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  • Writer's pictureEd Smith

Tianqiao Chen, The Chinese Billionaire, Purchases The USC Presidential Mansion Early July 2021

Jack Flemming of the Los Angeles Times highlighted the Chinese billionaire, Tianqiao Chen, who purchased the University of Southern California (USC) presidential mansion (Known as the Seeley Mudd Estate) in early July 2021 for $25 million, and how Chen has a deep philanthropic history with the university.

Records indicate that no other properties on the market in San Marino have more than three acres. The Seeley Mudd Estate covers seven acres of land donated by U.S. Army Gen. George Patton and railroad mogul Henry Huntington, who established San Marino’s Huntington Library a few miles away. The Seeley Mudd Estate was built in 1934 by Reginald Davis Johnson, a Pasadena-based architect whose other works include the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel and the Hale Solar Laboratory. The walnut floors, original steel windows, and 17th-century wood panels are found in the 87-year-old main house. Other structural amenities include a guesthouse, log cabin, carriage house with a gas station and car wash bay, an outdoor kitchen, swimming pool, and sunken tennis court.

The Seeley Mudd Estate served as the home of USC presidents since 1979. However, the pandemic heavily encouraged the need to reduced cost by deciding to sell the estate and acquired an $8.6 million, smaller and more user-friendly home in Santa Monica last spring.

Chen purchased the property through his company Shanda Group (the online gaming company turned international investment firm), paying $500,000 more than the original asking price of $24.5 million. However, Shanda Group reports that in 2017 it had $8 billion in net assets under management. Chen is considered a pioneer of the online game and online literature industries throughout China and is described as one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of his time.

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