Producer Joe Roth has been making nearly as many real estate deals as film projects recently.
Roth, the former chairman of 20th Century Fox and Disney Studios, has struck a deal to sell his historic Streamline Moderne home in Santa Monica to showbiz lawyer Jeanne Newman and Fox Television topper Gary Newman.
The Kingman Avenue residence, designed by famed Hollywood art director Cedric Gibbons, is changing hands in the mid-$9 million range, say sources with knowledge of the deal, which is expected to close in the next few weeks.
The deal comes on the heels of the producer's purchase in May of an 11,329-square-foot Holmby Hills residence for $21.5 million. That 1936 seven-bedroom Mapleton Drive home was designed by architect Paul Revere Williams.
But it lacks the Hollywood pedigree of the home Roth is unloading.
Gibbons, an 11-time Oscar winner, designed the 4,744-square-foot home with his wife, silent-film star Dolores del Rio. The residence, near Riviera Country Club, was completed in 1930. Gibbons and del Rio, who divorced in 1941, regularly hosted Sunday afternoon parties at the property, and it was at one soiree -- so the story goes -- that Gibbons discovered Errol Flynn.
"They'd have archery tournaments, and one Sunday, Flynn is invited. He comes out and does very well, and Cedric says, 'I want you to come out and we will do a screen test on you,' " says real estate agent Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, who in 2004 co-brokered the sale of the house to Roth for $9 million.
The property includes a three-bedroom main house, a two-bedroom guesthouse, swimming pool, tennis court and terraced gardens, all set on about 33,000 square feet. The home's intricate Art Deco details include a fluted stainless-steel fireplace, built-in furniture and a second-story family room with 15-foot ceilings.
“I think it's one of the most beautifully resolved works of Streamline Moderne architecture I’ve ever seen, perhaps the best one in the city,” says Crosby Doe, a real estate agent who specializes in architectural properties.
The deal comes as L.A.'s high-end architectural home market continues to tread water. And it is perhaps worse off than other segments because the already small pre-recession pool of prospective buyers who would consider living in a historic gem -- and contend with a lack of modern amenities and expensive upkeep -- has been diminished in the aftermath of the economic collapse.
Though Roth was able to find a buyer for his home in about six months, other properties with strong pedigrees are languishing far longer. Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, in the hills of Los Feliz, has failed to attract a buyer since hitting the market in June 2009 at $15 million. The current asking price: $5.999 million (Hyland has the listing). That’s a staggering 60 percent price reduction.
The Schaffer Residence, which appeared in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (2009), has been on and off the market since 2008, with the price dropping from $1.96 million to $1.495 million (Doe has the listing).
Some high-quality architectural homes are moving, but, not surprisingly, price reductions are commonplace. And the Kingman property is no different: The residence was originally listed in November at $12.45 million and reduced to $10.15 million early this year -- good for an 18 percent drop.
Roth, who restored the residence, produced 2010's Alice in Wonderland, and his Roth Films is working on a slew of projects including Snow White and the Huntsman. He also founded the now-defunct Revolution Studios. He could not be reached for comment.
Roth's agent, Judy Feder of brokerage Nourmand & Associates, declined comment. The buyers were repped by Myra Nourmand of Nourmand & Associates, who did not return calls for comment.