Home / Tech / Inside a $21.8 million San Francisco mansion that's been home to a tech media mogul, a squatter, and almost — according to rumors — Taylor Swift

Inside a $21.8 million San Francisco mansion that's been home to a tech media mogul, a squatter, and almost — according to rumors — Taylor Swift

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  • There’s a San Francisco mansion for sale for $21.8 million in the city’s Presidio Heights neighborhood. 
  • It was built in 1904 and modeled after a royal French chateau, but that’s just a sliver of the home’s colorful back story.
  • It was once owned by the founder of the tech website CNET before he went bankrupt in 2008 and was later inhabited by a squatter who stole artwork from the home, sneaking paintings out and selling them at pawn shops and on social media sites in 2014 and 2015.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The 20-room mansion at 3800 Washington Street is not your average multi-million-dollar San Francisco real-estate listing.

It’s a replica of Le Petit Trianon, the 18th-century French chateau built by Louis XV at the Versailles Palace in France. It’s listed on San Francisco’s National Register of Historic Places. Years ago, it was in serious need of some TLC and was declared abandoned by the city more than once. Taylor Swift was rumored to have considered buying it in 2014. It’s been inhabited by a serial drifter and Taylor Swift fanatic, who turned it into his own personal “thug mansion” and “headquarters” for a stolen-art-hocking business in 2014 and 2015. It’s been renovated and was selected for not one, but two, San Francisco Designer Showcases, first in 1982 and then in 2019.

And now, it’s listed for sale for $21.8 million.

The home doesn’t share the same aesthetic as many of the Bay Area’s real-estate listings. There’s nothing stark, white, or minimalist, about this place. 

Rich blue and green colors mingle with brass accents. Extravagant chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There are nine (NINE!) “decorative” fireplaces. Columns and arched doorways greet you upon entering. Patterned ceilings and velvet cushions fill the space. There’s even a ballroom, for crying out loud. 

For all its drama over the years, the home lives up to its namesake — it’s a French palace befit for royals, or at least the royal upper-class of 21st century San Francisco.

Here’s the saga of 3800 Washington Street and what it’s like inside the beautiful mansion.

SEE ALSO: Inside a former Apple manager’s $17.5 million Silicon Valley mansion, ‘the trophy of Menlo Park’

The 20-room mansion sits in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood.

This part of town is known for its prestigious homes and upscale boutiques that “cater to the upper class residents,” according to the listing. The Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge are close by.

Source: Joel Goodrich

Named Le Petit Trianon and modeled after the 18th-century French chateau built by Louis XV in Versailles, it was built in 1904 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: Curbed SF

It’s also known as the Koshland House, named after a wealthy wool tycoon that originally built the palace-like abode in the early 1900s.

Source: Curbed SF

The mansion comes with nine bedrooms and six bathrooms.

There are also three powder rooms, two kitchens, two wet bars, and a butler’s pantry.

There’s a ballroom that could be used as a media room or for some sort of entertainment.

There’s a formal dining room and a library.

Nine decorative fireplaces are in the home.

A beautiful chandelier hangs in a three-story atrium.

There’s a breakfast room with a side entrance and gardening room.

And it also comes with an elevator that’s currently inoperable, according to the listing.

Source: Joel Goodrich

But fret not: there’s a grand central staircase as well as a back staircase that leads to all levels.

And last, but not least, are the million-dollar views.

Glistening and opulent as it may be now, it has a long history.

In 2007, the founder of tech publication CNET, Halsey Minor, bought it for $18 million before going bankrupt.

Source: Realtor and The San Francisco Chronicle

It was listed for $25 million in 2012. It failed to sell and saw two price cuts, down to $18 million in October 2015, and was even declared abandoned by the city more than once, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Source: Zillow and San Francisco Chronicle

But despite struggling to sell, it had apparently been occupied periodically already.

A drifter was found to have been squatting in the then-dilapidated home sporadically for a year in the summer of 2014.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

A man named Jeremiah Kaylor not only lived in the home but had stolen and sold $300,000 of art and other items from the house, some for much less than their true value, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Most of the paintings were later recovered.

When law enforcement encountered Kaylor in the home in October 2015, he reportedly told them he was working to buy it and showed them legal documents that he hoped would validate that claim. The next day, he was arrested and booked on trespassing and 10 burglary charges.

Source: SF Gate

He told The San Francisco Chronicle from the San Francisco jailhouse in 2015 that he believed that he “owned the house” and that it was his “thug mansion.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Kaylor also reportedly had an obsession with popstar Taylor Swift, who had been rumored to have been considering purchasing the historic mansion in 2014.

Source: Curbed SF and 7X7 and The Chronicle

He told the Chronicle that he believed they were destined to end up together. He pled guilty to two felony counts of grand theft and identity theft and was sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation.

Source: The Chronicle and Curbed SF

He told the Chronicle that while he was squatting in the mansion, “it was super moldy and honestly kind of falling apart, but you could tell that it had been amazing.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

It finally sold, presumably in that state, in July 2016 for $15.75 million, according to public records.

Source: Redfin

It was eventually renovated and, in 2019, the mansion was selected for the 2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, an annual event 42 years in the running where dozens of the city’s top designers bring their expertise to a chosen home and transform it into a work of art.

The home is only one of a few homes out of the hundreds of thousands in the city to have that designation.

And what’s more of a rarity is that this home was chosen once before for the showcase in 1982.

Source: Decorator Showcase

Another similar home, a mansion chosen for the 2017 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, is listed for $26.8 million about a mile to the east in the Pac Heights neighborhood.

Source: Business Insider

The date of the 2019 Designer Showcase coincided with the re-listing of the home onto the public market — it was listed for $30 million on April 25, 2019. The showcase took place from late April to May.

Source: Realtor

In September 2019, the home still hadn’t sold, even with the priceless designer touch it had been given. The home got a price cut to $27 million.

Source: Realtor

In October, another chop was made to $23.8 million.

Source: Realtor

And on January 27, 2020, the price was brought down to $21.8 million.

Source: Realtor

Perhaps the new decade will bring it some good luck.