Nicknamed “Billionaire’s Beach” — an homage to the ultra-wealthy residents who call it home — Carbon Beach is a 2.4km stretch of sand that sits between the iconic Pacific Coast Highway and the glistening Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California.
Up until mid-2015, the beach was largely closed off to the public. But now, after a decades-long, complicated legal battle between the state and homeowners, its 70-plus residences share their backyard with tourists and beachgoers from sun up to sun down.
We took a walk down Billionaire’s Beach on a recent summer day — scroll through to take a peek at what it’s like to live and play on the richest stretch of sand in the world.
Carbon Beach runs about 1.5 miles from Malibu Pier down toward Santa Monica. The homes situated on the sand are just feet from the water.
The properties' front entrances belly up to Pacific Coast Highway, often with little room for driveways or garages. Some are palatial, even from the street.
Public beach access officially opened here in 2015 after a decades-long battle between the Coastal Commission and some of Carbon Beach's wealthiest residents, including music mogul David Geffen.
For years, Geffen, the billionaire founder of Asylum Records and Geffen Records and cofounder of DreamWorks, fought against public access, but in 2007 agreed to open a gate beside his home in exchange for a permit to remodel.
Earlier this year, he sold his Carbon Beach compound, pictured here, in an off-market deal for a reported $85 million, though he was hoping for $100 million. Los Angeles Dodgers owner and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter was the reported buyer.
The property includes a main house, two guest homes, a pool and spa, gym, and theatre. There's also a spacious outdoor deck, which, on the day we visited, doubled as a reprieve from the sun for a group of beachgoers.
Though we didn't wander the entire 1.5-mile stretch of beach, it was clear that while there were visitors sunbathing and playing in the water, it was by no means packed. In fact, it felt more like walking through someone's backyard than a public beach.
Every home on Carbon Beach has access to the sand, but high tide appears to have eaten into some of the homes' staircases.
Billionaire building tycoon and art collector Eli Broad and his wife spend summers in their Carbon Beach home, pictured here, which was designed by Getty Center architect Richard Meier and completed in 2001.
Arguably the beach's most prominent resident is Oracle founder and former CEO, billionaire Larry Ellison. He reportedly owns a whopping 10 properties on the 1.5 mile strip.
In April 2017, he scooped up this 7,700 square-foot home, complete with a tennis court and pool, for $48 million. Also designed by Meier, the home was previously owned by the late Norman Ackerberg and his wife Lisette, a well-known opponent to the public access initiative.
Ellison is also part-owner of Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant on the North end of the beach. Earlier this year, he unveiled an ultra-luxury beachfront hotel next door (he bought the land a decade ago for $20 million). Rooms start at $1,100 a night during 'low season,' and $2,000 during 'high season.'
The south end of the beach is just as luxurious. The beach curves and the tide rises seemingly higher on this side, so many of the homes are elevated above the sand.
Some of the modern contemporary homes have floor to ceiling windows, turning the place into a fish bowl for passersby on the beach.
But not all of the homes are ultra-modern. Some have a traditional beach house aesthetic, with wood siding and Cape Cod-style finishes.
CBS President and CEO Les Moonves bought a Carbon Beach home from Microsoft's Paul Allen for $28 million in early 2014. Allen reportedly decided to sell the mansion because, he 'hated the sound of the ocean.'
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