Billionaire Ted Waitt Pays $34 Million for James Perse’s Malibu HouseVariety — James McClain
Fashion designer James Perse and his Beverly Hills-bred wife, equestrienne and animal rescuer Brandi Perse (née Briskman), have sold their Point Dume home for $34.2 million in cash, the priciest deal inked in the seaside city since August 2019, when WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum paid $100 million for Ron Meyer’s Paradise Cove mansion. Property records reveal the buyers are billionaire Gateway computers co-founder Ted Waitt and his wife, former model Michele Merkin.
The sale price represents a massive win for the Perses, who bought the house in 2010 for exactly $16 million. Even after spearheading a thorough decorative redo that transformed the relatively modest structure into a residential showpiece sporting Perse’s signature casually minimalist style, it’s all but certain they walked with many millions in profit. And whether the sale is a outlying blip or indicative of bigger things to come, it’s particularly welcome news for Malibu, where the local real estate market has been badly battered in recent years — first by the aftershocks of 2018’s devastating Woolsey Fire, then by coronavirus-induced chaos.
Designed by the firm Nicholas, Budd, Dutton, with Bill Nicholas as the partner-in-charge of the project, the Point Dume estate was built on commission by “X-Files” creator Chris Carter, and completed in 2004. It was Carter who, in 2010, sold the place to the Perses in an off-market deal; they subsequently renovated the house and leased it out in 2018, before putting it up for sale last year with an aggressive $40 million ask.
Secreted behind gates at the very end of a long cul-de-sac — and directly across the street from Barbra Streisand’s much larger and famously internet-iconic compound — the 1.25-acre blufftop property has direct access to the sandy shores of all-but-private Little Dume Beach, one of Malibu’s best-kept secrets.
Inside, the austerely minimal house has wheat-colored hardwood floors, walls of glass and a showroom’s worth of James Perse interior furnishings. There are either four or five bedrooms in the house — depending on where you look online, who you believe and which floorplans you peruse — and a total of 5.25 baths. Per records, the single-story abode has about 4,200 square feet of space.
The front door opens into a white-walled entrance gallery highlighted by twin James Perse surfboards, one white and one black, stoically standing together at the end of the hall. The chic kitchen has all the requisite luxury appliances and opens to the expansive great room, which houses informal dining and living areas — both with breathtaking ocean views — under its high ceiling. An adjoining den offers walls of glass sliders on two sides and includes a James Perse pool table.
Outside the low-slung home, broad lawns and mature palms and eucalyptus trees enhance the property’s private park-like atmosphere. Mature trees shade the backyard lounge, where there’s a built-in BBQ center, while the great room opens via glass sliders to a terrace on the opposite side of the house that’s partially coverered and has plenty of space for alfresco entertaining, all with the vast Pacific Ocean as a stunning backdrop.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this property is its lack of a swimming pool, a very rare omission in a $34 million estate. But there is an in-ground hot tub to the right of the back patio, and the lack of a cement pond is a good excuse to become friendly with Streisand and other nearby neighbors, most of whom do have private pools with magical sea views.
Waitt, a South Dakota native, now resides primarily in L.A., where he recently completed construction on a $40 million contemporary megamansion in the high-priced Bird Streets neighborhood. The tech tycoon and Merkin also still own their Beverly Hills “crash pad,” a $10.3 million estate in the Coldwater Canyon area where they lived while the Bird Streets house was being built.
As for the Perses, they continue to maintain another house elsewhere on Point Dume. And the couple still own an $11 million horse ranch out in Ventura County’s Hidden Valley, near Thousand Oaks, bought from from Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi seven years ago. Brandi Perse operates her animal rescue at the estate, which was photographed in 2016 for a glossy issue of C Magazine.
Launch Gallery: Inside Ted Waitt's James Perse-Designed Malibu Beach House