Historic Walter Munk house in La Jolla sells for $6.25 million

The historic La Jolla Shores home of late oceanographer Walter Munk includes an amphitheater.
The historic La Jolla Shores home of late oceanographer Walter Munk includes an amphitheater. The property has sold for $6.25 million.
(Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The famed oceanographer’s home had been listed for $5.5 million.


The historic La Jolla home of famed oceanographer Walter Munk has sold for $6.25 million — considerably over the asking price.

The buyer was Timothy Scott, according to San Diego County assessor’s office records. He is the co-founder and chief executive of La Jolla biotech company Tega Therapeutics. He also is chairman of the board of Biocom California, a nonprofit life sciences trade group, and is a trustee of La Jolla Playhouse.

Reached by the La Jolla Light on Feb. 3, Scott declined to comment.

The sale will mean a big payout for UC San Diego, to which Munk decided to donate the house years before his death in 2019 at age 101.

The property, at 9530 La Jolla Shores Drive, went on the market in December for $5.5 million.

The home, named Seiche after a standing wave oscillating in a body of water, was completed in 1954 by Munk — known as the “Einstein of the Oceans” for his research at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography — and his second wife, Judith, who died in 2006.

Features of the home include ocean views and a direct trail to Black’s Beach. There also are six bedrooms across the main house and a guest house, a pool, an outdoor grass amphitheater, gardens and large windows.

Munk’s widow, Mary Coakley Munk, his third wife, was opposed to the home being sold. Earlier, she had — against the wishes of Munk’s daughters — pursued having the property declared historic, and in July, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Foes of the historic designation, including UCSD, argued that Munk had opposed it. His daughter Kendall wrote to the California Office of Historic Preservation in April that her father “knew that a historical designation could tie the hands of UC/SIO by limiting their options for re-envisioning Seiche, perhaps even forcing them to sell.”

She and her sister, Edie, also argued that renovations to the home had made it “not a historical structure.”

Coakley Munk said Munk originally didn’t want the home to be declared historic but later changed his mind and asked her to pursue the designation.

Though some housing experts were skeptical that Seiche would sell for its asking price, listing agent Brett Dickinson said he suspected the home would go for a high price but wasn’t sure until he started seeing the positive reactions of people viewing the property. He said what really got people going was the direct trail to the beach — rare for many homes with ocean views.

“It is just an incredibly valuable location,” Dickinson said. “This is a unique property for all of Southern California.”

Dickinson said the property got 11 offers in the first week, with about half at the asking price or above. The sale took roughly a month to close.

UC San Diego said money from the sale will be distributed equally among the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Foundation for Earth Sciences, the Kyoto/Munk Fund and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to support the work of professor Octavio Aburto and research related to the marine habitat and biodiversity of the Gulf of California.

Owning a historic home has its benefits. Under California law, the buyer could apply for the Mills Act and pay around 50 percent lower property taxes. San Diego says the average tax savings under the Mills Act is 50 percent but can range from 25 percent to 75 percent.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.