Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Screenwriter Robert Towne Lists Posh Pac Pal Pad

SELLER: Robert Towne
LOCATION: Pacific Palisades, CA
PRICE: $14,000,000
SIZE: 10,000 square feet, 8 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Although few outside the film and television industry may recognize his name, screenwriter Robert Towne is a living legend in Tinseltown who recently put his Pacific Palisades, CA compound on the market with an asking price of $14,000,000.

While his (somewhat more recent writing gigs have revolved around money-minting Tom Cruise block blusters like Mission Impossible (I and II) and Days of Thunder, Mister Towne is (and should be) better known for his contributions to 1960s and 70s cinematic tour de forces such as Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Personal Best, The Last Detail, Shampoo, and the utterly sublime Roman Polanski-directed Chinatown for which he received a much-deserved Academy Award.

Property records reveal Mister Towne and his current and second wife Luisa purchased their Pacific Palisades mansion in March 1987 for $2,495,000. The Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the stately English Country Tudor-style mansion was originally built in 1926 and measures 5,536 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms while listing information indicates there's about 10,000 square feet with 8 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, a discrepancy in numbers probably due (at least in part) to the addition of a full and detached guest house with flagstone-floored poolside living area plus two bedrooms suites that–presumably–each have a private facility for ablutions and etc.

The corner property, high-hedged for privacy, encompasses .68 landscaped acres dotted with mature specimen trees and includes a brick-paved gated motor court, broad lawns, river rock lined planting beds and extensive rose and spice gardens.

The dignified and almost dour exterior of the brick-built pile is defined by many-gabled and high-peaked roof lines, half-timber detailing, original leaded glass windows and French doors, and a tri-spired chimney stack that towers over the front entrance.

All those builders and architects who design and erect homes with cavernous double-height entry halls could learn a little something or two from the manner in which the foyer of Mister Towne's abode was fashioned. While there is a soaring double-height section above the staircase that wraps around the room, the space immediately inside the front door has a lower ceiling that allows for a more intimate and graceful entree into what is unquestionably a grand residence. Walking into those hangar-sized entrance halls in all those horrid faux-Tuscan mcmansions the sprout up like expensive warts all around southern California is like being slapped in the face with a heavy-handed sort of grandeur that is heavily disconcerting and, quite frankly, downright unpleasant.

Anyhoo, the elegantly-scaled formal living room has well-patinated hardwood floors, a heavy-beamed wood ceiling, fireplace with massive rock chimney breast and numerous many-paned leaded glass windows and doors that generously connect the room to the gardens the surround the house. The formal dining room is wrapped in paneling with a not entirely lovely green wash and the family room offers a vaulted and wood-beamed ceiling, an over-sized river rock-faced fireplace and a collection cushioned armchairs made of woven wicker (or maybe it's rattan). The kitchen is not mentioned or pictured in listing information but we're going to assume–which we probably shouldn't because, as they say, assuming makes ignorant asses of both you and Your Mama–that based on the occupants' ages and the somewhat musty-fusty day-core the kitchen and service areas are well-equipped if not state-of-the art.

The rather large and detached pool house/guest house contains a three car garage (plus the above mentioned guest suites) and sits at a right angle to the main house. A narrow open-air passage way and a basketball court-sized brick terrace joins the two structures. The terrace steps down to the sunken spa and lap-lane swimming pool almost completely bounded by high hedges, thick foliage and mature shade trees.

The Towne compound sits smack in the heart of the same ritzy 'hood in Pacific Palisades known as The Riviera where other high profile residents include goofball comedian Adam Sandler, aged and increasingly curmudgeonly comedian Bill Cosby, still sexy 60-something year old Goldie Hawn and her man-hunk Kurt Russell, über director Steven Spielberg and his actress wife Kate Capshaw, and outspoken lefty-lib Oscar-winning actress turned highly opinionated chat show hostess Whoopi Goldberg.

Mister Towne's property occupies a prominent place on the very same narrow street where deceased director Sydney Pollack's Wallace Neff-designed mansion recently sold for $7,694,000 and where The Simpsons' creator Dan Castellaneta recently sold a Gerard Colcord-designed residence to The Simpsons' voice actor Hank Azaria for $5,500,000. Actress and singer–or, perhaps, "actress" and "singer"–Pia Zadora listed her 9,268 square foot mansion just around the corner in May 2010 for $10,000,000 and sold it, as per the peeps at Redfin, at a steep discount in July 2011 for $4,912,000.

listing photos: The Partners Trust / Beverly Hills


Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

I was just looking at this one on Redfin yesterday. This house is spectacular. I love the brick dining area and the grounds, truly a remarkable home here.

angie said...

As I was reading through the article and it became clear that the lot is just a bit over half an acre with no view, I immediately mentally chopped 50% off the asking price, and what do you know, by the end of the article, even that's on the high side of what homes in his area have been selling for. I think I'm getting the hang of the west LA real estate game, but what I don't get is if I can figure it out, and I find it extremely annoying and foolish, why don't owners and realtors in the area market homes at an appropriate and realistic price to begin with.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

it's just business, Tom. Just business.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything worse than a faux-Tuscan pile in La La land? Yes indeed. A faux-English Tudoresque pile in La La land. Something that appears to be trying to be Chartwell.

angie said...

Just business in Chinatown? Apparently west LA real estate bases it's business model on the same fictional one Hollywood uses. How lame of me to question it, lol.

I love the architectural subtlety of this home too, and agree with Mama that present day faux-Tuscan mcmansions for example, with their smack you across the face attempts to impress, are an unfortunate substitute.

Anonymous said...

I agree with angie - it isn't the same old pseudo-Tuscan garbage we have been subjected to in the past 10 years where every room is red/yellow/orange and where faux-venetian plaster walls run wild