Back in early 2020, Joachim Rønning and Amanda Hearst doled out $5.9 million for a historic John Lautner-designed residence towering high above L.A.’s Sunset Strip. A devoted fan of the modernist architect’s work since he was in his late teens — “I first came across John Lautner’s work in a coffee table book and it completely fascinated me,” Rønning told Architectural Digest in a recent article — he even thought about designing houses before ultimately deciding on a showbiz career.
Now, a little over two years later, the Norwegian film director (“Kon-Tiki,” Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) and Hearst — a great-granddaughter of publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, and co-founder of the sustainable fashion e-tailer Maison de Mode — have sold their unique Hollywood Hills home. The buyer, per industry sources, is Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, who forked over exactly $11 million for the place in an off-market deal.
That’s a whopping $5.1 million more than Rønning and Hearst paid for the property, which was designated by the city of L.A. in 2006 as a historic-cultural monument. But the couple did undertake an extensive revamp of the premises during their tenure, working with interior designer/architect Clive Wilkinson and MODAA Construction to convert an old utility space into an extra bedroom, add a wine cellar and gym, and redo the mosaic-tiled pool.
Originally built in the early 1960s for interior designer/concert pianist Marco Wolff, and aptly named the “Wolff Residence,” the four-story stone, glass and copper structure is often described as an homage to Lautner’s mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright. The estate has a main house and a Lautner-designed guesthouse that was tacked on in 1971, for just over 3,400 square feet of total living space featuring four bedrooms and four baths.
Tucked away behind a high stone wall, and perched atop a steep and heavily wooded hillside parcel spanning almost a quarter of an acre, the dramatic home is distinguished by a series of cantilevered roofs and balconies. A carport also rests out front, while several eucalyptus trees planted by Lautner himself are thoughtfully woven in and around the house.
A covered entryway topped by a geometric skylight opens into open-concept interiors adorned throughout with hardwood floors. Especially standing out is a double-height living room boasting a massive stone fireplace and soaring walls of glass flowing out to a southeast-facing terrace offering sweeping city lights views.
Other highlights include a banquette-equipped dining area, along with a kitchen sporting custom cabinetry and newer high-end appliances; and the master suite displays a private terrace, as well as a wood-slatted wall that, according to AD, was the entry to the home’s original safe and now serves as a closet.
An added bonus: The residence — also listed as a California State Monument — transfers with a Mills Act contract, meaning the new homeowner is eligible for reduced property taxes in exchange for preserving the historic house.