Laudable Lautners Languish? - Page 2

Two of visionary architect's classic homes still hang on the market—for eight figures!
Fridays On the Homefront
Lautner's Stevens house (above and below): $19.75 million.
Fridays On the Homefront

"We just didn't have the right buyer," sole listing agent Cory Weiss, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said simply recently when asked why it didn't sell in 2014.

Well, yes, but could it be the reason another L.A. Lautner sold in just three weeks last fall is because it listed at less than one-third the price?

"We're giving this stuff away," complains Crosby Doe, of Crosby Doe Associates, who sold the Lautner's 'Less Than Zero' movie site overlooking Silver Lake for $8.55 million after listing it at $7.5. "Here we're talking about one of the world's most internationally recognized architects!"

Having sold several Lautners before, Doe admits that the Silver Lake home, known as Silvertop, was a special case, for several reasons.

"I think...Silvertop is Lautner's masterpiece," he says of the Reiner-Burchill home (1956), purchased for the second straight time (a half century later) by a preservation-minded Silver Lake neighbor. "I would say that's kind of a consensus among the academic community."

Jacklyn Burchill bought the home after first owner Kenneth Reiner couldn't make payments and lived there that half century. Music executive Luke Wood, its third owner, had met Burchill and had an inside track.

"I think she was taken that he lived there," Doe says of Wood, a youngish industry vet now president of the parent company of Beats by Dre.

All three properties have attracted interest from buyers outside the U.S., and Doe adds, "We wanted to give other people a shot."

"She was offered even more," Doe added later, warming to the subject. He compared the 60-odd homes designed by John Lautner to "a rare penny or a baseball card" in terms of their unique collectability.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense now that we're in an international world," says Doe, who says he just sold the Frank Lloyd Wright textile block house known as La Miniatura to Asian buyers. Noting that Wright did several hundred homes, he sputtered, "There's still only 400!"

"They all have that Lautner touch, but they're all separate pieces of art," observes Hope house listing agent Patrick Jordan. He also says mid-century modern architecture is appreciating in the Coachella Valley, home to so much of it. "The desert just lends itself to that."

On the other hand, the Stevens house isn't exactly Malibu Colony chopped liver, or at least it's one certified as a California State Cultural Landmark.

And where is that desert love for Bob and Dolores Hope's dream home?

Doe isn't worried for his colleagues selling these iconic homes. "It can happen, and it will," he says.

For more info on the Hope house, click here. For more on the Stevens house, click here.