Prince Harry and Meghan Markle bought their new California mansion from a Russian businessman with a $9.5million mortgage after the price was knocked down by more than $10million, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The couple bought the sprawling nine-bedroom and 16-bathroom mansion in upscale Montecito for $14.65million on June 18, making them neighbors with celebs Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.
The 14,563-square-foot home, known as ‘The Chateau’, sits on 5.4 acres of land and immaculately clipped hedges border the estate’s stone-pillared entry gates.
The seller is thought to be Russian tycoon Sergey Grishin who bought the ‘palatial’ mansion for more than $25million in 2009 and had tried to sell the home for up to $34million before eventually accepting a loss.
Grishin is also the former owner of a different California estate – known as the Scarface mansion because it appeared in the 1983 Al Pacino movie – which sold for a similarly cut-price $12million in 2015.
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.
According to Zillow, the house has been updated with the latest Lutron lighting systems and Crestron, including iPad control.
The property is located on a private road in a luxury and secluded estate in Montecito.
The home is around a two-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles and almost every house in the multi-million dollar neighborhood is designed for privacy, with long driveways and large gates.
Harry and Meghan bought the luxury property after securing a $9.5million mortgage, it is believed, implying that they made a down-payment of more than $5million.
At typical interest rates, the couple would have to pay $40,000 a month or $480,000 a year in order to repay the mortgage over 30 years.
Annual property tax is estimated at $68,000 and the costs of security and utilities for the huge mansion will also come with hefty bills.
The couple have bought the property despite still owing the British taxpayer £2.4million ($3.1million) for the renovation of Frogmore Cottage, their former home near Windsor Castle.
The pair have agreed to pay £18,000 ($24,000) a month to repay the cost of refurbishing the cottage, and royal expert Ingrid Seward said on Wednesday that the new expenditure was ‘not going to be looked at very favorably’.
Reports said yesterday that Harry and Meghan purchased the home with help from Prince Charles, but a source told DailyMail.com that the couple ‘feel proud to have struck out on their own and they are saying they bought it without any help from his family.
‘They do have a mortgage, but they see this as their own place, free from relying on anyone else – a proper family home,’ the source said.
At their peak Harry and Meghan’s combined wealth had been estimated to be around $43million.
After changing hands in 2009, the home was listed by Sotheby’s six years later for $34.5million, but had no takers.
Eventually it was relisted for $16,975,000 in January this year, and sold to the Sussexes for $2,325,000 less than the asking price.
Page Six reported that the couple have been living in Santa Barbara for the past six weeks.
According to the LA Times, the seller was a limited liability company linked to Russian businessman Sergey Grishin, who previously had to sell the Scarface estate for a fraction of its original asking price.
The setting was famously used for the exterior shots of Tony Montana’s mansion in Scarface, while other scenes – including the dramatic final shoot-out – were filmed on sets.
The palatial residence, set in 10 acres, was originally put on the market in May 2014 for $36million after it was purchased by Grishin in 2008.
However, the the sprawling ‘El Fureidis’ – which means ‘Tropical Paradise’ in Spanish – was eventually for $12.26million, barely a third of its initial listing.
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.’
Streatfeild, 39, who runs a team of five agents in Montecito for the Douglas Elliman real estate firm, said there’s also plenty of shopping and great places to eat.
‘There are also two small commercial districts filled with wonderful restaurants and high end shops,’ he said.
‘Harry and Meghan coming here will certainly create a buzz, but then we’re used to celebrities here.’
Neighbors told DailyMail.com they had not seen the Sussexes, saying that residents on the private roads often kept to themselves.
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 hikers lapping up the Southern California sunshine – albeit with COVID-19 face masks.
Property records show Harry and Meghan’s new mansion was built in 2003.
The sense of privacy was also a massive draw for Meghan’s friend and confidante Oprah Winfrey, who until yesterday was its most famous resident.
She has expanded her ocean-side Promised Land estate in Montecito from 42 acres to 70 and recently bought a house from actor Jeff Bridges because it neighboured hers.
Her 23,000-square-foot mansion has a library, 14 bathrooms, rose gardens and fountains in her landscaped grounds. There is also an outdoor theatre and man-made fishing lake.
Another local friend is Ellen DeGeneres, the chat show host who is going through a scandal over her alleged ‘mean’ behaviour on her daytime chat show.
She revealed recently that she had visited the Sussexes soon after Archie’s birth, had fed him and described Harry and Meghan as the ‘cutest couple.’ She and Meghan text each other.
Her main home with actress Portia de Rossi is in Beverly Hills, but she has four houses in Santa Barbara.