Meet Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new next-door neighbors: the billionaire behind an online university, vineyard owners, finance executives and a Houston businessman who bought the Scarface mansion as a getaway home.
The former royals bought a $14.7 million mansion in a secluded and leafy, gated estate outside Montecito, Southern California in June and joined an affluent town where homeowners include Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Ariana Grande.
DailyMail.com obtained a copy of the deed showing the sale of the mansion.
The document is dated June 18, but shows the trust the Sussexes set up to buy the sprawling nine-bedroom home was created a month earlier on May 15, 2020, showing their plans to purchase go back at least three months.
Despite the early planning, locals said the Sussexes have yet to be seen venturing out of the 5.4-acre estate, and have not yet met some of their neighbors.
But the locals have been quick to welcome Harry, Meghan and their one-year-old son Archie into the community, with several telling DailyMail.com how excited they are to have them.
Gwat Bhattacharjie, a Montecito resident for 43 years who lives just down the road, said: ‘I think it is wonderful. It’s a great idea for them if they seek anonymity and privacy.’
Another long-time resident Judy Rossiter said: ‘I’m happy for them. Montecito is a beautiful place, ideal for raising a family. As for the ”impact” on our community, it’s just another high profile family for us and we will be respectful of their privacy.’
Just over the fence of the Sussexes’ mansion is the massive estate belonging to billionaire Peter Sperling and his wife Stephanie.
Peter, 60, is the former chair of Apollo Education Group, known for its online University of Phoenix. He is worth $1.5 billion and has been ranked as one of the 400 wealthiest Americans according to Forbes.
His home was formerly owned by actor Rob Lowe.
Meghan may bond over her love of horses with the couple opposite their front gate: financial firm CEO William Borgers, 63, and his wife Kathy, who sponsor local equine therapy charity the Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center.
The Sussexes were smitten by pet therapy horses during their tour of Morocco last year, where they visited the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equestrian Sports where children with special needs are helped with equine therapy.
When contacted by DailyMail.com, Kathy and Bill declined to comment – as did many other immediate neighbors in the secluded estate.
Other next door neighbors include Igor and Cindy Sill, who run a vineyard in Napa, northern California.
A property fire in 2017 devastated their 24-acre vineyard. But the couple, who also own a home in St Helena, have been determinedly rebuilding – so may not have much time to visit their new neighbors down in Montecito.
A former resident of the community, who recently sold his home there, told DailyMail.com that Harry and Meghan would likely get the privacy they were looking for on the leafy, quiet streets in the gated estate.
‘Santa Barbarans mostly keep to themselves,’ the neighbor, who asked not to be named, said.
The man, who said he had previously considered buying the $14.7 million mansion snapped up by the former royals in June, described the Riven Rock Homeowners Association as ‘an odd mix of some very elderly people and young ones.’
The neighbor added there is no shortage of high-end dining in Montecito for the Sussexes if they want to venture out of their new palatial home, including the luxury San Ysidro ranch, the Miramar and Biltmore hotels, and his personal favorite, Italian restaurant Tre Lune.
The undulating public roads near the mansion are a favorite among lycra-clad cyclists and hikers – though they steer clear of the private gated community that shrouds the Sussexes’ new home, where almost every mansion has high walls, fences or hedges.
The former royal couple enjoyed walking in the parks near their previous temporary residence on Vancouver Island, Canada, and their new home is just a few minutes walk away from a canyon trail frequented by walkers lapping up the California sunshine, albeit with COVID-19 face masks.
One of Harry and Meghan’s celebrity neighbors is among several homeowners who put their houses up for sale this year.
Growing Pains actress Joanna Kerns and her ex-husband, architect Marc Appleton were neighbors in the gated community with the Sussexes for a couple of weeks, but sold their $8.4 million Italian-inspired home last month to Scott Adelson.
Kerns told DailyMail.com there had been a flurry of home sales in the past few months in the secluded private estate, most using realtor Berkshire Hathaway.
