A famous Los Angeles mansion that starred in “The Big Lebowski” will be open to visits from the public, thanks to its owner’s generous donation to LACMA, the Los Angles County Museum of Art.
The house was designed by well-known L.A. architect John Lautner (1911-1994) in 1961, an artist mentored by Frank Lloyd Wright. James Goldstein, a colorful local character in his ’70s (he won’t share his real age) who fits the idea of the eccentric millionaire to a T and who is known as the “NBA super fan” that attends more than 100 NBA games every season, acquired this house in 1972. He tinkered with it for 35 years and has now gifted it to the museum, along with a $17 million maintenance fund, an incredible piece of so-called sky space artwork by James Turrell and an additional building that features an office and nightclub where Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Mick Jagger have partied.
For now, Goldstein will still reside in his home, until his death, but make it available for LACMA tours and events. He said: “I want the house to be an educational tool for young architects, and I want to inspire good architecture for Los Angeles.” “For me it ranks as one of the most important houses in all of L.A.,” said Michael Govan, the museum’s director and chief executive. “And as one of the most L.A. houses, because of its connection to the view, that long view toward the ocean.”
The unusual home is surrounded by a lush tropical jungle, which Goldstein planted right when he acquired the house. He also added lots of glass, custom concrete furniture built right into the rooms, a closet that behaves like a dry cleaner rack, a TV that descends from the wooden ceiling and a sink with a hidden spout. He received a lot of help from architect Lautner himself! Lautner’s favorite thing, according to Goldstein, was to conceal things. The house enjoys a stunning canyon setting on four acres with vast views of downtown and the ocean.
Lautner, a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple, was known for his space age flair. Other works of his include the “flying saucer”-like Chemosphere, “Marbrisa” in Acapulco with a “sky moat” surrounded by snakes, and the Dolores and Bob Hope residence in Palm Springs featuring an undulating triangular roof. Many of his photogenic buildings have been featured in or inspired elements in TV, the movies and even video games, such as “Less Than Zero,” “Diamonds are Forever” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”