Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen buys $27M Atherton mansion

Paul Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft, but has gone on to invest in everything from real estate to energy to sports teams. Now he's setting down roots in Atherton.

Microsoft co-founder, Seattle Seahawks owner and billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen has paid $27 million for a luxurious, 22,000-square-foot mansion in tony Atherton.

Allen, whose net worth hovers at nearly $16 billion according to Forbes, closed on the property Nov. 12 through a family trust, according to public records that I reviewed this week at the San Mateo County Clerk Recorder’s Office.

Allen is most strongly associated with the Seattle area, where he has a residence on Mercer Island, a short distance from the Microsoft headquarters of Redmond. But he also owns property all over the world including Kona, Hawaii; Beverly Hills; Manhattan; Cap Ferrat, France; and London, according to news reports.

Allen, 60, co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with Bill Gates. He left the company after a cancer diagnosis, which he beat, in 1983. Allen is still a major Microsoft shareholder.

Since then, he has embarked on a series of high-profile projects and investments, including buying the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team in 1988, the Seahawks NFL team in 1997, and co-founding the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project Museum in 2000 in Seattle.

His entree to Silicon Valley may have been foreshadowed in April, when Allen’s investment firm, Vulcan Capital, announced it would open an office in Palo Alto to “focus on expanding the firm’s investments in the Internet and technology sectors,” according to a news release at the time. Vulcan has been on a tear lately, with investments in Seattle’s South Lake Union district and energy paying off big-time.

A representative for Vulcan didn’t return multiple calls or emails.

The Atherton home, on Camino al Lago, sits on nearly two acres and offers eight bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, a spa, a theater and seven fireplaces in the main house, according to a property listing on that includes cool pictures. A guest house has two bedrooms and two baths, not to mention a full kitchen. A garage provides room for five vehicles.

“Dramatic grounds surround this magnificent estate,” the listing states.

According to a Realtor source, the property was listed Sept. 30 for $31.8 million, but was pulled off the market Nov. 11. The sale price of $27 million equates to about $1,227 per square foot.

The property was designed and built by Pacific Peninsula Group, a high-end Menlo Park architecture, development and custom-homebuilding firm, which was also the seller. Pacific Peninsula declined to comment.

Allen joins a rarefied club in Atherton that includes Google’s Eric Schmidt, HP’s Meg Whitman, financial icon Charles Schwab and Oracle’s Mark Hurd. It is also the home of real estate icons Carl Berg and John A. Sobrato.

Alex Comsa, a Realtor with Intero Prestigio who specializes in luxury homes on the Peninsula, said Atherton attracts a kind of resident who is interested in privacy, thanks to the bigger lots and houses that typify the town of roughly 7,200.

The purchase price, he said, is among the least of their concerns.

“For these buys, it’s just a matter of finding the right house,” he said. “It’s, ‘Is this a good fit or not, layout-wise, size wise, with the sun orientation?’ Whether you’re paying $1,000 or $1,500 a foot is kind of irrelevant.”


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