This classic California modern has been called the most iconic – and the most intriguing – house in LA. And its owner has just announced that he will be gifting it to the Los Angeles County Museum when he dies, as well as a trust fund to ensure its continued preservation. Renowned mid-century architect John Lautner built the house in Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills, California between 1961 and 1963. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, he had a vision for this house on the hill. When owners down the road sold the home to the eccentric fashionista and NBA super-fan James Goldstein in the 1970s – he had his own vision. Which he commissioned Lautner himself to execute. The house was in a sad state by the time Goldstein purchased it. He and Lautner would spend the next 20 years restoring the home to her modernist glory – a project close to both of their hearts.
And Goldstein kept renovating, even following the architect’s death in 1994. He hired a Lautner long-time protege, bought the house next door and put a tennis court on the roof. The billionaire patron of modernist architecture originally thought the home would be perfect for his beloved Afghan hound, Natasha. And, apparently, it was. “This house will never be for sale,” proclaims Goldstein. “It became part of my life.” We can see why.
Coming up the driveway, this could be any house. Any house in Benedict Canyon, that is.
One enters through the carport, where the 1961 ivory Silver Cloud II Rolls-Royce lives when it’s not tooling around LA.
The magic begins – you use the koi pond stepping stones to reach the entrance to the house. By now, you’re getting a sense of the wonder which is about to unfold.
With waterfalls on the left – what you notice first in the house is the turquoise waterfall glass sheet in the foyer.
It provides a dramatic waterfall-like glass curtain at the entrance to this spectacular home.
Upon entering, the kitchen and dining areas are to your right. A glass wall runs along the length of the koi pond water garden walkway. The outside is very much a part of the inside in this house. A large glass skylight opens over the dining room table, and in some places, entire glass walls may be opened electronically.
The kitchen is sleek – but minimal. It’s almost a catering kitchen. We don’t think a lot of cooking goes on in this house with the owner being a single, extraordinarily wealthy male who travels the world on a whim, often.
Shades for the translucent walls are hidden in the ceiling and are lowered with the flip of a switch. But the real wow of this house is yet to come. You have to turn left at the entrance.
The living area – a sprawling room of cement and high grade leather couches – has a ceiling like you’ve never seen before. There is no need for air conditioning and the floors are radiant heated with copper pipes that also warm the pool.
A glass wall separates the room from the triangular concrete patio that points to LA, replete with swimming pool. In the original home, the terrace was open – but with a curtain of forced air to keep out the cold. Really.
The home’s owner and architectural steward, known for his silver python Versace jackets and ringside seats at Laker games. And oh yeah, his house.
There are 750 drinking glass skylights set in the incredible coffered living room ceiling. That’s amazing.
And this is the view from inside that sleek, minimalist living room with the crazy ceiling.
The iconic house was featured in the movie, The Big Lebowski.
The sloped roof with coffered ceiling makes this house a serious one-of-a-kind. We’re not surprised.
Not only is there a magnificent view of LA, the pool itself has viewing windows below. But wait, there’s more.
One level below the triangular cantilevered concrete pool deck lies the master bedroom – with its own triangular deck. The white brick wall holds back the swimming pool.
Beyond the bed is a triangular leather lounging and lookout area with two triangular glass tables, all in the triangular nose of the master bedroom. If you look at the wall to the right of the king bed, you will see the viewing windows for the swimming pool above.
And what an awesome view it is.
Night or day.
From this view, one would never realize there was a viewing deck and pool above the master bedroom.
Until one looks up during a party, that is. Part of why it’s known as the most dangerous house in LA has to do with having no guardrails.
No guardrails anywhere.
There’s a spa tub outside the master bedroom.
But you have to wait for the reveal.
All done with the touch of a button, of course.
The master bathroom features a glass sink with no faucets. Water appears with the wave of a hand and drains outside the window.
Still no guardrails. Just the concrete jungle. But the biggest danger we see is that you never leave.
The architectural model: you can see the triangular point of the house on the right, with that incredible angular coffered ceiling. When he bought the house next door, Goldstein put a tennis court on the roof – and a party room below.
Doubles, anyone? They say this tennis court has the best view in LA. They’re probably right. Underneath is Club James, Goldstein’s private party house. For all of his quirks and eccentricities, James Goldstein is a friend to LA architecture and patron to the house known as the Lautner-Sheats-Goldstein Residence, now and forever more. In donating his house to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art he is ensuring its life long after his. Long may Mr. Goldstein enjoy his view.