Hat tip to Kwaping for sending this along from Lily at the U-T:
The new owner of the recently sold “Razor” house in La Jolla is a 47-year-old real estate investor from Palm Beach, Fla., with ties to the telecommunications industry, based on information from the listing agent, public documents and other sources.
Donald A. Burns bought the property for $14.1 million in a short sale that was finalized on Tuesday, said agent Bob Hurwitz of the Hurwitz James Co. in Beverly Hills. A spokeswoman for the buyer said Burns was traveling Thursday, and she declined to comment on the transaction.
“The guy is a sophisticated real estate investor,” said Hurwitz, adding that the sale was the most “complex and convoluted” one he’s ever completed in his 31-year real estate career, given all the players involved.
The first asking price for the designer home, the main asset in a bankruptcy case, was $45 million. But that figure plummeted in recent years along with the market and after two failed attempts to auction the oceanfront home.
The original owner, Jimmy Donald Cooksey Jr., filed for bankruptcy in February 2009. Records say Cooksey was discharged from the case in September.
Public documents show what the new owner paid is lower than liens on the home, which totaled about $22.7 million. Burns, who expressed interest in the home about seven months ago, initially offered more than $16 million but in October dropped it to $13.9 million. He won out with his new bid after negotiations that resulted in concessions from some of the lienholders.
Here’s a sample of Burns’ negotiating skills in an Oct. 20 letter addressing Leslie Gladstone, the trustee in the Cooksey bankruptcy case:
“This new offer is lower than my first offer because the lack of other qualified buyer offers over the last months of heavy advertising proved that my past offer was above the Fair Market Value of the property,” he said.
Burns continued to say: “The First Mortgage Holder (Bank of America) will need to ultimately decide if it wishes to own this property, or if they would like to achieve their maximum recovery now and be free of the expense and liability of owning a property that has been the white elephant for four years.”
A court record dated Dec. 7 shows Gladstone agreed with Burns’ argument on the distressed home.
“This immediate relief is appropriate because Bank of America will foreclose on the Property if the sale does not close prior to December 31, 2011,” said Jeffry A. Davis, attorney for Gladstone.
The property, the work of renowned San Diego architectural designer Wallace E. Cunningham, is unfinished and has never been occupied. The new owner plans to work with Cunningham to complete the design.
Recent news coverage reveals that Burns is not new to high-profile real estate deals.
Earlier this year, a penthouse in a SoHo building where actor Heath Ledger died was sold for almost $18 million, based on a story by Real Estate Weekly. That report and a separate article in The New York Times say Burns bought the building seven years ago before turning it to a condo project. (Burns actually attached the Real Estate Weekly article with his second offer letter to prove he was a qualified buyer.)
Aside from real estate, Burns is involved in the telecom industry. Public financial records show he is a board of director of magicJack VocalTec Ltd., maker of a device that plugs into landlines and lets people make domestic and Canadian calls for free, the company promises.