YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: After nearly 20 years of marriage, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are headed for divorce, so it’s really no surprise to any of us naughty celebrity property gossips that the erstwhile couple’s longtime estate in L.A.’s historic and hoity-toity Hancock Park has come up for sale with a $16.1 million pricetag. Property records show the much photographed couple — her girlish voice and Hollywood platinum blond mane a photogenic counterbalance to his strapping Spanish swarthiness — acquired the Italian Revival mansion in 1999 for $4.2 million. The next year they picked up the property next door for another $1.3 million, razed the house that stood on the property and brought the total size of the estate to just over 1.5 acres.
The decidedly grand, circa 1925 mansion measures 15,110 square feet, per listing details, and was originally designed by accomplished architect Gordon Kaumann, who had a significant hand in the epic Greystone mansion in Beverly Hills and, later, in the design of Hoover Dam. A long and narrow gated stone drive way passes a discrete motor court with three-car garage before it arrives at the front door set under an elegant iron and glass canopy. Listing details show the carefully maintained and sumptuously furnished mansion retains many original and restored architectural details and includes seven bedrooms, seven full and three half bathrooms.
An elegantly gargantuan foyer and reception hall with stone staircase, stenciled exposed wood ceiling and paver-tiled floors leads to an ample sitting room with groin vaulted ceiling, French doors and one of the manse’s four wood burning fireplaces. A paneled and pilastered library has more French doors and arched built-in bookcases, while a cozy and moodily lit bar lounge connects the formal banquet accommodating dining room to a cavernous and especially delightful double-height living room with stenciled walls and ceiling, massive carved stone fireplace and a clubby mezzanine lounge.
Other features of note include a double-height kitchen, a separate guest apartment, a fully equipped recording studio and a home fitness situation, an elevator that services the mansion’s three floors and — natch — an extensive, state-of-the-art security system.
The house wraps around an a fully enclosed central courtyard with stone terracing, shady loggias and a swimming pool that’s perfect much perfect for when the internationally recognizable couple wanted to skinny dip in private. Stone terraces with carved stone fountains give way to the walled and high-hedged grounds that include broad lawns, mature foliage and shade trees, a rose garden and an organic vegetable garden.
Our research shows that before they bought their big spread in Hancock Park, the Griffith-Banderases owned a roomy but far more modest residence in L.A.’s Brentwood ‘hood that they bought in 1997 from Michelle Pfeiffer and sold in 1999 for just under $4 million to Dylan McDermott. In New York City, where the couple was allegedly once rebuffed in their effort to buy an apartment at the legendary Dakota building, they still own a 3,400-square-foot spread in another distinguished Upper West Side building they had worked over with a glamorous, Art Deco-inspired day-core and, as far as Your Mama can tell, they also continue to possess a secluded compound near Aspen, Colo., picked up in two separate transactions in 2002 that totaled $5.05 million.