"It only takes one,” is the old saying that anxious home sellers often hear from friends while waiting a long time for a buyer. The Community Foundation for Monterey County waited a full year to find a buyer for its biggest gift ever, an oceanfront estate in Pebble Beach. After showing the house to roughly 25 buyers and entertaining three offers, the “one” finally came through on Nov. 8: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife, Whitney, for about $21 million, according to tax amounts recorded at the Monterey County Recorder’s Office.
The 9,700-square-foot, 1930 home with spectacular views came into the foundation’s portfolio through a bequest from the former owner, Charles de Guigné, who died in 2017. His wish was for the foundation to sell the home and create an endowment with the proceeds to benefit his favorite local charities. Last year, foundation CEO Dan Baldwin put the value of the home at around $33 million.
National news outlets described the house as a “tear-down.” What the Cranes will do with the house is unknown. A message to the Astros’ press office was not returned. Crane might be busy at the moment – his baseball team, which lost the World Series on Oct. 30 to the Washington Nationals, is embroiled in a controversy over allegedly using technology to steal pitching signs from opposing teams.
The proceeds from the sale, which after expenses equal a gift of $18 million, will benefit two nonprofits: the SPCA for Monterey County and Montage Health Foundation. The endowment will make grants of more than $800,000 a year. The SPCA plans to use the funds toward a new building to treat injured rescued pets, according to a press release.
The Community Foundation itself also has a property tax issue to clear up: a $500,000 bill sent by the county in July. The foundation has filed a claim against the county, arguing that as a nonprofit, it should be exempt from paying property taxes. County Assessor Steve Vagnini says he consulted legal experts who stated that because the property was not in use, the nonprofit exemption does not apply. “I would love to give them the exemption,” Vagnini says. “But we feel they’re not entitled to an exemption.”
Baldwin argues the “use” was the selling of the property to create the endowment, which is central to the foundation’s mission. The State Board of Equalization has been consulted for an opinion and it could take up to a year for a final decision on the tax bill.
Tax disagreement aside, Baldwin says Guigné would be pleased. “This asset converts into a different kind of asset,” he says. “It’s pretty cool.”