Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: “Large Deadly Rocks” Afflict Sea Cliff’s Most Infamous Mansion

Not many home listings can be called infamous; of course, not many would want to be, but you don’t get to pick and choose your accolades.

The once-ritzy property at 224 Sea Cliff Avenue already had one of the most spotted histories across all the western neighborhoods: This is one of the most distinctive homes in the neighborhood, with six beds, seven baths, over 7,000 square feet, an unmissable pink-orange exterior, and a maze-like rear stairwell down to the beach. (More on that in a second.)

The house fell on hard times after onetime owner “Lucky” Luke Brugnara–a former real estate tycoon turned convicted fraudster–used it as the site of one of his many crimes, a mail fraud scheme that involved a number of stolen masterpieces, some of which remain missing to this day.

Brugnara went to prison in 2015 (not his first trip) and the property fell into both limbo and disrepair, listed for sale many times and going unsold many times, almost being snapped up on numerous occasions but always falling short. (Note that, legally, Brugnara cannot benefit from the sale, so that’s not the problem.)

Once listed for $20 million, its current price is less than $16 million, burdened by liens and old debts that any eventual buyer would have to reconcile.

But that’s all old news: The latest has to do with the deadly rocks.

Remember the aforementioned stairwell? Well, back in November, an anonymous complainant alleged that while walking on the beach below the property, “deadly large rocks” fell down the cliff face, striking them. “I almost got killed,” the hapless passerby complained.

A week later a building inspector took a look around and referred the property to an engineer to assess any potential public danger from the eroding cliff face.

And if that’s not enough, try this one on for size: The SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a state body that regulates protections for the bay, alleges that the winding 224 Sea Cliff stairway is itself illegal, and extends well outside the property line. In fact, they’ve been on about this for a while.

Last word at the end of February is that the Planning Department and Bay Commission were jointly investigating the stairs. Also ,Brugnara (a free man once again) put in a phone call to building inspectors demanding to know what’s with all these questions around his onetime home–his legendary way with people remains intact post-incarceration, it seems.

Some homes, it seems, just can’t catch a break. Unless it’s deadly rocks breaking away from the hillside and possibly raining down on beachgoers, but you probably shouldn’t try to catch those.

Realistically, it looks like this place is destined for the wrecking ball one of these days–it’s just a question of who is going to eventually pull the trigger on it.

In the meantime, look out below.

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