Any story about the late billionaire Howard Hughes is imbued with an aura of mystery and awe, and that extends to those involving his homes.
The aviation pioneer and filmmaker lived in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park neighborhood for nearly a decade, starting in 1929. During this time, he produced films including Scarface and Hell’s Angels, and he also set a transcontinental airspeed record, according to the New York Times. Now, the home where the reclusive Hughes resided during this period is up for sale, with a $23 million price tag attached.
“L.A. has a lot of houses with a lot of crazy history, but nothing quite like this,” Smith & Berg broker David Berg, who shares the listing for the home with F. Ron Smith, told Observer.
The house was originally designed by architect Roland Coate in 1926, for socialite Eva K. Fudger. The current owners, former movie producer and current restaurateur Ash Shah and his wife, Niroupa, purchased the property for $6.3 million in 2011. Designed in a half-ellipse that cradles a cobblestone courtyard, the mansion touts eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and five powder rooms on a nearly three-quarter-acre lot.
During their ownership, the Shah family restored and expanded the estate, bringing modern elements into the Monterey Revival home.
The updates largely focused on “the kitchens and bathrooms, notwithstanding the systems. They’re done in a way that complements the original architecture, but has modern conveniences,” Berg said, along with unique touches like “brass countertops in a portion of the kitchen.” Exposed wood beams, brass lighting fixtures and a combination of wood flooring and distinctive tile are found throughout the home.
The house is situated along the fairways of Wilshire Country Club. “From the street, there’s some mystery,” Berg said. “What’s behind the gate? What’s behind the hedge? You can see a portion of the home, but you can’t really see what’s going on back there. ”
The 10,179-square-foot house comes with the air of intrigue that has long surrounded Hughes, and nowhere is that more evident than in the basement vault. The concrete-walled vault was repurposed into a 2,500-bottle wine cellar by a previous owner, but the Shahs kept the original vault door, maintaining a touch of that Hughes mystery.
Still, much of the home’s appeal is in the luxurious yet livable interiors. The kitchen, for example, is equipped with a spacious 24-foot marble island, and opens into an expansive family room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
That living space opens to a cobblestone courtyard with an outdoor fireplace, multiple lounging areas, a stone pizza oven, and a pool. The backyard also provides a coveted view of the iconic Hollywood sign. In addition, an attached guesthouse is outfitted with its own kitchen and bathroom.
With its rich history and lavish amenities, Berg shrugs off any concerns about a slowdown in the luxury housing market impacting a potential sale. “We’ve had a lot of interest right out of the gate,” he said. “I believe that there’s a segment of the buying population that is going to be drawn to this, not because of a low rate that makes it a good buy, or any sort of state of the market, but more that if this is what you’re looking for, this does not come up often. It’s something that’s quite rare, and someone will be attracted to it.”