We took a boat tour of Newport Harbor last week to see Christmas lights on the bayfront homes and yachts . . .
Current and former owners of these fabulous abodes include Nicolas Cage, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richie Sambora, Peter Falk, Mark McGwire, the William Wrigley family, the Snyder family (founders of In-N-Out Burger), the FaBrizio family (founders of Simple Green), Shirley Temple, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Charles Schulz, George Argyros, and local luminaries like Fletcher Jones Jr (owner of Fletcher Jones Motorcars) and the Segerstrom family (owners of South Coast Plaza).
In the early 20th century, lots in Newport Harbor were selling for $75. Amenities such as electricity, paved streets, sewers, streetlights and water were lacking and roads to the area were largely undeveloped. Basically, you were buying the right to live on a mud flat at a three-hour drive from civilization, so even at $75, sales were slow.
The sellers then placed a coupon offer in Sunset magazine: buy a two-year subscription to Sunset and get $25 off the price of a lot. So — $50 instead of $75.
I wish someone in my family tree had had the foresight to buy one because you couldn’t get a bayfront lot today for less than about $10 million. Not a house — that’s just for the lot.