For only the second time since it was commissioned in 1959, the former Los Angeles compound of the late Hollywood icon Charlton Heston has popped up for sale. Designed by modernist architect William S. Beckett, the Oscar-winning “Ben-Hur” star lived in the strikingly angular house for nearly a half-century, until his 2008 death.
Tucked high into the mountains above Beverly Hills and situated on a knoll atop the area’s Coldwater and Franklin Canyons, the Beverly Hills Post Office property remained owned by the Heston family until early 2016. In January of that year, it was sold for $12.2 million to prolific French film director/screenwriter Luc Besson, perhaps best-known to American audiences for the 2014 Scarlett Johansson smash hit “Lucy,” which grossed nearly $500 million worldwide.
Almost exactly four years since that last transfer, the compound has returned to the open market with a $14.9 million pricetag. Current listing images suggest Besson never actually moved into the multi-structure property — the entire place is currently midway through an extensive renovation, with much of the main house gutted and exposed to the elements. City-approved plans included with the listing show that Besson intended to radically overhaul and expand the existing compound into a major estate with 14,600 square feet of living space; for unknown reasons, however, he’s opted to apply the brakes on construction and divest himself of the property.
The prime 2.9-acre lot sits off a busy road but remains admirably private, secluded down an exceptionally long driveway and behind electronic gates, with a motorcourt that can easily accommodate ten vehicles. There are views directly over Franklin Canyon and private trails from the backyard down into that scenic hiking sanctuary.
During Heston’s lifetime, the main house sported vast walls of glass, an irregularly shaped living room with a massive fieldstone fireplace, and a double-height library with a floating staircase clinging to a curved wall of towering bookshelves. There also was (and still is) a relatively small, trapezoid-shaped infinity pool with an old-fashioned diving board. A separate accessory building wraps itself around the property’s tennis court and includes a staff bedroom suite, plus a screening room and a three-story, elevator-equipped photography studio.
The estate’s next owner could certainly opt to continue Besson’s pricey renovation of the premises, and all of those plans will be transferred in the sale. But at this price point, it seems more likely that a deep-pocketed buyer will want to put their own custom stamp on the site. And given that the house is being marketed as a “development opportunity” — typically also known as a teardown in realtor-speak — it seems a distinct possibility that the former Heston estate will soon be little more than a bygone memory of the past.