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As The Tonight Show’s pioneering host, Johnny Carson left behind a huge fortune and a fabulous clifftop mansion when he died in 2005. And when the home went up for sale again in 2017, it came with an asking price of $81.5 million.

What kind of custom features does the architectural dream that once belonged to Carson have? Plus, when did he buy it, how much did he pay for it, and was anyone willing and able to put down more than $80 million to live in it more than ten years after his death?

(l-r) Announcer Ed McMahon, host Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show' in the 1980s
(l-r) Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Johnny Carson purchased his Malibu mansion following his ‘Tonight Show’ move to California.

According to ABC News, the property which once belonged to Carson sits on a cliff overlooking Point Dume Beach in California. The host purchased it after he moved The Tonight Show from New York to Burbank in 1972.

Designed by architect Ed Niles, the mansion supposedly impressed Carson from the very moment he stepped inside. Notably, the home and its guest house sit on four acres of perfectly landscaped property. The main house includes breathtaking features like an indoor arboretum which boasts a 30-foot high glass ceiling and sizable trees that grow right in the living room.

Furthermore, a large terrace looks out over the Pacific Ocean and the home features a swimming pool, a home gym, and other standards for Malibu mansions. But there are also a couple of unique characteristics, of course: a tennis court which NBC gifted to their king of late night and a koi pond that might contain some of his surviving fish.

Johnny Carson made an offer the original owners couldn’t refuse for his Malibu mansion.

Per CNBC, Carson walked into the home for a party at a time when it wasn’t even for sale. While there was initially some hesitance from its original owners to let it go, the charming host eventually made them “an offer that they couldn’t refuse.”

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Carson’s impossible-to-refuse offer was $9.5 million in 1984. Eight years later, he retired from The Tonight Show and stayed out of the spotlight until his death. Those who remained close to him, like friend and co-host Ed McMahon, said he enjoyed the privacy of staying in the home and away from prying eyes.

While NBC executives tried to find an occasion that would seduce Carson back in front of the network’s cameras, he was seemingly content in his retirement, which he seemed to live out in his mansion.

After his death at the age of 79 in 2005, his estate sold the home for $46 million. And in 2017, it reemerged on the market, listed at $81.5 million.

Johnny Carson’s Malibu mansion sold for $40 million cash in 2019


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In 2018, the owners of the mansion which once belonged to Carson slashed the asking price down to $65.2 million. While they acquired it from the late host’s estate for $36.5 million in 2007, they accepted $40 million cash for it in 2019 per Mansion Global.

But in the end, along with his treasured yacht, Carson’s Malibu mansion is among the host’s prized possessions which are worth a fortune.