For the last three decades, Dick Marconi has been crafting a private paradise in the hills of San Juan Capistrano, filling the 1,225-acre ranch with houses, animals, statues and any other amenity that came to mind.
Now, he’s shopping it around for $22.95 million.
Marconi made his fortune through the multilevel marketing giant Herbalife, creating the nutritional company with Mark Hughes in the 1980s and supplying the brand’s lines of supplements, vitamins and weight-loss products.
He picked up the property for $1.2 million in 1994. At the time, it held cattle pastures, prickly pear cactus and a Tuscan-style home built in the 1970s by “Endless Summer” director Bruce Brown. Marconi envisioned a Tuscan-style village and spent the next few years bringing in flora and fauna, including olive trees and zoo animals.
At the heart of the compound, there’s a 51-acre exotic animal reserve, and the $22.95-million price tag includes a giraffe, a dozen zebras, six African antelopes, a kudu and a llama — as well as 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.
Guarded by stone lions and reached by a bridge, the main house spans a single story and includes ornate fireplaces, wood-coffered ceilings and a light-filled loggia. Next to that, there’s a 2,100-square-foot office, museum and chapel complete with a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s famous Vatican City sculpture Pieta. It weighs 10,000 pounds and doesn’t come with the home, but can be purchased separately.
Bronze and marble statues pop up across the estate; notable examples include a wild boar and 15-foot-tall sculpture of the Roman god Neptune. There’s also an aviary, dog kennel, greenhouse, observatory, wine gazebo, helicopter pad, 23,000 lemon trees and 1,000 olive trees imported from Italy.
Structures besides the main house include a two-story guesthouse and gym, 2,200-square-foot garage, 2,200-square-foot workshop, 2,100-square-foot employee building and a generator building.
Jody Neal of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties holds the listing.