The Los Angeles historic cultural monument known as the Samuel-Navarro house has a notable new owner to chalk into its colorful history. Nearly four years after “My Cousin Vinny” screenwriter Dale Launer first put the idiosyncratic Art Deco-meets-Mayan Revival masterpiece up for grabs, the home has finally sold for about $3.5 million. Records reveal the buyer is an LLC easily tied to young Sam Pritzker, a member and heir of the multibillionaire family that founded the Hyatt Hotel chain.
Though it’s arguably one of the most visually arresting homes in the greater L.A. area, the structure itself spans a relatively modest 2,690 square feet. From the street, however, it appears significantly larger, with its white walls towering high above the road and additional stylistic pizazz provided by dollar bill green oxidized copper accents.
Built in 1928 for Hollywood silent film star Ramón Novarro’s personal secretary Louis Samuel, the cinematic house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright. Samuel forfeited the house to Novarro shortly following its completion — after he was caught embezzling funds from his boss — and the latter lived in the property well into the late 1930s. In the decades since, the home has notched scores of famous occupants and/or owners, including Diane Keaton, Christina Ricci, composer Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins. Launer picked up the property in 2014, for $3.8 million, before selling it to Pritzker at a hefty loss.
Shoehorned onto an irregular lot, on a hairpin curve between two perilously narrow roads, the four-story house has been extensively upgraded and renovated over the years, albeit in a manner cohesive with Lloyd Wright’s original design. Inside, the place has a timeless indoor-outdoor flow, with a central living room that opens at one end to a dining room with casement windows and, at the other end, to a lounge with additional casement windows and doors connecting to a high-walled courtyard guarding a perfectly private swimming pool.
Elsewhere, an outdoor dining terrace is shaded by a vine-covered trellis, while the adjoining kitchen boasts crisp white cabinetry, inch-thick slab marble countertops and luxe stainless appliances. The top-level master bedroom boasts multiple banks of windows overlooking the surrounding treetops, and the austere master bath is done up entirely in concrete, with built-in concrete cabinetry and a concrete soaking tub.
Other spaces include a lower level guest bedroom suite, plus an office with soaring glass windows that could function as a third bedroom. The office opens via French doors to a wondrously secluded terrace with a built-in stone banquette and ample space to contemplate life and love.
Though he’s not a household name, Pritzker is a scion of one of America’s ten wealthiest families. As the youngest son of San Francisco-based billionaire John Pritzker, and the grandson of late family patriarch Jay Pritzker, he was born into a dynasty that has become revered for its influence on philanthropy and business — not to mention architecture. Pritzker’s family is not new to L.A.; last year, older brother Adam Pritzker paid $8.5 million for a 1920s Spanish-style home in Beverly Hills. Other older brother Noah Pritzker recently sold an $8 million house in L.A.’s Bird Streets neighborhood to Glenn Frey’s widow.