In the latter part of the last decade, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and the world’s fifth-richest man, got into an intense imbroglio with a couple in his neighborhood. This couple was Jane and Bernard von Bothmer. Ellison lives in a1958 home originally designed by William Wurster for Anna Spreckles Coleman on Broadway. That’s in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The von Bothmers live down the hill on Vallejo.
The unseemly entanglement between the two parties concerned the height of some backyard trees that were growing on Vallejo, specifically, some redwoods and an eighty-year-old acacia in the von Bothmers’ backyard. The problem was that the trees blocked part of Mr. Ellison’s view of the beautiful San Francisco Bay. Clearly unacceptable for such a town and for such a man.
After Larry Ellison complained that the trees blocked his home’s view, it seems the couple trimmed them, but not sufficiently enough to appease Mr. Ellison. Trying to solve the problem in one fell swoop, Ellison offered to buy the couple’s home. Let’s keep in mind Ellison’s wealth ranking. However, the von Bothmers declined the offer and the dispute ended up entering the justice system. The case would have gone to trial last week but the warring neighbors came to a last-minute settlement outside the courts.
Now, in exchange for some unknown amount, Jane and Bernard von Bothmer have agreed to conduct a more rigorous trimming of the trees and Ellison has just bought the late Dodie Rosekrans’ old house, which is next door to his and has truly unobstructed views of the Bay.
The adjacent mansion’s price was $40 million, and for his money Ellison got a 1916 home designed by Willis Polk and a 2840 Broadway address. Although the new home doesn’t come with a garage, the new house does have twenty-two bedrooms, all richly decorated by Michael Taylor. Ellison’s first house, the one with the compromised views, has a garage that can hold three cars.
As for the von Bothmers, they still have a Mediterranean style home on Vallejo Street. It was raised up in 1925 and designed by George Applegarth. It may or may not still have a garden especially friendly to hummingbirds. That whimsical touch came from the hands of Thomas Church.