A weakening real estate market failed to dampen buyer interest in this decadent Los Feliz mansion, which is perched atop a high knoll overlooking the city below. Less than two months after first popping up for sale, the house has officially sold for $10.3 million — more than $400,000 over the seller’s asking price, which was already quite high for the neighborhood.
Records show the buyers are noted artist Jonas Wood and his longtime wife/occasional collaborator Shio Kusaka, a Japanese-born specialist in the ceramic medium. Defined by bold colors, Wood’s paintings walk the line between abstract and figurative art, with designs that nod to influences from Warhol and David Hockney. In 2021, Wood’s Two Tables With a Floral Pattern sold at auction for north of $6.5 million.
The home’s seller was Muna El Fituri, an art therapist born in Tripoli, Libya. The longtime partner of contemporary artist Thomas Houseago, El Fituri is notably also the ex-wife of the late Okwui Enwezor, the wealthy Nigerian curator and industry giant who “remapped the art world,” according to the New York Times.
And it’s probably no wonder that art world notables like El Fituri, Houseago, Wood and Kusaka were all drawn to this particular property. After all, the house comes about as close to being a livable art sculpture as you’re likely to find in Los Angeles, though the nearby Ennis House arguably upstages it — at least in terms of sheer visual drama.
The idiosyncratic residence was designed by A.F. Leicht, a classically trained architect with a flair for the vividly theatrical. And it’s very clear he enjoyed designing this particular house, as the place is loaded with extra flourishes not found in most of his other designs — there are octagonal rooms, turret-like nooks, big Art Nouveau-style windows, long hallways, a delicately curved staircase, groin-vaulted ceilings and Egyptian-inspired geometric pillars.
Built in the early 1920s, the so-called “Castle” has had colorful residents aplenty. During the 1960s, it was reportedly rented out to Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground — all at different times, naturally. Decades later, the property came to be owned by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who sold the property to Getty Oil heir John Gilbert Getty. El Fituri bought the house in 2014, paying a neighborhood record $8.3 million.
In addition to five bedrooms and seven bathrooms in the 5,500-square-foot residence, the 1.7-acre property includes heavily wooded grounds, charmingly overgrown gardens, a detached garage, sports court and music studio. The house itself has a small kitchen, typical for its era, though it’s been nicely upgraded with Viking and other stainless appliances. There’s also a rooftop terrace with city light views and a blacktopped motorcourt behind driveway gates.
As it turns out, Wood and Kusaka are big-time fans of Leicht’s architectural work. Located elsewhere in Los Feliz, their current family home is a Spanish Revival-style duplex dubbed the W.J. Elliott Residence, originally designed by Leicht and built in 1928.