‘Bonanza’ ranch at Lake Tahoe sold for record $38M | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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‘Bonanza’ ranch at Lake Tahoe sold for record $38M

Associated Press

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — In early August, history, classic television and a whole lot of beach mingled to create a milestone in Lake Tahoe real estate.

That’s when a 31-acre estate in Zephyr Cove on the lake’s east shore — once part of the vast holdings of the Bourne family —sold for $38 million.

On “Bonanza,” the long-running TV Western, the Cartwrights galloped across the property on horseback in the opening credits. Unseen in those credits: a private sandy beach stretching nearly 400 feet.

The deal for neighboring lots on Sierra Sunset, sold as a single property, is the most expensive lakefront residential sale ever on the Nevada side of Tahoe, according to Reno Gazette Journal research and Jean Merkelbach of Engel & Völkers, who represented the buyer.

“While it was a lofty price, it’s a true legacy property, and the market is very active right now,” Merkelbach said, with affluent buyers relocating from cities to Lake Tahoe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lexi Cerretti of Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty represented the seller.

The property once was listed for $59 million.

Merkelbach said the new owner was going to use the estate as a luxury vacation rental asking $10,000 to $15,000 per night.

For that room rate, there’s an 18,000-square-foot main residence clad in more than 400 tons of Montana stone, with eight bedrooms and nine full baths (plus powder), the principal bedroom lying on the main floor and seven en suite guest bedrooms on the second. A stone fireplace and a triptych window command one of two living rooms.

There are also two other homes on the property, as well as stables and equestrian land (the sellers are horse breeders). The property was once listed for $59 million. In 2018, the main parcel asked $47 million.

Merkelbach knows the neighborhood well.

In 2013, when she was with Sierra Sotheby’s, Merkelbach repped the $48 million sale of the 210-acre Tranquility estate lying across U.S. 50 from Sierra Sunset.

Tranquility was built in 2000 for the co-founder and onetime CEO of Tommy Hilfiger clothing, and its sale still ranks as the priciest ever at Lake Tahoe for a property off the lake.

Tranquility, like Sierra Sunset, once formed part of the Bourne family lands.

“How random is it that I would be involved in selling both of them?” Merkelbach said, laughing, and then she had to go. There was another large lakefront property to show.


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