Mystery Buyer of $83 Million Palisades Mansion Revealed a 26-Year-Old Billionaire

Austin Russell owner of  20,000 square foot Palisades mansion

By Dolores Quintana

The buyer of a 20,000 square foot mansion in Pacific Palisades is a 26-year-old tech billionaire. 

Originally, rumor had it that the buyer of the Riviera mansion was a mysterious Crypto billionaire, as reported by Dirt.com, but the buyer was actually Austin Russell. Russell is 26 years old and the CEO and founder of Luminar Technologies, an autonomous vehicle sensor and software company. Dirt.com was able to confirm this via multiple sources and a check of the property records. 

Russell is a Southern Californian who was born and raised in Orange County, specifically Newport Beach. His father Michael Russell dealt in commercial real estate and his mother, Shannon Cleye, is a model and an actress who is probably best known for her stint on the soap opera, The Young And The Restless. Money has never been a problem for Russell since he dropped out of Stanford University to take a grant from entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, as seed money to start Luminar Technologies. 

Russell took the company public after incubating the start-up in what is known as “stealth mode” and then creating partnerships with various automobile companies in Dec. of 2021. He became a “paper billionaire” as the stock price rose. While his worth is estimated to be $1.7 billion and he was anointed the world’s “youngest self made billionaire” by Forbes Magazine, he only draws a $300,000 salary each year according to Dirt.com’s examination of the company’s SEO paperwork. It took the sale of 10% of Russell’s stock in Luminar Technologies to finance the down payment on this property. By selling 10.5 million shares, he obtained $220,000 million. 

The explanation for the stock sale was “estate and financial planning purposes.” according to the SEO filing according to Dirt.com. It is clear that the estate portion of the planning purposes is real estate investment and home buying. 

The stock sale was completed on July 1, 2021 and on July 2, Russell closed the deal on the Palisades estate. Two months later, Russell purchased a second property in Florida, where Luminar Technologies Orlando’s office and research facilities are located, for $10.6 million in Winter Park, Florida. The property is a 13,000-square-foot home that is eleven miles from Luminar’s Florida facility. 

Russell bought both properties through a South Dakota-based trust, a practice that is becoming popular with the mega-rich to shield their assets. 

The Pacific Palisades estate has six bedrooms and 18 bathrooms and spans 20,000 square feet. It was built by Ardie Tavangarian and took several years to complete. Tavangarian is used to high stakes real estate gambles and stocked the mansion with all the toys and gadgets that a billionaire could want. The bedroom has a retractable roof that opens to the night sky and is only accessible through a retinal scan. There’s even a projection screen that allows the inhabitants to screen films in bed. The house also has a top-flight indoor and outdoor cinema. The outdoor cinema has a 20 person capacity, for when the owner wants to entertain. There’s a kitchen that was designed by Nobu, a massage room, an infinity pool and a car gallery. Russell will be neighbors with actor Tom Hanks, whose home base is next door as part of the Palisades Riviera neighborhood with spectacular views of Will Rogers State Park.

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