For the third time in as many years, the massive — and massively idiosyncratic — Los Angeles estate known as Owlwood has popped up for sale. The current owner, much-beleaguered investment consortium Woodbridge Group, has been attempting to offload the celebrity-pedigreed property since 2017, when it was originally saddled with a rather ridiculous $180 million asking price. Last year, following Woodbridge’s high-profile bankruptcy, the property was relisted at $115 million. Still, no takers surfaced before the home was recently removed from the market. This week the property returned, equipped with a new team of high-end realtors but carrying the same familiar $115 million ask.
Built in 1936 by venerated architect Robert D. Farquhar for Florence Letts Quinn, the wealthy widow of department store tycoon Arthur Letts, Owlwood originally spanned “just” four acres. During subsequent decades, the Sunset Boulevard-adjacent property — privately sited on its own gated street — slowly swelled in size. Today, the compound spans nearly 10 contiguous acres fronting the hoity-toity Los Angeles Country Club.
The main mansion, which has survived mostly intact to the present day, is a lovely Italian Renaissance-style pile with approximately 12,200 square feet of living space. Original details abound — there’s a baronial living room with solid oak paneling, ornate ceiling treatments, and multiple marble-faced fireplaces.
Following Quinn’s death, a series of notable moguls got their paws on Owlwood — bigshot hotelier Joseph Drown and 20th Century Fox founder Joseph Schenk among them. The latter (in)famously had a steamy fling with an up-and-coming young actress named Marilyn Monroe, who briefly resided in Owlwood’s guest house.
Schenk eventually sold the property to oil baron William Keck, who in turn flipped the estate in the mid 1960s to actor Tony Curtis. In 1974, Sonny and Cher bought the spread from Curtis shortly before their acrimonious divorce, after which Cher was awarded the plum property. Never one to sit on her proverbial laurels, Cher quickly dumped the palatial pad in ’76 to a carpet kingpin named Ralph Mishkin.
By the late 1970s, Owlwood was in the possession of its most longterm owner to date: shadowy Monaco-based businessman Ghazi Aita, a fella known for throwing elaborate home soirees attended by a bevy of curvaceous young models and actresses. At some point during his ownership, Aita purchased the 4.6-acre estate next door — the mansion on that property was eventually razed and replaced by Owlwood’s current guest quarters and swimming pool complex.
After more than 20 years of Owlwood nesting, Aita finally sold the expanded compound in 2002 for somewhere around $33 million to Roland Arnall, the so-called subprime mortgage pioneer. Arnall simultaneously acquired the third (and final) parcel of the current 10-acre estate, a gaudy mansion with a heart-shaped swimming pool. Once owned by Jayne Mansfield, who painted the whole place a putrid pink, the manse was soon controversially (and possibly without the proper permits) razed by Arnall, who replaced it with little more than a rather inelegant blacktopped parking lot for his household staff.
Arnall passed in 2008, but his widow Dawn refrained from selling the swollen spread until 2016, when along came Woodbridge. The company attempted to flip the high-maintenance complex, but were soon engulfed by a massive SEC-headed Ponzi scheme investigation and subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. The current seller, the Woodbridge Liquidation Trust, would very much like to divest the massive spread and return some money to former Woodbridge investors.
Given that Woodbridge paid $90 million for the property in 2016 — back when the high-end market was much healthier — and made few alterations to the property, the current $115 million pricetag may seem an ambitious ask. But the recent record-breaking sale of the nearby Spelling Manor indicates there are still a tiny handful of billionaire buyers open to spending nine figures on the perfect Los Angeles home. Perhaps one of them fancies a historic, celeb-pedigreed property with ample acreage — the antithesis of those ostentatious megamansions currently en vogue. Time will tell.