Real estate agents talk about selling Hollywood homes with dirty stories – The Hollywood Reporter



On August 14, 1951, 88-year-old William Randolph Hirst lay dying in a gilded Mediterranean-era mansion in Beverly Hills. Five years earlier, with deteriorating health and a damaged reputation. Citizen Kane – he agreed to move from his beloved Hearst Castle in San Simeon to Los Angeles to be closer to doctors.

Hirst’s longtime lover, movie star Marion Davis, lost in a fog of alcoholism and sedatives, woke up that day to find his body removed without her knowledge. “Do you understand what they did?” she asked later. “They stole my property. It belonged to me.

Today is 1927 Hearst Estate in Beverly Hills (site for Godfather) is selling for $ 89.75 million, trading with Hilton & Hyland’s Gary Gold, Amalfi Estates’ Anthony Marguleas and Rodeo Realty’s Zizi Pak. This is one of several noir-style Hollywood homes currently on sale. These include the legendary 1923 Paramur estate in Silver Lake, which was sold by restaurateur Dana Hollister for $ 39.9 million. The Mediterranean Revival Mansion was designed in 1923 by Robert D. Farquhar for oil heiress Daisy Canfield.

Canfield’s mother, Chloe, a famous beauty and philanthropist, was sensationally murdered by a deranged employee in 1906, and Canfield herself was tragically killed in 1933 in a car crash on Mulholland Drive after a party. She lived at Paramour in the 1920s with her husband, movie star Antonio Moreno. “Everyone loves history; it really inspires their imagination, ”says real estate agent Sally Forster Jones of Compass.

Notes Gold – which sold the Playboy Mansion in 2020 for $ 100 million – a past resident’s disgrace or a fascinating story could draw media attention to the property, but when dealing with blue-chip ancestral estates, it’s not enough. “I won’t rely on this to sell the house because in the end it does generate some interest, but there is a very specific group of people who buy such an animal,” he says.

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Phil Spector’s castle in the Pyrenees, site of Lana Clarkson’s murder, recently sold for $ 5.5 million.
Courtesy of Mark Liddell

Simply put: onlookers are not welcome. “I’m not a guide, am I?” says Gold about the sale of the Playboy mansion. “I’m sure there were people who wanted to see it, but we showed it to the prequalified people.”

While subtle notoriety and scandals can be seductive, agents say, the past of some estates is best left out. In 2019, Phil Spector’s ex-wife Rachel listed the Iberian Castle in the Alhambra, where Spector killed Lana Clarkson in 2003 for $ 5.5 million before removing him from the market. The property was finally sold for $ 3.3 million in May by Tim Durkovich of Douglas Elliman, who focused on amazing amenities, unique architecture and secluded landscapes.

Currently, there are two more famous houses on the market. For horror movie lovers, there is the 1926 Sophia villa in Los Feliz, up for sale for $ 5.77 million, which is the former home of the tortured. Frankenstein directed by James Weil (portrayed by Ian McKellen in Gods and monsters). Then there is the $ 13 million Pasadena estate designed by Myron Hunt. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erica Jane and her lawyer husband Tom Girardi (whose case served as a source of inspiration for Erin Brockovich and who was most recently charged with embezzling millions of dollars from clients).

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Erica Jane
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Sprawling estates are not the only ones with a scandalous past. Three years ago, documentary filmmaker Adam Irving found himself trying to sell a Spanish Renaissance bungalow in the Hancock Park area. When no one was in the house, a homeless woman broke into the guest house and died. Her body was discovered two weeks later when agents arrived for an open house.

In charge of cleaning up the gruesome mess after the body was recovered, Irving was forced to lower the price of the house because the death must be reported to potential buyers within two years of the incident. In the sale of real estate, he not only lost thousands of dollars, but also suffered emotional trauma. “I really had to go to therapy. I’ve seen things that I can’t forget, ”he says. “I got triggered every time I saw a real estate sign.”

As long as human nature stays that way, real estate agents will have stories – some grim, some scandalous – that can be exploited or ignored. “History gives me an invaluable ability to trade the market,” says Gold. “Glory brings people … but the home should be useful.”

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The Paramour Estate in Silver Lake, up for sale for $ 39.9 million, was both a girls’ school and a convent.
Courtesy of SFJ Group

This story first appeared in the June 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.


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