The island’s $5 million price tag attracted attention in San Francisco, where the median home price is more than $1 million. Sitting below the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Red Rock Island has been on and off the market over the years, and was once listed for $22 million.
News reports pointed to a listing on PrivateIslandsOnline.com, which describes itself as the foremost global marketplace for private island sales and rentals. But the listing was removed from the site after Mansion Global contacted the company on Sept. 9 for more details on the property. (Mansion Global had linked to one of the news articles about Red Rock.)
The PrivateIslandsOnline.com page, according to a screenshot before it was taken down, did not include an agent.
The site’s webmaster told Mansion Global that the listing has been inactive since 2012 but had never been deleted off the server, meaning the listing was simply an old page link.
This is the latest twist for a property with a complicated past.
The red-hued craggy landscape is picturesque, but not exactly practical. There are no structures on the island; it’s accessible only by boat or helicopter. It’s close to the Chevron Richmond Refinery, near shipping lanes, and under a busy bridge.
David Glickman, a lawyer and gem dealer, reportedly acquired the island back in the 1960s. He spoke to NPR in 2007 when he put the property on the market for $10 million. He told the news outlet that he paid $49,500 for the “ugly island.”
Glickman bought “weird, strange properties at very reduced prices,” said Steven Higbee, the real-estate agent who worked with him on the listing in the past.
After Glickman died in 2011, Mack Durning took responsibility for selling the island, according to Higbee.
Records going back as far as 2001 do not mention Glickman, but list Durning as the owner. Past articles have reported that Glickman passed at least partial ownership of the island to Durning decades ago, possibly to settle a debt.
Higbee confirmed that tax records named Durning as the owner, and he noted that Glickman and Durning had been business partners. “They had done a trade. Mack ended up with the island,“ Higbee recalled. "Mack was perfectly happy to let David try to sell the island and all that, and they would just split the profits,” Higbee said.
The island did attract some suitors. One of the past interested buyers had conservation, rather than construction, in mind: the East Bay Regional Park District.
The organization has had an eye on the land since 2002, according to Land Acquisition Manager Liz Musbach. “We have had a long, long history of trying to identify the actual property owner, trying to contact the property owner, and trying to negotiate with the property owner,” she says. “All to no avail.” Their low, six-figure bid in 2010 was rejected, Musbach said.
The island went back on the market in 2011 for $22 million, including “mineral rights.” It didn’t sell. The price again dropped, to $9 million in 2012, mineral rights negotiable, according to SFGate.com.
Higbee recalls that the goal was to cut the price until someone bought it. The plan seemed to be working: A couple of buyers surfaced, “ready to fight over the thing,” he said.
But when Mack Durning died in 2012, “The listing died with him,” Higbee told Mansion Global. The property is now owned by the Brock Durning Trust.
Higbee, who was quoted in recent articles, told Mansion Global, ”When the story surfaced, I assumed the family was ready to sell.”
Then he spoke with the one of the Durning sons and their mother, Mona Durning, and realized that wasn’t the case. “When I talked to Mona I realized, ‘No, no, no,’ someone’s had bad information.”
Mona Durning declined to comment to Mansion Global on the latest articles about the island, but said: “The island has always been for sale at the right price.”
Miao Li contributed to this article. Write to email@example.com
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