After three long and presumably frustrating years on the market with asking prices that started at $7.9 million and plummeted to $4.5 million, world-renown artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell have at long last sold their architecturally significant compound in the foothills above La Crescenta, Calif., for $4.25 million and multiple sources snitched the new owner is veteran rock star and occasional actor Michael Balzary, better known around the globe as the mononymic Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea. About 20 miles due north of downtown Los Angeles where it abuts the Angeles National Forest, the secluded 5.7-acre hillside compound encompasses two dynamic, groundbreaking residences plus an open-air entertainment pavilion set amid a scrupulously groomed desert garden.
The older home, known as the Dorothy Serulnic Residence, was designed in 1952 by mid-century modernist pioneer Richard Neutra for his secretary and her husband who resided in the modestly sized house until it was sold to Pittman in 1998 for $485,000. Exquisitely restored and carefully updated with vast expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliders that open to a flat and lushly grassy yard, the 1,350-square-foot home contains just two bedrooms and one bathroom. The combination living and dining room has a built-in sofa bench next to a three-sided stone fireplace and, at its opposite end, a built-in dining banquette while the separate kitchen features up-to-date appliances, loads of original built-ins, zingy lemon yellow counter tops and a slim breakfast table that neatly slides along a track to facilitate easy access to a cushioned built-in banquette.
In the mid-2000s, Pittman and Dowell commissioned avant-garde architect Michael Maltzan to design a second home on the property. Completed in 2009 and slightly cantilevered over a steep hillside in the hairpin curve of the serpentine driveway that links the compound’s various structures, the innovatively imagined and boldly unorthodox one-bedroom and 1.5 bathroom Pittman-Dowell Residence is a rigorously spare and starkly white seven-sided structure in which a series of unconventionally shaped open-plan living spaces pinwheel around a raised central courtyard. With cross-canyon mountain views from a slim terrace and courtyard access through parallel walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, the five-sided living room flows into a triangular dining area and the compact adjoining kitchen serves as an efficient pass through to a small den that gives way to a triangular-shaped bedroom with private view in to the courtyard and an unexpectedly over-sized combination dressing room and bathroom where various functionalities — tub, shower, toilet and bidet — are discretely integrated in to a curvilinear cluster of volumes sheathed, like the floor, in baby blue penny tiles
We hear through the property gossip grapevine Pittman and Dowell are headed for a remarkably more prosaic home in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles and Balzary and his wife, model Frankie Rayder, who have owned a two-plus-acre bluff-top compound along Malibu’s Encinal Bluffs since 2006 when they bought it for $9.98 million, are currently escrow to sell a late 1930s traditional in the Los Feliz area they scooped up in late 2014 for $2.47 million and set out for sale last month at $2.997 million.
Pittman and Dowell were represented in the transaction by Barry Sloane and Marc Silver at Sotheby’s International Realty.