UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang announced Tuesday that billionaire Charlie Munger has purchased and gifted the historic 1,800-acre Las Varas Ranch to the university. Las Varas — a working cattle ranch and avocado-growing operation — is located on the Gaviota Coast between Naples Point and El Capitan State Beach. Bisected by Highway 101, the holding stretches inland from the coastal bluff at Edwards Point to the boundary of Los Padres National Forest.
Praising Munger’s “tremendous generosity” in a campuswide letter this afternoon, Yang said, “We are immensely fortunate to have been entrusted with this ‘coastal jewel,’ which includes two miles of coastline. With more than 500 acres of pastureland, an 18-acre lake, and fruit orchards, the land offers rich agricultural resources and exceptional educational opportunities. For a long time, UC Santa Barbara will maintain the property in its current state as a working ranch.” Yang added, “In the years ahead, I will consult with our campus community and local community on the future vision of [the property].”
The now-deceased Tim Doheny — grandson of oil tycoon Edward Laurence Doheny Sr. — purchased the ranch in the late 1960s from the Edwards family. In early 2016, the Dohenys listed the ranch for $108 million. The price dropped to $90 million about a year later, according to listing agent and broker Kerry Mormann, who said he’s been under a strict confidentiality agreement regarding deal details. Mormann did say that all contingencies had been dropped this morning, and the transfer to the university was inline with his personal desire to see the property go to a “conservation-minded buyer.”
In 2016, the now-94-year-old Munger — a longtime business partner of Warren Buffett — donated $200 million to UCSB for state-of-the-art student housing; in 2014, he donated $65 million toward a visitor housing facility for the university’s renowned Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.