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Now’s Your Chance to Scoop Up a Kitty Litter Heiress’s California Estate for $88 Million

Following her husband’s death in 1996, Betty Jo Stephens went on to make a name for herself in the Santa Barbara community that she had shared with her spouse of 61 years. As CEO of Excel Mineral—taking over for her businessman and scientist partner John Stephens, who was widely known for creating the Jonny Cat litter brand—she was a regular fixture in the local political and philanthropic circles, regularly hosting luminaries the likes of President Jimmy Carter and Texas Gov. Ann Richards at her hilltop home in the affluent Hope Ranch enclave. Now, almost six years after Betty passed away at age 86, her longtime dwelling has popped up on the market for the first time in over five decades, asking a substantial $88 million.

Per The Wall Street Journal, the Stephenses originally purchased two contiguous parcels overlooking the ocean in 1957 and built a house on the site around four years later. They subsequently picked up a third lot right across the street In the 1970s, and then went on to assemble a family compound with access to a private beach.

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Currently owned by the couple’s daughter Joi Stephens—who was raised in the house and is affectionately referred to as a “kitty-litter heiress who lives in the crown jewel of Santa Barbara”—the property is being marketed by Sam Palmer and Blair Chang of The Agency as “a vast canvas for the creation of an unparalleled estate, allowing for a grand 20,000-square-foot main house and two 7,500-square-foot guesthouses.”

Stephens House Santa Barbara
Betty Jo Stephens visits with former President Jimmy Carter.

Tucked away behind a gated driveway, amid 11 acres of land offering up sweeping ocean, canyon and mountain views, the existing home on the site is fronted by a koi pond, spacious motorcourt and two-car garage, and features four bedrooms and five baths in 7,500 square feet of living space that was last updated in the early 2000s.

In addition to a living room anchored by a two-way fireplace and French doors spilling out to a terrace, other highlights include a chandelier-topped dining room, an open-plan kitchen, office space and ocean-facing master suite resting beneath a vaulted wood-beam ceiling. Outdoors, the private and grassy grounds are spotlighted by amenities ranging from an observation deck, to a pool and spa nestled alongside an open-air cabana. The equestrian-zoned property also is an ideal spot for horses and a stable, per the listing.

WSJ reported that although Stephens has received multiple offers to buy the estate, she and her auctioneer husband Frank Kominski have been splitting their time between Hope Ranch, Palm Beach, Fla., and Boston. The couple has now decided to move because Kaminski Auctions is expanding to South Florida and they have been spending most of their time on the East Coast.

Click here for more photos of the Stephens house.

Stephens House Santa Barbara
Stephens House Santa Barbara

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