Welcome to the real estate newsletter. In a week riddled with huge headlines on the business side, I’m kicking things off with a few real estate deals because the pictures are just too good.
First, we have the Wolff House, a striking modernist gem built around a giant eucalyptus tree on impossibly steep hillside terrain. Its creator is John Lautner, the iconic architect of the Bob Hope House in Palm Springs and the Silvertop Estate in Silver Lake.
The ultra-chic house has just been sold for $11 million to a suitable buyer: Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The sellers, Hearst heiress Amanda Hearst and director Joachim Rønning, killed off the property after buying it for $5.9 million in 2020.
In Encino, we saw the surface of Sherman Residence for sale at $18 million. More art gallery than home, the elegant mansion of wood and glass pavilions was built by Peter Tolkin, the architect behind the Sunglass House in Malibu and the Saladang Garden restaurant in Pasadena.
The property also has a notable seller: “How I Met Your Mother” star Alyson Hannigan, who bought the architectural estate with her husband, actor Alexis Denisof, for $7.95 million in 2016.
Our impressive third domain literally takes us to the top of the Hollywood Bowl. The three-story, contemporary-style home straddles a hill on rare real estate, as it is one of only two homes with a direct view of the iconic concert hall.
It’s owned by REM bassist Mike Mills, who’s probably been to enough shows that he doesn’t need to enjoy a free Hollywood Bowl concert every night from his backyard. He’s shopping it for $6.5 million.
On the luxury side, two significant developments will shake up their respective communities. The first is in Beverly Hills, where a mixed-use complex with office, retail and residential space arrives on Wilshire Boulevard.
A major casualty of the complex, however, is the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue department store, which will move a block away to make way for the development.
Downtown LA is also getting a new complex: Grand LA, a shopping, dining and entertainment center designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry needs no introduction, but because we’re here, I’m going to tell you about some of his iconic accomplishments: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, The Dancing House, and the Dwight D National Memorial. Eisenhower.
His latest downtown job took nearly a decade and $1 billion to complete, and some of his features, including a luxury hotel and 436 apartments, will open in July.
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Lautner’s Wolff house sold to a major designer
Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of French fashion house Louis Vuitton, has just purchased one of the most stylish estates in Los Angeles. The designer quietly paid $11 million for John Lautner’s iconic Wolff House in an off-market deal, real estate sources told The Times.
The sellers are Amanda Hearst, great-granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and her husband, director Joachim Rønning. They made a big profit on the property after buying it two years ago for $5.9 million.
This mid-century gem was built in 1961 by Lautner, a prolific architect whose bold and dramatic designs are regularly shown on the big screen.
The Wolff House is one of Lautner’s finest, as the startling modernist marvel hovers above the city on ultra-steep terrain in the Hollywood Hills. A confluence of natural materials and sleek modern elements, the house wraps around a mammoth eucalyptus that runs through the center of the space.
The married actors list their architectural retirement
Married actors Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof are shopping at their prized Encino resort for $18 million.
They will more than double their money if they get their prize. Records show Hannigan, who starred in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, and Denisof, who appeared in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and its spin-off, ‘Angel’, bought the architectural field for 7.95 million dollars in 2016.
Known as the Sherman Residence, the complex was completed in 2001 by Peter Tolkin, a prolific architect whose other projects include Malibu’s Sunglass House and Pasadena’s Saladang Garden restaurant. The house also has its own history, appearing in films and television shows such as “Fracture”, “Fun With Dick and Jane” and “Agents of SHIELD”.
The domain is camera ready for a reason. Set on over three acres, it comprises a series of pavilions made of concrete, wood and glass connected by vast open-plan gallery spaces. Topped by a low roof with overflowing shade, the residence wraps around a central courtyard with swimming pool and spa.
A musician offers a house above the Hollywood Bowl
REM bassist Mike Mills’ house comes with unlimited concert tickets — sort of. The scenic estate, which Mills just put up for sale for $6.5 million, offers a rare perk: It’s one of only two homes that directly overlooks the Hollywood Bowl.
It’s an ideal home for Mills, a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Georgia-based rock band in the 1980s.
The musical setting isn’t the only unique element of the property. Other highlights include a 400 gallon aquarium in the living room, a built-in pizza oven, and a stunning tiled bathroom built over the course of two years that resembles Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.
Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills is moving
Since 1938, Saks Fifth Avenue has been the maven of classic luxury shopping in Beverly Hills, a beacon on Wilshire Boulevard for the affluent, writes Times editor Roger Vincent.
Now the famous department store is set to move to make way for a mixed-use complex that could energize a quiet part of Wilshire near Rodeo Drive.
HBC, parent company of Saks and Canadian retail giant Hudson’s Bay, announced plans last week to turn the property around its historic Saks Building into an office, retail and residential complex serving the neighborhood. from Beverly Hills. The intention is to revive the glamor that once made Wilshire Boulevard the pinnacle of upscale Beverly Hills shopping.
Frank Gehry’s latest resort lands in Downtown LA
Frank Gehry’s 45-story Grand LA complex may surprise those who stayed away from downtown during the pandemic and have yet to return to their offices, writes Roger Vincent.
Work on the Grand began in late 2018. The project will reach a milestone in July with the opening of the 28-story Conrad Los Angeles apartment tower and hotel. The Grand’s expansive shopping and dining component will include outdoor terraces overlooking one of Gehry’s other creations, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but won’t be completed until next year.
Canadian-born Gehry, 93, is world famous for what Architectural Digest called masterful whimsical designs, such as the Olympic Fish Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, and the Dancing House commercial building in the Czech Republic. The Grand is one of its largest local commissions, and its commercial scale is a source of pride.
“Most developers don’t think of an architect who does that,” he said, pointing to Disney Hall, “as an architect who can do that. They categorize you as the artistic guy.
What we read
Bill Gates buys historic piece of Rome and reportedly spent $170 million on the famous 17e century Palazzo Marini with plans to turn it into a luxury hotel. The New York Post recently learned about the billionaire’s interesting spending habits, which recently saw him reclaim 2,000 acres of farmland in North Dakota.
In Southern California, $2 million might not even get you a house in some neighborhoods. In Scotland, that gives you a 757-acre island with a 17e century mansion and sperm whale skeleton nicknamed “Bony Dick”. Insider has the details.