Hollywood Homes: On the Market in Venice

Two celebrity-owned compounds fight the markdown tide

It’s a tough time to be selling a multi-million-dollar residential compound in Venice, though two currently on the market have something going for them: famed owners.

One, the home of Anjelica Huston, includes a five-story artist’s loft connected to a main residence via a sun-dappled courtyard. It feels comfortably insulated from the bustling scene on its beach-tourist street. The other property, owned by the estate of the late Dennis Hopper, is a protected hideaway on a quiet residential avenue. But behind the white picket fence — yes, it’s got one — looms a compound comprising three condominiums designed by famed architect Frank Gehry and a main house.

With all the new Hollywood money flowing into 
the neighborhood — Robert Downey Jr. set a Venice record when he scooped up a home last year for $5.6 million — as well as the recent explosion of fashion boutiques on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, it’s hard to imagine that grabbing one of these properties wouldn’t be the epitome of (rich) hipster cool right now.

Surprisingly, both have languished for months, and the Hopper compound has been reduced in price twice since it was listed during the summer. With the Huston property at $18 million and Hopper’s going for $4.8 million, the residences are at the very top of what the market can support.

But Venice, which for years had seen home prices soar to unprecedented heights before the recession stanched values, has been nothing if not resilient. The number of homes sold there has increased on a year-over-year basis, according to statistics firm HomeData Corp. In September, 13 Venice homes sold; only five moved during the same month last year.

Still, it’s not an easy time to be selling a 
multimillion-dollar residence.

“When one of them does sell, it will be cause for celebration,” says agent Crosby Doe, who specializes in architectural homes. “It’s a confirmation of the market.”

Huston’s late husband, sculptor Robert Graham, who died in 2008, designed much of their property, which was listed in May. The house is a Venice icon — with its oversized copper front door facing Windward Avenue, a block from the beach. “It’s not just a home; it can’t be duplicated,” says Sandra Miller of Engels & Volkers, who shares the listing with Coldwell Banker Commercial.

The eclectic Hopper compound was listed in July by Jade Mills and Jane Gavens of Coldwell Banker for $6.2 million. But it was reduced to 
$5.2 million in August and again in October. (Hopper’s fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, whom he attempted to divorce before his death, is said to live in one of the Gehry condos, and that unit is not for sale.)

The Huston compound might best illustrate the uniqueness of the market. The $18 million asking price is far outside the norm for rough-around-the-edges Venice. (It’s worth noting that the median sales price in Venice in September was $679,000, down 48% from $1.3 million in 2009.)

But one thing is for certain: The homes of two Venice legends eventually will be in the hands of new owners, perhaps representing a changing 
of the guard in the beach community.

“These two artists set out to build properties to serve their artistic visions; they are unique because of that,” Coldwell Banker agent Todd Baker says. “It’s art history and celebrity history wrapped in a very creative community.”

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