Real Estate Newsletter: A John Lautner Masterpiece Changes Hands


Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. In a week full of big headlines on the business side, I’m going to start with some house deals because the photos are just too good.

First up is Wolff House, a striking modernist gem built around a giant eucalyptus tree on an impossibly steep hillside lot. Its creator is John Lautner, the iconic architect behind the Bob Hope House in Palm Springs and the Silvertop Estate in Silver Lake.

The ultra-chic house just sold for $11 million to a suitable buyer: Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The sellers, Hearst heiress Amanda Hearst and film director Joachim Rønning, went on a killing spree at the property after buying it for $5.9 million in 2020.


In Encino, we saw the Sherman Residence acreage for sale for $18 million. More an art gallery than a home, the elegant mansion made 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 third impressive property takes us to the top of the Hollywood Bowl, literally. The three-story contemporary-style home straddles a hill on a rare property, as it is one of only two homes with direct views of the iconic concert hall.

It’s owned by REM bassist Mike Mills, who has probably been to enough shows of his own that he doesn’t need to enjoy a free Hollywood Bowl concert every night from his backyard. He is buying it for $6.5 million.

On the luxury side, two significant developments are poised to shake up their respective communities. The first is in Beverly Hills, where a mixed-use complex with offices, retail and residential space will hit Wilshire Boulevard.

One of the main casualties of the complex, however, is the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue department store, which is moving down a block to make way for the development.

Downtown Los Angeles will also have a new complex: the Grand LA, a shopping, dining and entertainment center designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry needs no introduction, but while we’re here, I’ll mention some of his iconic achievements: Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Dancing House, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Monument.

His latest work downtown took nearly a decade and $1 billion to finish, and some of its features, including a luxury hotel and 436 apartments, are set to open in July.

As always, while you catch up on the latest news, visit our Facebook page and like it, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

Lautner’s Wolff House is sold to a major designer

John Lautner's striking Wolff House wraps around a giant eucalyptus on a steep hillside lot.

John Lautner’s striking Wolff House wraps around a giant eucalyptus on a steep hillside lot.

(Nercesian Darwin)

Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of the French fashion house Louis Vuitton, has just bought one of the most elegant properties 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 huge profit on the property after buying it two years ago for $5.9 million.

The mid-century gem was built in 1961 by Lautner, a prolific architect whose bold and dramatic creations regularly grace the big screen.

The Wolff House is one of Lautner’s finest, as the striking modernist wonder looms over the city on an ultra-steep lot in the Hollywood Hills. A confluence of natural materials and sleek modern features, the house wraps around a gigantic eucalyptus tree that runs through the center of the space.

Married Actors List Their Architectural Retreat

Built by architect Peter Tolkin, the three-acre estate is centered around a series of wood and glass pavilions.

Built by architect Peter Tolkin, the three-acre estate is centered around a series of wood and glass pavilions that wrap around a central courtyard.


Married actors Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof are buying into their prized Encino compound for $18 million.

They will more than double your money if they get your price. Records show that 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 spinoff, “Angel,” bought the architectural estate for $7.95 million in 2016.

Known as the Sherman Residence, the complex was completed in 2001 by Peter Tolkin, a prolific architect whose other projects include the Sunglass House in Malibu and the Saladang Garden restaurant in Pasadena. The house also has its own history, appearing in movies and TV shows like “Fracture,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” and “Agents of SHIELD.”

The estate is camera-ready for a reason. Located on more than three acres, it features a series of pavilions made of concrete, wood, and glass connected by expansive, open-concept gallery spaces. Topped by a low ceiling with hanging shutters, the residence wraps around a central courtyard with a pool and spa.

Musician Offers House Over Hollywood Bowl

The scenic spot overlooks the Hollywood Bowl from a pool, an observation deck, and three observation decks.

The scenic spot overlooks the Hollywood Bowl from a pool, an observation deck, and three observation decks.

(Ryan Pepple/Calabasas Creative)

REM bassist Mike Mills’ house comes with unlimited concert tickets, more or less. The scenic property, which Mills just listed for $6.5 million, offers a rare perk: It’s one of only two homes that directly overlook the Hollywood Bowl.

It’s a fitting residence for Mills, a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the Georgia-based rock band in the 1980s.

The musical setting is not 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 tile bathroom built over the course of two years that resembles Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.

Saks Fifth Avenue of Beverly Hills is moving

A man walks past a window at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills on June 16, 2022.

A man walks past a window at Saks Fifth Avenue, one of Beverly Hills’ most famous department stores, which is moving to make way for a mixed-use complex along Wilshire Boulevard.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Since 1938, Saks Fifth Avenue has been Beverly Hills’ classic luxury shopping connoisseur, a beacon on Wilshire Boulevard for the well-to-do, writes Times staff writer Roger Vincent.

Now the famous department store is moving to make way for a mixed-use complex that could energize a quiet stretch of Wilshire near Rodeo Drive.

HBC, the parent company of Saks and Canadian retail giant Hudson’s Bay, announced plans last week to transform the property around its historic Saks building into an office, retail and residential cluster serving the Beverly Hills neighborhood. The intention is to revive the glamor that once made Wilshire Boulevard the pinnacle of luxury shopping in Beverly Hills.

Frank Gehry’s Latest Complex Comes to Downtown Los Angeles

The Grand LA, a Frank Gehry-designed shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

The Grand LA, designed by Frank Gehry and developed by Rick Vogel, is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, with a tower for luxury residential properties and another tower for Conrad Los Angeles, a Hilton brand luxury hotel, in downtown Los Angeles. Angels.

(Jay L Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Frank Gehry’s 45-story Grand LA complex may surprise those who stayed away from downtown during the pandemic and haven’t yet returned to their offices, writes Roger Vincent.

Work on the Grand began in late 2018. The project will reach a critical milestone in July with the opening of the 28-story Conrad Los Angeles hotel and apartment tower. The Grand’s expansive retail and dining component will include outdoor terraces overlooking one of Gehry’s other creations, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but won’t be ready until next year.

Canadian-born Gehry, 93, is world-renowned for what Architectural Digest called masterful and 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 his largest local commissions, and his 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 this. They pigeonhole you as the artistic type.”

what we are reading

Bill Gates is buying a historical piece of Rome, reportedly spending $170 million on the famous 17the century Palazzo Marini with plans to turn it into a luxury hotel. The New York Post checked out the billionaire’s interesting spending habits of late, which recently saw him scoop up 2,000 acres of farmland in North Dakota.

In Southern California, $2 million may not even get you a house in certain neighborhoods. In Scotland, you get a 757-acre island complete with 17the century mansion and sperm whale skeleton nicknamed “Bony Dick”. Insider has the details.