10:55am PT by Ashley Cullins
Brokers Aren't Spooked by 'American Horror Story' Murder House Lawsuit
Los Angeles has no shortage of tourist spots for film buffs and series superfans to get up close and personal with — but when those fictional locations are real-life homes, there's also no shortage of drama.
The Rosenheim mansion in Country Club Park is currently at the center of a legal dispute arising from its American Horror Story fame.
The mansion was built in the early 1900s in what was then called "billionaire row" by renowned architect Alfred Rosenheim. Over the past century, it has been owned by the richest man in California, a famous actor and a Catholic convent. The home is classified as a historic-cultural monument, which results in lower taxes but can also require costly renovations. To cover more than $250,000 in repairs demanded by the city, Greta Von Steinbauer in 2011 leased the property to producers of the FX horror anthology.
The "Murder House," as it became known, is featured in the AHS pilot season as well as Roanoke, Hotel and the currently airing Apocalypse. The home was revisited during the Oct. 17 episode. Its fame among FX fans has sparked a lawsuit.
Von Steinbauer in 2015 agreed to sell the Rosenheim mansion for $3.2 million to Ernst Von Schwartz and Pier A. Oakenfeld. Both parties were represented by the same pair of Coldwell Banker realtors, Stephen Apelian and Joyce Rey.
The buyers in February sued Von Steinbauer's estate, Coldwell Banker and the brokers claiming they failed to disclose the site had become a "macabre tourist attraction" for hundreds of AHS fans, some of whom have tried to break in, and that the seller hadn't completed required repairs to the property. They also claim the mansion is haunted.
The lawsuit echoes the first season plot from the FX series that the home is haunted, which is how it earns its "Murder House" nickname and becomes a tourist attraction in fictional Hollywood. The home's reputation also makes it difficult for the onscreen broker to offload to new owners on the FX series.
In a motion for summary judgment filed Oct. 16, defendants argue that Von Steinbauer told Von Schwartz and Oakenfeld that the property generated a quarter million a year in rental income from film and TV shoots, informed them of its historic designation and disclosed "significant deterioration and decay." Even if the late owner didn't sufficiently warn the buyers, Coldwell Banker claims it is shielded from liability because the brokers didn't know it was allegedly haunted or "afflicted by nuisance conditions" because of AHS fans.
This isn't the first famous home to cause problems for its owners. The Home Alone house in Winnetka, Illinois, in 2012 sold for nearly a million less than its listing price. The owners of Walter White's Albuquerque home from Breaking Bad put up a 6-foot wrought-iron fence to keep out fans. And North Hollywood neighbors of The Brady Bunch house aren't happy after HGTV this year won a bidding war for the property and promptly began construction.