The nonprofit foundation that runs Montecito’s historic garden estate, Val Verde, filed for bankruptcy on Friday, February 27, in an effort to avoid being sold at auction the following Wednesday. The nonprofit was $1.4 million behind in payments on a $13 million loan taken out three years ago. By filing for bankruptcy, the Val Verde Foundation – which was founded by Dr. Warren Austin to open his 17-acre estate and historic garden to the public – hoped to avoid the forced sale and gain 18 months of additional time to maneuver. In the meantime, foundation executives hope to sell the property for $19 million, and claim to have a willing buyer. Efforts to open Val Verde to the public were denied by the Board of Supervisors eight years ago.