How luxury home icon lost his fortune

The Orange County Register

If all goes as scheduled, luxury home icon John McMonigle will lose his offices on Wednesday. Thirteen days later, his pet project of the past eight years, the Villa del Lago estate, goes on the auction block.

In the 22 years since the Oklahoma native came to O.C., he has risen from humble beginnings to top luxury home salesman in the county. Now he’s in bankruptcy court seeking protection from about $50 million in unpaid debts.

Here are highlights of his career and what led to his financial unraveling:

1989: John McMonigle leaves Oklahoma for Orange County, arriving with $73 in his pocket.

1993: McMonigle breaks into luxury real estate, working for mentor Bill Feeney at Waterfront Homes in Newport Beach.

1995: McMonigle marries Robin Weller, daughter of the CEO for Nestle USA.

2000: McMonigle and partners co-found Strada Properties, an independent brokerage near Fashion Island.

2003: Strada is sold to the Coldwell Banker real estate chain. McMonigle and partners buy 12 ½ inland acres in Newport Coast and plan the Villa del Lago estate.

2005: McMonigle raises price for Villa del Lago to $50 million. A month later, McMonigle is named Coldwell Banker’s top salesman based on dollar volume of homes sold. He holds that title for three consecutive years. The McMonigle team sells 34 homes for a combined total of $206 million in 2005, tops for O.C., according to Brea consultant Pat Veling.

May 2006: McMonigle lists the Portabello Estate in Corona del Mar for $75 million. Some say the home was overpriced.

April 2007: La Jolla Bank gives McMonigle’s partnership a $21.6 million construction loan for Villa del Lago.

November 2007: La Jolla gives McMonigle a $9.4 million construction loan for his new headquarters building.

October 2008: Nervous about the market, McMonigle sells his 10,700-square-foot Shady Canyon home – listed for $10.9 million at one point – and moves into a rental.

February 2009: Portabello temporarily taken off market. McMonigle tentatively raises price for Villa del Lago to $87 million on his website.

April 2009: McMonigle opens 20,000-square-foot headquarters building near Fashion Island, with plans to lease out some of the space to tenants. Lease commitments, however, “evaporate.”

August 2009: Robin McMonigle and children move to Dallas.

December 2009: Federal banking regulators close La Jolla Bank and transfer assets to OneWest Bank.

January 2010: OneWest decides to withhold just under $2 million from Villa del Lago’s construction loan and denies access to $4.25 million in cash being held as collateral. Construction stalls. Monigle defaults on La Jolla/OneWest loans for two Newport Beach condos, saying later he did so in retaliation for the bank’s “breach.”

May 2010: Villa del Lago officially hits the market at $57 million.

July 2010: Portabello Estate comes back on the market with $25.4 million price chop. McMonigle defaults on the Villa del Lago construction loan. McMonigle also has stopped making payments on two other OneWest loans, including one for his headquarters building.

October 2010: Portabello Estate sells for $34.1 million, less than half its original asking price. McMonigle announces that he has formed an independent brokerage.

January 2011: McMonigle drops Villa del Lago price to $37 million.

February 2011:
OneWest files suit seeking to foreclose on Villa del Lago, the McMonigle Group headquarters and three other properties.

April 2011: Robin McMonigle files for divorce. McMonigle files for personal bankruptcy one week later.

June 2011: Foreclosure auctions scheduled for the headquarters on June 8 and for Villa del Lago on June 20.

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