Hong Kong Retail Magnate Pays Cash for Surfing Legend’s Refurbished Malibu Home

By Mark David • July 11, 2023

Malibu legend Janet MacPherson was a pioneering female surfer who began surfing as a teenager in the 1950s and rode the waves around the globe into her 80s. She was also an under-the-radar real estate magnate who owned a handful of multimillion-dollar homes in Malibu at the time of her death in early 2022, at 84 years old.

Since then, her heirs and executors, which include her boutique hotelier and restaurateur son, Sean MacPherson, have sold off a couple of the properties. One of them, a down-on-its-heels 1960 ranch house set behind gates on a high promontory just above city hall with explosive ocean and coastline views, was acquired in June 2022 for exactly $4 million by Jaman Properties, a boutique property development company founded by married film producers turned high-end house flippers Michael Manheim and Janus Cercone.

Aiming to create a relaxed yet luxurious surfer’s paradise, albeit one accessible only to a wealthy wave rider, the single-level home was completely reimagined. Rooms were reconfigured; systems and mechanicals were upgraded; the kitchen and bathrooms were replaced; and plantings all around the three-quarter-acre grounds were grown from seeds collected by MacPherson as she traveled the world hanging ten.

Skylights in the vaulted ceiling bathe the wood-floored great room with natural light, and a wide bank of glass that vanishes into the walls frames a cinematic horizon view over the Pacific Ocean. One of the more unique design choices is a mirrored backsplash on the back wall of the kitchen, which means there’s a gorgeous view of the ocean even when turned away from it.

The entire property is wired for sound, and when you step into the powder room, the space is engulfed in the sounds of ocean waves hitting the shore and seagulls flying above. Cercone says that over the course of marketing the property, about 300 people toured the house and that “it was always interesting and fun to see how they responded to the powder room. Some people stayed in there for 20 minutes and emerged saying they had the best meditation ever. Others stepped in and out in a minute. But everyone exited the powder room with the biggest grin on their face, like they’d been on a little ride at Disneyland.”

Other highlights of the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath abode include a trio of fireplaces (one of them wood-burning), a surfboard storage area, and a charging station in the garage, which has been converted to a family/club room. Each bedroom opens to the outdoors, and a small building nestled into the hillside below the homes is a secluded getaway.

At the front of the house, 200-year-old wooden doors from Spain open to a sunken entrance courtyard, while the back of the house flows easily out to a 2,600-square-foot travertine terrace. During the day there are whitewater views of Surfrider Beach, where classic beach films and TV shows like “Baywatch” and Gidget” were filmed, and at night the lights along the coastline form the Queen’s Necklace. Designed for relaxed outdoor living, there’s a hot tub, a firepit, and an outdoor kitchen. A pool and spa were designed to complement the outdoor spaces, with the permitting application in process at the time of the sale.

Jaman Properties put the newly gussied-up home on the market in early May for just under $7.5 million, and it was quickly sold for $7.2 million in an all-cash deal that closed this week. Well-placed sources reveal the new owner as a Hong Kong-based retail magnate who bought the place without ever having stepped foot on the property. The listing agent was Jeff Chertow of Pinnacle Estate Properties, and the buyer was represented by Ewa Reza of Ashby & Graff.