk much like any other insurance product. An individual makes a huge gamble. One posterchild example is Jeanne Calment who sold her place to a lawyer in 1965 under this type of deal. She was 90 years old. Since actuary tables almost put her in the grave, the deal was very sweet: high sale price and very generous monthly payment.

        She lived to the overripe age of 122 in 1997, becoming the oldest human being on record even today. The lawyer died at the age of 77, way before her.

  2. Posted by Stater of the Obvious

    The poor de Guignes appear to have fallen on rather hard times.

  3. Posted by BobN

    The ten-bedroom home includes five bedrooms for staff, Downton style.

    Is that 10, plus 5 or 5, plus 5?

  4. Posted by Schaetzer

    Interesting. Apparently this is a forced sale due to a divorce. What a shame.

    • Posted by SanctuaryChitty

      That divorce was 13 years ago.

    • Posted by Flash

      Interesting link. The court ordered him to pay $330k in annual spouse and child support, even though this was higher than his $240k income in large part because he owned this ancestral home which has huge value even though it produces no income (just expenses).

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