The Elon Musk of his time, Howard Hughes was a brilliant entrepreneur whose interests included aviation, film production, and real estate. A lifelong fan of aviation, he took his first flying lesson at age 14 and would go on to set several world records and survive four airplane crashes. Orphaned in his teens, he inherited a family fortune which he invested in Hollywood. He directed Jane Russel in The Outlaw (a movie famous for pushing the limits of the era’s morality codes) and produced several important films including Scarface and the Academy Award-winning Two Arabian Nights. For seven years, he owned RKO Pictures, one of the “Big Five” studios of Hollywood’s Golden Age. His Hughes Aircraft Company, founded in 1932, produced both military and commercial airplanes, as well as propulsion systems for spacecraft, satellites, and the world’s first working laser. In addition, Howard owned numerous hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and helped transform the city from its Wild West roots to a more cosmopolitan destination.
One of the wealthiest men of his era, Hughes dated a long list of famous women, including Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers and Joan Crawford. Always eccentric, worsening OCD and trauma from his several plane crashes sent him into seclusion in later life. He died in 1976 on board an aircraft headed from his Alcapulco penthouse to a Houston hospital. He would later be portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2004 blockbuster The Aviator.
Nearly 100 years after his move to Hollywood in 1928, the house from which Howard Hughes produced his biggest movies, which was also used as a film location in The Aviator, has hit the market for $23 million. The majestic Spanish Revival estate, designed by famed architect Roland E. Coate, sits on the 8th green of the Wilshire Country Club, where Hughes loved to golf. The 10,179-square-foot home has been thoughtfully updated but retains original details such as wood-beamed ceilings and red-clay floor tiles.
The half-ellipse-shaped mansion is gated and surrounds a striking cobblestone central courtyard with a fireplace. The chef’s kitchen boasts polished brass countertops, gold-tiled splashbacks, and a 24-foot island. The voluminous family room sports floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Big windows offer views of the golf course, the Hollywood Hills, and the iconic Hollywood Sign. Eight bedrooms are joined by a screening room, a 2,500-bottle temperature-controlled wine vault, and an attached guest residence with a full kitchen and bath. The expansive backyard features lush greenery, many varieties of citrus trees, multiple lounge areas, a custom pizza oven, and a swimming pool. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hancock Park is an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood known for its architecturally important homes. A haven for Golden Age celebrities, some of Hughes’ neighbors included Mae West, Clark Gable, and Nat King Cole. Contemporary stars who call the region home include Margot Robbie and Fred Savage.
The listing is held by David Berg and F. Ron Smith of the Smith & Berg Partners team at Compass. Photo Credit: Noel Kleinman