Nearly 55 years after her death, O.G. bleach blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe remains a major pop culture icon, her image emblazened on expensive art, her movies still watched, her quotes still plastered across social media by today’s schoolgirls (and schoolboys). Thus, it’s only natural that the only house she ever owned remains steeped in mystique. Heck, the Brentwood house even has its own Wikipedia page! So you know it’s legit.
In 1962, Ms. Monroe very (in)famously died at the age of 36 inside this very house, less than a year after she purchased it. Although official inquiry into her death has long been closed and the matter was ruled a probable suicide, various conspiracy theories still loudly persist.
Those theories — at least those involving some sort of cover-up — were perhaps given more credence due to the fact that a subsequent owner of her property made a rather baffling discovery. While performing a remodel of the home in the 1970s, married actors Michael Irving and Victoria Hamel discovered a sophisticated wiretapping system hidden in the walls of the structure. Who installed it — and how — remains a mystery to the public, but it is well-known that Ms. Monroe had a fling with John F. Kennedy not long before her death.
Over the ensuing decades, the house came to be owned by a long line of non-celebrities. In 2010, it was acquired for $3,850,000 by a prominent attorney, who sold it just two years later in a secret off-market deal for a fat $5,100,000. The buyer at that time was a low-profile (but prodigiously wealthy) divorced lady named Donna Kaplan. Our Ms. Kaplan, you see, is the ex-wife of trailer park land baron Jeffrey Kaplan, who currently resides in a mega-beast of a Bel Air mansion christened Chateau Des Fleurs that weighs in at somewhere around 60,000-square-feet of living space.
Oh dear, but we digress. Anyway, it appears Ms. Kaplan made few (if any) renovations in Brentwood during her five years of ownership, but she put the property up for sale in April 2017 with a ballsy $6,900,000 ask. Sounds like a huge wad of cash, right? Especially for a 2,624-square-foot house.
Well, you might want to sit down for what Yolanda’s about to tell y’all. The property closed escrow barely a month after being listed — and for $7,250,000. Yes, kiddies, that’s nearly $2,800 per square foot and a full $350,000 more than the asking price, a clear indicator that there was a fierce competition for Marilyn’s house among some very wealthy contenders.
The winning bidder’s identity is screened behind a bizarrely-named corporate identity, but Yolanda just happens to know the new owners are a married couple named Dan Lukas and Anne Jarmain.
Mr. Lukas is a bigshot partner at LA-based hedge fund Ares Capital Management, so he rest assured he can easily afford a $7+ million house. As for Ms. Jarmain — well, we’re not quite sure what she does, but she is a graduate of USC so there’s that. The couple also have two young children.
What did all that money buy? Well, even discounting the Marilyn Monroe factor, Mr. Lukas and Ms. Jarmain have themselves quite an interesting property. Located in the Helenas, a collection of uber-tiny cul-de-sacs sited between Sunset and San Vicente Boulevard, the lot is completely walled and gated for maximum privacy.
There’s also the benefit of a current celebrity neighbor — the much larger home immediately next door is owned by Scottish hunk Ewan McGregor, who by the way has been quite good lately in Fargo. Oh dear, but we digress yet again.
Remarkably — given that this is teardown-prone Brentwood, after all — the 1929 Spanish-style casa remains remarkably intact and original details abound. Of course, it has been renovated over the years, but there are still the same vaulted ceilings with exposed, unvarnished wooden beams in the kitchen, still the same terra cotta floors, and original tile work.
The backyard is both impressively large and remarkably private, shrouded behind thick hedges and mature trees. Out back there is a red brick terrace and sizable swimming pool plus a petite guesthouse with a tiny porch shaded by thick vines.
Mr. Lukas and Ms. Jarmain currently reside somewhere down in Venice (CA), where they’ve been located for quite some time. Back in 2009, they paid $2,100,000 for a newly-built and very contemporary structure designed by noted architecture firm Marmol Radziner. They quietly sold the structure in an off-market deal for $2,800,000 back in late 2014.
To be honest, kiddies, Yolanda isn’t quite certain where the Lukas/Jarmain family has been living for the past 2.5 years but like we say, they remain in or near that area.
A cautionary note: the listing for this property somewhat ominously mentions that this is “the largest parcel in all the Helenas” which Yolanda takes as a subtle hint that the .53-acre spread could easily accommodate a much larger and more family-friendly mansion. And the stark contrast in the looks of Mr. Lukas’s Venice house to this place makes us worry that the land value is what may have attracted him and the missus to purchase this mini-estate.
Look, kiddies, we’re all for personal property rights and blah, blah, blah. But a house like this is really a part of history and should be treated as such, limited architectural significance be damned. Yep, we said it. Yolanda just laid it out like that and that is how we’re gonna leave it.
Let us hope Mr. Lukas and Ms. Jarmain have the good sense to preserve this treasure. Otherwise, hun buns, Ms. Monroe’s legions of fans will come a-knockin’. And 55 years after her death, she still has plenty. Icons are blessed like that.