Imagine this: The year is 1967, and you’ve just attended a lavish birthday party at a mansion in the Hills. You fall so in love with the 12,000-square-foot estate that you end up buying it a few years later for less than a million dollars.
That’s not fiction, it’s fact: Cher purchased an infamously sprawling estate in Los Angeles now known as Owlwood after attending the birthday party of the Hollywood legend Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee’s father and the previous owner of the property. In 1974, she and Sonny Bono dropped a cool $750,000 for the nearly ten acres of land after becoming enchanted by the Tuscan-style home at Curtis’s 42nd birthday party.
Decades later, the home is up for sale again—this time for $115 million—but the property has a bit of a classic Hollywood history, and has been passed down by a bevy of celebrity owners over the decades.
The estate, at 141 South Carolwood Drive, was designed in 1936 by Robert D. Farquhar, who had the craftsmanship of the Italian Renaissance in mind when he created it. Arthur Letts—something of a real estate tycoon known for developing Westwood, Holmby Hills, and the UCLA campus, rescuing a bankrupt dry goods store and turning it into the Broadway department store, and financing Bullock’s department store—chose the Holmby Hills location for the residence. After he died, his widow, Florence Letts, lived on the family property. With nine bedrooms, ten bathrooms, an elevator, a guest home, staff quarters, a tennis court, and an Olympic-size swimming pool and cabana added by the actress and professional swimmer Esther Williams, Owlwood clocks in at 12,201 square feet. When the estate was built, it was the largest home in Los Angeles.
Joseph Drown, business partner of Conrad Hilton and founder of the Hotel Bel Air, moved in for just two years before ownership of the property was transferred to Joe Schenck, the president of United Artists and chairman of 20th Century Fox, in the 1950s. That’s when the estate’s glitziest Hollywood history began, as Schenck often allowed Marilyn Monroe to use the home as a retreat (although the actress never officially lived there herself) and frequently invited her over for dinner. After Schenck moved out, the oil tycoon William Keck moved in, and then the home belonged to Curtis in the ’60s. At the time, it was known as Carolwood, but once Cher sold the mansion to Chase and Ralph Mishkin, they renamed the estate Owlwood after the birds that inhabited the property’s surroundings.
Fast forward to 2016, when Owlwood set a record by being the third-highest residential sale in Los Angeles history when it was sold to an investment firm for $90 million. In 2017, Owlwood was the location that Jay-Z chose to have his annual Roc Nation Grammys brunch, where guests included Rihanna, Nick and Joe Jonas, and Demi Lovato.
Later that summer, Owlwood was back on the market for $180 million. As of July 2019, the price of the palatial property has now been lowered to $115 million. Your move, Selling Sunset.