It was a house party — as in, a party for an actual house. On Wednesday night, an art crowd shuttled up the hill and down the driveway of the famous Sheats Goldstein residence in Beverly Hills, the midcentury masterwork recently bequeathed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “I’ve been working for 10 years trying to figure out who to give the house to,” said its colorful owner, James F. Goldstein, a 70-something real estate developer and basketball and fashion enthusiast with a nearly all-leather wardrobe — cowboy hats, too. “I’m happy it’s going to someone local.”
Designed in 1961 by the architect John Lautner, the house is one of Los Angeles’s most beloved landmarks: it served as a backdrop for films (“The Big Lebowski,” “Charlie’s Angels”), countless fashion shoots (Vanity Fair, Vogue, Dior) and splashy parties (Rihanna’s 27th birthday). Goldstein bought the residence in 1972, working with Lautner and others to renovate it over the years, adding a rooftop tennis court next door and his own nightclub underneath, the appropriately titled Club James.
With concrete angles and hidden, retractable glass walls, the indoor-outdoor Space Age bachelor pad is “a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream,” as the “Veep” actor Reid Scott, who toured the residence for the first time, put it. Or an accident waiting to happen. You can fall in the koi pond beneath the walkway into the living room (and people have), wander off the edge of the master bedroom floor that extends like a ship’s bow into the Los Angeles skyline or stumble on the walkway to the James Turrell skyspace in the lush jungle landscape on the four-acre property.
“A child has never entered this house, except maybe on a leash,” joked the singer Kim Gordon, tiptoeing around the beautifully treacherous pool. (In fact, the house was originally built for Paul and Helen Sheats — and their three children.) The expansive view encompasses the entire city, stretching from downtown to the Pacific Ocean. “You go through this low space, then you have a little of the outdoor, the sound of water compressed, then you go through a glass door and the whole thing like a piano lid opens up to Los Angeles,” said LACMA director Michael Govan, describing the experience of walking into the house. “It’s all designed around that particular view, and there’s no better version of that view in Los Angeles. It’s an archetype.”
The promised gift also extends to the property inside, including art works by Ed Ruscha and Kenny Scharf, and Goldstein’s sizable collection of studded and bedazzled jackets by Saint Laurent, Balmain, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier and more, collected over 40 years and countless fashion seasons, and stored in a closet fitted with a dry cleaner-style conveyor. (Goldstein is a regular on the runway show circuit, where he always seems to score a coveted front row seat at the last minute, as well as courtside at basketball games.)
But the party isn’t over yet. Until Goldstein’s death, “the idea is to keep operating the house the same way,” he said, estimating that he has roughly 200 shoots and events per year, some of them quite rowdy. “It only takes one neighbor to complain, and the police are compelled to come. Sometimes they are apologetic.”
Published by: aaron in News