By the early 1990s, George Sarlo’s position in San Francisco’s business community was firmly established. A Holocaust survivor who had immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956, he’d co-founded Walden Venture Capital in 1974, and it gave rise in the 1980s and ‘90s to internationally focused offshoots.

Prosperous, with two adult children and a new wife, Sarlo went in search of a house to suit his hard-won status, eventually settling on a roughly 8,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style home perched on the water in the wealthy Sea Cliff neighborhood. “It was one of those houses like, “OK, I’ve made it—and if people come to see this house, they’ll know I’ve really made it,” says his daughter Susie Sarlo.

George did a gut renovation of the house “to fit his lifestyle,” she says. 

Now, after more than three decades, George Sarlo faces health challenges and has chosen to move into a smaller home. The house is already owned by the Sarlo Family Foundation, of which Susie is president. The foundation has put the property on the market for $26 million, listing it with Tania Toubba and Debi DeCello of Sotheby’s International Realty-San Francisco Brokerage. Proceeds of the sale will go to the foundation. 

Philanthropy and Business
About a decade after several of his family members were murdered in the Holocaust, George came to the U.S. at the age of 18. “He had gotten some help from some Jewish resettlement agencies and was able to go directly to college,” Susie says. After graduating from the University of Arizona, he got a full scholarship to Harvard Business School. Initially, George imagined that he’d go into electrical engineering, “but once he got started, he realized it wasn’t a way to make a significant amount of money,” Susie says, “and got much more interested in the world of finance.”

Walden was one of San Francisco’s earliest VC firms and was an early investor in Pandora. “I don’t think he ever got very comfortable with the idea of wealth,” Susie says. “I know he always felt that it was sort of a miracle that he survived, despite so many near-death experiences, and he truly felt that his purpose on Earth was to give back the great wealth he accumulated.”

George launched his foundation in 1992. Initially, Susie says, his philanthropic interests were “high risk, high reward,” which included “psychedelics as an interesting methodology for trauma healing.” (Some of his experiences with psychedelics were chronicled in a rollicking New York Times article.) But when Susie became involved in the foundation, she continues, it turned its attention to youth well-being initiatives.

The House
It’s no coincidence, says Susie, that her father’s philanthropic efforts began in earnest around the moment he bought the house. The 1920s-era home “became a hub of innovation and a gathering space,” she says. “He loved hosting events, lectures, board meetings, and hosted a lot of fundraisers. He wanted the house to give back, just like him.”

The house has four bedrooms, four baths and two powder rooms spread across three floors. Visitors enter at the main, middle-floor level, accessing the front door by walking through a lush courtyard with a terrace and manicured garden. After passing through a foyer, they walk into a massive living room that has 180-degree views of water and bridge. “That’s the ‘wow’ moment,” Susie says. “My dad is a very funny person. If new people came over, he would say, “Not bad for a refugee.”

That main floor also has a dining room with dramatic, towering, paned windows. There is also a chef’s kitchen that was recently renovated, along with a family room. 

Upstairs, the primary bedroom includes a vast en-suite bath and the same stunning views as the living room. “You can lie in bed or in the bathtub and have full, unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge,” Susie says. The rear of the house contains a large office, a second bedroom and an elaborate dressing room.

The lower level has a two-car garage, two bedrooms, a media room and a second kitchen. “For people who want to entertain, or people who want to have a live-in chef, it’s lovely to have them do the majority of the cooking down there,” Susie says. “It’s a great entertainer’s house.”

Although she never lived in the home, Susie admits to some reticence preparing it for sale. The sale’s fruits were “always intended to go to the foundation, with the proceeds to be used for philanthropic purposes,” she says. “But believe me, I had a moment of walking around saying: “Am I crazy to let this go?”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.