Inside the 1-Bedroom Malibu Home Being Sold for $18.5M
Actor James Olson's one-bedroom Malibu home, purchased for $47,500 in 1971, is being sold for $18.5 million following his death in April 2022.
Inside the 1-Bedroom Malibu Home Being Sold for $18.5M
The city of Malibu encompasses 21 miles of scenic beauty along the California coast. It's also home to some of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the entire country.
That type of action makes it hard for any single real estate deal to make people stand up and take notice. Usually, deals involving some sort of record price are the ones that make the most waves. But sometimes, a home is so unique it stands out for other reasons.
Such is the case of the longtime home in the Point Dume neighborhood that belonged to the actor James Olson, who died on April 17, 2022, at 91 years old. It's perhaps the most expensive one-bedroom, one-bathroom home ever listed for sale in the United States at a whopping $18.45 million.
How did this real-estate gem come to be worth so much?
Blink and You Just Might Miss It
Olson's home at 29122 Cliffside Dr. went on the market at $18.45 million, with the listing held by Chris Cortazzo of Compass.
Looking at the cliffside row of homes in Point Dume from the beach, if you didn't know exactly where the home was, you might miss it pretty easily as it's sandwiched between two massive properties, and the home itself appears to be the size of what might be a guest home on one of the adjacent properties.
This is a case of perception not matching up with reality. The home is so simple and elegant that it's brilliant. Pretty much one acre of heaven on earth.
How Can a One-Bedroom Home be Worth $18.5 Million?
In California, the closest one-bedroom home up for sale — pricewise — is for $5 million in Newport Beach. That's not even approaching what Olson's Malibu home is asking.
So how can Olson's property be worth so much?
Look no further than the home itself, which takes up just 1,700 square feet of the entire property. In most cases, a home sitting on one acre in Malibu is probably going to have 3-4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and likely use up another portion of the acreage for a pool. Olson's does not.
There's a huge front yard and backyard and a simple, two-car garage. The yard wraps around to a large patio that seems like it would be perfect for entertaining guests along with its own private path down to the beach.
So the simple answer is: You're paying for the land, not the home.
Who Was James Olson?
James Olson was a veteran actor of stage, television and films who was probably best known for his roles in the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Commando" and the sci-fi hit "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971. Both great movies, but probably not indicative of Olson's range as an actor.
Olson was a child actor in radio roles in Chicago before he cut his teeth studying at Lee Strasberg's famed Actors Studio, then in roles acting on Broadway in the 1950s.
He transitioned into film roles in the 1960s — most notably opposite Joanne Woodward in the 1968 film "Rachel, Rachel" which was directed by Woodward's husband, Paul Newman, and nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Woodward.
Olson's Home Goes on the Market
Olson's purchase of the home lines up with when his career was at its apex. He bought the Malibu property for $47,500 in 1971, which was the same year "The Andromeda Strain" was released.
While Olson continued to make movies, he really made a mint in television roles, where he guest-starred on a murderer's row of hit shows in the 1970s and 1980s.
His last acting credit was for a role on "Murder, She Wrote" in 1990, when he was 60 years old.
From all appearances, Olson lived the rest of his life at his Malibu home and was survived by two nieces and a nephew. The Malibu Times ran his obituary.
Point Dume is a long bluff that stretches out into the Pacific Ocean and can be seen from Olson's property. It's an iconic natural landmark in California that's perhaps best known for being the spot where the shock ending of "Planet of the Apes" was filmed in the late 1960s, just a few years before James Olson came to the neighborhood.
Point Dume is different from other parts of Malibu because it feels like an actual neighborhood — not just the "street, home, beach" setup in other parts of the town.
In an area where privacy comes at a premium, Point Dume is as private as it gets because it's not located directly off Pacific Coast Highway.
Inside the One-Bedroom Paradise
The home on Cliffside Drive sits right above Dume Cove and from the outside has a modern, almost-Cubist look. It an open-floor concept, meaning lots of windows, but once you get inside, the setup is basically that of a loft.
The thing about the home is that everywhere you stand, you can see the Pacific Ocean. There doesn't appear to be a room in the house where you can't see the water.
There's even a wood-burning fireplace in the living room, and our favorite feature of the home's interior is a wall of library bookshelves that go from the living room floor to the ceiling. Because we love books.
Built for the Million-Dollar Views
Like any piece of property, you're paying for location. Even for Malibu, the Olson property is unique because of what you'll be looking at while both inside the home and more importantly, when you're outside the home.
Out the back of the property, there's a luxurious patio that has "sweeping views of ocean, islands and coastline," which also means you'll be able to see whales and dolphins playing from the back of the property.
And when you want a beach day, you're just a short walk to the white-sand beaches below.
What It's Like to Live in Malibu
What's it like to live in Malibu? If you have money, it's pretty awesome.
It's easy to lose an entire day eating and playing and shopping in Point Dume Village before ending your day at The Sunset Restaurant — voted by Yelp as the No. 1 outdoor dining experience in all of Los Angeles. If you know anything about Yelp, it's almost anathema to give praise, so this is a pretty amazing accomplishment.
Or you can always spend the day at Point Dume State Beach, if you want to get exercise.
Malibu's Record Home Sale: $177 Million
The record for most expensive home sale in Malibu history seems to change by year, with each sale also coming close to the most expensive home sale in American history. Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin's $238 million purchase of a New York City penthouse in 2019 is still the all-time champ.
In October 2021, the California record and second-most expensive home purchase in U.S. history went down in Malibu when billionaire Marc Andreessen paid $177 million for a mansion on Escondido Beach.
Andreessen wasn't done there. In the following months, he added two more Malibu homes for $44 million and for $36 million. Andreesen broke the record set the previous year when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought a Beverly Hills mansion for $165 million.
Will Former Disney CEO's Home Break the Record?
It might not be long before the record Malibu home purchase of $177 million is broken. In April 2022, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner listed his five-acre Malibu property for a staggering $225 million.
Eisner, who was Disney's CEO from 1984 to 2005, bought the first piece of his Malibu home in the early 1990s, but over the years, he added four adjacent parcels of land.
The property is unique because it sits directly above Watkins Cove — a beach that's almost impossible for the public (and paparazzi) to access because of the tide.
The King of Malibu Real Estate: Leonardo DiCaprio
There isn't a more famous person who you'll run into living in Malibu than Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been scooping up pieces of real estate in the beach town since his career began to blow up in the late 1990s.
DiCaprio bought a four-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Malibu for $13.8 million in 2021 that sits on 0.33 acres. Compare that to James Olson's property, which sits on nearly a full acre. His other Malibu property is an almost-vacant, 1.76-acre lot above Paradise Cove that he purchased for $23 million in 2017 but has yet to develop.
At one point, DiCaprio owned three homes in Malibu but sold them off over the years — a blufftop home he sold for $7.4 million in 2009, a home adjacent to the Malibu Colony gated community he sold for $17.4 million in 2013, and a home on Carbon Beach he put up for sale for $10 million in 2021.
What Will Become of James Olson's Home?
There isn't a way to sell a home and tell the person who buys it from you what they can do with the property from that point moving forward.
Take into account Leonardo DiCaprio's purchase of 1.76 acres in Malibu for $23 million in 2017. Because all that sits on the property is a 600-square foot cottage, we can assume that price was essentially just for the land itself.
What's it all mean? There's a possibility that someone could buy the home and tear it down in order to build a bigger home there. We hope not, but if we're looking at logical outcomes, that might be the one.
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