It took nearly two years and several price cuts that brought the final ask to $11.7 million, but prolific French director/screenwriter Luc Besson has finally sold the former Beverly Hills home of gunslinging Hollywood legend Charlton Heston.
The $11.2 million sale price is a massive discount on the initial ask of $14.95 million and, more notably, $1 million below the $12.2 million Besson paid Heston’s heirs for the secluded multi-structure estate in early 2016.
Serenely sequestered down a sinuous, cypress-lined gated drive and set on a private promontory of almost three acres near the top of Coldwater Canyon, with sweeping mountain views, the aggressively angled, space-age residence was designed by midcentury architect William S. Beckett and built in 1959 for the Oscar-winning “Ben-Hur” star, who lived there for nearly fifty years, until his 2008 death.
Best known in the States for the Scarlett Johansson-starring 2014 sci-fi thriller blockbuster “Lucy,” and set to make his comeback to the silver screen after a three-year hiatus with the upcoming film “DogMan,” starring Caleb Landry Jones, Besson planned, and began an extensive renovation of the singular architectural stunner high above Beverly Hills but by early 2020 had changed his mind. (It could be that the four-times married filmmaker’s renovation plans changed after a handful of women accused him of rape and other sexual misconduct, starting in 2018; French prosecutors have ordered two investigations into accusations and have dismissed them both times.)
While the exterior is a bit worse for the wear, it looks much as it did during Heston’s days, with marketing materials suggesting the extended rooflines are “reminiscent of Neutra and Lautner.” The interior spaces, however, are completely gutted, hence marketing materials billed the property as a “restoration opportunity” and/or a development opportunity, with plans in place to enlarge the estate’s living spaces to about 14,000 square feet.
As it exists, the memorably audacious stone, glass and wood main residence, which includes voluminous, light-filled and irregularly shaped rooms as well as a two-story homeowner’s suite, measures about 5,100 square feet, according to tax records. Glass sliders open the home to the original trapezoidal swimming pool and numerous black terrazzo terraces, some of which come to a sharp point as they jut out over the hillside and into the treetops.
Marketing materials indicate there are currently a total of seven bedrooms and six bathrooms between the main house and an elevator-equipped three-story “creative studio/guest house” that wraps itself around the tennis court and contains a courtside lounge, a professional screening room, a photography studio, and a bedroom suite for guests or staff.
Whether the new owner opts to pursue Besson’s plans for a restoration and expansion or to forge their own path of customization, if they remain true to Beckett’s adventuresome design, the result is sure to be a dramatic masterpiece ready for its next sixty years.