If only these walls could talk.
Rarely does a home come with such a rich tapestry of stories about its previous owners as the historic Owlwood Los Angeles estate does.
The property, sold is September, for $90 million to real estate developer Bob Shapiro, head of Sturmer Pippin Investments, LLC and CEO of Woodbridge Luxury Homes, can claim to have housed some of Hollywood’s elite over the years, from actor Tony Curtis to the famed music duo of Sonny and Cher.
“There are very few houses left intact and cared for by so many of the owners,” said Stephen Kotler, chief revenue officer of Douglas Elliman, the real estate brokerage responsible for the sale. “When you step on to the property and walk into the house it is like taking a step back in time. It’s so classic.”
The home, at 141 South Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills, was built in 1936 by Robert D. Farquhar, one of the most famous architects working in Los Angeles in the first third of the 20th Century, for Florence and Charles Quinn (. Mrs. Quinn found inspiration for her design from her European travels and the home was built in the Italian renaissance style. In 1936, the mansion was the largest private residence in Los Angeles.
In 1966, Curtis bought the home, later saying: “It was the grandest house I ever owned.” Sonny and Cher fell in love with the mansion at a birthday party for Curtis and wanted to buy it. Although Curtis didn’t want to sell it at first, they bought the home from him in the early 1970s for $750,000. According to Douglas Elliman, when Sonny and Cher’s relationship turned sour, they lived in separate wings of the mansion.
Other famous owners include Joseph Schenk, the founder of 20th Century Fox, who built a screening room and spent many nights hosting card parties and movie screenings. Marilyn Monroe, who met Schenk on a film set, was a frequent visitor and even lived in the guest house in the mid-1940s, according to Mercer Vine, the luxury real estate firm that represented Mr. Shapiro in the purchase of the home.
Some owners added personal touches: William Keck, founder of Superior Oil, who bought the home in 1956, installed a 24 carat gold bathroom sink feature shaped like an oil rig.(Tony Curtis later had the sink removed). Meanwhile, Ralph Miskin and his wife, Chase, who bought the mansion from Cher in 1976 for $950,000, added a breakfast room, summer porch, and exterior jacuzzi, according to Douglas Elliman.
The couple was also the ones to name it Owlwood in honor of the owls that lived in the towering trees on the estate, according to Douglas Elliman. Before, the property was called Carolwood for its location. To memorialize its new name, the Miskins had a plaque made and installed at the gate to the entrance of the estate.
Over the years the property has been combined with two other adjacent lots, the “Pink Palace,” which was owned by actress Jayne Mansfield, and the former property of the actress and swimmer Esther Williams, according to The Los Angeles Times. The combined estate is over 10 acres, and features verdant gardens, fruit trees, a tennis court, two guard houses a pool with a pool house and fountains. The interior of the traditional home has many classic details including crown moldings, floor to ceiling wood paneling, chandeliers and fireplaces.
Dawn Arnall, widow of Ameriquest Mortgage founder Roland Arnall, who died in 2008, had been Owlwood’s latest owner. It was offered as whisper listing for $150 million in recent years, before Mr. Shapiro’s purchase.
Woodbridge Luxury Homes, a firm that looks to increase the value in historic properties by modernizing them, will oversee the future of the estate. The specifics of any changes to the estate have not been finalized, according to Mercer Vine.
“What makes this property so special in a premier luxury market like Los Angeles is that it combines a rich history with new unlimited design potential,” said Adam Rosenfeld, founding principal of Mercer Vine. “While design plans are still underway, I can say that the Owlwood Estate is being reimagined in a way that combines a legendary past with potential for an even more remarkable future.”
“The Owlwood Estate has been the unchallenged symbol of uber-luxury since being built during the Great Depression,” said Mr. Shapiro, the property’s 10th owner, in a statement “We will keep it that way for another 80 years.”
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