The CIA director's Cold War mansion in San Marino is selling for $30 million

San Marino just saw its most expensive home sale ever. A palatial estate built for former CIA director John McCone has changed hands for $30 million – or $7.5 million more than the asking price.

It eclipses the previous record set by USC's presidential mansion, which sold for $25 million in 2021.

McCone, an industrialist and California native, built the estate in 1957, a year before he became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He served as director of the CIA under President John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965, leading the organization during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the early part of the Vietnam War. He also headed the controversial commission that investigated the roots and causes of the 1965 Watts riots.

McCone owned the home for more than 20 years and sold it in 1979 for $1.45 million.

The property is spread over more than five hectares and hidden behind six-metre high privacy hedges. It features three houses that together offer nine bedrooms and fifteen bathrooms. Paths wind through the grounds, including waterfalls, streams, a greenhouse, workshop, rose garden and a 50-foot swimming pool.

The neoclassical-style mansion features large living areas with 15-foot ceilings, carved wood doorways and ornate mantelpieces. The marble patios overlook the rolling lawns outside.

“Viewings lasted up to four hours,” the Compass agent said Brent Chang, who handled the sales. He put the property up for sale in May for $22.5 million and said buyer interest was extremely high.

Chang, who also handled the $25 million sale of USC's presidential mansion, said the house became a hot spot for American politicians and international dignitaries during McCone's ownership, including President Eisenhower and members of the Kennedy family.

At $30 million, it is the most expensive sale not only in San Marino history, but in the entire San Gabriel Valley, where only five homes have sold above $15 million.

Nicholas Borrelli of Coldwell Banker George Realty represented the buyer, whose identity remains unclear.

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