‘Karate Kid’ actor turned energy drink maker buys heiress’ Tenino estate after huge price cut

A unique estate near Tenino with one-of-a-kind features has sold after a huge price reduction and four years on the market. The buyer is a 1980s actor turned energy drink mogul.

Scott Strader said Thursday he paid $2.3 million for the 85-acre Merkaba, as it’s called — a fraction of its original $11 million asking price. When it was listed in 2019, it was the highest listing price ever in the region, according to Gig Harbor-based listing agent Michael Morrison of Sotheby’s International Realty.

“It’s so weird,” Strader said of the experience of finding and buying the home. “It’s like somebody coming back in a past life. I can’t explain it to you. It’s a very strange feeling when you come in, like it was waiting.”

The 6,500-square-foot main home has more curves than straight lines and features a copper leaf-lined “reflection room” with a round periscope-like window that is permanently aligned with the North Star. One wing of the home contains a rectangular 80-foot-long saltwater pool. It becomes an outdoor pool when window panels raise via hydraulics and airplane actuators at the touch of a button.

A view of the 80-foot-long saltwater lap pool at the Merkaba estate.

There’s a barn with guest quarters above, terraced garden, rose garden, fruit orchard and a helicopter pad, which Strader has been using to land his helicopter on, he said.

Home to an heiress

The home was built by South African De Beers diamond heiress Rebecca Oppenheimer, who was an acolyte of the nearby Ramtha School of Enlightenment. Ramtha is, according to school founder J. Z. Knight, the spirit of a man who lived more than 30,000 years ago. Knight claims that she communicates with Ramtha’s spirit.

In 2008, Oppenheimer bid $172,500 during a charity auction for a private session with Ramtha, according to the Nisqually Valley News.

Oppenheimer put the house on the market in 2019 after moving back to South Africa.

An aerial view of the Merkaba estate in Tenino.

New owner

Strader said the Tenino home will probably not be his and wife Michele’s main residence as they have several homes around the West including at Lake Tahoe, Sacramento and the Palm Springs area.

“But this one is just so special,” he said. He might turn the property into a retreat.

Strader starred as Eddie in the original “The Karate Kid” move. He starred in the 1986 movie “Jocks” with “Law & Order” actor Mariska Hargitay. He’s also appeared on “General Hospital”, according to his IMDB page. He said he is scheduled to appear in the final season of the Netflix reboot of the “Karate Kid” franchise, now called “Cobra Kai”. It will mark the end of a long absence from acting.

“It’s hard to go back when you’re an actor,” he said. “Even if you star in a movie. You just get back in line again. It’s great when you’re in your 20s. Not so good when you get older.”

When his manager first pitched the original “Karate Kid” part to him, Strader thought the movie would bomb but he took the part anyway.

“I just thought, this thing sucks,” Strader recalled. “Sweep the leg, wax on, wax off. Crazy. So, don’t ask me if anything’s any good or not.”

Strader has been in the beverage business for two decades. He owns the Lotus Plant Energy beverage company. The caffeinated drinks are sold online and in coffee houses in Pierce and Thurston counties.

Scott and Michele Strader.

“It’s got a cult following,” Strader said of his products. “It’s just exploded. It started right in this area.”

He is not a follower of Ramtha, he said, but he did connect with Oppenheimer.

“There was just something different about it,” he said of the home. “And how closely it correlated with me to, to her and to what I do ... it was just uncanny.”

Sight unseen

Strader bought Merkaba without ever having visited the property. He first set foot on the estate on Tuesday. But, he said, he’s been aware of it for several years through Sotheby’s listings.

Hi goal now is to recapture the home’s vibrancy from when Oppenheimer lived there.

“Just seeing this rough diamond,” he said. “It’s just breathtaking. But when you first get there, it’s daunting. What did I do to myself?”

On Thursday, he had six gardeners working on rehabbing the estate’s gardens.

The home has been described as spaceship meets New York’s Guggenheim museum. Strader prefers mandolin-shaped, based on the long lap pool forming the neck of the stringed instrument.

“Everything is curved because the road to life is not straight,” he offered.