Adelson, president of LA investment bank Houlihan Lokey, bought his home using a company called SCAshley LLC.
The residents of the Riven Rock estate lost a very colorful neighbor in the sale that welcomed the former royals to their community.
Harry and Meghan bought their house from Russian oligarch Sergey Grishin, whose ex-wife accused him of trying to kill her, trying to hire a hitman to do the job for him, and cheating on her with prostitutes throughout their tempestuous marriage, DailyMail.com revealed this week.
The Sussexes’ house backs on to the oligarch’s other former property, ‘El Fureidis’, the mansion used in the movie Scarface. It is now owned by Houston businessman Pradeep Gupta, CEO of private investment bank IQ Holdings.
Gupta said in an interview in 2015 he was drawn to the sprawling estate because of its history and architecture, saying he was planning to treat the home as his LA residence.
Many of the neighbors in the secluded estate hold their homes in trusts, as do the former royals.
Tax expert Harvey Bezozi, whose clients include several celebrities and multi-millionaires, told DailyMail.com trusts were often used to provide a privacy shield.
Bezozi added that the trust would not help with the Sussexes’ tax bill however.
‘They are welcomed additions to Santa Barbara County, whose Treasurer-Tax Collector does not expect the Royals’ real estate taxes to be delinquent like many other county residents during the pandemic,’ he said.
Locals told DailyMail.com that two of Montecito’s most famous residents, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, have often been seen in the town’s stores, but there had been no sign of the former royals venturing out yet.
Diane Stewart, a Montecito antiques and art dealer with a store just minutes from Harry and Meghan’s mansion, said Oprah and Ellen had bought paintings from her, and said she had her fingers crossed that the royals would be paying a visit soon too as they decorate their new home.
Mary Sheldon, a nearby bookstore owner who also lives within walking distance of the Sussexes, said though Harry and Meghan had not come into her store yet, Oprah would often call ahead ordering books and then arrive – to her surprise without an entourage.
Leading luxury real estate broker Jason Streatfeild, who has an office in Montecito, told DailyMail.com Harry and Meghan will fit right into the community.
‘It’s the type of neighborhood where you may not realize who your neighbor is but you really don’t care,’ he said.
‘It’s not unusual to run into Oprah Winfrey at the grocery store or to be sitting next to Ellen DeGeneres for lunch at the Miramar Hotel.
‘It’s a very private and exclusive area, a place where you can escape with an ocean in front of you and the mountains behind you.
‘We’re about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles and about four hours south of San Francisco – a unique south facing coastal community that has the channel islands directly in front of us.
‘We have a wonderful climate, calm waters and it’s just a very laid back health orientated community with plenty to do outdoors.’
Jim Buckley, a longtime Montecito resident and former owner of the local newspaper the Montecito Journal, added: ‘We are thrilled the couple chose Montecito to live as it kind of puts a positive cap on a tumultuous two years that featured a horrific wildfire followed by a devastating flood.’
Pamela Jameson Boehr said: ‘As a fourth-generation family member to live in our exquisite community I am delighted that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to settle here with their son, Archie.’
Local Dorrine Johnson said of the recent move: ‘I feel that everyone has an equal right to be able to move here and participate in our community.’
Meghan and Harry’s home is known as ‘The Chateau’ and sits on 5.4 acres of land and immaculately clipped hedges border the estate’s stone-pillared entry gates.
Property listings say the home took nearly five years to build and included a library, office, spa with a separate dry and wet sauna, a gym with a stripper pole, game room, arcade, theater, wine cellar and five-car garage.
The entrance to the property opens onto a wide lane paved with hand-cut Santa Barbara Stone that leads through a grand archway of trees to the main residence, according to Zillow.
The estate has sweeping lawns, tiered rose gardens, tall Italian cypress trees, blooming lavender, century old olive trees, a tennis court, tea house, children’s cottage and a pool.
It also boasts a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house, perfect for Meghan’s mother Doria, who is acting as one-year-old Archie’s nanny. Doria has already been to the house, TMZ reports.