Herbalife co-founder offers 1,225-acre ranch with villa in South OC

Spread includes reserve for exotic animals, including giraffe, kudu, zebras

Dick Marconi and 39250 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano (Marconi Museum, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services)
Dick Marconi and 39250 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano (Marconi Museum, Eric Foote/Elevated Horizon)

A 1,225-acre ranch near San Juan Capistrano that includes Tuscan-style village and an animal preserve with giraffe, zebras and African antelope is on the market for $23 million.

Dick Marconi–a co-founder of Herbalife, philanthropist and race car driver–is listing his
private paradise of more than three decades at 39250 Ortega Highway for $22.95 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

He bought the first 70 acres of the ranch for $1.2 million in 1994 from “Endless Summer” director Bruce Brown.

The ranch, seven miles northeast of San Juan Capistrano, lies just south of Cleveland National Forest at the intersections of Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties.

39250 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano (Eric Foote/Elevated Horizon)

It contains a four-bedroom, three-bath Tuscan-style villa of 5,048 square feet, with ornate fireplaces, wood-coffered ceilings and a light-filled loggia.

Next door, there’s a 2,100-square-foot museum, chapel and office with a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s famous Vatican City sculpture Pietà. The replica weighs 10,000 pounds and doesn’t come with the home, but can be purchased separately.

The Marconi village includes a two-bedroom guest house, a house for staff, a pool house, a barn, an art studio where he paints, a gallery for his art collection, as well as several garages and workshops.

And that doesn’t include a gazebo, two lakes, one pond, two gun ranges, 1,000 olive trees imported from Italy, and an orchard of 23,000 lemon trees, perfect for making limoncello.

The property is also decorated with statues, including a 15-foot bronze Neptune from Florence, which overlooks the swimming pool.

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There are also three Terra-Cotta soldiers from China and a wild boar. There’s also an aviary, dog kennel, greenhouse, observatory, wine gazebo, and a helicopter pad.

39250 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services)

39250 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano (Eric Foote/Elevated Horizon)

Marconi was moved to build the 51-acre animal reserve after a trip to Africa in the late 1990s. In addition to the exotic wildlife, it includes a pair of desert tortoises that hang out by the barn, according to the listing. For fishing, there’s also a lake stocked with bass and catfish.

The listing is by agent Jody Neal of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Neal said the animal reserve and the statues, excluding the Pietà replica, are included in the listing price.

According to Neal, the property is self-sufficient with its own power station and water wells, filtration and sanitation system. “The whole thing is off grid. It has its own power station and its own water and sanitation,” hel said.

Marconi, who worked in herbal research and development for several decades, was also a race car driver. He founded the Marconi Automotive Museum & Foundation for Kids in Tustin, Calif.

Marconi, 87, and his wife, Priscilla Marconi, 63, have lived on the ranch for nearly 30 years and are selling it because they want to downsize and travel more, Neal said.

[Wall Street Journal] — Dana Bartholomew

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