Chris Cortazzo is a legend in his own right: he was the No. 1 Coldwell Banker® agent in the world for three years straight and is known in Malibu real estate circles as the “Vault” for his unwavering discretion. But perhaps lesser known is the Previews® specialist’s premier status as a passionate homebuilder, real estate collector and preservationist. Over the years, he has personally built or renovated six homes in the Malibu area, often enlisting his A-list designer friends to help realize his residential visions. He collaborated with Martyn Lawrence-Bullard on his own 28-acre Malibu ranch in the Malibu mountains—the centerpiece of which was a restored 1920s Spanish-style ranch house. Appearing in ELLE DECOR’s July/August 2009 issue, the house is an initiation into Cortazzo’s life of quiet elegance and an homage to his three greatest loves: Africa, animals and nature. Last spring, he collaborated with Vanessa Alexander on the interiors of his personal Malibu beach house, located on a secluded beach with 100 feet of frontage. His latest venture is the construction of his fourth private residence, a Caribbean/Balinese style home with a Japanese twist, designed by Lawrence-Bullard on Point Dume.
Intensely private, Cortazzo rarely grants interviews, but he recently gave us a rare glimpse into his Malibu life and dream-like real estate world. When asked these questions, Cortazzo had this to say:
My idea of perfect happiness is: Being on the beach in Malibu, surrounded by friends and family with a surfboard under my arm.
If I wasn’t a real estate agent, I’d be: Working with animals. I have tried to incorporate them as much as I can into my life with my turkeys, peacocks and chickens and my beloved German Shepherds.
A house becomes legendary when: When its architectural pedigree or owner’s fame and fortune allow it to be known by its own name. Gulls Way in Malibu is one such estate. If you say the name, everyone knows what you’re talking about.
Most memorable home I’ve ever built: My ranch.
Best lesson I learned from building my own home: Work with a top designer like Martyn Laurence-Bullard who can translate your vision into something you love and add a level of value you could not have imagined.<span “=””>
Favorite architect (past or present): Frank Lloyd Wright.
Favorite architectural style: My latest creation that I’m building on Point Dume, which is Caribbean/Balinese with a Japanese twist. Divine.
Greatest extravagance in your home: It’s a toss-up between landscaping and photographs.
Greatest necessity: Privacy on my properties.
Legendary estate I’d want to live in: Ron and Kelly Meyers’ home in Malibu on the Paradise Cove, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. It’s one of the most elegant, beautiful designed homes in the world.
Legendary estate I want to list: I just sold it… the Jerry Weintraub estate “Blu Heaven.”
Greatest Achievement: My reputation.
Greatest love: My family, friends and pets.
If I didn’t live in Malibu, I would live in: Capri, Italy
I feel most proud of my Malibu lineage when: When I tell people that I have the privilege of living in the most beautiful place in the world.
Luxury is: Leading a lifestyle that is 90% outdoors.
Best piece of advice: Always tell the truth.
Preview the Malibu luxury lifestyle: La Villa Contenta, the ultimate compound located on approximately eight acres of Malibu’s most prime bluff top.
With more than $2 billion in closings since 2000, Chris Cortazzo has been widely hailed for his outstanding production. In addition to his reign as Malibu’s premier real estate agent, he is a member of the Coldwell Banker elite Top 1% of agents nationwide. He lives in Point Dume, where he spends his rare free time surfing, traveling, collecting fine art, and enjoying the company of his family and pets. More information on Chris Cortazzo can be found here.