SELLER: Dale Launer
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 2,690 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: The iconic Art Deco meets Mayanesque extravaganza known as the Samuel Novarro House in The Oaks neighborhood of L.A.’s Los Feliz area has returned to the market at $4.295 million not quite two years after “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “My Cousin Vinny” screenwriter and producer Dale Launer bought it for $3.8 million. Though it packs an elephantine architectural punch with an arresting street presence, the three-plus-story house measures in at a relatively modest 2,690-square-feet, according to listing details, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Current listing details show the restored and updated residence, accented with dollar bill green oxidized copper accents on the exterior, listed as Historic-Cultural Monument #130 by the city of Los Angeles, and sparely but expensively furnished with an enviable collection of pedigreed furniture, “exemplifies the Southern California lifestyle” with “perfect indoor-outdoor flow.” The central living room with polished concrete floor and fireplace steps down at one end to a dining room with casement style windows and doors that open to a trellis-shaded dining terrace and at its opposite end to a lounge with more casement style windows and doors that lead out to a swimming pool set in to a high-walled courtyard that ensures complete privacy and, hence, encourages both late night and broad daylight skinny dipping. The kitchen, not particularly big and decidedly high-end if not particularly adventuress in its materials and finishes, is completely updated and modernized with white, hardware-free Shaker style cabinetry, fantastically thick slab marble counter tops, and the usual array of high-end designer appliances one expects to find in a house of this caliber. The master bedroom has a starkly minimalist all-concrete bathroom that features a decorative screen made of three-dimensional, arrowhead-shaped concrete blocks. One of the guest bedrooms, over-sized with sitting area, is privately located on the lower floor where it opens to a sizable terrace with arrowhead-shaped pavers while a long, slender office is cleverly and efficiently lined with custom built-ins that incorporate desk space, a dresser, open shelves, enclosed storage and a bed.
Tucked in to a hair pin curve on a finger shaped lot and quite fairly described in marketing materials as “a true masterpiece of art and architecture,” the hillside house was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., known as Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, and built in 1928 for silent screen star Ramón Novarro’s personal secretary and companion Louis Samuel. Mister Samuel forfeited the house to Novarro shortly after it was completed when he got caught embezzling from his actor boss. The house was renovated and enlarged by Wright for Mister Novarro and later owned and/or occupied by a number of entertainment industry heavy hitters including Leonard Berstein, Jerome Robbins, Diane Keaton and, briefly from mid-2005 when she bought it for $2.979 million until mid-2006 when she sold it at a loss for $2,827,500, Christina Ricci.
A quick spin through various property record databases indicates Mister Launer continues to own a 3,902-square-foot 1920s Mediterranean residence on a bluff that overlooks Santa Monica Canyon that last changed hands in 1994 for $1.3 million.
Listing photos: Douglas Elliman Real Estate