When this house first came to market way back in April (2016), Yolanda saw it, liked it, and hoped it would sell to a preservation-minded individual. You know, someone who would caress the ol’ gurl and revive her faded glory. Not one of those house-flipping development firms who would quickly bastardize the place by slapping some recessed LED lighting and bolting some disappearing glass walls into it, ya know?
Although the mansion was originally asking $8,195,000, it didn’t sell until last week and traded hands for a significantly lower $6,500,000. Although property records show the discount buyer only as a spookily-named blind trust, Yolanda happens to know the identity of the new homeowner. And we’ve gotta say that it seems an ideal match.
You see, the new owner is a woman named Katherine von Drachenberg, though she’s better-known as Kat Von D. Our Ms. Von D has a well-known fondness for this sort of architecture. And Yolanda has complete confidence that she will preserve the bones of this place while polishing and updating where necessary. We just hope she doesn’t take it too far and turn the place into the world’s largest Hot Topic store like she did with her other LA house. But let us not get ahead of ourselves!
Ms. Von D is, of course, the Mexico-born former LA Ink reality show star with the successful Hollywood tattoo parlor and a series of high-profile romances (Jesse James, Nikki Sixx, Deadmau5, Steve-O). She is also a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman.
Didn’t know that Ms. Von D had $6.5 million to drop on a massive, high-maintenance mansion? Yeah, Yolanda didn’t either. But she has been quietly building a bonafide cosmetics empire over the past decade. In 2008, she launched a limited-edition makeup line through Sephora. That line was so successful, apparently, that she’s expanded it every year and it now includes items for every type of cosmetics product (lipsticks, lipglosses, powders, brushes) in existence.
Additionally, Ms. Von D is a vegan. And she recently announced that her makeup line has been converted to cruelty-free (vegan) products, too. So to all you animal-loving lipgloss consumers: Ms. Von D has the product for you. Yolanda doesn’t wear much makeup — not to toot our own horn, but our natural beauty requires little accentuating — but when we need a touch-up for a long night out, we always reach for a tube of Ms. Von D’s Backstage Bambi Studded Kiss Lipstick. The formula is gamechanging.
But we digress. At one point this story was supposed to be about a house, right?
The 12,565-square-foot mansion rests on an oversized .62-acre corner lot. Depending on where you look, there are a total of either 11 or 12 bedrooms and either 8.5 or 9.5 bathrooms spread out in the three-story main house and the two-story carriage/guest house.
By the by, the current property was not the original location of the circa-1890 mansion, which was built by businessman/rancher Isaac Newton Van Nuys. Our Mr. Van Nuys at one point owned the entire southern portion of the San Fernando Valley and it’s he, of course, who is the namesake of today’s Van Nuys.
Frankly, y’all, Yolanda is not entirely certain where the house was originally located, but per the listing it was moved to its current spot in the hoity-toity Hancock Park-adjacent Windsor Square nabe sometime around 1915 by Mr. Van Nuys’ son, J. Benton Van Nuys.
Holy hell! How the heck did they move a 12,000+ square foot, three-story house back then? Yolanda feels sorry for the squad of horses and/or mules who valiantly hauled this beast from whence it came.
Since 1998, the property was owned by British screenwriter Lucy Dahl and her American husband John LaViolette. The pair divorced recently and — supposedly — that’s what drove the erstwhile couple to unload the house to Ms. Von D. Our Ms. Dahl, incidentally, is the daughter of the late, great British children’s author Roald Dahl, whose books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide, and the late American actress Patricia Neal, who won an Oscar for her superb portrayal of housekeeper Alma Brown in 1963’s Hud.
White roses flank the swimming pool. Yolanda loves the turntable in front of the carriage house, although we wonder if that can accomodate Ms. Von D’s rather wideset Bentley.
Also, if you’re a movie-buff and this manse looks oddly familiar, you aren’t going cuckoo. It was prominently featured in the 2003 Steve Martin remake of Cheaper By The Dozen.
Ye olde grandeur seems is the obvious theme upon entering the house. Hand-carved inlaid wooden walls, a stone fireplaces and a glamorous wooden staircase harken back to the days of yore, when Yolanda was a mere tot. Even the furniture looks like it stinks with the stench of old money.
The kitchen features no Viking appliances, no center island, and a distinct lack of counter space. And nary a glass-front refrigerator. Gasp!
What it does have are high ceilings, a vintage range, and a whole assortment of pots and pans (and knives!) hanging out in plain sight. While we appreciate that the previous owners did not bastardize the original nature of the room, we’re gonna have to move on. All that crap covering the walls is about to give Yolanda an OCD heart attack.
The dining room screams mogul with its wooden floors, linen-fold paneled walls, intricately-carved ceiling and somewhat goth-looking wooden table. A hand-carved fireplace and leaded glass windows coupled with blood-red drapes reinforce the macabre atmosphere.
The speakeasy-style bar room is pure Hollywood (it even features a secret door to the backyard!). The French ballroom has plenty of space. Perhaps Ms. Von D will set up another tattoo shop in here.
Okay, so the second and third floors make it clear that the property needs some work. The first order of business would be to rip out all that hideous carpet and possibly stain the wood a darker color.
The second floor features 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, all of which are slathered in marble. Sorry, y’all, there’s no master suite with a walk-in closet and living room. The bedroom above, with its wood bedroom floors and checkerboard bath tiling, is the one Yolanda would choose as the master. We wouldn’t even change the pale pink walls.
Some of the other bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. We’re sure Ms. Von D did not appreciate the bear carcass by the fireplace.
The third floor features a full-size stage with “original footlights”, currently utilized as a game room.
The third floor also features four more bedrooms, at lease one of which was used by the former owners as a gym. That’s a lot of scary-looking equipment! Up here there are also two more bathrooms, these with a no-frills look as compared to those on the second floor.
The maintenance and upkeep on a 126-year-old mega-mansion is no easy (or cheap) task. But Ms. Von D is a very rich lady. Avid real estate watchers may know that this is not her only Los Angeles house.
Back in August 2011, Ms. Von D paid $2,175,000 for a charming 1920s Spanish-style casita in the celebrity-popular “Outpost Estates” area of the Hollywood Hills. She briefly had the property on the market over the summer of 2013, so we got to see her eclectic taste in decor after her goth-style renovation.
Love it or hate it, you must admit it’ll be interesting to see Ms. Von D’s take on her humongous new Victorian manse. And it’s in hoity-toity Windsor Square/Hancock Park, that upright (and uptight!) central neighborhood of LA. That neighborhood doesn’t have the best reputation for welcoming outsiders. What will the neighbors think of some tattooed chick faceliftin’ the ol’gurl?!
Well, when you’re as rich as the entrepreneurial Ms. Von D, you don’t sweat that stuff so much.
Listing agent: Lisa Hutchens, Coldwell Banker
Kat Von D’s agent: Jamie Sher, The Sher Group